Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Traditions-part 2

So last week I told you about half of our Christmas traditions.  Today I am going to wrap them up.


Tradition number 5: We watch ALL the Christmas movies on TV...Rudolph, Frosty...you know the ones...they were made in the 60s or 70s and are wonderful....yeah we watch them...sometime we watch them 2 or 3 times.




Tradition number 6: We make ornaments together- in my family we typically made cookies but they always turned out terribly and were never around from year to year-so instead me make salt dough ornaments and give them away as gift tags-plus we keep a few or a dozen to hang on our trees...yes I said trees we have 3-4 each year.



Tradition number 7: We attempted to begin the tradition this year of only giving little man 3 gifts to symbolize the 3 gifts the Wise men brought to baby Jesus.  My hubs and I give 3 gifts that are needed/useful and Santa gives 3 gifts that are wants.  This year we gave the little man gift 1: clothing gift 2: board games gift 3: Legos & playdough.  Santa gave: gift 1: new workbench w/ tool box, gift 2: a new calf rope, gift 3: Rodeo Cowboys.  We kept things simple but it still seemed like a lot of stuff.  


And last but certainly not least is Tradition Number 8!!  Many farm families experience a similar situation...livestock must be cared for daily even on Christmas.  For us to ensure we get to all enjoy opening presents together that means we must do so prior to hubs heading to work.  So we all get up and open presents about 4:30 a.m. so that Daddy can see Wyatt enjoy his presents.  Once all the presents are opened William drives 20 minutes south and starts the morning milking...a little late.  Wyatt and I clean up and get ready to enjoy the rest of the day's festivities.




Our traditions are simple, they aren't elaborate or over the top.  Our traditions reflect our values and beliefs...What type of traditions does your family have?  


Until we meet again--

Caci  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Traditions

As many of you have probably gathered my family is very important to me.  The holidays remind me of those who are no longer with us to celebrate and how much our celebrations have changed because of their passing. It also reminds me of how much everyone has grown and changed over the years.  For example below my lil' man is no longer this cute little baby he is growing into a big boy daily.  


I grew up next door to my maternal grandparents.  They were the glue that kept my mom's family together.  After my grandfather passed away our family rallied around my grandmother to ensure the holidays were a special time not one for sorrow and sadness even though...there were times when we would miss his laugh...or him yelling at us for making a huge mess.  

Since my grandmother passed away almost 5 years ago our family has gotten more and more disconnected. We no longer all going shopping together or talk much anymore.  We aren't having holiday get togethers either.  Now in all fairness we are literally scattered across the country and even the globe and we all have jobs...some of us have jobs that tie us down a little more than others.  Here is how it works out...we have a handful of family living in Florida, a few in Georgia, another handful in South Carolina, and one apparently got lost and is living in New Mexico (i think) and then another and her family are in England.  So getting together all the time isn't necessarily as easy as it was a few years ago, especially since the grandkids now have kiddos of their own ranging in age from 3 to 17!!  Still I miss those times with my family.

To combat those lousy feelings I do my best to share some of our traditions or variations with my lil' man, in addition we have added some that are soley ours!

1) Decorating for Christmas begins the day AFTER Thanksgiving...no sooner...no later.  My grandmother always began the decorating process on Friday and on Saturday (our family Thanksgiving was ALWAYS on Sat...had to watch the Georgia/GA Tech game as a family...even if we were divided) we would all help decorate the tree.  And the boys would haul her outdoor light display out of storage and set it up...3 or 4 times depending on her mood.  Here is a link to my pinterest...always adding new ideas 

2) My hubby, William, Wyatt and I go out on the farm and find our own Christmas tree.  Now this does require some give and take on my part...meaning I will never have a perfectly groomed tree...many times we have trees that would have made Charlie Brown cry but this is a tradition we love...just look at these pictures from 2 years ago...


