There is nothing better than getting to talk about agriculture with random strangers. It never ceases to amaze me how connected we are within agriculture. It’s a bond thy can only be seen from the inside.
Today at work I was waiting on a table when I noticed this man was wearing a hat with a seed company on it. I got pretty excited because I assumed he had to be a farmer so I asked, and it turned out that he was. I instantly told him I was an ag major at Missouri Sate and we began talking about different Ag companies and my plans for the future. He told me that his daughter was an Ag business major who had formally worked with Monsanto. Hearing his story of his daughters success made me even more excited to graduate an enter into the field of agriculture! I love my major and I cannot wait to begin classes again in the fall.
Wednesday in my Public Relations in Agriculture class, we got the opportunity to talk with Chuck Zimmerman, the founder of ag wired, via skype. Zimmerman started his career by doing farm radio for Brownfield Ag News. After leaving Brownfield he started doing social media. He started a blog called AgWired to talk about agriculture. Zimmerman was one of the first to start an agriculture related blog. Though it started out as companies websites, it soon became a source to the public for ag related news. Communication in agriculture is constantly changing, Zimmerman started in radio where he would only be able to do 3 minute interviews, but is now able to produce more audio than ever. He can put full length interviews online for everyone to listen to. By posting news and things on the AgWired website it allows other agriculture people to use what they’ve posted. At the start of Ag Wired no companies wouldn’t pay attention to him, but they soon realized his business was taking off. Zimmerman now manages 4 websites that generate income. Zimmerman adapted to the changing times by continuing to keep up with the times. Agriculture communications is a constantly changing business and I believe that it will continue to change in the future. I believe that more and more farmers will turn to social media and blogging to tell their stories. I believe that more and more farming apps will be created and farming will eventually become a very technologically advanced practice.
Check out the AgWired website! http://www.agwired.com
Last week I started a series of Misconceptions of Agriculture, this is the second part of the topic.
4. MYTH: There is no future in Agriculture
-FACT: According to Fox News, more than 146,00 students in college are pursing a degree in agriculture, this is a 21% increase in enrollment since 2006. Food and Agriculture sectors produce more than 54,000 jobs a year for students with degrees in food renewable energy, and environmental specialties. Agriculture is a growing industry with much hope for the future considering we continue to need more and more food to feed the world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs in the agriculture sector are expected to increase by 10% from 2010 to 2020.
5. MYTH: Farm animals in “confinement” are prone to diseases, forcing farmers to routinely use antibiotics, hormones and drugs to keep them alive. This jeopardizes animal and human health.
-FACT: Animal scientists, veterinarians and on-farm experience show animals kept in housing are generally healthier because they are protected. Farm animals do sometimes get sick. To prevent illness and to ensure that an animal remains healthy all of its life, farmers will take preventive measures, like using animal health products. These products are generally included in a scientifically-formulated feed that matches the animal’s needs. This is the simplest way to ensure each animal gets the care it needs. Animal health products include animal drugs and vaccines, in addition to vitamins, minerals and other nutrients the animal needs in its diet. All animal health products are approved and regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). (Myth and Fact taken from realfarmersrealfood.com)
6. MYTH: Organic food production doesn’t use pesticides or synthetic fertilizers
-FACT: Organic production can use “natural” pesticides such as mineral salts, and pesticides from plants. In fact the largest quantity of chemical pesticides are being applied to organic crops as approved “natural pesticides” (American Farm Bureau Foundation)
Check out Matt Lohr from Virgina’s Farm Bureau top 10 list as well! http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/news/releases-b/031413agwk.shtml
1. MYTH: Farming is mostly controlled by large organizations
–FACT: According to FarmKind.org and USDA NASS “Of the 2.2 million farms in the U.S., 87% are owned by an individual or a married couple responsible for operating the farm. 97% of U.S. farms are family-owned and operated, according to the USDA. The USDA reported only 7,000 non-family controlled corporate farms in the U.S.”
2. MYTH: Farm animals that are raised in “factory farms” are abused and confined.
–FACT: According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s website, factory farming is defined as “a large industrialized farm; especially : a farm on which large numbers of livestock are raised indoors in conditions intended to maximize production at minimal cost” The problem is that people misuse this word all the time giving the term a negative feeling. This definition is so broad. Isn’t the goal of all farms to maximize production at minimal cost? A farmer could have a 100 head of cattle and someone could say that is “large” but to others it may just be a normal size
3. MYTH: By eating less meat, Americans would improve the environment and free land and resources for the production of food crops rather than animal products, which could be used to feed the hungry overseas.(Misconception and Fact provided by Animal Agriculture Alliance)
-FACT: Americans need both animals and plants to manage the nation’s natural resources in the best way possible and feed its people. For example, about half the land area of the U.S. can’t be used for growing crops, it can only be used for grazing. That land would be useless as a food resource.
Today I got the chance to venture to the outskirts of Springfield and bottle feed a calf for the first time. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since I’d never done it before. When I arrived we filled up each bottle with a mixture of formula and water. I went to the barn and got my first glimpse at the cute babies They were adorable! Bottle feeding is exactly what it sounds like, I just held the bottle while the calf drank. As I was watching the babies drink from the bottle, I couldn’t help but think of the extent of care that farmers and ranchers give their animals. The fact that these farmers and ranchers take the time to give bottles to these calves every morning and night is simply amazing! I’ll never understand how groups such as the HSUS and PETA insist that agriculturalists don’t take good care of our animals.
My best friend growing up raised cows and horses, so I’ve been around livestock all my life. I watched her dad pour his life into taking care of their animals and he did an amazing job of it. As for the horses, you will never find someone more in love with her horses. We were constantly brushing and feeding them making sure they were happy and well taken care of. We once stayed up an entire night with a horse just to be able to be there when the horse gave birth. Seeing that little animal take her first wobbly steps is a sight I will never forget. It’s these memories that I will never forget that have made me want to stand up for agriculture. I can’t stand to see people making false accusations about animal agriculture, when they know nothing about it.