Thursday, August 9, 2012

ALEC Aggie Reps ‘12

The Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications (ALEC) Aggie Reps main responsibility is to meet with prospective students and their families at different recruiting events in order to tell them more about our department and our four majors. Besides recruiting, Aggie Reps focus on improving faculty-student relations and creating a positive image of our department across campus and the community. The ALEC Aggie Reps, like many other student organizations, choose to participate in service events that fuel our passions. Farmers Fight is appealing to students in our organization because we understand that we are the voice of agriculture. Our four majors produce journalists, broadcasters, teachers, salesman, marketing and advertising professionals, as well as graduates with countless other proficiencies and interests.

Due to the wide range of professions ALEC graduates seek, the Aggie Reps understand our need for AgVocacy! Why wouldn’t we embark on this opportunity to educate those around us? We are sending graduates to countless career fields all over the state of Texas, the United States, and some even begin their “real world” lives in countries on complete opposite ends of the world. It is up to us to tell the story of agriculture. Even if our students have no former background in agriculture, they understand the importance of producing safe, nutritious food for the world, committing to technological advances, and the economic value of agriculture, conserving natural resources, and educating the general public about various sectors of agriculture. As our world’s population increases, our farms and ranch land decrease – this is not just a danger to our food supply; this is a danger to our daily lives and to our well being.

The ALEC Aggie Reps Farmers Fight AgVocacy Team feels that it is important that those with no former background in agriculture understand how we are all “connected” to agriculture and the hard work of ranchers and farmers. Our most basic needs can be traced back to the cotton fields of Texas or the dairy farms of California. Our desire to enjoy nature and our natural resources is also directly tied to the efforts of agriculturists understanding the importance of sustainability throughout America and the world.

Our challenge to you as a consumer is to document your every action in a single day and attempt to find just ONE thing that does not tie back to agricultural efforts. If you have questions about a product or action, feel free to leave a comment. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

FAST believes in AgVocacy

Future Agriculture Science Teachers, FAST, is an organization that prepares students with a planned career in teaching Agricultural Science for their future. Through many social events and leadership opportunities, members gain social skills and networking ability. FAST members can participate in Texas FFA judging contests such as Dairy, Horticulture, Ag Mechanics, and many more to gain knowledge on how the events are organized.

FAST believes AgVocacy is greatly needed and is relevant to this organization because the members are the next generation of Agriculture leaders for students in FFA. FAST members have the opportunity to influence kids to take a stand and represent Agriculture through the way that we teach, act, and represent our FFA Chapters in our future careers. We have the unique opportunity to be directly involved in kids’ lives and to inspire each and every one of them to become an AgVocate and to be involved in Agriculture. Through our participation in Farmers Fight on April 12, 2012, we believe we inspired people on campus to rethink what has been heard by false sources about Agriculture and instead think about how much Agriculture affects every one’s life. At our booth, our theme was “ARE YOU SMARTER THAN AN AG STUDENT?” which was inspired by the T.V. show “ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5TH GRADER?” We would ask people passing by to play in which we would ask them an Agriculture related question and participants received candy with an Ag Fact taped on the candy. Participants that got their questions right recieved the satisfaction of knowing that they are smarter than an Ag student for that day. Whether you are smarter than an Ag student or not, we all have a greater challenge ahead of us in feeding a world with an ever growing population. So “Stand Up” and become an AgVocate and do your part to protect the need that affects everyone which is Agriculture.

Blog writer: Tanner Kilpatrick

Monday, April 9, 2012

Humankind’s First Harvest

The Bible tells the story about humankind’s first harvest: In the Garden of Eden, Eve plucked an apple or some kind of fruit from its tree and offered it to Adam. So why did they eat from the Tree of Knowledge? We think we know—guised as a serpent, a cunning Lucifer sweet-talked Eve into committing the Original Sin. However, maybe she was just hungry and needed to satisfy her stomach rumblings. Maybe Adam got cranky when he didn’t eat, and Eve didn’t want to deal with his attitude.

Whether Catholic, Jewish, Amish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic or one of a hundred other religions, we all depend on agriculture. Yet it was four years ago when I finally woke up and realized that I relied on farmers and ranchers for survival.