and these from just yesterday


3) We bake lots of cookies, cakes, and candies!  I always remember having lots of baked good growing up and enjoying creating those items with family.  One of Wyatt's favorites is Oreo Truffles...so here is a recipe I found online at 2 peas and their pod...
Oreo TrufflesAdapted from Kraft Food and Family and Bakerella 
1 package oreo cookies, 16 ounces (divided… use cookie including the cream center)
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
White chocolate-the kind made for dipping! Either bark or the discs. 
1. Crush cookies in a food processor and stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together. 
2. Roll the mixture into 1″ balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.
3. Melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry. I melted dark chocolate and drizzled it on the white! 
4. Once dry, refrigerate and enjoy! 
Makes about 36 truffles.
FYI: It helps to freeze the uncoated balls for a few minutes to keep the mixture from starting to fall apart in the melted chocolate. If this becomes a problem, dip them in the chocolate, let dry and then dip again. They are also good dipped in regular milk or dark chocolate. Try different types of Oreos for fun, such as mint, peanut butter, holiday, etc. 

4) We have an advent calendar- my grandmother had one but we never actually used it...just decoration.  We however use ours daily to help our lil' man learn what Christmas is truly about.  William & I believe that teaching our son to focus on Christ is a large part of our job as parents and the advent calendar helps us.  This year we have chosen to do a Jesse Tree.  The Jesse Tree is meant to symbolize Jesus’ family tree.  ”Jesse” refers to one of Jesus’ ancestors, and the “Jesse Tree” is specifically named so in reference to Isaiah 11:1 1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of JesseAnd a branch from his roots will bear fruit..  If you would like to learn more or make your own Jesse Tree check out Print Candee.  Below is a picture of our tree before we got started

So I didn't realize how many traditions our family had until today....so I am going to stop here and finish the rest of our traditions up later this week... in the meantime why don't you take a moment and share what are your family traditions?  


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Making a difference

As I write this I am sitting in Myrtle Beach, SC at the South Carolina Farm Bureau annual meeting.  My family and I have been here since yesterday evening.  We have had the opportunity to visit with friends and discuss important topics affecting agriculture.  Expanding our understanding of how various legislation affects different farmers in all parts of our state.   

William and I spent most of the day working at the Golf Tournament to raise money for the Ag in the Classroom program.  The girls on our committee congregated around one hole and watched to see if anyone made a hole in one and the boys did the same on a different hole.  It was a great time visiting with fellow farm wives and just relaxing.  After the majority of the golfers had played through I headed to the Silent Auction to help bring in items and enter information into the computer for the ladies.  I am happy to say we have some wonderful items being auctioned off the rest of the meeting.  

All the things we have done in the last 24 hours have been to benefit agriculture in one way or another.
We have worked to raise money in order to fund education programs, we have worked to give back to an organization that has given us wonderful opportunities to travel and network, to expand our leadership skills and to develop life long friendships.  

I guess the best thing to say is for the last 24 hours the South Carolina Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher committee has worked to make a difference in how people view agriculture.  

So what did you do today to make a difference?

Until next time---

Caci

Monday, November 14, 2011

Do you farm or ranch? Depends on who you ask!

Many people don't know the difference in a farm and ranch
some even think they are the same thing. 
however they are different

Ranches typically only raise livestock and perhaps some hay,
farms on the other hand could raise livestock, hay, crops and much more.

In the South traditionally we don't have ranches...
even if we only raise cattle and hay.
We have farms...that's just the way it is.

We most definitely have a farm.  We raise crops, cattle, and KIDS on our farm. 
We are diversified and could easily split up segments of the farm
to include a ranch and farm separately
but all in we are a farm and a farm family.

Well apparently my lil man plans to change that...
because he insist that we have a ranch not a farm!
In the last 2 weeks he has told me multiple times that he is a cowboy/rancher.


Yesterday we saddled up his horse to go for a ride
and he told me that he was going to check cattle on the ranch
and that Bartow (the horse) and Millie (the dog) were going to be his partners.

