mission to promote agriculture, we will be highlighting a wide variety of blogs from farmers, ranchers and other agriculture professionals. If you have an idea for a submission (or would like us to feature your blog) email Julianne Johnston for consideration.

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November 2011 Archive for Blogging for Agriculture

RSS By: Pro Farmer Editors, Pro Farmer

As part of Pro Farmer's mission to promote agriculture, we will be highlighting a wide variety of blogs from farmers, ranchers and other agriculture professionals. If you have an idea for a submission (or would like us to feature your blog) email Julianne Johnston for consideration.

'Thanksgiving is All About Traditions'

Nov 22, 2011

The following blog was submitted by Cyndie Sirekis, director of news services with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Thanksgiving is All About Traditions

by Cyndie Sirekis, (link to her twitter page)

No matter where you live in America – in a rural area, on a farm or ranch, in the city or suburbs, or anywhere in between – it’s a fair bet that traditions will be a major part in your Thanksgiving celebration.

Watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ranks high on the list of "can’t miss it" traditions for a lot of people. Although home cooks may hate  to admit it, long hours in the kitchen preparing a holiday meal, even one as delectable as Thanksgiving dinner, can be lonely. Watching the parade’s fantastic floats, marching bands and warbling singers helps pass the time. 

Football is a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition for many sports lovers, whether that means tossing a pigskin on the front lawn for an hour or two before dinner or settling in to watch a big game on TV.

Hunting remains a popular pastime around Thanksgiving and interest is growing. A recent National Shooting Sports Foundation report revealed that 21.8 million Americans (most hailing from small towns and rural areas) went hunting at least one time in the past five years. That’s up from about 14 million a few years ago. Another NSSF study found that 83 percent of those surveyed consider deer as their top priority; hunting upland game birds such as turkeys, quail, pheasants, doves and grouse is also popular.

In the week leading up to and including Thanksgiving, supporters of National Farm-City Week will host celebrations with the goal of increasing understanding and forging lasting connections between the farmers who grow our nation’s food and those who consume it. That tradition was started in 1955 and is still going strong.

Eating turkey would likely rank high on the list of food-centric traditions for the holiday. A whopping 46 million birds will be cooked and eaten on Thanksgiving Day. Most will be oven-roasted, although some will be smoked or fried. In the South, Cajun fried turkey is a particular favorite.

Enjoying other special foods that grace our tables only around the holidays (for the most part) is another highly anticipated tradition. Those of us looking forward to dishes such as cranberry salad with pecans, sweet potatoes with pecans or pecan pie, may have to pay a bit more for the nutty delights because a much smaller crop than usual was harvested. This year’s drought took a heavy toll in the top three pecan-producing states – Texas, New Mexico and Georgia.

Finding out the average cost for a classic Thanksgiving dinner as calculated by the American Farm Bureau has been a tradition for many over the past 26 years. This year, our wallets will open a little wider to pay for the feast, as the average cost increased 13 percent to $49.20 for a meal for 10 that includes a 16-pound turkey and all the trimmings.

Gathering with family and friends to celebrate and express thanks for blessings received is perhaps rightfully considered the most cherished tradition of Thanksgiving. Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


 

'Steaks for Troops Needs Your Help'

Nov 15, 2011

The following blog was submitted by Troy and Stacy Hadrick, founders of Advocates for Agriculture. The couple has a special passion for promoting agriculture.

Steaks for Troops Needs Your Help

by Troy Hadrick, (link to his twitter page)

It was last January when I had the privilege of meeting Bill Broadie. Bill has spent his entire life in the beef industry except for the years he gave to his country. He's a Vietnam War veteran that, like many of his fellow soldiers, didn't receive the hero's welcome he should have when he came home from the war.

It's hard for me to understand why this would ever happen but Bill wanted to make sure that our current soldiers didn't have to experience the same thing. He combined his passion for the beef industry with his appreciation for our nation's returning heroes when he formed the All-American Beef Battalion. It's a program that feeds our troops and their families the best home-cooked steak dinner imaginable when they return home from the war.

Going out for a nice steak dinner with our families is something that most of us take for granted. But these soldiers haven't seen their families in months or years and during that time they certainly weren't eating at a nice restaurant. Listening to Bill tell the stories of how much our troops appreciate this simple act of appreciation will bring a tear to anyone's eye and make you appreciate everything you have.

We were excited when Bill called us this week to give us an update on the program. They have fed nearly 100,000 steaks to our troops and their families since the program started. This program runs on the generosity of those who donate money and supplies. But lately they have been feeding more steaks than there is cash coming in. Every soldier deserves our thanks for their sacrifice which is why I’m proud to donate so they can enjoy a great steak served by America’s farmers and ranchers.

I would really encourage all of you to support it as well. They are a non-profit that relies on people like you. If they can't get that support then our troops don't get to enjoy one of these meals.