When I think back on my agriculturally illiterate life, I feel embarrassed—much like Adam when he and Eve were banished from paradise. Can you believe it? I spent over half my life eating food and wearing clothes and never once thought about who produced them. Grocery stores and malls would have been my answers had you asked me where food and fiber came from. Talk about the epitome of agricultural ignorance.
But here I am sharing my story with you. And that’s what agvocacy is all about.

How I got within the Agrosphere well, I owe it all to education. Until my return to college in 2008, I played baseball in the SF Giants minor leagues. If anyone depended on agriculture it was me, for I used a glove and a ball made from steer hide, I swung bats made from wood and resin, I played on turf-grass in stadiums built with concrete and wood, and I fueled my performance with protein powders and meaty meals. You’d think once my baseball career ended I’d a waved bye-bye to my addiction to agriculture. Nope. When I was back inside the classroom, I still encountered agriculture every day.

In an advanced composition class the teacher assigned this book  by Peter Singer, The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. If you haven’t read it then I suggest you do; it provides perspectives on why animal extremists believe their dietary choices are supreme. The book will also force you to ask the same questions about contemporary agriculture that I did. Thing is, I read it in a class that had nothing to do with agriculture! I’m so happy I read it because it was the catalyst that sparked my quest for truth about our food system.

In telling you this, my mission is to start conversations about agriculture—with everyone. It might seem crazy that I believe everyone should join the movement to celebrate choice in our food marketplaces. Really it’s not too far-fetched though. What’s even crazier is I embody the type of consumer that agriculture has been targeting during its proactive campaign to raise awareness and increase agriculture literacy among disconnected consumers living next door and beyond. Because I grew up a city slicker, you might label me an “outsider,” a guy who has no business expressing his emotional bond with food, fiber, farmers, and ranchers. But as an agvocate, a.k.a, a farmer of information, my role is crucial to continur agricultural sustainability.

Even if considered an outsider to an industry that has been and is widely known as traditional, conventional, and conservative, I am proof that anyone can find a place in Agrosphere. Anyone with an honest desire to learn about food and fiber production can become an ambassador for those who we depend on every day.
Alls I’m saying is, when it comes down to it, your spiritual beliefs should complement the connection we share with agriculture, even more so when it comes to supporting American family farmers and ranchers. Besides family, what we eat and wear are the most important things in our lives (some would argue food, clothes, and shelter are more important).

Anyway, please, never stop asking questions about our food and fiber production. But, please, go to the right people: Talk to farmers and ranchers because they are the experts.

I’m glad you stayed with me this far, and I hope you make agriculture your true religion. Rather than argue about whose food is naturally healthier, or contend whose fiber is environmentally safer, let’s cultivate our Gardens of Eden.

No matter what production method you use to produce food and fiber, let’s support the men, women, and children who provide us with the chance to celebrate life.

