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November 2009 Archive for Livestock Today

RSS By: Sara Brown, Beef Today

The Livestock Today blog is your place to learn the latest production news for the livestock industry.

Give A Bowl of Beef

Nov 25, 2009
By Sara Brown
As the holiday season arrives, take the opportunity this year to move from beef supporter to beef promoter. Let’s move from loving our product to telling others why they should love it as well.
Cattlemen in Iowa this November did just that. More than 120 beef industry volunteers served 6,800 servings of hot beef stew to runners at the 31st annual Living History Farms Cross Country Race. Runners from 33 states and 420 Iowa towns tackled the 7-mile race in Urbandale, Iowa.
Past Iowa Cattlemen’s Association President Glenn Rowe and wife Bev, serve the first bowl of hot beef stew at the Living History Farms Cross Country Race.
Tell beef’s story. “Our message to the runners was two-fold,” said Nancy Degner, Executive Director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “First, that beef provides high-quality protein needed to build, maintain and repair muscle, and second, we wanted to give them the chance to meet local beef producing family farmers.” 
The hot beef stew greeted wet, muddy runners after a route complete with five creek crossings. The beef checkoff provided the 1,900 pounds of beef brisket used in the stew and the volunteers to serve it, Degner says. The Iowa Machine Shed prepared the stew which also used 550 lb. of potatoes, 500 lb. of carrots and 450 lb. each of celery and onions, and 350 lb. each of corn and green beans.
It only took 90 minutes for volunteers, including cattle producer families, Iowa State University animal science and veterinary medicine students and faculty, 4-H-ers, Youth Beef Team members, and friends of the beef industry, to serve the soup.  And put a producer’s face on the beef industry for every person there. It takes all of us to keep our industry moving forward. What are you doing to help?

Past National FFA Officer Heads Back to the Beef Farm

Nov 13, 2009

By Sara Brown
Where does a girl go, after stepping off the National FFA Convention stage after an entire year of service as a national officer? Retired from the blue jacket at age 21, Nessie Early is headed back to the farm—specifically the beef research unit at Cal-Poly State University. 

But before going back to school in January, Early has been busy visiting FFA chapters and agriculture companies, like Novartis Animal Health. A week long internship at the company was just one step back to the ebb and flow of school and career—a path grounded in animal science.

“Being here for a week, I’ve gotten a greater scope and understanding of the animal health industry. Throughout the week, I’ve met with some of the heads of the company and learned more about the farm animal and companion animal businesses, as well,” Early says.  

Growing up on a ranch in Shandon, Calif., in the central coast area of the state, Early has always had an interest in animal ag production. In her high school, there were 83  students in the school, 77 of which were in FFA. For her, FFA was as much as a social event as a learning opportunity.

“I wanted to show a steer so bad as I was growing up. But I also knew the livelihood that comes with having a ranch and a breeding facility. And so that wasn’t really the facility we had, so I ended up getting to show a few heifers and finally in high school, one steer. After that, cattle were always an interest and many of my friends were involved in livestock projects.” 

After high school, FFA propelled Early to California state vice president. After her year of service to California, Early went on to attend Cal-Poly, where she worked at the beef unit in San Luis Obispo under the direction of Mike Hall. There, she was involved in the annual Cal-Poly bull test. She was also active in Cal-Poly Young Cattlemen, San Luis Obispo County Cattlewomen (part of California Cattlewomen), California Collegiate FFA at Cal-Poly and the college’s Ag Ambassadors.

Running for a national office meant she had to put the rest of her college plans on hold. “Only being there for a year, I was just getting my feet wet in the different clubs and organizations there at Cal-Poly. So I look forward to getting back and seeing what opportunities there are for me.”

A mile a memory. Early has traveled many miles in the last year—more than 120,000 miles by airplane, spent about 320 days of the year on the road and visited more than 30 states. Yet her and the rest of the officer team’s mission was ever-clear in their mind. 

