Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Turkey Thoughts!

I was born and raised involved in agriculture. The picture that comes to my mind when the word farm is said is one of cows and crops, but recently I have been thinking about other types of farming there are in here in the US. My family was sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner last week, and my little sister said the prayer. The words that stick with me are “Bless this food, and the hands that raised it.” My brother asked who shot the turkey, and I corrected him -  Our turkey came from the grocery store, but before that, it was raised on a farm, one that raises turkeys in its barns. Minnesota is number one in the US for turkey production, with approximately 250 farm families raising 45 million turkeys annually. There are other types of farmers that your family might support during the holidays – potato farmers, fruit farmers, vegetable farmers, and vineyards just to name a few.

Another type of farm I rarely think about is one that is currently decorating and perfuming the Union – that’s right, Christmas Tree farms. According to University of Illinois, there are more than 21,000 Christmas Tree Growers here in the US. These trees take approximately 7-10 years to mature, and are grown in all 50 states, including Hawaii and Alaska. 98% of Christmas trees are grown on farms and 73 million trees will be planted in the next year. This is a ‘green’ farming practice – one acre of trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people a year!  

Next time you hear the word farm, go ahead and think about cows and corn fields. But remember there’s other types of agriculture out there that aren’t as common! 

~*~ Remember to thank a farmer for all they do to feed the world! ~*~

Friday, November 18, 2011

Things to be thankful for

This week, I participated in my first ever Rockin Rural Women Chat on Twitter. The topic? #FoodThanks. I think this is an important topic, especially because this time of year, many people don't take the time to stop and think about where that beautiful, tender, juicy, delicious piece of (insert favorite meat cut here) came from, or the people it went through to get to the table.

So I give #FoodThanks now and every day. When I wake up and when I go to bed at night, I thank God that I am involved in American Agriculture, and for the opportunities I have recieved in this industry. I encourage everyone to be thankful for farmers - be they vegans or meat eaters because everyone MUST eat to survive.

So to give thanks for food every day, I eat. I support American Farmers by buying and eating American products like American Lamb, and I enjoy a glass of South Dakota wine with my mom. I celebrate by helping my family raise over 1300 head of lambs that become someone else's delisious entree, or by working calves that move onto a feedlot to feed someone else a nice juicy steak or yummy piece of prime rib. I spend some hours driving grain cart, knowing that our corn goes into ethanol and that some comes back to a farm as DDGS to be fed to our sheep and cattle. I celebrate Food Day when I fill by car with ethanol, grab a bag of sunflower seeds and bottle of Coke to drive home to the farm, headed back to my favorite place in the world, thankful that I am part of American Agriculture.

I am thankful that I can get up every day and do the things I love to do in this great country of ours, like riding my horses, attending college and spending time with the people I choose to do so with. I am thankful that my family can grow the crops and livestock we want to, that we live where we do and that I get to say I am a farmer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Your Piece. Your Place. Our Future

Rebecca and I prior to the Leader in Agriculture Award Dinner
Your Piece. Your Place. Our Future. Everyone has a place in this world, and contribute their own piece of the puzzle that forms life as we know it - the puzzle pieces determine our future. Many ag-majoring college students struggle to find their place in the puzzle that makes up American agriculture, but last week at the Ag Future of America confrence, over 500 of these students learned more about how to find their piece in this puzzle. AFA programming centers around the principles of being personally aware and the ability to self-assess, communicate, manage change and be a lifelong learner.

While in Kansas City at AFA, I participated in Track 3 and met other college kids from across the country. Our days were spent listening to speakers talk about how to use our leadership skills,  life in the 'work world', participating in discussions about issues facing modern agriculture, and meeting potential employers through mocktails and the career fair. We were motivated and inspired by Captain Charlie Plumb, and greeted by my favorite voice on the air, Orion Samulson.  There were so many amazing presenters that took the time to talk to and motivate us that it was hard to not feel inspired and positive every day.

The SDSU Delegates
 Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed each and every part of the confrence, but my favorite would have to be the discussions about issues facing agriculture. These were issues that affected almost everyone in attendence, from family dynamics in farming to how most of American's are 2 generations removed from the farm, and therefore are uneducated about why we do what we do. We all talked about the importantance of using social media to tell the story of agriculture, and I made sure to challenge my group to follow through - with videos, blogs and getting on things like agchat via twitter.

At the end of the weekend, I think everyone was sad to return to their respective schools. The enviroment at AFA is one that I have rarely experienced before - there are 500 people all passionate about the same thing in one place, all positive thinking and willing to make as many new friends as possible. I came home from AFA motivated, postive and optimistic about my future - and about the future of agriculture. I think I am closer to knowing where my piece is in the puzzle of agriculture.

For more information about AFA and to apply for next year's confrence visit the AFA Website .