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Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Day in SEK

Hello blogging fans! I hope you all celebrated Earth Day by taking out the recycling and sharing how farmers practice environmentally friendly production methods every day. Recently, I attended the Master's of Beef Advocacy Commencement that took place on the KSU campus. Daren Williams, Exec. Director of Communications for NCBA, encouraged all participants to submit letters to the editor about how Earth Day is everyday for farmers. I sent my letter in to the newspaper in the closest town, Garnett (my hometown of Colony, KS, population 343, doesn't have a newspaper) and unfortunately it wasn't printed. However, I figured someone should read it so I've posted it below! Happy reading!

Dear Editor:


The 40th Anniversary of Earth Day is fast approaching and I decided to take it upon myself to compile a list of environmental practices I, and fellow agriculturalists, do to preserve our environment.
- Provide a habitat for Kansas’ wildlife in our green, grassy pastures

- Graze our cattle on grass for as long as possible to preserve and oxygenate topsoil

- Recycle the constant flow of Dr. Pepper cans that accumulate in the feed truck

- Efficiently raise beef on land that is otherwise not viable for crop production

- Convert some of the waste products created by my animals (cattle, horses) to make compost for my backyard vegetable garden
- Utilize the best management livestock production practices that have been passed down from generation to generation in order to allow us to do more with less
- Adopt new technology as it comes along to reduce our carbon footprint
This is far from the entirety of the environmental initiatives farmers exemplify. However, it’s the daily ‘go green’ practices that farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists exhibit everyday that will allow our children and grandchildren to enjoy the same blue skies and green grass in their childhood that we were so fortunate to experience.

I’ll leave you with this line from the old Alabama song Pass it on Down, “So let's leave some blue up above us; Let's leave some green on the ground; It's only ours to borrow, let's save some for tomorrow; Leave it and pass it on down.” Happy Earth Day!


Until next time,
~Buzzard~

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Negativity -- Tsk Tsk

Today is Earth Day -- the 40th Anniversary actually.  Today is just another day for farmers and ranchers who practice environmentally friendly practices on a daily basis -- but some people just don't understand how hard American farmers work to provide a safe, healthy and CHEAP food supply to our nation and the world.

My friend Alden Haugh, texted me to alert me that some negativity towards our great food producers was happening on a mutual friend's facebook wall.  I bopped over there quick and was disappointed to see this statement.


I decided that this wasn't going to go unnoticed so along with two other ag ladies, I posted the truths behind the misconceptions Mr. Sutton obviously has.


Then I went back and added this post about the contributing factors to the Dust Bowl (that he obviously is too young to have actually experienced).

Yes, I may have been wordy but I wanted to get the point across that America's farmers and ranchers produce a safe, healthy food supply that is very cheap all while preserving the environment. Hopefully Mr. Sutton will contact me with questions so I can clear up the confusion.

 Did you agvocate for agriculture today?  Share you agvocacy stories or post them on twitter - follow me  @brandibuzzard  

Until next time,
~Buzzard~

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stickin it to H$U$

For all of you HumaneWatch fans out there, register for your FREE HumaneWatch bumper sticker.  Show off your support of 'keeping a watchful on the HSUS' by putting one of these on your car. 

Click here to be taken to the registration site -- a picture of the bumpersticker is below.

Picture courtesy of HumaneWatch.org

Sign up! I just did

Until next time,
~Buzzard~

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's Not Ronald's Fault

Last night, while doing laundry (actually, avoiding doing laundry) I caught up on reading the ag blogs in my inbox. One recent news piece by Gary Truitt of Hoosier Ag Today caught my eye – “Send Out the Clowns.” This title did its job and got me to read the whole piece, which to my disappointment brought to my attention a watchdog group called Corporate Accountability International, blaming McDonald’s and other fast food chains for obesity in children. As I continued to read I vowed three things:

1. I will teach my children how to control their weight by eating healthy foods
2. I will achieve #1 by cooking providing balanced, wholesome meals that are high in protein and fiber – aka meat and vegetables
3. In addition to #2, my children will not be sheltered from McDonald’s and the like – they will undoubtedly eat there however, they won’t need the super-sized drink and fries.

Let’s examine a few points here – in the article, Gary says, “What we need here is a personal accountability group not a Corporate Accountability group.” It is not Ronald McDonald, or The King or the talking Chihuahua’s fault that children are overweight. Parents who are irresponsible with their children’s diet and lifestyle are to blame. Period. Instead of allowing kids to play video or computer games for 4-5 hours/day, get a dog and make it your child’s job to walk it every day. Encourage your kids to sign up for school sports team, a dance club or get off your behind and take them to the park for a some Frisbee or catch.

