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