Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Animal Factories?!?!?

I live in a relatively small town (about 7,000 in town; 218,000 in the county) in South Carolina along the North Carolina state line. Agriculture is a big part of our area, however this week I discovered something unnerving at our local library. I visit the library about once a week; this week’s visit was different and really opened my eyes to the reach of radical groups in our country, attempting to abolish modern production agriculture.

On display in this one horse town library was a copy of Animal Factory written by New York Times bestselling author, David Kirby. I quickly snatched the book of the shelf and thumbed through it, reading pieces here and there. I knew I must do something…but what?

Into my mind enters Kevin Bacon…and a scene from Footloose (one of my favorite movies). The people of the small town in the movie are burning books they deem unfit for their children to read-there’s an idea…burn every copy of the book…wait I momentarily forgot I am a dairy farmer’s wife…we don’t have the income for that. Then another thought enters my mind…Freedom. America was founded on the basic principle of freedom-freedom to choose our religion, freedom to bear arms, and free speech. So maybe book burning isn’t an option after all.

I could check this book out though and for at least 14 days (probably more because I ALWAYS forget to return them on time) no one else would be subject to this pack of deceitful lies about the industry I so dearly love. So that’s what I did- I checked out the book (and quickly slip it into my bag so no one would see it)-as I got into my car I realized there must be something more I could do…

After fretting all the way home about how people have a negative connotation about what my family does for a living, some going as far as putting our way of life in the same category as child abusers, I thumbed through the book again…realizing a few months ago I spoke out against people in my industry jumping to conclusions, judging books (and movies) by their cover, speaking from emotions not facts….well I couldn’t do that…I had to know the facts (thanks to everyone who encourage me to be a school teacher!).

So what am I going to do…I am going to read the book, cover to cover! And I invite you to do the same. As I read I am going to blog, discuss, research and share with everyone this book that threatens the very makeup of American agriculture. I will help to shed a light on true modern production agriculture and…TELL MY STORY. Please follow along, join the discussion and keep checking for updates. I will begin the discussion later this week so please be sure to keep reading about what’s happening at Will-C Nance Farm. Until next time have a wonderful day…and if you get a chance thank a farmer!


Monday, March 22, 2010

National Ag Day

Saturday was the first day of spring for the majority of the country and in South Carolina we enjoyed a beautiful day.  For those of us involved in agriculture and for those of you who are not but enjoy 3 square meals a day, it was also National AG Day.  National AG Day is a day we celebrate those who till the soil, feed the livestock and help provide us with the safest, most abundant and affordable food supply in the world.  For those of you who think that agriculture doesn't affect your life...let's look at some facts.

World Population Growth Is Creating Needs For Food And Fiber

  • World population is at 6.2 billion today, and is expected to reach 7.5 billion by the year 2020.
  • There will be millions of new mouths to feed, many of whom rely on United States food production to meet this need.

The United States Is Best Positioned To Meet This Growing Need

  •  Agriculture is America's #1 export.
  • About 17% of raw U.S. agriculture products are exported yearly.
  • The United States is out front in technological advances.
  • U.S. farmers and ranchers produce more than 200 raw commodities yearly for domestic and export markets.
  • In 1999, one farmer produced enough food to feed about 144 people each day.
  • Agriculture generates 20% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
  • One-fourth of the world's beef and nearly one-fifth of the world's grain, milk and eggs are produced in the U.S.
  • The United States exports $43.5 billion in agriculture products and important $26.4 billion in farm products, equaling a positive net trade balance of $17.1 billion.
  • One in three U.S. farm acres is planted for export, and 25 percent of gross farm income comes directly from exports.
  • Through research and changes in production practices, today's food producers are providing Americans with the widest variety of foods ever.
  • Research and advancements in biotechnology are now in the marketplace with tastier fruits and vegetables that stay fresh longer and are not damaged by insects.
  • Consumers derive health benefits from changes in farm production including less fat in meat and longer lasting fresh fruits and vegetables. As well, tofu, a soybean product, has been shown to reduce the risk of some cancer and heart disease.
  • For every hour, the U.S. exports $6 million worth of agricultural products.

 Technology Leads The Way In Today's Agricultural Production

  • Precision farming boosts crop yields and reduces waste by using satellite maps and computers to match seed, fertilizer and crop protection applications to local soil conditions.
  • Sophisticated Global Positioning Systems can be specifically designed for spraying herbicides and pesticides. A weed detector equipped with infrared light identifies specific plants by the different rates of light they reflect and then sends a signal to a pump to spray a preset amount of herbicide onto the weed.
  • Biogenetics is another technology that is being utilized in crop production. A particular trait is implanted directly into the seed to protect the seed against certain pests.
  • Artificial insemination of livestock is producing more and better meat supplies.
  • Farmers are utilizing 4-wheel drive tractors with up to 300 horsepower requiring fewer passes across fields - saving energy and time.
  • Huge combines are speeding the time it takes to harvest crops.
  • With modern methods, one acre of land in the U.S. (about the size of a football field) can produce: 42,000 lbs. of strawberries, 11,000 heads of lettuce, 25,400 lbs. of potatoes, 8,900 lbs. of sweet corn, or 640 lbs. of cotton lint.

 America is Producing Not Only More Food, but Higher Quality and Lower Cost

  • Two out of every three bushels of corn in the world originate in the United States.
  • In 2001, 45% of the world's soybeans were grown in the United States.
  • American consumers spend the lowest percentage of their annual income on food - just 9.3 percent.
  • Nearly 19 billion pounds of pork - the most widely eaten meat - were processed in 2001.
  • Cotton is by the far the most dominant fiber produced in the United States and is used for apparel, home fabrics as well as industrial uses.