Also, has anybody ever heard of the Ronald McDonald House? They’re dedicated to helping children and their families in times of need and despair. Just look at their mission statement “The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children.” Nowhere in there do I read, “Turn children into Butterball Turkeys by deceiving them into eating far too much.” Their efforts include providing mobile mental, dental and medical education to children, providing for support for families with critically ill children and most recently providing dental, mental and medical attention to underprivileged children.
I understand that there are other factors involved in childhood obesity – genetics, environment and household income are a few. However, those obstacles can be combatted with proper diet and exercise.

The only way to point a finger at the child obesity culprit is for a parent to look in the mirror – then start pointing.

Until next time,
~Buzzard~

image courtesy of http://www.readin.dcccd.edu/Images/2007/Ronald.jpg


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Monday, April 12, 2010

Tell Your Tale

The main idea of the Master's of Beef Advocacy Commencement that was conducted last Thursday was Tell Your Tale/Share Your Story etc.  Daren Williams, Exec VP of Communications at NCBA, was on hand to lead over 25 new MBA grads in a training session that encompassed food safety, the healthy aspects of beef, how to address consumers about eating beef and how to advocate for agriculture and beef through social media.

I won't share everything Daren taught us - you'll need to take the MBA courses and go through a commencement yourself for all of it! But, I will list some main bullet points that we can all apply in our daily agvocacy practices.

- Be cordial not confrontational -- nonmeat eaters will not listen to what you have to say if you come across as accusatory or uppity. Be open to conversation and make an effort to be on the same level
- Stand up for your industry -- comment on news articles and press releases if they have a high readership and you can soundly refute their opinion.  Open a facebook, twitter or blog.  Again, be polite and DON'T respond to a name caller.
- Tell the truth - i.e. the Hallmark incident.  Admit that it was wrong and that it's horrible for animals to be treated that way and express your disagreement with that behavior.  Then inform the person how 99% of the animal population is treated - humanely, safely and with a healthy food product as the end goal
- Speak towards the undecided majority - obviously, we're not going to convert Wayne Pacelle and the likes to meat eating or change their opinion of our industry. What we can do is speak to the people who are undecided; the people who want to eat meat but need somebody to answer their questions.  Be there to answer those questions with succinct, sound information.
- Get actively engaged - it's very easy to take 10 minutes a day and advocate for the agriculture industry.

SHARE YOUR STORY - share how you get up every morning at 5 am to check cattle, even on Christmas.  Explain how cattle are great for the environment because they graze on unusable land and help conserve the topsoil.  Whatever your agriculture experiences are, share them.



The 8 hour session was jam packed full of laughs, tips, information and insight into MBA'ers personal experiences.  Those personal experiences are what allow the consumer to connect to the producer and agvocacy crowd - in short, make a connection.  Again, if you have any questions about the MBA program, feel free to ask me or send an email to mba@beef.org.

Until next time,
~Buzzard~

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Because I said so....

Remember when you asked your parents why you had to go to bed so early? Or why you had to eat your vegetables? Or why you couldn't have a drumset?  Didn't you hate that answer 'because I said so'?  That answer happened a lot at my house around animals too - why do I have to fasten the front cinch first? Why do the dogs have to stay outside at night?  Why can't I ride my pig around the barn with my pony saddle?  To these questions (and countless more) my father's reply was always "Because I said so."

Today, farmers are still being questioned - why should I eat meat and eggs?  Why are sows housed in gestation crates?  Why are cattle fed grain instead of raised on grass full time?  The correct answer to these questions is not "Because I, the producer, say so."  With consumer awareness on the rise, producers now must have qualitative answers for these difficult questions. It's not enough to say "meat is good for you", you must tell the consumer WHY it is good to eat beef, pork, chicken etc.  Producers need to know how to effectively communicate to consumers the advantages of a protein rich diet and also why certain production practices are in place.  That's where the Master's of Beef Advocacy comes in.