“What is really important to the organization is developing students. And that doesn’t just have to be careers in the agriculture industry. Its leadership, communication and responsibilities in and out of the classroom,” Early says. “What is neat about ag education is it ties in math, science, literature, reading and writing, and turns it into applicable activities and skills that you take to real-world activities as well.” 

“Our national officer team spent two weeks in Japan. I learned more about U.S. agriculture, while in Japan, from a new perspective, than about Japan itself while I was there. To watch corn coming in on the ship is an incredible view. To hear the Japanese talk about their relationship with U.S. agriculture and why it is so important—access to our safe, reliable products—was amazing. To see that U.S. agriculture is really part of the global market, it’s so much bigger than just your high school ag class.”

Our stories, our legacy. Early sees clearly the challenges and opportunities ahead for her and other young people in the agriculture industry. “There is a public agriculture literacy disconnect. It doesn’t mean you have to grow up on a production agriculture farm, but know where your food comes from and understand how that impacts your own life. That is already impacting the agriculture industry. We each have our part in that—it can mean FFA members writing and giving speeches or rubbing shoulders with people at the county fair. We all have our part.”

Early, showing a market lamb at the Los Angeles County Fair, says she heard a gentleman and his young son behind her as she led the animal through midway area say, “Look at the camel!” “I was like, ‘Oh, no!’ But that is exactly what kind of disconnect the public has,” she explains. 

“I’ve done a lot of speaking about becoming an advocate for agriculture and your industry and I look forward to actually becoming a part of that effort myself.

“In agriculture, sustainability is also important,” Early adds. “As populations continue to go up, people need safe, wholesome food and fiber products that they can turn to. We also need sustainability in water and energy, quality use of our resources.

New horizons. Even amidst the challenges young people see, and producers face every day, Early sees golden opportunities ahead for her, and the industry she loves. As she continues her education at Cal-Poly, Early is excited to get back to it—especially the beef farm. “I think that is where my better understanding of the beef industry came from. The scope of the beef industry is so important for students to understand. From having beef cattle, to working in the feedlot, to marketing to publicity, education—there are a variety of aspects of the beef industry that I love. I think it is such a viable industry and it is something I’m looking forward to learning about. I’ve really enjoyed my experiences so far.”

Early sees herself as a future animal science professor at the college level. She knows, though that there are a lot of opportunities and experiences ahead of her. 

“As we have talked during my time here at Novartis, the professors that are most engaging are the ones that have had experiences that they can talk about, stories they can share and education they have had in different ways. That’s why as I go through school, I’m going to stay in animal science but I’m going to look for different opportunities within the industry or within an animal health company. I don’t know what that will look like until I become a professor. It all just depends on what you want your classroom to look like.” 

With all the experience and enthusiasm Early brought to Novartis, her suitcase was a bit lighter. There was no white shirt or black skirt in her bag. Her FFA scarf wasn’t needed and for the first time in seven years, her blue and gold jacket was left at home. While her clothes may be different, and her eyes a little more wise, she knows that one thing will always remain the same. She and fellow FFA members, young and old, will still believe in the future of agriculture.

Now and Into the Future

While this is the first career exploring opportunity with a past national officer, Novartis Animal Health has a long history of support for the FFA. As the company has grown, so has their involvement with the youth organization.

“Novartis actually increased  its sponsorship level of FFA a few years ago, because the students that are members make up our future job pool. The type of training they receive in high school and college really makes them an excellence candidate for our organization. Several Novartis employees, myself included, are former FFA members and we know the life skills learned through FFA  are needed to run a successful business,” says Julie Groce, communications manager for Company Communications at  Novartis Animal Health. 

