Part 2 – Are You Defending or Promoting Ag?

Sorry it is 1:14 past the day I said I would post it, but here it is

Part 2

So, now that you have your message, let’s discuss talking to people.  The best thing to start out with is to find out their stance.  This can be by asking them their opinions or answering their question briefly then seeing what their next question is.  Always make sure however that you are positive and help to inform them.  Feeling the situation out can be extremely helpful to determine who you are talking to.

It then becomes critical to make sure you never alienate your engager.  Do not ever condone any wrong activity.  If presented with a situation where they say that they witnessed animal abuse, kindly begin to discuss the specifics of the situation.  Express your condolences, but do not condone it, especially by saying, “well it does not happen everywhere.”  Try to alleviate the situation and explain that we all are not perfect but reporting the situation can be very helpful.  (Oh and by the way, this is really difficult to do.  None of us want to be wrong, but if we admit our mistakes, we create transparency and that is huge for industry success.)

With regard to; organic, natural, grass-fed, and grain-fed, explain to them the differences.  Organic is a regulated label and is controlled by the USDA.  Definition is key in defining the next two terms.  Natural is an unregulated label that implies a lot and is different to everyone who reads it.  Grass-fed, this one always gets me because my cattle are “grass-fed,” but grain-finished.  Cattle are considered grass fed most of the time.  Cattle spend an average of 70% of their lifetime eating grass, therefore fall in this category.  What people really think though is that the cattle are not finished on grain, which is not always the case.    Most cattle in the U.S. are fed grain at some point in their life, as it is a supplement to their grass diet.  There are many other labels like “hormone-free,” but is there any animal who meets this, all animals produce hormones on their own?  It implies that the animal was given no extra hormones.  The key here is if they are looking for a niche (specialized) market to develop a relationship with a farmer to obtain this.

There are innumerable situations that will be encountered and you will learn from each situation how to pursue it in the future.  If you do not have an answer for a topic ask them if they want you to get an answer and get back to them.  Additionally, you can direct them to site that can provide more information.  I have provided a few below.

US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance – Food Dialogueshttp://www.fooddialogues.com

Beef It’s What’s for Dinnerhttp://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com

Got Milk!http://www.gotmilk.com

Pork Be Inspiredhttp://www.porkbeinspired.com/index.aspx

Special Thanks to Karoline Rose for input in this!

Modern Ag: An Introduction

Thanks to all for the responses. One person asked, “What exactly is modern agriculture?” Modern agriculture is just a way of saying what agriculture as an industry is doing right now. Like modern is the current going trend, thus “modern agriculture” is just the current way of doing things in agriculture, whether it be utilizing new technologies or working to decrease our impact on the environment.

Many farmers and ranchers are working to incorporate new technologies into their operations. These will allow them (farmers and ranchers) to not only improve the profit return on their farm “investments,” but additionally by improving efficiencies as an industry we are able to accomplish a two part goal. The first part is to decrease impact is to decrease the number of animals processed for consumption. The second part of our goal is to increase our gross production output, this helps to allow us (farmers and ranchers) to be able to feed an ever-growing population. With the current growth rate, experts predict that the population of the world will hit 9 billion (holy cow) by 2050. At our current outputs with agriculture, there is no way we can feed that many. Now this may seem confusing to some that we want to decrease our number of animal processed for consumption, but in reality what we are trying to do is decrease the per capita consumption, as with an ever growing population we will constantly need to produce more. By being able to increase efficiency we can, as farmers, ensure that we are able to feed 9 billion mouths easier. Efficiency is something every industry aims to improve.

Technology also aims to decrease our impact on the environment. There are countless ways that we can do this. The first is by reducing our carbon footprint from equipment usage, be it tractors or vehicles that are used. Moreover, technology aims to help us decrease our environment by allowing better manure distribution to reduce runoff. Other systems are also in place to ensure best practices, such as many processes that see to it all parts of harvested animals are properly used in entirety to reduce waste.

When many think of “modern agriculture” they think of big business and “factory” farms, when in reality that is not what it is at all.

Here are some great links for more info:

www.fooddialogues.com

www.beefnutrition.org

www.porkbeinspired.com

Continue sending in more submissions at Survey Monkey

Until next time, Go BEEF,

-Zach