 Fertilizers and Pesticides Contribute to Increases in Production

  • Crop protection products have tripled the output of resource-intensive food, like cooking oil, meat, fruits and vegetables.
  • Crop protection products have doubled the production of world food calories since 1960.
  • Without synthetic crop production chemicals, American farmers cannot feed the world.

 Farmers are Good Stewards of the Land and Environment

  • Farmers and ranchers are the first environmentalists, maintaining and improving the soil and natural resources to pass on to future generations.
  • Farmers use reduced tillage practices on more than 72 million acres to prevent erosion.
  • Farmers maintain over 1.3 million acres of grass waterways, allowing water to flow naturally from crops without eroding soil.
  • Countour farming, planting crops on hillsides instead of up and down, keeps soil from washing away. About 26 million acres in the United States are managed this way.
  • Cattle ranchers and others control water run-off with sod waterways and diversions, erosion control structures and catch basins.
  • Just as urban families recycle grass, newspaper and aluminum, farm families have practiced recycling for a long time by applying manure to fields to replace nutrients in the soil.
  • Food service food scraps are used to make animal feed.
  • Agricultural land provides habitat for 75 percent of the nation's wildlife.
Now National AG day has passed for 2010 however each day you still enjoy the fruits of the labor and love that each America farmer has given.  So please take a moment and tell a farmer thank you!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Congressman Spratt

For all you SC followers I thought you might like to know that one of our Congressmen is being honored this month by the Humane Society of the United States. (read article here)

As most production animal agriculturist know HSUS is not affiliated with your local humane society. If you are not familiar with HSUS, check out this link

I will be kind and say that perhaps Spratt doesn't know all the details about HSUS and their mission to abolish animal agriculture.  I feel that each of us should contact Spratt and express our deep concern over this matter.  Please remember to express yourself in a professional manner and respond using facts not emotions.  This is your chance to tell your personal story.  Please remember to ask him to support family farms in SC and across the country.  At one time he too was part of our industry. 

Remember this is our chance to help speak out against HSUS and their mission.  Let's help to educate the Congressman. 

Please click here to email Congressman Spratt and tell YOUR farm story!!!

YF&R Conference Part III

Enter & Win It!!!!

Please accept my deepest heartfelt apologizes for the untimely posting of this blog. I realize that over a month has passed since I updated and finished my recap. However I promised that I would do this so here we go!!!!

The main session of the conference on Saturday was the Enter & Win It!!!! Session. In this session multiple people spoke on how to enter the three YF&R Achievement Award areas and WIN them. I loved this session. It gave great insight on the award areas and we heard from people who had successfully completed each area.

We will begin with the Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award. This award is designed for those individuals who receive most of their income from traditional production agriculture. The coolest thing about this award is if you win on the state level you win a TRUCK, plus a trip to represent SC at the American Farm Bureau Convention!! Kevin Satterwhite and Bo Norris spoke on the process. The first step is filling out the paperwork. The application can be tedious however if you work on it throughout your application year and conquer one section at a time then you will be more confident in your answers. Also make sure everything on your application is true. Remember the judges are looking for what you have done and your future plans. Once you have submitted your application it will be reviewed by a panel of judges and three finalists will be selected. If you are one of the three finalists then a photographer and judges will come out to visit your farm. This will be your opportunity for the pavement (application) to meet the road (your operation). Both Kevin and Bo suggest that you not get caught up in the fact that someone is coming to visit. Do clean up around the place but you don’t have to drop a ton of money on new landscaping and such. It is also key for everyone interested in applying to know that neither of these guys won on their first try. If make take you a few years to win but each time you gain some more knowledge about the process. Bo stated that he had been trying to win for a while and that each year he gained more knowledge however he didn’t give up. You might need to take a break and reevaluate your application but you don’t give up.

Next Carrie and Brian Dalton spoke on the Excellence in Agriculture Award. Carrie and Brian won the state competition a few years back and went on to win the national competition. This award is designed for participants who do not earn the majority of their income from an owned agricultural operation. Contestants will be judged on their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability, involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations (i.e., civic, service and community).

The top three state winners will be selected from the written applications as state finalists. The finalists will then be required to present an oral presentation during the SCFB Annual Meeting in Myrtle Beach during December. The application and presentation scores of the three finalists will be combined and the highest total score will determine the state winner. Carrie gave us a humorous insight to how they won the EA award. Her suggestions include keeping copies of the application in various locations and jotting information down as it occurs to you. She also encouraged us to sit down as a family and go over the application and goals with one another. Brian prepared all the spouses in the room that doing such can become an addiction and soon you might be tired of the process but he promised the rewards are worth the hard work. Carrie suggested not applying until you felt you had a top notch application.

We ended the session with the discussion meet competition. I spoke on this event. I have a few suggestions that I feel are at the heart of winning this competition…

1) Get a copy of the questions well in advance
2) Read articles, blogs, and websites for news
3) Discuss the questions with trusted and knowledgeable family and friends
4) Prepare your opening and closing statements prior to the competition
       a. These should be PERFECT
5) Read over and understand the scoring rubric
       a. Know where the majority of the points are given
6) Remember this is a DISCUSSION NOT A DEBATE!!!
7) Tell your story…this is your industry and you have a different idea from the next so make sure that you are expressing yourself and all will flow

Overall the theme was to keep trying even if you don’t win the first time out. I personally competed in discussion meet contest 5 times prior to winning. If you have any questions please feel free to contact any of the above mentioned individuals. We are all happy to help you out. I hope to see every area jam packed full of contestants and GOOD LUCK!!