I think this may be in large part due to his favorite book...Levi's Lost Calf by Amanda Radke. 



He loves this story and we read it multiple times each day. 

If you haven't read it I suggest you grab a copy and read it!  Great story and AWESOME illustrations!

Anyways during our "ranch" ride yesterday afternoon,
Bartow became a little frisky.
Our other horse was feeling good in the cool weather and was running around
Bartow thought that he too should run around
the only problem was my 3 year old was on him

As we were walking/jogging across the field,
Bartow started crow hopping (kinda like bucking but not as bad) and side stepping
my mommy instinct was to freak and snatch Wyatt off
but first I had to get the horse under control

As I stood there praying my lil man didn't hit the ground
I noticed his little legs were latched to the sides of Bartow,
his hands firmly holding the reins and the saddle horn,
he had lowered his body toward the horse to get a better seat,
and low and behold he was slightly bewildered but he was
SMILING! 

After about 30 seconds (if that) Bartow stopped completely
he looked at me as if nothing happened
and Wyatt was beaming from ear to ear
"Mommy, did you see I didn't fall off! I told you I was a COWBOY/RANCHER."

At that point I couldn't help but laugh,
thanking the Good Lord
 he gave lil man the know-how and strength to hang on for the ride

You never know what is going to happen around the farm (or ranch)!
Everyday is an adventure...

--Until Next Time

Caci




Friday, November 11, 2011

Week in Review

Last week was Halloween and I forgot to share some shots from the end of Oct. 
We had a great time catching up with friends and enjoying some much needed downtime.
Here is our little cowpoke and his rustled up cow at the Fall Festival in Downtown 

Future Rodeo Champion trick-or-treating

The cowpoke, Tigger, and a Vampire hanging out Halloween Night

So onto this week.  It has still been about settling back into our "new" old routine. 
Since little man dropped preschool like a hot potato we have had to readjust...
well we are attempting.

You see I take this little guy to the dairy each morning
before I head to my 8-5.  That wouldn't be such an issue if
the barn was on my way...which it isn't...
actually I drive past my office to deliver the wild one...
It's about 20 minutes one way from our house to the barn...
then another 10-15 minutes back to the office...
so in the grand scheme of things I should be leaving my house by 7:20 each morning
to make it to work on time
that doesn't happen...anyways we will get there
maybe one...hopefully

moving on to the rest of the week.
of course with time change it has been a booger to get all the calves & sheep checked
during the day light hours...but somehow we manage

these critters are vital to our farm so we make sure they are fed, watered, and cared for daily.
Thank heavens that during the fall/winter William's grandfather checks cows in the morning
and lets me know if he needs anything.  One night this week I had to go find our one hired hand...
he was on the highway pulling the hay baler back from the field...
this wouldn't have been a problem but our baler doesn't have
lights so...I crept along at snails pace with my flasher on

so little man quit started Mommy School...it has been interesting
even though i am an educator it is hard planning lessons for your own child...
you know their interest and their needs (which should make it easy) but I also know
what he dislikes and still have to make him complete his work.

This week has been all about the letter A, apples, the number 7 and the shape square
we have been practicing writing our letter and number
even worked on graphing!
picking out square items...which by the way explaining to a 3 year old that a
square bale isn't really a square can be difficult
and frustrating
we have also been working on some fine motor skills

Even daddy has had a chance to get in on some of the school work action

and on Monday I celebrated my 29th birthday...
(really I did....i am not stuck in my 20's like some people i know)

We are gearing up for a fun weekend of play dates and shoe box decorating.
One last thing...thanks to all our Veterans...it was you who have made it possible for my
dreams to come true!!!  Thanks!!!