The Master's of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program was set up by the Beef Checkoff to educate producers and advocates on how to spread what I like to call the "good word of beef" to consumers.  With the large gap between consumers and producers, it's vital that producers be able to stand up for their yields and their way of life.  The MBA is two parts: first, participants complete 6 online modules at their own pace (each one takes about 30 minutes). There is a short quiz at the end of each module and also a homework assignment.  The second part, a commencement, takes place in the form of an all day advocacy training event.  Participants who have completed the online portion of the MBA gather with Daren Williams, NCBA Executive Director of Communications and MBA Dean of Students, who leads them through workshops, interactive activities and social media training.  The skills learned in the commencement workshop are great for not only beef advocacy but agriculture advocacy in general. I plan to participate in the next MBA commencement which is taking place TOMORROW April 8th right here in Manhattan on KSU campus.  The next class of MBA'ers is sure to make the beef industry proud.  Look for my post later on how the commencement went.

If you'd like more information on the MBA, feel free to contact me or mba@beef.org

Until next time,
~Buzzard~

Friday, April 2, 2010

Success in the Buckeye State!

Ohio passes livestock care bill
By Jill Blocker
April 1, 2010

Livestock in Ohio will get better care and housing arrangements, thanks to Gov. Ted Strickland’s signing of House Bill 414 into law Wednesday. The bill provides policies and procedures for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, which will set animal care standards for livestock and poultry.

The Board will set standards for livestock and poultry care that take into account best farm management practices for animal well-being, animal morbidity and mortality data, food safety and local availability and affordability of food, according to http://www.ohiofarmer.com/. The strict regulations on farm animal confinement have become popular as the Humane Society of the United States and other groups have pushed to raise awareness of how animals are treated in the food-production system, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Board, created in November with the passage of Ohio Issue 2, is comprised of 13 members with different backgrounds: a family farmer, a licensed Ohio veterinarian, state veterinarian at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, a food safety expert, a representative of a county humane society that is organized under state law, two members from state wide farm organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college or university and two members of the public representing consumers.

"Ohioans have spoken and clearly understand that a board of experts is the appropriate entity to make decisions on behalf of animal agriculture and food production in our state,” said John Lumpe, president of Ohioans for Livestock Care PAC, to AG Web in November. “Passage of Issue 2 is a win for everyone who acknowledges the essential relationship between excellent farm animal care and a safe, affordable, locally grown food supply.”

Livestock issues will be determined by the overall impact of animal health, biosecurity on livestock farms, animal disease and prevention and food safety and production volume and price.  States such as Michigan, California, Arizona and Idaho have also moved toward making stricter animal welfare laws on housing animals such as chickens, pigs and cows. However, an unforeseen consequence of states making the regulation change is that outsiders may try to lure farmers imposed with strict legislation to more lenient states.

Oh how sweet it is to be in agriculture!  Although the war is far from over, it seems that producers have won this battle.  Have a great Good Friday and a very Happy Easter!

Until next time,
~Buzzard~

Thursday, April 1, 2010

HSUS on the decline

Charity Navigator has recently downgraded HSUS from a 4 star charity to a 3 star charity.  This is not an April Fools Joke - it's serious.  I got the news from http://www.humanewatch.org/ - read on.

The updated ratings show that HSUS’s “fundraising efficiency”—I should say inefficiency—got significantly worse in 2008. While Charity Navigator shows that HSUS spent 13 cents to raise every dollar in 2007, that number more than doubled to 27 cents. In other words, HSUS’s fundraising inefficiency doubled in 2008.
Additionally, Charity Navigator writes that the percentage of money HSUS spends on fundraising (as an overall percentage of its budget) nearly doubled between 2007 and 2008, from 12.7 percent to 24.2 percent. In contrast, the percentage that HSUS spends on its programs—you know, supposedly saving animals—also decreased by 11 percentage points.

Charity Navigator also downgraded the rating of Humane Society International (HSUS's global arm) from 3 stars (see the Google cache) to just 1 star this morning.
This should be encouraging news to HumaneWatchers everywhere. It is possible to set the record straight. And this should send a clear message to HSUS that you can’t just stuff donor dollars away in pension plans, share less than 1 percent of everyone's contributions with real-live pet shelters, and expect no one to notice.
Just two weeks ago, Wayne Pacelle was still using the 4-star rating as cover for HSUS’s abysmal financial record. So, Wayne, what’s your new talking point? (Hint: Don't fall back on the American Philanthropy Institute: That group's "C-minus" overall rating of HSUS is still in effect.) -- all courtesy of http://www.humanewatch.org/

Great news for the agriculture industry -- keep spreading the news!  P,S. you can buy the shirt pictured above from zazzle.co.uk

Until next time,
~Buzzard~