Wednesday, December 23, 2009
It's been a while since I've written you a letter. Thank you for your loyalty over the years. I hope you enjoyed the cookies. Enough with the small talk, however. I write to you today for somewhat selfish reasons. Instead of Barbies and Legos this year, I'm hoping for some intangible things. Don't worry, I'm not expecting world peace or anything like that, but the challenges I'm posing may be just as extreme. Here's what is on my wish list:
A Deeper Appreciation for American Agriculture
Santa, let's be honest, the majority of people don't know where their food comes from. It used to be that Americans had some sort of connection to farming, whether it be through their cousins in the country or their grandparents who fed and clothed their families. These days, times are different. Because some people do not understand the importance of farming, they think our country can do without it. Activists are quick to point fingers at farmers for causing global warming, mistreating their animals, polluting the environment, and shooting the Easter bunny. They do not realize that without farming, there is no food. Even those tofu pancakes wouldn't be possible without farmers. I'm not asking for miracles, but a little appreciation from the general public would be nice. Only 2% of the American public is involved with production agriculture. It's time that they are treated fairly and with respect. Farmers do things right, because they have a moral obligation to do so.
Better Prices for the Pork and Dairy Industries
How many glasses of milk will you have on Christmas night, Santa? Quite a few, but unfortunately still not enough to lower the supply of milk in the market and increase the demand for dairy products. The dairy industry has had a rough year. On average, the price U.S. dairy producers received for milk marketed in the summer of 2009 was about half of what it cost them to produce milk. What's this mean? It means some dairy farmers are PAYING to produce milk. While farming is an enjoyable profession, it still is the sole source of income for many in production agriculture. There has to be enough money to pay the bills, and this year has been rough, not only for the dairy industry, but for the pork industry as well. I hope you got your H1N1 vaccine this year, Santa, but more than that, I hope you know that it's not called the swine flu. You cannot contract it from eating pork. Some consumers don't understand this, however. The U.S. pork industry has lost about $1.5 billion since the virus was first reported, according to the National Pork Producers Council. I'm not sure how you can put this under my Christmas tree, but if there's any way you can bring better prices in 2010 for these two industries, there are many farmers who sure would appreciate it!
Cap and Trade to Go Away
I'm not sure how energy works up there in the North Pole, but here in the United States, it's in the news quite a bit. Lately, Congress is pursuing Cap and Trade. If you have time, could you maybe send a few elves down to D.C. to make Cap and Tax, as some call it, go away? Basically, cap and trade is all about carbon credits. It’s part of the climate change bill, and it regulates how much carbon certain industries can emit. It penalizes the industries that are more energy extensive. One of the fundamental problems with such a system, however, is if countries such as India and China aren’t on board, then it’s not worth us pursuing. Additionally, it will likely raise the costs of basic ag inputs such as fuel and fertilizer, because they require energy to produce. It will even affect the local home owner by raising the cost of electricity. Basically, it's bad news. It'll be a punch in the gut to farmers across the country. We're not harming the environment; we live where we farm, why would we want to hurt the land or air?
I know you have many other people to care for, Santa, but these three things would help out many American agriculturalists. Farming is a noble profession, and farmers do it because they love it, but it's not always easy. As more and more people become removed from the farm, the challenges continue to mount. Your help would make farmers' lives a lot easier.
And, one more thing, Santa. While you're visiting, a new Case 9120 combine would be nice too. You don't even have to wrap it. Since they cost around $350,000, you don't have to get me anything next year, either.
An American Farmer
Monday, November 2, 2009
As we trekked through the barn, Greg pointed out this cow and that. He called them by their names and scratched them behind their ears. He told me when they had entered the family's herd and the shows that they had competed in. He explained their production records and lineage. They were more than just "milking machines." It was evident that Greg wanted the animals to be comfortable and productive, not because they had rights, but instead, because he had a responsibility to care for them.
Given the opportunity, farmers will do the right thing. Unfortunately, there are bad apples here and there that take actions that are absolutely not condonable, but they are the exception not the rule. Farmers every day make choices based upon science and more importantly, ethics. They choose to care for their animals, because the creatures have been entrusted to them. Greg and his family are like farmers all across this country. They love what they do, and they take good care of their animals.
Ohio Issue 2 sets up the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, a group of farmers, veterinarians, local humane society officials, and others that will form policy to oversee Ohio agriculture. I trust that the Livestock Care Standards Board will make the right decisions about animal care, not because of politics, but because it's the right thing to do, and farmers want to do what's right. Please join us in voting yes.
Cows top to bottom: Bree, Morgan, and Erin. They receive excellent care every day, because farmers want to treat them humanely.
Friday, October 16, 2009
This letter was submitted to local papers today.
As the wife of a fourth-generation family farmer, I understand the importance of agriculture in our state. Therefore, voting yes for Ohio Issue 2 is imperative in order to protect an industry that contributes $93 billion annually to our state’s economy and that affords consumers with valuable options at the grocery store.