Until Next time---






Friday, November 4, 2011

My 3 year old drop out

OK so I have taken a break from blogging the last week...
 or two because I had something I had to focus on.
This was more important for me than the latest news or even agvocating.
It was my little man!
Little man has been attending a Montessori pre-school program since the end of August.
he has fought attending each and everyday...
he hated it...daily

In the last 2 weeks the daily fight has gotten worse.
we finally discovered why...
the program/teacher were not for him.

let me explain...my little man is active.
he is constantly busy...even while i write this he is busy doing "school work"
OK really he is drawing lines on paper and bringing them to me or hanging them on the wall
but to him this is work.

in his class he expected time to work with classmates,
sign, play. create masterpieces...in reality
he was with his classmates for about 30 minutes at the beginning of the day
and then for an hour and a half or two
 he was expected to work individually, quietly...constantly
this wasn't a problem at first as everything was new and interesting
but from my side i had no clue what was going on in the classroom...
i never got much feedback and when i asked about letting me know daily i was shot down

however in the last few weeks he has gotten to where he would work for 30-45 minutes and then sit and observe others...he never bothered other children
or disrupted class...but he would sit and stare and his activity


when he did this he missed recess but he didn't care...
if he missed recess he got one on one time with the teacher
(who doesn't have that preschool loving attitude i expected).
i asked how to correct this or for suggestions...again i got nothing

so after much discussion and prayer we decided...
Wyatt just needs to be removed from this program...
the fight...the sadness...the lack of communication...
this was not the experience i wanted him to have...
so on Monday we begin Mommy School.

So as you can see the little man needed attention...
and that comes first...but now i will be back!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Food Day Principle #5

So I took some time off this weekend to deal with a sick kiddo. 
He was miserable so I didn't think that if Mommy spend time online doing research and writing a blog post he would be very happy. 

Instead I did what most moms do when they have a sick little one...I babied him and we spent some quality time just cuddling. 

As I was gearing up to write a post about the next principle of Food Day I noticed someone else had already done so...and actually said pretty much the same thing I was thinking

Check out Food Mommy's Post here

Basically don't blame others because you can't tell your kids no. 
What they eat is a reflection of you and your parenting.  If you are allowing your children to eat junk food day in and day out then you need to readjust and make some better food choices.

Remember this they are children...they will get away with what they can...don't let them rule the roost!

Until next time--

Caci

P.S. if you want to start a convo about your food and farming head over to CommonGround's site.

Friday, October 21, 2011

We are not a Factory Farm....we are a family! (Food Day Principle #4)

Good Afternoon!  There have been lots of blogging this week about Food Day!
Check out some other farmer blogs on this topic!


South Dakota Farm Wife Food Day Voice & Food and Farming



And you can always check out my previous post.

Also don't forget to help make a difference in the fight against hunger and donate to my virtual food drive here!  

So let's move on to today's Food Day principle.  To be honest...this one makes my blood boil because I feel like I am constantly fighting the same fight but not gaining any ground! 

Food Day Principle #4: Protect the Environment and farm animals by reforming factory farms.

Dawn over at Lady of Ag has done a great job helping people understand that we aren't factory farms we are family farms.  Take a few moments to hop over there and read from her side of the fence!

Here is a quick video to recap some of what I am going to write today!


And again in the interest of full disclosure we are considered a large farm.  "The  National Agricultural Statistics Service report divides up the U.S. farms into economic (annual) sales classes. These are between $1,000 and $10,000, between $10,000 and $100,000, between $100,000 and $250,000, between $250,000 and $500,000, and finally those farms that have annual sales > $500,000. In 2007, the NASS report estimated there were 1.22 million farms in the first economic class (between $1,000 and $10,000) while there were 126,000 farms in the fifth class (> $500,000). (Larry Jacobson, University of Minnesota)."     We fit into the 4th class of farms having annual sales between $250,000 and $500,000. 


The first thing Food Day organizers attack in this principle are confined animal feeding operations or CAFOs.  According to the EPA Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) are agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields, or on rangeland.  The C just means confined in South Carolina, which is kind of misleading since our cattle are only confined during milking.  The principle states that size and location of CAFOs should be strictly regulated.  CAFO's are strictly regulated.  We are inspected on a regular basis to ensure we are not polluting the air, land or water.  We have a waste management plan that we must follow and update as needed.  Also with me working as an environmental outreach coordinator specializing in water quality we participate in numerous programs to help improve water quality on our farm...including installing buffers, limiting or eliminating access to creeks and ponds, and stabilizing run-off proned areas. 

