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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May 2012 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.

'Farmers 'Pay it Forward' With Pizza'

May 21, 2012

 

About the blogger: Chris Chinn, a fifth-generation hog farmer from Clarence, Mo., is a former chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee.

'Farmers Pay it Forward With Pizza'

My family participated in the "Ag Pizza Party" to show our support for Domino’s Pizza, which recently announced it would rely on animal experts to determine the best way to raise farm animals for food production. As a farmer, I respect Domino’s for its common sense decision and for trusting the experts in animal care. That’s why we are among the thousands of families across the nation to show a little love back to Domino’s. 

When we picked up our pizza after a 45-minute drive from the farm, we also left a thank you card with the manager letting him know we valued Domino’s support for farmers, ranchers, veterinarians and nutritionists. Our family deeply relies on these experts to take care of our hogs. They are not just animal care specialists; they are a part of our family farm management team. They know the nuts and bolts of our farm and family and they help us customize the care we give our livestock. Every farm is different, just as every person and breed of animal is different.

Our family has been raising livestock for five generations. It’s a tradition we are proud of and we hope our children will have the opportunity to one day follow in our path. Our animals rely on us seven days a week to care for them. We do this no matter the hour of the day or the day of the week. Animal care is a top priority for our family, that’s why we rely on the expert advice of our veterinarian, nutritionist and other animal experts when it comes to the daily care we give our hogs and cattle.

We use gestation stalls on our farm to protect our sows during pregnancy from larger, more aggressive "bully sows." The stalls also allow us to monitor feed intake of each individual sow and tailor nutritional needs individually. If a sow isn’t eating, we know it right away and can prevent problems from occurring. We also are able to give each sow individual hands-on care daily by using the stalls. Our animals are well-cared for, content and comfortable. Until the animal experts we work with tell us there is a better way, we will continue to protect and care for our sows in this way.

So, with the onslaught of animal rights activism playing out in the marketplace, the decision by Domino’s speaks volumes to me as a farmer. It shows the company trusts the experts I trust. And it shows they trust me. I appreciate that.

The trust demonstrated by Domino’s also shows me that the pizza company does not want to force regulations on farmers. There’s already a lot of consolidation in hog farming in America, with independent hog farmers declining the most in numbers.

We own our facilities and our animals. We have a big stake in the success of our business and in the happiness of those who buy bacon, ham and sausage made from our hogs. Mandating unrealistic timelines on family farmers regarding the animal care methods they choose could force more hog farmers out of business. I know that is not the goal of any company, but the unintended consequences of decisions like these can greatly influence family farms like mine.

Thank you Domino’s, for supporting our farm and ranch families.

 

'Bullying the Farm Kid'

May 04, 2012

About the blogger: Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.      

Bullying the Farm Kid

It’s a parent’s nightmare; seeing your child bullied for standing up for his lifestyle or what he believes. When your child is targeted or ridiculed by another child, you see it as an opportunity for intervention; teach appropriate behavior so each child comes to appreciate their differences while hopefully becoming more respectful adults. 

But, what do you do if your child is bullied by an adult, an adult who disagrees with your child’s lifestyle or pokes fun at his passion? That’s what happened to Jamie Pudenz at the recent FFA Convention in Ames. 

Jamie, a shy farm kid from Carroll, is one of those rare finds; a teenager who works hard, doesn’t complain and speaks glowingly about his parents, his teachers, his fellow students. He sets the bar high for himself and constantly strives to push himself. His passion for the land and livestock is the very quality you hope all future farmers possess.

FFA Advisor Kolby Burch says when this football-playing junior takes on a new project, he tackles it with the seriousness of a preacher preparing for a Sunday sermon. It was quite a challenge for him to enter the FFA Public Speaking contest. His entry, "Unveiling the HSUS and the Need for Animal Agriculture," was written with passion. He spent months preparing and practicing out-loud. He sailed through preliminary contests, but took the stage at state, knowing it was a controversial subject for a wider audience. "I knew going to the state level, I’d face resistance; I put it in the back of my head, just went to the front of the room, took a deep breath and got started," said Jamie. 

According to the rules, the purpose of the FFA Public Speaking event is "to develop agricultural leadership, communication skills and promote interest in leadership and citizenship by providing member participation in agricultural public speaking activities." While the rules state that judges don’t need an ag background, they should all be ‘competent and impartial.’ Normally, judges are chosen well in-advance, but because of a scheduling snag, a last-minute FFA alumni from Illinois became the third judge. 

As soon as Jamie finished his speech, the volunteer judge, decked out in Birkenstock sandals, white socks, a rumpled cotton shirt and jeans, leaned forward and asked, "Is feeding cattle 100 percent efficient?"  Jamie wasn’t sure at first what to say. "I closed my speech about livestock and how we feed them corn because they can’t be sustained on grass alone, so I told him we feed them out and it’s much more efficient. But before he let me finish he said, "No, you’re completely wrong." 

He then proceeded to berate Jamie on how animals are meant to be raised on pasture and raising them indoors is a perversion of nature, horrible for the environment and the cause of all society ills. He then jabbed a finger at him and said, "And, another thing, you call this a ‘Works Cited’ page? Who taught you how to do a ‘Works Cited’ Page? This is a mess!" 

Jamie says he was surprised by the harsh tone and unsure of the implications of the comment, so he defended his English teacher who helped him with the ‘Works Cited’ formatting. 

FFA advisor Burch says the burly teen held his composure, but was choking back emotion after he left the room, his confidence shaken. 

Jamie Pudenz isn’t interested in a career as a public speaker or writer. He doesn’t dream of being a politician or sportscaster. He wants to be a farmer, just like his dad. "We need livestock production around. If I don’t start talking about the threats against us now, it’s myself, my friends, my neighbors who will pay. If HSUS shuts us down, I’m out of a job. So are so many other kids like me."

I believe, as most farmers do, that consumers should have a choice when it comes to their food and farmers do their best to provide them. There will never be a return to the days when everyone farmed the same way and consumers didn’t care for the narrative. Consumer demand for choice should be the tie that binds Iowa’s incredibly diverse farmers together. And, choosing one type of food production over another shouldn’t involve ‘shooting the messenger,’ whether that messenger is a consumer, a farmer or a child. Anything less is, well, being a bully.

But, at the end of the day it seems to me Jamie can already teach a valuable lesson to those who think it’s someone else’s job to ‘do PR.’ He won’t give up. His quest to tell the diverse story of ag is even bolder because of the resistance he met in a wider audience. He’s ready for ‘round two.’ How about you?

 

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