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



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Food Day Part 2: We all want to be healthy!


Wyatt enjoying home grown squash

Welcome back!  If you missed it yesterday we began a series on Food Day you can check it out here.  This series is from the perspective of a wife, mother, farmer, and a lover of food.  Let's really start digging into the 6 Principles of Food Day.  


Today's Principle: 1.  Reduce diet related disease by promoting a healthy food.

At first this seems like a perfectly acceptable goal for Food Day.  However as you dig into the "meat" of the topic you learn quickly that "Healthy Foods" don't include all categories of the food pyramid or MyPlate.
The first thing they target is Factory Farmed meat.  Could someone please tell me what a factory farm is?  We raise beef cattle and run a dairy and I have yet to see these so called factory farms everyone keeps mentioning.  My friend Dawn explains why our family farms aren't factory farms perfectly on her blog Lady of Ag

Be prepared I am stepping on to my soapbox:

On our farm the cattle are not handled by machines but by people.  At the dairy each cow is touched by human hands twice a day at least...most of the time those hands are my husband's.  Our cattle have enough room to move about freely, access to pasture, water, and food at all times.  We are not a factory we are a family that cares about the food we produce.  When I imagine a factory...I see cold gray steel and people who look sad to be there...they work for a paycheck...not for a lifestyle.  When I imagine a farm...I see sunshine and fields of green (when it's not a drought year) and people who work their fingers to the bone...give up hours of traditional family time to check on close heifers just one more time.  It is a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year lifestyle...we didn't choose it because the money was great...we chose to farm because it is part of who we are and who we want our children to be...there is no factory in farming. 

OK I have stepped off my soapbox...moving on...
At a meeting last week I was discussing food and food choices when a lady told me something thought provoking.  This lady's daughter has a PhD & works for the USDA in the nutrition department, and she was on the team that developed My Plate.  The daughter once said, "Mom, there are no BAD foods...only bad choices." I have to say I agree and believe this statement to be true.  Many have preached it...even Mrs. Obama has shown us everything is OK in moderation.  

As I read through the 1st principle I saw scare tactics and a vegetarian/vegan agenda being pushed on millions of consumers, which of course pushes my buttons as a farmer who raises cattle (and sheep) for meat and milk. 

The principle states "the best diets consist largely of vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains, along with some seafood, low-fat dairy products, and poultry." To me this is a frontal attack at the meat industry, especially the beef and pork farmers. 

There are 29 lean cuts of beef that packs a powerful punch in helping you maintain a healthy metabolism.  "Studies suggest that the protein in beef may be help prevent many chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes and osteoporosis. It’s especially important that young children and older folks get sufficient protein. Children need the high-quality protein, iron and zinc in beef in order to develop their minds, as well as their bodies. Older adults can benefit from the protein in beef to help prevent loss of muscle mass and strength as they age. (Beef It's Whats for Dinner)."  There are numerous studies to back up those facts, check out this fact sheet titled :What you miss without meat!

Now this message worries me as it does many mothers out there because I don't want my son to become overweight or obese like 1/3 of children are according to Food Day statics.  I don't want to be a statistic either having heart disease or high blood pressure but I also want the REAL story about food...and the people who grow it.

I believe that consuming a variety of foods in the correct amounts is what helps us maintain a healthy diet.  But even with a healthy diet some people need to do more...including exercise.  The weight problem in the U.S. shouldn't be blamed on Farmers & Ranchers or the government for that matter...everyone has a choice as to what food they put into their mouth.

We need to help educate people more about portion size, will power, and self control.  If you need more information on how to change your diet talk with your doctor or check out the MyPlate site.  There are numerous resources out there to help you make good informed decisions.  I don't think that it is healthy to cut anything completely out of your diet. 

So in conclusion...yes we do need to promote healthy food in order to reduce diet-related diseases but we need to do so by encouraging everyone to eat from all food groups and have a balanced plate including fruits, vegetables, DAIRY, grains, & MEAT!

Stay tuned because tomorrow we will talk sustainability and subsidies!!!

Until then...

Caci

P.S. want more info...want to start a conversation comment or visit CommonGround's Website to talk with a farmer in your area!



Monday, October 17, 2011

Food Day...Everyday is Food Day to American Farmers & Ranchers


Today I would like to start a conservation about food & farming.  If you can't tell by the blog title and previous postings my husband and I farm in South Carolina.  Actually we are the 10th generation in both families to be involved in agriculture.  In the last few years it has become very apparent that we (farmers & ranchers) need to step up and tell our story.  The story of how and why we farm.  This blog is the way that our family does that.

Events like Food Day are one of the reasons we feel compelled to share our story...to tell the truth about American Farmers & Ranchers!