A yes vote for issue 2 on November 3, 2009, will create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. This board will be comprised of 13 Ohioans, including the Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, three family farmers, two veterinarians, a food safety expert, a representative of a local humane society, two members representing statewide farm organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college, and two consumers. These individuals will work together to assure a safe, locally grown food supply, to determine the best course of action for livestock care, and to protect the viability of Ohio agriculture.
I value Ohio agriculture and support Ohio Issue 2. Like you, I appreciate the choices we have as consumers in selecting safe and wholesome food products for my family. By establishing a board of experts to make decisions for Ohio livestock production, we can ensure that the food we buy is grown as local as possible and is not shipped in from out of state or out of the country. Issue 2 is a step to protect our state’s family farmers and is a step to keep Ohio agriculture strong.
Ohio Issue 2 makes sense for family farmers and consumers alike. You can learn more about it at www.ohiolivestockcare.com. This is our time to take ownership of how our food is grown. Vote yes on November 3.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Ohio’s Country Journal
COLUMBUS -- The Ohioans for Livestock Care Political Action Committee, proponents of State Issue 2 to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, today released 20 reasons to vote YES for Issue 2 this fall.
The reasons include the following:
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 because it is Ohio's plan to ensure excellent care for animals and provide for a safe, high quality, locally grown food supply.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 because the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will bring the best Ohio experts in animal care and food production together on one Board to set animal care policy for our state.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 to assure that Ohio families have a safe, reasonably priced, locally grown food supply and avoid making Ohio families dependent on foreign food supplies.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 to reinforce consumer confidence in Ohio-raised food.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 in order to maintain the strength and viability of Ohio agriculture -- the number one contributor to our state's economy.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 to sustain Ohio's family farms for generations to come.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 to keep decisions about Ohio livestock and poultry care where they belong--in Ohio.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 because it is the right choice for Ohio consumers, Ohio farmers and for Ohio's economic vitality.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 because it is important that changes suggested for the entire agriculture community be carefully considered by Ohio experts and supported by science, fact and data.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 because Ohio's agriculture community, along with other stakeholders in food production and elected leaders of both political parties believe the best regulations for animal care will be achieved when all interested parties join together to develop a framework that is both effective and practical for consumers and for farmers. The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is the right approach to reach that goal.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2. The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will set standards for livestock and poultry care that take into account issues of: best farm management practices, animal morbidity and mortality data, food safety and local availability and affordability of food.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2. The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will be made up of 13 Ohioans. These individuals will apply their broad expertise in making decisions affecting Ohio animal agriculture.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2. The director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture will serve as chair of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. Ten members will be appointed to the Board by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. These 10 members shall be Ohio residents and shall include the following: a family farmer, a veterinarian who is licensed in the state, the 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 statewide farm organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college or university and two members of the public representing Ohio consumers.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2 because it allows the people of Ohio to vote for an Ohio solution to animal care issues -- one that puts the decision making for livestock care and local food production in the hands of Ohio consumers and Ohio experts in farming, animal well-being and food safety.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2. Because issues addressed on Issue 2 are top-of-mind with Ohio consumers, proponents agreed that an Ohio solution should be directly voted upon, rather than enacted by the legislature. In this way, state officials will know there is a broad public support for Ohio's collaborative approach to resolving animal care issues.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2. Healthy animals are a prerequisite to producing safe, wholesome, high-quality foods. In addition to the moral imperative of treating animals humanely, Ohio livestock and poultry farmers have long known that disease, stress and injury to animals result in loss of product and lower profits.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2. Livestock farmers understand the complex responsibilities of today's modern livestock farming and chief among them is ensuring the best animal care possible. Their livelihood will always depend on healthy animals in order to provide quality, safe food for consumers. That's why Ohio farmers are affirming this commitment by supporting a statewide regulatory framework for livestock and poultry care.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2. Ohio farmers strongly support the proposal to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board because it will ensure animal care is top of mind for all farmers and keep regulatory control of Ohio's farms where it belongs--in the state.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2. Ohio consumers and farmers oppose decisions that are not made by qualified experts and that do not put all the facts, science and data on the table.
VOTE YES for ISSUE 2. Through Issue 2 farmers are taking an unprecedented lead in the nation. Being responsive to the consumers they serve, Ohio farmers are taking a proactive stance to provide for informed, responsible decisions about food and animal care issues in the state through creation of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.
To learn more about the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, to volunteer on the Issue 2 campaign, to donate, or to talk with a local farmer, please visit www.ohiolivestockcare.com.
DISCLAIMER: Paid for by Ohioans for Livestock Care Political Action Committee,
John C. Fisher, Treasurer, 280 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43215
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Maybe you’ve heard the latest sensational news: milk could cost $5 a gallon by the end of the summer. Scary, huh? Chalk it up to the economy, the ethanol craze, or whatever reason one can fabricate to blame. Nonetheless, these even a more frightening reality at heart: the poor state of the dairy industry today. While you might pay $5 at the grocery store, only a fraction of that goes to the dairy farmer.