Blog writer: Anthony Pannone

Monday, April 2, 2012

Agriculture Transforms Lives

“Chicos, Qué es esto?”
“¿Cómo se dice en inglés?”
Their little brown faces beamed. They believe English is the language that will make them wealthy and successful. This intelligence could enable them to communicate with the world and provide for their families. Their lives are bleak and their futures are dim without any education, especially in agriculture. Some don’t have parents. Some have parents, but they only make 2Q’s a day, equivalent to twenty cents. We have the world placed at our feet; we are freely given education. Knowledge is power. We have this power and most of us had no idea how much we abuse it.
With grandparents as ranchers, a horticulturist for a mom, a dad who works in agricultural economics, I naturally grew up showing steers, extremely involved in 4-H, and creating many floral arrangements for various events and weddings. However, I was independent and my peers at school did not agree that agriculture was an essential to life like my family, so I attempted to ignore anything agricultural related for a long time. It was not until went to Guatemala and witnessed how agriculture can transform communities for the better.
My mind focuses again on the present; the children laughing at how the new word sounds. I tell them to go and teach their families when they return home from school. Their shining eyes sparkle as they take in my advice. I look around. Their school building is fragile and falling apart. A stack of old student desks are rotting in a pile of the courtyard corner. The classrooms have no air conditioning and no electrical lighting. Two classrooms adjacent to each other share the same teacher. They paid to go here. The clock strikes five o’clock and school is over. The students rush to the antique wooden doors that keep them off the rocky street outside.  I stand in the courtyard, watching them leave. I look up at the sky; it is a foggy gray over the distant mountains. My eyes rain unfathomable tears of sadness. This is all they know. I look at the Earth below their feet; it is green and alive. Maybe they will know now what seasons they can grow certain crop? Maybe they will remember the plants we discussed? Maybe they will want to use the makeshift water filters the school taught them how to make? Maybe they will actually share the knowledge learned at school with their families? There is hope.
The past two summers, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel with the Borlaug Institute at Texas A&M University to administer agriculture education through the junior master gardener program to children and communities in Guatemala. I discovered how Norman Borlaug, namesake and inspiration for the Institute, was honored the Nobel Peace Prize just by studying how to more effectively grow wheat, an essential element to peoples’ daily diets. Wheat! His studies in agriculture saved the lives of millions! Unfortunately, there are still millions living in poverty. The Guatemalan people suffer from many treatable health problems that most American’s are easily treated for, such as diarrhea and influenza. Their streets are filled with trash and like many developing countries foreign visitors can get sick from eating their produce or drinking the water. Sadly, Guatemala is a beautiful place that could have massive potential profits in agriculture and tourism.
If sanitation was reformed and if their foods were produced in more hygienic areas, people from other countries would be more inclined to visit the country and enjoy the country’s scenery and foods. Knowledge in agriculture would teach them to be more efficient and beneficial economic trends, agricultural knowledge, and practices to increase their daily profits and minimize countries’ heath and sanitation problems. Also, the land is extremely fertile and could grow crops very well. In fact, Guatemala is known for their excellent coffee. Families could use knowledge to help crops grow more efficiently and save their lands from overuse and pollution. Even floral design can be used by the women in communities; they can make arrangements to sell in the markets from the flowers they grow near their homes. Developing countries should have the opportunity for easy access to education and economic development that would enable them to have a more stable future. Unlike the traditional American dream of glory and riches, I don’t want to just study something just to make money. I want to help people make a difference in their world. I want to research and teach people how to improve the health of not only their own lives, but the generations to come through agriculture, just like Dr. Borlaug did.

I look once more at their little faces, radiant beams of light in their country, hope. Orange. They can grasp the color in their little palms and it spreads from their faces, to their minds, to their actions. They are bright flames of enlightenment in a dark world of ignorance. Knowledge is power, but more importantly a tool. That is why agriculture is important to me; it can save lives.

Blog Writer: Taylor Whittlesey

Monday, March 26, 2012

Why Not Let Paula Deen Do the Agricultural Education?

Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification program for my animal science class.  While listening to the speaker, I was shocked by two statistics which, unfortunately, reflect the United States general view of agriculture.

2008 Consumer Confidence Survey
by the Center for Food Integrity
1.  Only 54% of consumers trust the U.S. food supply.
2.    Only 33% strongly agree that the U.S. had the safest food supply in the world.

Now, I’ve always known that the average American was iffy when it came to their country’s food and fiber production.  With hormone injection questions and antibiotic resistant bacteria conspiracies flying around left and right and constant recalls of food products, who doesn’t question what they put in their body?  However, these doubts by the American public seem to overshadow the fact that, according to BQA and various other entities, the United States truly does have the world’s safest food source.

In a recent study done by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, it was reported that 70% of the agriculturalists surveyed believe that the average consumer has “very little knowledge” about American agriculture.  Furthermore, 16% believe that consumers have “no knowledge at all” about food and fiber production.  With an 86% negatory response, it is clear that both producers and consumers feel that the United States is not doing a good job at educating its citizens on where their goods come from.

The question is “How can we bridge this gap between producer and consumer?”.  I believe that I stumbled upon an answer for this dilemma when I sat down with Dr. Tracy Rutherford, a professor of Agricultural Communications and Journalism at Texas A&M University.  According to Dr. Rutherford, only about 2% of agricultural goods per year receive airtime from U.S. media sources. 