On Monday October 24, 2011 a conglomerate of wealthy organizations (such as HSUS: Humane Society of the United States & PETA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) plan to host over 700 events around the country on a so called FOOD DAY.  Here is an excerpt from their website about the event: "Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life—parents, teachers, and students; health professionals, community organizers, and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers, and eaters of all stripes—to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way."

Before jumping on board with these seemingly great ideas let me put some things into perspective.

First: As you can see from the quote there is one group of individuals who haven't been invited to the party.  That group is essential to supplying food to our country & our world!  Those people are the farmers and ranchers that grow our food!  According to the U.S. EPA there are only 960,000 people claiming farming as their primary occupation.  That is less than 1% of the US population!  There are an additional 1% that list farming as their secondary occupation...so roughly 2% of the population are Farmers & Ranchers.  Those Farmers and Ranchers feed 285,000,000 people each day!  That's pretty impressive!  And my thought is if they are growing our food they should be involved in Food Day.

Second: There is an underlying agenda here that needs to be addressed prior to you pledging support of this event.  Both PETA & HSUS are for the abolishment of animal agriculture so those agendas are being pushed.  You can learn more about HSUS and their agenda here at Humane Watch.

So let's dig a little deeper into the general idea of Food Day.  Food Day has 6 principles on the surface SOME of these principles seem to be goals that everyone can support. 


1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods

2. Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness

3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger

4. Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms

5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids

6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers

At face value I think everyone could support 1,3, and 5.  2,4, & 6 immediately set off red flags for me as I am not sure what results they are wanting.  As you can see there are a few principles that seem a little sketchy...at least to me they do.  Now in the interest of making this post readable I am not going to discuss each principle in detail today but for the next 6 or 7 days you can follow along as I go through each principle from the perspective of a mother, wife, farmer, and lover of food. 

Please note that these are my personal opinions and observations based on facts that I know and have researched and my personal value system.  All facts will have links or citations so that you can make your own informed decision about the food you eat. 

Please join me tomorrow as we jump into the 6 Food Day Principles...and discover what this Farm Wife has to say!

Thanks for reading...see you tomorrow!!

Caci
P.S. Can't wait until tomorrow hop over to www.findourcommonground.com to engage in conservations about food and farming today!





Thursday, October 13, 2011

Family Farms under attack & under valued

In the past 24 hours my mother in law has brought two different articles to my attention.

The 1st one is about a farm family in Maryland that is being hunted by environmentalists and on the verge of losing their family farm.  This couple has worked hard to create a farm that they can pass down to their children.  See the video clip below

You can go to Save Farm Families to see what you can do to help.

The second was posted on AOL's jobs site.  It listed the 10 jobs America can't do without.
This list left off some major players teachers, truck drivers and Farmers & Ranchers! 

Check out the article here and take a few moments to respond

As Americans continue to move away from the farm and understand less about agriculture we will see more and more people begin to undervalue and attack farmers and ranchers.  We must begin now to make a change...before it is too late. 

Wyatt would love to be the 11th generation of our family to farm and I pray each day that God allows him to reach that goal in life.

To find out more about farming and food check out CommonGround's website. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wrangler Wednesday

OK so this week's Wrangler Wednesday isn't much about on farm Wrangler wearing.
Last weekend the boys and I had the opportunity to attend the Clemson University Homecoming Events & Football Game.

This opportunity came from my involvement with CommonGround.  An organization which wants to help create conversations about farming and food.  To help start these conversations the South Carolina volunteers passed out BBQ Pork sliders to people attending the festivities.  As we handed out sliders we were able to answer questions people had about their food and our movement to put a face on American Agriculture so that when you have a question about your food you can ask a farmer who grows it. 

We were also interviewed by South Carolina Radio Network, which was a great way to help spread our message and get over our interview nerves! 

In addition we attended the football game...which by the way was the 1st college football game, Wyatt had ever attended...it was also my 1st Clemson game.  William, whose parents use to have seasons tickets, has attended dozens of them.

Opening ceremonies...apparently the greatest 25 seconds in college football,
rubbing Howard's Rock...

Releasing a BILLION balloons...not sure how many but it was a bunch

Wyatt & William (who are both wearing Wranglers) watching the game

The view from our seats

Wyatt enjoying making funny faces

More funny faces

Ahh...I'm missing the game face

Then Wyatt got bored and began looking at the Select Sires bull book,
and yes that is our friend Marie texting behind him

And now we are playing with plastic round bales of hay

Both of the boys were getting a little worn out...

Wyatt's reaction to an awesome play


As good as it gets for a family pic at the game...
please note I do have on Orange & Purple
however I still bleed RED & BLACK...GOOOO DAWGS!! SIC'EM!!

