Bo Stone, his wife Missy, and his parents jointly own P & S Farms in Rowland, North Carolina. He represents the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance as one of its Faces of Farming and Ranching. Follow our Farmers with Issues series for more perspective from people out in the field.
It’s just before 7:00 a.m. I’m pulling on my boots to step onto the fields of our family farm. The sun is rising, casting a pale glow across the land, making the warming frost sparkle. I love this part of my day. I walk out to the middle of the field and look over my crops.
I am proud of the corn, wheat and soybeans we grow on my 2,300-acre family farm. We grow sweet corn and strawberries to sell at the roadside market and also raise hogs and cows. And I feel good about the role we play in food production in our community and well beyond.
Yet many people choose to attack me when they say big farms are bad. They say I’m doing something wrong, but they’ve never stepped foot on my farm. It is time for farmers of all sizes to stand up and tell consumers how it really works on farms of all sizes. And stop the attacks.
Ryan Goodman has been involved in agriculture all of his life, working on ranches across the country, as well as studying cattle nutrition and reproduction at the college levels. He works daily with farmers and ranchers, helping their voices become part of the national dialogues on food and agriculture topics. You can reach him on Twitter @AgProudRyan, as well as his personal blog, AgricultureProud.com.
Transparency in food and agriculture can have different meanings to different groups of people. As Illinois farmer, Katie Pratt, recently discussed on Eatocracy, transparency includes having an open mind for education on both sides of the plate. The issue of animal slaughter is a topic that brings much heated discussion. Recent efforts to improve the transparency in this area continue to be met with much resistance.
The New York Times ran an opinion article titled “Open the Slaughterhouses” that opened debate on the "ag gag" bills and our ability to report cases of animal cruelty. As the author suggests, increasing visibility in slaughterhouses would be a good thing, but there is a problem with that. Americans are so far removed from the reality and graphic nature of the process of death, that images of animal slaughter can stir quite the negative response.
Katie Pratt is a corn and soybean family farmer in Illinois and serves as a Face of Farming & Ranching for U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. Read more about her on her blog and follow her on Twitter @KatiePratt4.
The word of the day in agriculture is "transparency."
As the debate rages over the pros and cons of labeling things from fruits and vegetables to cereal, ground beef, soil and plastics, we farmers and ranchers continue to greet each sunrise doing what we do: plant, protect, grow, raise, care, nurture, conserve, preserve, maintain, and improve their crops, land and livestock.
It’s all part of the job and the life we have chosen for seven generations on our farm. We grow corn, soybeans and seed corn, and we do plant genetically modified varieties. I’ll tell you why.
If I'd met Mother Nature in 2012, I would have to assume at this point in 2013 that she is bipolar. Record high temperatures last March pushed us to planting time nearly a month ahead of an average start date. At the beginning of June 2012, we did not yet know that the rain wouldn't fall for another six weeks, and temperatures would hold steady in the triple digit zone.
I asked my sister to snap a picture of me standing in the corn we planted on April 2. I was surprised at how well the crops looked without more than a few tenths of precipitation since seed met soil, and wanted to show off our earliest planted corn blowing away that old "knee high by Fourth of July" saying.
Chris Chinn is a family farmer in Missouri, and serves as a Face of Farming & Ranching for U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. She previous wrote about the effects of the drought on her farm. Read more about her on her blog and follow her on Twitter @chrischinn.
On our farm, it’s normal for us to have entire groups of pigs that never have had any antibiotics when they go to market. Yes, you read that correctly. I know this is not what you see on the internet about how farmers use antibiotics. It seems everywhere you look, you can read or hear a very different story. I’m here to tell you this is a myth.
I like to explain our antibiotic use like this: our hogs do not carry health insurance and all medications are expensive. We cannot afford to use antibiotics unless absolutely necessary to improve the quality of health for our animals. And we always use antibiotics under the guidance of our veterinarian. He decides what medication will be used when necessary and what dose will be used.
Growing up on a farm, one of my biggest responsibilities was tending to the animals in our family’s care. At times livestock can be unpredictable in ways that are both amusing and frustrating, but much like a parent cares for their child, I cannot think of a moment that my top priority was not in the best interest of our animals and our land.
That is not saying that our livestock always respond in a positive manner to our practices. They are not capable of understanding how regular occurrences on the farm like vaccinations are for their benefit. I often wonder how others would respond if videos and pictures were shared out of context while I was caring for our animals.
Ryan Goodman is a generational rancher from Arkansas with a degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, studying beef cattle management. Goodman is one of many farmers using social media to bridge the gap between farmers and urban customers. Follow his story daily at AgricultureProud.com or on Twitter and Facebook.
There are several critics of bills being passed into law at the state-level across the country. These so-called “ag gag” bills are making news in publications like the New York Times. Op-eds with headlines “Open the Slaughterhouses” bring about much support, as seen in a Times reader's response “Silencing Witnesses to Animal Abuse.“
What does the threat of undercover video mean to me as a cattle producer or as an employee of a concentrated animal feeding operation (often called a CAFO)?
Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Emilie Dayan, writes a weekly SFA blog series called "Sustainable South" about food and the environment, nutrition, food access, food justice, agricultural issues and food politics.
To some, Bonita Conwell is a farmer. To others, a butcher. For rural Southern women and youth in agriculture, she is an advocate for economic and social justice. No matter how you frame her, Conwell is a tour de force in the Delta region of Mississippi, and her influence extends up the Mighty Mississippi to Chicago and westward to Houston, Texas.
Based in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, Conwell is the driving force behind Robert’s Meat Market. Built in 1985, the market found success in providing Mississippi-made meat products to Southerners living in Chicago. To the west, Conwell sells the greens of her sweet potato crops - a part of the root that is usually discarded - to an African market in Houston. SFA director John T. Edge is such a fan of Conwell's sweet potato greens that he included them on his list of the top ten dishes of 2012 for Garden & Gun magazine.