This 2%, of course, seldom depicts the positive aspects of the American food and fiber system and usually focuses on product recalls, illnesses inflicted by agricultural products, and protests over modern crop-producing systems, leaving the 98% of farm and ranch products that benefits its consumers to go unnoticed by Americans.  Our country does, however, have a means of informing its people about this invisible majority of agricultural products, and it’s called Food Network.

Everyday Food Network, its magazine, and their counterparts give people a (literal) taste of the positive side of agricultural production, yet these people do not realize that they are being educated about agriculture.  Sadly, I am not so sure if Food Network even realizes that it is a form of agricultural education, but if we, as  agricultural advocates, were to help these entities realize their role in the Ag industry, the gap between producer and consumer could finally be bridged!

By prompting these food media sources to delve deeper into Ag production systems, producers would finally be able to show consumers that their product is actually quite safe.  Next time Guy Fieri visits one of America’s greatest Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, he could invite a local corn farmer to explain the life cycle of corn before it ends up in your chowder, and, instead of Paula Deen just providing her viewers with an infinite number of ways to cook with butter, she could tour a local dairy to show them how her favorite ingredient is produced.  The possibilities are endless, but this modern form of agricultural education can only come to fruition if you as a consumer take an active role.
I challenge each of you out there to contact whatever food media source you can think of, be it a company as large as Food Network or even just a local cooking show, and urge them to start providing more education about the origins of food.  Only by taking this active stance can we truly help the average American learn that agriculture is not a bad thing, so, before you pass the pot roast, please pass along a message saying that you’re tired of people not understanding agriculture!

Monday, March 19, 2012

China- More than just a Traditional cup of Tea

Agriculture outside of the United States

     Situated in eastern Asia on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean, China is home to a population of more than 1.3 billion, equivalent to about 20 percent of the world’s population. Leaving behind American agriculture to see China, a vibrant mix of historic landmarks, a growing population and a modern expanding sector of agriculture, expectations were high as we boarded the plane to be immersed into a culture far from our own. After a 10-day excursion to experience agriculture throughout the world’s most populous country, I along with 64 other members from across the United States returned home with a vast and diverse impression of the Chinese way of life by attending the International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO).

     Once in China, we set out to visit various aspects of China with a strong emphasis on understanding the nation’s agriculture industry in an effort to better understand how agriculture operates globally. Stops on the tour included the largest wholesale market in Beijing (Xinfadi Agricultural Products Wholesale Market), a 280,000-head cattle and sheep farm, the National Agriculture High-Tech Industry Demonstration Zone, a cooperative dairy farm for beginning farmers and the Suzhou Xiangyun Tai Lake Goose Company – an operation that breeds over 5,000 geese near China’s third-largest freshwater lake. The current and former FFA state officers also visited the Bunge Chai Tai (Tianjin) Grains & Oils Co., plant in Tianjin. The operation develops, produces and distributes soybean oil and soybean meal that supplies fast-growing industries in the Beijing-Tianjin area. Bunge North America served as a main sponsor of the trip.

     For many of us on the trip, it was interesting to see how similar the production operations in China were compared to here in the United States. There were still withdrawal periods between application of medication and slaughter time periods of the beef cattle along with growth additives in feeds. The biggest difference we discovered was how much more manpower was utilized. While the same operations could have been done a lot more efficiently here in America, on the flip side you would have been cutting out many people’s jobs in China.

     When asked why this trip and learning about international agriculture in general is important I respond with this- in order to protect our Nation’s food supply and agricultural infrastructure, we must understand every side of the agriculture industry. Whether that is investing in technological advancements in crop and animal production, tackling what consumers are really looking for or building strong relationships oversees to support our markets. While it’s important to emphasize the things we do on the farm, it’s just as important to emphasize the things we do off the farm i.e. with our international partners. While in China, we also had the opportunity to visit the United States Embassy and talk one on one with a USDA Agricultural Attaché about the markets between the United States and China. The biggest lesson we walked away with was his words saying “ It is imperative that we continue to build strong alliances with the Chinese and other countries. We (the U.S. and China) have the resources to continue to stimulate our own economies while providing for the rest of the world. That being said, it shouldn’t be a competition between the Chinese and the United States. We need to be able to depend on one another.”