This statement just shows more of  an agenda (in my opinion) as HSUS & PETA want to control operations they don't understand.  (I would like to control the size and location of those two organizations...like give 95% of their annual donations to local animal shelters and leave their directors on a deserted island...anyways) 

It always amazes me that we point fingers at people so we don't have to point them at ourselves.  We have found in York County we can contribute more fecal contamination of our waterways to irresponsible pet owners and improperly functioning septic tanks than we can farmers and I am sure this could be true in other areas as well. 

The principle also spews some major misinformation lets just look at the 1st 2 of 5 bullet points:

•Livestock produce some three trillion pounds of manure annually. Mountains and lakes of excrement pollute the air and water.  According to the EPA the entire U.S. agriculture sector accounts for only 6 percent of annual U.S. Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.  Of this livestock production is estimated to account for 2.8 percent of total U.S. emissions.  Most farmers use their manure as fertilizer instead of purchasing chemical fertilizers.  This is a type of recycling and giving the land back many of the nutrients it needs.  There are even large businesses now who purchase animal waste just to compost and sell to homeowners.  " Almost every farm, large or small, will maintain the soils nutrients by the addition of natural (cover crops), organic (animal manure), or chemical fertilizers otherwise it will not produce the crops planted. Similarly, soil conservation practices such as contour farming, wind breaks, and vegetative buffer strips are practiced or built on both large and smaller farms.  (Larry Jacobson, University of Minnesota)."    


•Antibiotics added to animal feed may lead to antibiotic-resistant infections in humans.  First you need to take a look at this Antibiotic Approval Process Factsheet to get a better understanding of the rigorous testing.  Then understand that farmers/ranchers and veterinarians take great care to administer only the amount of antibiotics needed to bring an animal back to health. The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA)program has been training beef producers about the safe and appropriate use of antibiotics since the 1980s.  The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Producer Guidelines for “Judicious Use of Antimicrobials” have been in place since 1987 and specifically outline the appropriate use of these products:Multiple studies have reviewed whether antibiotic use in cattle production causes an increased risk to consumers by developing antibiotic-resistant foodborne or other pathogens, and none have found a connection (Journal of Food Protection, July 2004; Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2003).

• Avoid using antibiotics that are important in human medicine.

• Use a narrow spectrum of antimicrobials whenever possible.

• Treat the fewest number of animals possible.

• Antibiotic use should be limited to prevent or control disease and should not be used if the primary intent is to improve performance.

These are guidelines that not only apply to beef farmers but dairy, pork, poultry, and lamb.  We all do our best to ensure our animals are healthy and safe to consume.  Here are some facts from studies which have been conducted:


The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) was established in 1996 as a collaborative effort among FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This program provides an early-warning system for detecting
any change in pathogen resistance patterns.  http://www.fda.gov/cvm/narms_pg.html


• Guidance 152 is an FDA recommended process implemented in 2003 that adds an additional safety measure to prevent antimicrobial resistance that may result from the use of antimicrobial drugs in animals.

http://www.fda.gov/cvm/Guidance/fguide152.pdf

• The beef industry takes seriously the potential of antimicrobial resistance. As a result, the industry has funded more than 13 comprehensive research projects to enhance the understanding of the basic science of resistance development, as well as collect information on the effects of beef production practices on resistance development in food borne pathogens. www.beefresearch.org
The article continues to throw misinformation around in this sentence "Many dairy cows have their tails cut off without painkillers and generally never eat a blade of grass in their lives." That is simply not true!  Yes some dairies dock the tails on their milk cows for sanitary reasons but many dairies do not.  We do not. 