So, let’s figure up just how much the farmer is receiving per gallon. Before we do that, here’s a quick description of how milk is marketed. Dairy producers are paid per the “hundred-weight,” or per one hundred pounds of milk. There are 8.7 pounds of milk in one gallon. Currently, to make the math a little easier, we’ll round up and say that class three milk (fluid milk- the good stuff you buy in the plastic jugs) is going for $10 a hundredweight. Breaking that down, here’s an approximation of what the farmer is getting for a gallon of milk:
.87 __$__ = __$10__ x __8.7lbs__
gal 100lbs 1gal
That’s right, for every gallon of milk you buy at the grocery store, a whopping 87 cents goes to the farmer. Where does the rest go? The supermarket’s pocket, the processor gets a cut, and you can’t forget the trucking company. Worse yet, though you may be paying $5 for a gallon of milk this summer, the futures market shows only a slight increase in the farmer’s share. Therefore, there will be larger profits for everyone except the farmer.
Now, not to continue to be a bearer of bad news, but that 87 cents isn’t even profit for the farmer. Far from it. By the time you take out labor costs, feed costs, cow healthcare, and other overhead costs, many dairy farmers are barely sliding by. They are using profits from past years to ride out the wave of losing money this year.
So, what can be done to solve this crisis in the dairy industry? We wish we knew. For now, it’s a matter of riding it on good management practices and doing more with less until the markets come around.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The past couple of weeks, we have been reminded that farming is not for the faint of heart or for those that enjoy sleep, for that matter! Early mornings, late nights, and go-go-go in between are necessary to get the crops into the ground in a timely fashion. Since Mother Nature only provides limited windows with the right conditions, like any woman, the schedule is on her terms.
Memorial Day weekend, while many of you were enjoying cookouts and were lounging beside the pool, you might have noticed the number of tractors scurrying down the road. Farming, you see, isn't a nine to five job. It doesn't take holidays, and it quits when the job is done, not when the daylight runs out. The work ethic of American farmers is second to none. I was both amazed and impressed when during the peak of planting season, Greg would leave the house a little before 6am, not to return again until after 11p. Not only was he planting crops, but he was also feeding cows, fixing equipment, and dealing with other issues that arose. And, you know what? He's not the exception. Farmers everyday balance the same workload.
Unfortunately, the weather didn't hold until planting was finished. The rain got to us right before the soybeans hit the ground. That means this week has been a little more relaxed, but rest assured, as soon as the fields dry up some, they'll be at it again. So, the next time you're driving down the road cussing at the tractor driving 10mph in front of you, have a little respect knowing that their job isn't all lollipops and sunshine. :)
Greg checks seed levels in the boxes on the planter. It's important to make sure there is always enough in the boxes, or he could have to replant the rows where the seed ran out.
Planting crops requires lot of concentration. The tractor and planter together weigh 10 tons, which means you really don't want to mess up! Also, there are about 5 controls to run at a time, in addition to steering. Multitasking is a must!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The following article can be found in its original state at http://www.idfa.org/facts/milk/milkfact/milk5.pdf
THE IMPORTANCE OF MILK IN THE DIET
Although milk from the cow is processed, it is not an engineered or fabricated food. It is about 87 percent water and 13 percent solids. The fat portion of the milk contains fat soluble vitamins. The solids other than fat include proteins, carbohydrates, water soluble vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients in milk help make it nature’s most nearly perfect food.
Milk products contain high quality proteins. The whey proteins constitute about 18 percent of the protein content of milk. Casein, a protein found only in milk, contains all of the essential amino acids. It accounts for 82 percent of the total proteins in milk and is used as a standard for evaluating protein of other foods. Protein is needed to build and repair body tissues and to form antibodies which circulate in the blood and help fight infection. Milk contains the following nutrients: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. The calcium found in milk is readily absorbed by the body. Phosphorus plays a role in calcium absorption and utilization. Phosphorus is needed in the proper ratio to calcium to form bone. Milk provides these two minerals in approximately the same ratio as found in bone. Milk is also a significant source of riboflavin (vitamin B2) which helps promote healthy skin and eyes, as well as vitamins A and D.
In adults, a calcium deficiency, along with other factors, may result in bone deterioration called osteoporosis. The recommendations for calcium is 1,000 milligrams for adults, 1,300 milligrams per day for adolescents, 500-800 milligrams per day for young children and 1,200 milligrams per day for adults over 51 years of age. It is difficult to obtain adequate calcium without milk and milk products in the diet. About 73 percent of the calcium available in the food supply is provided by milk and milk products. The following daily consumption of milk group foods is suggested:
• Children, 3 cups
• Teenagers, 4 cups
• Adults, 3 cups
• Adults over 50, 4 cups
Enjoy your glass of milk today!