     We definitely cannot hide the fact that the Chinese and others around the world are players in the international market. By attending this seminar, I feel we took many necessary steps to continue to be the advocates that are needed to represent our generation and the agriculture industry to come. By having the opportunity to visit these farms and agribusinesses and a culture unlike our own, we were provided a global perspective and left feeling empowered with a new knowledge and the ability to share this culture. We have developed ourselves as culturally aware students and taken interest in influencing our future careers.

Blog Writer: Katie Heinrich

Monday, March 5, 2012

Roots in Agriculutre

               “I now declare this Convention adjourned,” and that was it. That started what has been a whirlwind of a year as a state officer of the Texas FFA Association. I’ve met people all across Texas and the nation, had the privilege to wear the blue and gold jacket one more time, but what has been even more exciting is that I have had the chance to promote an industry and way of life that has been near and dear to my heart for my entire life, agriculture.

                When my family and I lived in Ericksdahl, Texas, (a small Swedish community in West Texas) my dad was a farmer. He grew cotton, wheat and raised cattle on land that was owned by himself and his mother and father. He worked the long days that start before sunrise and end well after sunset, but no matter what we always had a roof over our heads and food on the table. No, it was not a glamorous lifestyle, we did not have a fancy house, truck or television, but we were happy with what we had. Then in 1997 we all had endured one of the, “discomforts of agricultural life.” There was a drought that ran from about 1995-1997, my grandfather passed away a few years before that and a lower than normal cotton and wheat crop made my father rethink his career. That year he started to work as a crop insurance adjuster, traveling all over the Great Plains adjusting wheat crops for Arm Tech, AgNet and USDA. Then after seeing a glimpse of the insurance side of farming he decided to try his hand at that, so he and two other individuals started a crop insurance company called AgCrop located in Stamford, Texas, at an old grain elevator and storage facility. They grew their business so that it now reaches from Brownsville, Texas, to Erick, Oklahoma, and El Paso to Texarkana. He’s been an insurance agent for 14 years now and has shown me what it truly means to work and live by agriculture even though it can be extremely unpredictable.

                Living through not only the joys, but the discomforts of agriculture is why I believe I have made it nearly full circle in coming to Texas A&M to study Agricultural Systems Management and even become a Texas FFA State Officer. I have figured out through these hardships, that I have the upmost respect and passion for agriculture. Most people go after things that bring fame, that are glamorous or have an enticing appeal about them, but I love agriculture because it was not meant for the faint-hearted. Only from the things you cannot control will you receive the greatest reward. 

               After watching my dad be at the mercy of the weather and cultivate his livelihood with his own hands, did I then realize how awesome this profession was. Nothing in this world is as pure as growing a crop that will not only benefit you, but serve those around you as well. In Hebrews 13:16 we are told that we should, “...not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” What better way is there to serve your neighbor and give to a worthy cause than to feed and clothe them? That is truly why I wanted to be an FFA State Officer and be active in agriculture. I want to continue a culture that shows the true values of this country and the way we were supposed to live. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Standing Together for Agriculture

We are not alone!

Jeff Klose and Brandon Williamson are agricultural science teachers in Texas and developers of 2FB Enterprises.  Together they are working to be the voice of American agriculture through a blog, "Hands of a Farmer." -

Like Farmers Fight, they are taking a stand and working towards telling the story of the American farmer, rancher and agribussiness industries.

They are receiving excellent feedback that encourages me that we are on the right path here in Aggieland.

A comment from Melita Cramblet reads, "This is great [Hands of a Farmer]!!! People need reminding what the farmers and ranchers do for EVERYONE! Without this industry we’d all be some pretty hungry and naked people, not to mention sick. Thanks!"

If you have a minute take a look around their blog, maybe it will give you an idea for a blog post of your own!

Here is a short video about modern agriculture from CropLife America.

Modern agriculture is a term that is used to describe a wide majority of production practices employed by America's farmers.

Over 90% of farmers today use the most innovative practices and growing techniques to produce enough food, fuel and fiber for the growing world, while also minimizing their environmental footprint.

The term "modern agriculture" depicts farmers and ranchers commitment to innovation, stewardship and meeting the global food challenge all at once -- there is nothing conventional about that.

Have a great week Ags!