a dry cow...grazing

Our dry cows (cows they aren't milking) and heifers (female cattle which haven't had a calf) graze almost exclusively expect for in times when there is a shortage of grass then they are supplemented with hay.  Once a cow or heifer has a calf they are then brought into the milk line and calves are placed in hutches to receive daily care. 

young calf in hutch....with grass
These cows are fed a different diet as their dietary needs have now changed.  Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows that once the baby is born and you are nursing you must change your diet to meet the new demands on your body...the same is true for cattle.  On our farm the milk cows are allowed to go out and graze between milkings however that isn't possible on all dairies therefore those cows are given roughage (typically hay) to help with their digestion.  Never would you find a cattlemen feeding just grain to cattle...the cattle will also have access to hay in order to ensure proper rumen function. 

Farmers currently raise animals in the most efficient way ever.  We are producing more food using less resources than ever before.  It is not possible for us to convert back to the 1950's way of farming and feed and ever expanding nation and world.  Doing so would cause approximately 150 million people living in the U.S. to be without food.  That's everyone in the 13 largest U.S. states, hungry!  (www.bestfoodfact.org)

OK so to wrap today's principle up:

1. I am not a factory farmer....neither are 98% of the other farmers out there
2. We do our best each and every day on our farm to ensure we are supplying a safe, wholesome and affordable food supply.
3. We protect the environment daily because that is what is best for our family, your families and our business...we want to our son to become the 11th generation of our families to farm unless we protect our natural resources he won't have those opportunities.

If you would like to ask specific questions or start a conversation about farming and food please feel free to contact me or check out CommonGround's website.   

Until next time---

Caci


 






Thursday, October 20, 2011

Food Day: Principle #3…no more hunger?

Hello Thursday! We are one day away from the weekend and half through the Food Day principles. Wordy Wednesday really wore me out! But I am back again- if you haven't been following my Food Day series you can check out my previous postings…(FD Overview, FD P1, FD P2).

Today we are focusing on Principle #3: Expand Access to food and end hunger
On the surface I believe this is a wonderful goal- one that farmers and ranchers work towards each and everyday! As a former classroom teacher it broke (& still breaks) my heart to see students you can't focus in class because they are hungry. Most times these students were not receiving any type of anti-hunger assistance from the government. Let's get to digging to find out more about Food Day principle #3.

In the 1st paragraph it states "It is critically important to help eligible people to take full advantage of food stamps, school meals, and other federal anti-hunger programs." "Take Full Advantage" that phrase bothers me. You see I grew up & live in an area where people take full advantage of government programs each and every day. This has caused major economic problems as these programs struggle to meet the needs of their expanding client list. Many of their clients don't need or deserve federal government handouts. I have witness people in true need being turned away from assistance because others have abused the system. I don't believe throwing more money at this problem is going to help. Reforming our anti-hunger programs is what is needed. That reform comes with time limits, expectations, drug testing, and consequences…not more money.

Let me give you an example…a child who receives free breakfast and lunch plus his family receives SNAP (food stamps) walks into my classroom in a pair of tennis shoes that cost $200…he is one of 4, who all got new shoes this weekend and yes they paid full price for each pair…how do I know I was in the store checking out behind them…my son's new shoes…cost $30. This family is not in need of anti hunger assistances they are in need of education and financial planning. (BTW please don't talk to me about Ruby Payne...I understand the concept…but you must break the cycle somewhere…don't keep feeding & funding it!)

Moving on … Food Deserts is a new term to me…apparently it means a place where the nearest grocery store is beyond walking distance for people without cars. Well first let me say that you will never get a grocery store within walking distances of every American without a car. That is a ridiculous thought; however I understand the concept of wanting healthy food access, but how do to accomplish that goal? And putting grocery stores every 2 or even 10 miles isn't the answer.