“This year, Novartis wanted to branch out a bit and support the FFA in a way that lasts all year. We are giving two $1,000 grants   each  in the areas of beef production, dairy production, swine production and veterinary medicine. These grants will go to FFA students who have a strong interest in these areas but may not have the money to start a Supervised Agricultural Experience project in them.  . We are excited to see what these kids can do.” (The deadline for the SAE grants is Nov. 15. Read more about SAE grants from Beef Today and the National FFA Organization’s SAE Web site.)

About four years ago,  Robert Jones, currently head of  International Businesses  for Novartis Animal Health, was serving a three-year term on the National FFA Sponsors’ Board when he surveyed Novartis employees about their involvement in FFA. 

From that survey, nearly 20% of employees at that time were former FFA members. And a majority of survey respondents who held  a director, manager or senior level position were either an officer in their local chapter or state association. 

“This proves that the leadership and business skills that are developed through the FFA truly stay with the person as they pursue a career,” Groce says.


This column is part of the Beef Today Cattle Drive e-newsletter, which is delivered to subscribers biweekly and includes beef industry analysis, market information as well as the latest beef headline news. Click here to subscribe.


Grants Help FFA Kids Raise Livestock

Nov 06, 2009
By Sara Brown
Recognizing the importance of livestock projects in FFA programs, Novartis is one of several companies offering FFA students a way to improve their Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE) projects.
SAE grants of $1000 are available in each of the four areas of beef production, dairy production, swine production and vet medicine. Two FFA members will be awarded $1000 in each category. This program is designed to help students who may not have the financial resources to begin a livestock project.
The deadline to enter is Nov. 15. Students can go to www.ffa.org/sae for more information and to apply.
FFA members will need their FFA advisor’s help in completing the financial need in Section VI of the application.
Other grants and information about different SAE programs are also at the site.
The SAE Grants are sponsored in part by Chore-Time Brock, Crop Production Services, Merial Select, Novartis Animal Health, Organic Valley/Organic Pride, Tointon Family Foundation and Triscuit as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

Creating Food Demand

Nov 02, 2009

By Sara Brown

When prices are down, producers say we need more consumer demand. But with a down economy as well, how do we enable consumers to buy more meat and dairy products?

Missouri is one of the states taking one step to increase the state’s meat consumption. Sixteen Missouri ag groups have joined together to ask the Missouri Congressional Delegation to support the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA)’s “Meat the Need” proposal.

This proposal will provide new options for dairy, poultry, pork and beef producers while also providing needed nutritional assistance to people facing hunger due to job loss and other economic hardships. Ag groups hope this will alleviate excess meat and dairy products, at the same time improving the nutritious options for low-income families.

NASDA represents ag departments from all 50 states and 4 territories. The proposal passed unanimously at the association’s annual meeting in September, and has raised large numbers of support in Missouri, Utah and North Carolina, as well as other states.

The NASDA plan would establish a tiered-purchase program for the dairy and pork industries, as well as a one-time purchase of turkey products. For dairy, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would begin with a purchase 75 million pounds of cheese and additional dairy products, as determined by USDA. This would be done in three equal stages over a 120-day period, or until the target all-milk price of $16/cwt.—the cost of production—is met. 

According to Steve Troxler, North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, it’s likely the aid will be distributed through food assistance programs (such as food banks, the school lunch program and a SNAP-PLUS program as well as foreign military food assistance).

Read more about the proposal at http://www.nasda.org/cms/7197/21404/24287.aspx.

The 16 Missouri ag groups include the Missouri Dairy Association, Missouri Dairy Growth Council, Central Equity Dairy Cooperative, FCS Financial, Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG), Missouri Association of Electric Cooperatives, Missouri Bankers Association, Missouri Cattlemen's Association, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Egg Council, MFA, Inc., Missouri Farmers Union, Missouri Pork Association, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Veterinary Medical Association and The Poultry Federation.

This column is part of the Beef Today Cattle Drive e-newsletter, which is delivered to subscribers biweekly and includes beef industry analysis, market information as well as the latest beef headline news. Click here to subscribe.


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