Blog editor: Callie McCullough

Monday, February 20, 2012

Controversy and Action Over Farm Subsidies

                One percent.  In terms of dollars it is the equivalent of a simple penny, but in the U.S. federal budget, even this seemingly minute sum will possibly be under scrutiny of federal budget cuts.
Farm subsidies, which represent this one percent, are intended to aid American food and fiber producers with fluctuations in commodity prices. Despite this percentage being only a small portion of the national budget; nevertheless some people believe these “farm-bailouts” need to go.
                According to an article by The Heritage Foundation, rather than just offering a consistent income for farmers, farm subsidies often go to corporation farms that have an annual income averaging $200,000.  Additionally, the article says that subsidies are often used by farmers to plant more crops, thus producing more commodities and further decreasing the prices that the subsidies were intended to offset.  Cutting producers’ aid will lead to many changes in production agriculture in the years to come.
                “Without farm subsidies marginal farmland will go out of production,” Dr. Wayne Hayenga, agriculture economist at Texas A&M University, said.  “Small family farms will become obsolete if subsidies are cut but the (agriculture) industry can survive without this land.”  Hayenga believes that agriculture will not suffer, and the nation will benefit, by cutting subsidies.  According to Hayenga, the yields from this marginal farmland is considerably lower than should be acceptable and therefore should be eliminated anyways. 
                Controversy and action over farm subsidies will hinge on whether more important figures agree with Hayenga and deem that farm subsidies are not necessary for continuing American agriculture.  With the recent failure of the congressional “Super Committee” to come up with $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts, demand is greater than ever to find ways to cut government spending; this could lead to more people pointing the finger at production agriculture. 
                “Cutting these funds from farmers will result in fewer producers and the possibility of price–setting by the large corporation-run farms,” Kelly Head, USDA County Executive Director and Texas cattle producer, said.  According to Head, this possibility of higher food prices will affect the consumer directly and will deduct from what is currently a safe and economical food supply.  Agriscience teacher Stephen Scitern concurred with this and added that it is increasingly hard to get students interested in production agriculture.   Scitern believes that this problem will only become worse if farm subsidies are discontinued.   
                “Students don’t join my FFA program to learn about production anymore.  Taking away farm subsidies will take away one of the incentives for young people to get into farming or ranching,” Scitern said.  “The hard work required with little compensation is very intimidating without subsidies.”
                Though Head, Scitern and Dr. Hayenga differ in their views of subsidies, all agree that there is room for reformation of farmer assistance programs so that tax payers are more comfortable with the idea of aiding producers.  They all also said that even in the event that farm subsidies are completely cut from the industry, the American farmer will adapt to feed the ever-increasing world population. 
                “We’ve changed our practices a lot over the past decades with the introduction of technology,” Head said.  “And we’ll continue to evolve however necessary to provide a safe and economic food supply.”  

Blog writer: Logan Leschper

Monday, February 13, 2012

Start a Conversation

According to it takes approximately 3,000 cows to supply the 22,000 footballs the National Football League uses every season. That equates to a little more than seven footballs per cow. This makes me proud to be part of agriculture. This also makes me wonder if football players realize how much they depend on the beef industry to play the game they love? What about the 160 million plus that watch the Super Bowl, or any football game, do they understand the connection they have with agriculture?

Sadly, most people see agriculture as a very nostalgic way of life or as a hobby. The truth is, everyone depends on agriculture. Vegan or omnivore, farmer or athlete, everyone is dependent.

The cool thing about agriculture is that every country in the world has an agricultural industry. Without it, survival is not possible. Sadly, this industry, which is one of the largest worldwide, has lost its voice with its biggest audience-the consumer. We can’t depend on the next generation to tackle the lies that mothers are believing.  We have to do something. We have to start conversations. We have to tell our story.

One simple and easy way to connect with consumers is through conversation. At the grocery store people are making their decisions, reading labels and questioning their food. One group in Illinois had mothers who farmed set up booths at the local grocery store and were available to answer questions from other moms and consumer. This built trust. This built a relationship. This put a face to our industry. This promoted the agricultural industry.