As farmers and ranchers we work daily to help end world hunger. We are more efficient now that ever. Thanks to modern farming practices, each U.S. Farmer today produces food and fiber to annually feed 155 people in the United States and abroad, compared to 19 people in 1940 (http://www.fb.org/index/php?fuseaction=yourag.facts)

It was well noted a few years back that in Rapid City, South Dakota…PETA supporters were dumping milk-like mixtures down the drain to protest modern milk production methods…SD farmers and ranchers stepped up and donated 65 gallons of milk to a local food bank which was matched gallon for gallon by Ag United. (http://www.newscenter1.tv/stories/3449.aspx) Those farmers and ranchers (most of who were not dairy farmers) didn't just stand there and argue their case, they did something positive…they helped to supply 130 families with safe, nutritious and wholesome milk that is an essential part of a healthy diet.

I believe if we truly want to end hunger then we must NOT rely on overtaxed government programs which many people use as a permanent source of income…we must make a difference individually. So I challenge each of you to step up and donate a bag of groceries to your local food bank or you can donate to my virtual food drive  to make a difference in the lives of hungry people.

 
Until tomorrow!

 
Caci

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Food Day part 3: Sustainable Farms & Subsidies...the Truth about Farming


For the past few days I have been covering Food Day and its principle. If you missed the previous post...check them out here & here. Today's principle is one that took some time and research on my part.



Continuing at tradition...
Food Day Principle #2: Support Sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness.


Generation to Generation...farming is a major part of who we are!


Our Farm Family




This principle really breaks down into 2 separate parts pretty easy. For those of you in the livestock industry this is kinda like sorting a judging class into an easy top and bottom pair. Part of the principle deals with sustainable farms which considering our family has been farming for 10 generation, I think we are pretty sustainable, but we will talk about that in more detail a little later. The other part is farm subsidies.



Food Day organizers begin by tossing around large numbers and $$$ making farmers who accept subsidies out to be the bad guys. Farm subsidies have been around since the late 30's/early 40's. The program is designed to help farmers financially when crop prices are low or when things go bad (i.e. drought, floods, & other natural disasters). (Bruce Babcock -- http://www.bestfoodfacts.org/main/qa_result/19 ) Farming unlike many other professions depends largely on Mother Nature, which as we all know has a mind of her own. For example the last week has been perfect cotton picking weather however if you didn't/couldn't defoliate due to rain earlier then you couldn't pick...and if for some reason you did defoliate but could cover all the ground prior to last night...your cotton is now in the field soaking wet.



Farm subsidies also help create and maintain jobs. According to Agday.org 22 million people work in an agricultural related field. Many of which are given some support directly or indirectly by farm subsidies. Farm subsidies total about $16 billion per year- let's put that number into better perspective U.S farm policy cost Americans $0.069/day or $25.19/year (www.farmpolicyfacts.org )

to help 22 million people continue or become employed- that’s 6 times the number of people as the U.S. automotive industry (FPF) and if I remember correctly and according to a New York Times article just one of the big 3 received a bailout of $50 million. Again I believe cost of farm subsidies is minimal for the benefits it offers.



I took some time to dig through Environmental Working Groups farm subsidy database so that I could give you an idea of one county's farm subsidies over the past 15 years. I selected the county I live in because I know the facts here. We are the 7th largest counties in the state and the 2nd largest in the metro area (Wiki) based on population, living in an area with 331.3 people per square mile (Census Data) just south of Charlotte, NC. Now sounds like we are kinda crowded however the majority of the people in our county live on the Eastern half of our county and the western side is still rural with a good bit of farm land. The EWG states that our county farmers collected S13.8 million in subsidies in the last 15 years. The 10% top of farms collecting received an average of $8,537 per year; the bottom 80 % received an average of $157.



Let me explain the differences.

The more land you farm the larger subsidies you qualify for...now is that wrong...no! The men and women who have these large farms in our county worked hard for what they have...they are the type of people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps and with or without farm subsidies will continue to farm. Many of them have inherited the family farm and have been blessed to be able to acquire more land prior to developers purchasing it and building more houses that are sitting empty in this economy. These farmers were able to purchase land and make it productive. The gap is wide because the bottom 80% are farming less...most not full time farmers which mean they receive less payments.