Wyatt on the way home from a long day at the game

So even though we spend most of our time on the farm caring for the land and livestock
we do get to do some fun things and enjoy non-farm life
but the main topic of conversation is always farming and food!

If you have any questions I would love to help you answer them...just ask!

Friday, October 7, 2011

National 4-H Week

4-H has been a part of my life
 as long as I can remember.
In the beginning I was just a tag-along,
as my sister is 10 years older than i
 and was active in the 4-H Horse project,
competing in shows, camps, trainings, clinics and judging events.

Through her involvement we met a family
who had other livestock interest,
mainly sheep and beef cattle.
Those conservations sparked an interest in me
that would last a lifetime.
I was 3 or 4 when we met this family
 whose daugther was smack in the middle of my sister and I in age.
Her name was Carol and she looked up to my sister
 and I looked up to her. 

I began begging for a lamb..
I begged and begged,
and begged...
and begged some more.
I pestered my mother for a lamb for 4 YEARS,
before she gave in
and agreed to have ONE lamb
that's it...no more!

I was elated! 
It was a Suffolk crossed market lamb
 that lived in our backyard.
This one lamb got me started as an active member of 4-H. 
From there I purchased more sheep
 and while in high school maintained a flock of about 75 ewes.
Which if you don't know is unheard of in the state of Georgia. 

My interested didn't end with sheep. 
 I was soon showing cows and pigs as well
 in local, regional, state and national shows. 
4-H is what helped me determine my path in life.

Showing sparked another interest and love...
livestock judging.
Through 4-H I had the opportunity to travel
 all across my state
and to national contest in
Kansas, Kentucky, and VA. 
It was a wonderful experience
 that helped me to learn to select animals
 in showrings and on farms.

Let me share with you a small part of my livestock judging story:
Beginning in the 6th grade I judge livestock
on an almost all girls team expect for 1 boy.
This means I took a class of 4 animals and ranked them
from best to worst
After all the rankings had been turned in
I would explain to an adult my "reasons" for placing the class.
In some contest we also had to answer questions about the animals.

In 7th grade I moved to a new school and new county,
I was now on a new livestock judging team..
this one was all boys and 1 girl.
These boys became like my brothers...i got 4 of them!
We traveled together, practiced together, showed together
not just for that one year but until I was a senior in high school.

The first year was rough...learning to compete as a team
the 2nd year these 4 boys and I came together as a team
always working to beat our last score
always trying to prove that we were good.
We won regional,
We won state,
I was high individual.

The next year 1/2 of our team moved up...
3 of us were now in the senior division...
there were scholarships and trips at stake
we had to step up our game.

In 9th grade we did OK, we were all in the top 20
our team was in the top 5

In 10th grade we were better, all of our team were seniors now
at state we were all in the top 25
our team was number 2
we earned a trip to compete at the American Royal!
We flew to Kansas City,
piled 7 people in a mini van with 21 pieces of luggage
and drove to Manhattan to visit K-State
singing Kenny Chensey's last hit
and practice with the judging team.
We all did OK
Our team was in the top 10
but we didn't make headlines anywhere but in our hometown

In 11th grade we were untouchable, 4 of the 5 in the top 10
our team was number 1
and I was high individual.
We earned the right to represent our state in Louisville,
at the NAILE, North American Livestock Exposition
We drove 10 hours one way
again 7 people in a van
with way too much luggage
This time we made a little more noise
we were in the top 10 in each division
in the top 20 individually in more than one division
Overall we were number 8
I was number 21...

These trips were long, the hours were tough,
but we worked through disagreements,
heartbreaks, and more
we committed to a goal and gave it our all
we accomplished it not as individuals but as a team

Now we have all gone our separate ways
Only I remain active in the livestock judging arena
But those skills I still use today
as a "showmom",
a beef semen sales rep,
and as a professional judge  

I can't believe how many things in my life
 have revolved around the skills learned
 in this one organization.
From DPA to summer camp,
skill-a-thon to stock shows,
it was an adventure i loved and would never trade.

Thank 4-H for Making me Better!!

Caci

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wrangler Wednesday

About 2 weeks ago we had the honor of hosting Curt Dennison and his wife on our farm. 
Curt takes wonderful photos of farm life and agriculture!
Here are a few of my favorite shots from his visit. 
If you would like to see more of his work click here.

William & Wyatt feeding baby calves.

Wyatt & I checking on the ready to wean piglets.

Wyatt surveying a field.

Opening gates

My wonderful husband & I...this is rare both of us smiling~

unloading show cows

setting up to milk...did i mention I love this man!

Checking beef cows.

Thanks for visiting!

Caci