Why can’t we do the same? We don’t even need the booth or “mom status” to build trust. Be on the look out for people eating. Be ready to spark a friendly conversation about their choices and also be ready to provide the facts. Tell your story and your connection to agriculture. Tell the consumer about the safety, care and healthiness found in agricultural products and the time producers and farmers put into their products.

This idea is not the most profound one, but it is an easy one. You have no excuse but to get out there and share our story with your roommates, friends, coworkers and people you meet at the store. Every person is involved with agriculture, whether they know it or not.

Blog writer: Lindsay Garrett

Monday, February 6, 2012

Agriculture in the Real World

If we don’t tell our story, who’s going to?

As agriculture advocates it is our responsibility to spread the TRUTH about how agriculture really works, to share our passion with an increasingly unfamiliar population, and to revolutionize the negative image the general public generates of us. Every second we choose to live in silence, organizations like PETA and HSUS take advantage of our idleness and falsely exploit agriculture as a “useless” profession. In a recent Yahoo article, Agriculture was deemed the “No. 1 Useless College Degree”, followed by Animal Science at No. 4, and Horticulture at No. 5. As the future face of American agriculture, we should all find it particularly discomforting to realize just how unaware and uninformed billions of people are when it comes to knowing the importance of what being an agriculturalist really means.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences encompasses an enormously diverse group of people, extending far past the stereotypical farmers and ranchers. We have modernized and grown into a profession that develops economists, scientists, pharmacists, researchers, veterinarians, biologists, nutritionists, geneticists, and the list goes on and on; so why is agriculture still being plagued by a bad reputation? Articles and other public service announcements like the one recently printed on Yahoo haunt our industry all too often and frequently express the single opinion of an author with no connection to agriculture and statistical resources that are misinterpreted. For instance, the Yahoo article states that “when schools such as the University of Idaho cut their ag programs, you know times are tough for this degree”, when in reality the College of Ag and Life Sciences is the second largest college in the entire University!

The agriculture industry as a whole is continuously striving to become more efficient and consolidate in order to increase productivity, and in doing so has cut down not only on the costs of production and natural resources but admittedly on the number of jobs as well. Despite this however are an increasing number of jobs available for small-scale farmers that have the opportunity to deal directly with consumers and marketing cooperations, an advantageous strategy that gives farmers a larger share of their consumer’s dollars. In addition to the numerous jobs created in these developing niche markets, over half of the existing farmers in the US will retire within the next decade and need to be replaced in order to sustain a demanding world population that will triple by the year 2050, requiring 100% more food and 70% more technology. Managerial jobs in farming, ranching, and agriculture are expected to continue rising by approximately 6% within the next seven years and while they may endure “getting up with the sun and working till it sets”, they enjoy being their own boss and take pride in providing the shirt on your back and the food on your table.

Animal Science comes in next as the “No. 4 Useless College Degree because it is so specific that you cannot transfer any useful skills to jobs outside of animal science”. On the contrary, the science background required for animal science students is extremely extensive and often leads to graduate or professional school where they further facilitate the study of animals to fulfill their primary goal: meeting human needs, whether it be consumption or companionship. Animal scientists are trained to work not only in livestock production but also in numerous professional environments and can be found in the “medical, pharmaceutical, financial, public health, business, nutrition, research, education, and genetic career fields, just to name a few”. The U.S. Department of Labor expects a “13% increase in employment within the next six years” coupled with “an unemployment rate well below the national average”, according to the 2009-2012 American Community Survey. Overall, animal scientists are represented in many different forms and fashions in the work force yet it is evident that future employment remains optimistic for animal science students who are seeking a career opportunity in agriculture.

Horticulture is the last of the trio rated at No. 5. As with all aspects of agriculture, a degree within this field can range considerably but a few common careers may encompass crop production, biochemistry, genetic engineering, soil preservation, crop yields, or plant physiology. Horticulturists study the most effective uses of our natural resources and aim to protect and preserve our soil, water, and ecosystems for future generations. While some work to improve our food’s nutritional value and improve crop yields others are embarking on different ways to stop soil erosion and maintain its mineral value between harvests. They are the leaders on the forefront of the “Going Green” movement, striving to consolidate and minimize harmful environmental effects and engineering new ways to successfully convert organic material into usable energy sources. Many emerging forms of agriculture in areas like organic farming, food safety, diet and nutrition, landscaping, biofuel and other niche markets are becoming progressively popular and are creating additional jobs for thousands of agriculturalists. The employment rate for soil and plant scientists has remained steady even throughout the current economic recession and remarkably is projected to “grow by over 16% between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average for all other occupations”, stated by the US Department of Labor. The opportunities within the horticulture industry are growing exponentially larger each year, and without them we would find ourselves rapidly approaching the day that there isn’t enough food or resources to go around, and what’s left most families couldn’t afford.