In the last 15 years, 451 people in our county have received farm subsidy payments. Of the top 60 there were 3 that I could not identify...1 I know is not a family farm but owned and operated by a local church, the other 2 could be family farmers and I just don't know them. The other 57 no matter if they cover 139 acres (avg sized farm in York County) or 13,000 acres they are NOT factory farms...they are owned and operated by families just like mine, how do I know...I live here, I work and attend church with these people. Many of us cheer together at the same high school football games and our kids play sports and show livestock together. A few of them listed were even part of my wedding party. These are not big agribusiness receiving more money than necessary these are family farmers working hard to feed an ever expanding nation and world.



In the interest of full disclosure...yes my family farm is on that list...actually we are in the top 20...so we are that top 10% of farms. Are we large? Yes. In the last 15 years our farm has supported 10 people full-time plus a few part time people. But let me give you some insight into what it cost to run our family farm.



Approximately yearly cost:

Feed: $150,000

Bank Payments: $96,000

Full-time Employee Cost: $50,000

Veterinarian services: $2,500

Utility Bills: $6,000

Fuel for farm trucks & equipment: $10,000

Milk Barn Chemicals (used to keep our equipment up to food safety standards): $5,000



Total approximate cost (trust me this doesn't include everything) $320,000/ year



So in the last 15 years it has cost us $4.8 million to run the farm and even though we are in the top 10% we received less than $275,000 in farm subsidies. Now I am not complaining that we should get more money, I am saying what we receive is a drop in the bucket to what we pay out. This is the same case with the majority of farmers and ranchers in the U.S. So I don't believe that farm subsidies are as big of an issue as many people believe. Do the programs need to be changed...yes but unless you are a farmer in the field you shouldn't be the ones deciding on the changes. These programs do not affect your food supply or the cost of your food. "Research by Julian M. Alston, University of California-Davis, shows consumers do not really change food purchase patterns based on cost. Advances in farm technology and efficiencies have more to do with the relatively low cost of food than government policies and programs. (http://www.bestfoodfacts.org/main/qa_result/26  )".



Now let's talk about funny for a moment....



Yesterday the principle dealt with changing our diets to reduce diet related diseases by promoting healthy food...including sugar which FD stats make up 1/6 of the average American's calorie intake. The piece went on to say food should be limited in sugar...today's principle complains that America at time limits imports of cheap foreign sugar, which keeps domestic sugar prices high and costs consumers several billion dollars a year...so they don't want sugar in their diet but they want it to be cheap! Something isn't adding up here?



So now let's talk sustainability...we will focus on beef and dairy



Farmers & Ranchers raising beef are significantly more environmentally sustainable then they were 30 years ago. A study by Washington State University in 2007 found that today’s farmers and ranchers raise 13% more beef from 13% fewer cattle. When compared with beef production in 1977, each pound of beef produced today:



•Produces 18% less carbon emissions



•Takes 30% less land



•Requires 14% less water


Seems to me like we are moving in the right direction.



What about Air Quality...yes we have reduced the carbon emissions but what else has been done? The United States cattle industry continues to be a model for the rest of the world in terms of greenhouse gas mitigation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, beef production accounts for only 2.8% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 26% for transportation (http://www.explorebeef.org/environment.aspx ).





Here is a video of how important environmental stewardship is to beef cattle farmers and ranchers.








The same holds true with dairies as well. "Modern dairy practices can dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of farms according to a study featured in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/bauman/envir_impact/) "



Here is the link to another video worth watching!






To end I want to say that today's farmers are more sustainable than ever...modern farming practices have allowed us to feed more people on few acres using fewer natural resources than ever before. So if you have a question about your food or farming...ask me or visit CommonGround and ask a farmer in your state.



Tomorrow we discuss principle #3!



Until then--



Caci