Bill is serving his country for the second time in his life, let's give him the appreciation and support he should have gotten the first time. Please visit the All-American Beef Battalion and make a donation today.


 

'Do Activists Destroy Family Farms'

Nov 03, 2011

The following blog was submitted by Michele Payn-Knoper, nationally known professional speaker and founder of Cause Matters Corp., an organization to help people learn how to champion their cause.

Do Activists Destroy Family Farms?

by Michele Payn-Knoper (click here for link to her twitter page)

A mother who had to go back to work to cover legal costs. A dad who never had health issues now has to visit the doctor for stress-induced illness. A little girl so worried about her family farm being taken away that she has panic attacks. This is the reality of what activists do to family farmers. Count it as a wake-up call for anyone who thinks it will never happen to them.

"Pray to God it doesn’t happen to you" is the single message Alan Hudson wants his fellow farmers to know about his experience with activists. "Go to meetings even when it doesn’t suit you and keep up on the regulatory front." It’s not just about the $200,000+ in legal costs; it’s the embarrassment of being in the local paper more than a kidnapper who murdered a little girl. It’s the toll it’s taken on the entire Hudson family. And, it’s the invasion of privacy with planes circling their farm whenever they’re working cattle.

The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun calling for a comment alerted Alan and his wife, Kristin, about the pending lawsuit in December 2009. Rather than talking to the Hudsons about their concerns or contacting them through lawyers, Waterkeeper Alliance turned to the media. At question? A pile at the back of the Hudson farm.

On a flight over their farm on the Delmarva Peninsula, an activist saw a pile that she thought was chicken manure. Assateague Coastkeeper and Kathy Phillips posted aerial photographs of what they claim to be a chicken litter pile at Hudson, later determined to be Class A biosolids. In technical terms, Class A biosolids can be land applied without any pathogen-related restrictions at the site – and the pile in question had been pasteurized.  In other words, it’s waste water solids that can also  be bagged and marketed to the public for application to lawns and gardens. Yes, that would be "nutrient-rich organic materials" from humans – in this case, from Ocean City.

Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) investigated the mystery pile of poo, asked the Hudsons to move the pile to a different location on the farm. Alan obliged and spent most of the week of Christmas moving and covering the pile. MDE was happy and said the farm didn’t need to take any further action other than to spread the biosolid pile in the spring for the next crop growing season. They inspected the farm again in January 2010, noting "no animal manure piles were observed outside."

Yet the federal lawsuit was still filed, first by Waterkeeper Alliance, Assateague Coastkeeper and Kathy Phillips alleging discharges in violation of the Clean Water Act, the latter of which were dismissed as plaintiffs. Hudson said their latest claim is that manure if flying out of fans, which he considers highly unlikely since urine and feces are mixed in the poultry species. I suspect the only manure flying around is that from people looking for trouble.

Alan and his 75 year-old dad run what activists call a "factory farm." They have Cornish Hens in two barns and contract with Perdue Farms because it’s the best business decision for their family to have a stable income. They produce around 500,000 servings of Cornish Hens a year in their barns; composting the manure so that it only needs to be removed once/year (minimizing environmental impact). The Hudsons also have 45 head of beef cattle and  farm 200 acres of corn, soybeans and hay. Alan and Kristin are the fourth generation on their farm and have not had any problems with their neighbors in the the past until this one paid activist – who lives  in a resort town, but regularly conducts ditch tests without any regard to record rainfall or other conditions.

None of us in agriculture will say that we’re in a perfect business; it’s dirty, exhausting and can be smelly. Technology has improved our ability to deal with manure – both animal and human (as shown with the info on biosolids above), but it’s still manure. Farms like the Hudsons use a nutrient management plan to ensure they’re protecting the land, air and water as much as possible. They live on that land, drink the water there and send their kids out to play – it’s not logical that they’d be poisoning their home. Unfortunately, there is no plan for how to deal with well-funded activists that are getting free legal counsel from the state’s land grant institution.

Alan points out that people don’t understand farms like they did when more people were farming. And with lawsuits like this, I have to wonder how many family farmers will be around in the future. If you’re one of them, please use this as a reason to talk to people. If you’re not on a farm, perhaps this is a wake up call to the very real struggles faced by farmers because of activists in today’s litigious society

Note from Michele: After receiving the link to http://savefarmfamilies.org on Facebook and verifying the story through Maryland ag organizations, I really wondered what was wrong with our society. It saddens me when activists destroy the lives of farm families. It angers me that this farm may never see a fifth generation. And it reminds me that more people have to stand up for what’s right.  The Hudsons don’t know it yet, but will be receiving one of the 10x Connect grants to help, in a small way, with their legal costs (you can give at the website). I  reached out to Alan & Kristin to help tell their story. What can you do to ensure this doesn’t happen to more farms?


 

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