As of today, one in five people in the United States go without food; and hunger kills more than AIDS, war, malaria, and tuberculosis combined throughout the world. Agriculturalists live to serve the people of the world yet they are repeatedly cut down and underappreciated by the billions of individuals they support.  What most people don’t realize is that American agriculture is continuously diversifying and employs over 23 million people, over 17% of the entire work force! Students that choose an agriculture degree know that they are doing work that matters and have hundreds of career opportunities available to them upon graduation. They are feeding and clothing the world, protecting our natural resources, and creating jobs to support our future generations. What’s useless about that? Speak up, reach out, and tell your story! It’s time for a revolution.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Agricultural and Food Scientists, on the Internet at .

"About CALS." University of Idaho-Moscow, Boise, Coeur D'Alene, and Idaho Falls. Web. 02 Feb. 2012. <>.

American Society of Animal Science Board of Directors, "Animal Scientists Respond to Yahoo's "College Majors that are Useless"." American Society of Animal Science 20 Jan 2012. 2 Feb 2012 <>. 

Blog Writer: Lea Luensmann

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tell Your Story

It isn’t a hidden fact that today’s population is becoming more and more removed from the farm and ranch.  Although this is true, agriculture has a great opportunity at hand.  People are curious by nature and they become even more curious about things they don’t know much about such as agriculture.  Those who are involved with producing food and fiber for the world should take this opportunity to educate others about this great and diverse industry by telling their story.

Because agriculture has so many aspects, there are many stories and experiences that can be told.  Agriculture’s audience is the world and our most powerful weapon happens to be our stories.  People love hearing about how we still tend to cattle when it is below freezing outside, breaking their water so they can drink and provide them hay for food.  They enjoy hearing about working on a tractor that is having problems starting.  They listen when you tell them about your favorite working dog May and how loyal she is to you.  You don’t have to claim to be an expert in an area; you just need to tell your story. 

As you tell your story, your passion for agriculture will shine through and this is another added plus.  It is like listening to a professor that enjoys their job and wants to pass their passion onto their students.  They make waking up and going to class enjoyable with their stories, examples and real life applications.  They tell their story. 

Find the way you best tell your story.  You can talk to others and encourage discussion and passing along information to their friends.  Some have a way to tell their story not through words but through a camera lens.  Others write about their experiences on blogs.  One way is not better than another, just the fact that you tell your story. 

Agriculturists need to be like those professors that everyone loves and wants to have class with.  We need to inspire others to appreciate agriculture so they can tell their friends and family just how great agriculture is, and how dedicated and hard working the people employed in it are.  Everyone has a story.  Speak out and tell yours.

Blog writer: Dakota Fleming 

To learn more about Dakota and more blog writers read here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome to Farmers Fight!

The brothers of the Beta Nu (Texas A&M) chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho, an agriculturally-focused social/professional fraternity, started an Agricultural Advocacy committee in the fall of 2011 after realizing the need for greater pro-agriculture publicity around campus. Through educational events and media publicity, this committee works to promote a positive, educated understanding of American agriculture so that people may better understand just how vital modern agriculture is to our nation, our economy, and our way of life. 

Thus an organization called Farmers Fight was formed! This agricultural advocacy day will be held on April 12, 2012 and is intended to highlight the advancements that different agricultural sectors have made in recent years, as well as to educate the public on the diversity of agriculture today.  Our vision for Farmers Fight is that it will be so large and involve enough people that no student will be able to come to campus this day without knowing that an agricultural event is being held. 

How can we not stand up for agriculture? It is what we eat, what we wear, and how we live.

It is time to join together and make our presence known!

Farmers Fight!

Thanks & Gig’em!