Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Farmers have a "feel good job"

Last night I attended a board meeting for a foundation non-profit group that I belong to.  One of the members, Annette, who works at the local Farm Service Agency was saying how she loved her job and that it was a "feel good" job.  She knew that what she did each day helped farmers and that in turn then helped the farmers to go out and do their job of feeding the world.  What a great perspective!  Thank you Annette and to all the other people who work in the government agencies that help our farmers with the farm programs.  Here are some interesting farm facts about the Farm Bill:
  • More than 70% of farm bill-related spending goes to food and nutrition programs like food stamps, not to farmers.
  • The farm bill invests $406 billion over 10 years in nutrition programs, helping more than 38 million Americans afford healthy meals and updating the Food Stamp Program to reflect today’s challenges.
  • The farm safety net was cut by $3.5 billion in the 2008 farm bill. Factor in cuts to crop insurance and farmers’ funding fell $7.4 billion
Her statement got me to thinking back to the conference we attended earlier this month and that was exactly the very same sentiment expressed by the farmers and ranchers that we met.  The stories were varied, but the common theme was the same, we love what we do, it is a  "feel good job".  

So the next time you grocery shop or prepare a meal, remember all of the people who work really hard and make it possible to enjoy this fact:  "America has the cheapest, safest, most abundant food supply in the world."  Yup, it is a feel good job.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Feeding America, 1st day of Spring Work, March, 2010

Today Joe headed down to the Tammany farm which is located 37 miles South of our Genesee farm to spray out the weeds in preparation for the spring wheat to be planted. It is an important step, as with anything, to have the proper foundation bed to get optimal productivity. If you garden, you know how pesky weeds can be and you do not want them to compete with the what you want to grow and we are the same, we do not want the weeds to compete with the wheat for water and nutrients. So farmers try to give their crops the best start they can and will continue to monitor the various crop stages to help eliminate weeds and insects that will harm the wheat plant. "Farmers strive to be agronomicially sound, economically smart and environmentally safe." This quote says it all, just wish I'd thought of it, instead it came from Frank Lussetto from a publication called "The Furrow" published by the John Deere company.

Brother in law, Jay stayed around the home place to do odds and ends before he will head down and begin helping Joe.

The location of this farm allows us the opportunity to get into the field about a couple weeks earlier so logistically it is a good fit for our farming operations. Our days will now start early as the drive time from the home shop to the Tammany shop is close to an hour each way.

This morning as I packed Joe's lunch I could feel his excitement as it is the beginning of the official "farming season". The farming season for us is usually mid - March through the end of October. It encompasses prepping of the ground for seeding it, planting (seeding) the crops, tending the crops throughout the growing season, harvest, Fall work and ending again with seeding winter wheat. Once the fields are ready to be seeded and weather permitting, we will work 7 days a week and the our guys will head out the door around 6:30am and return after dark, which in PDT is around 7:30pm ish.

The spoiled pooch named Josie is also excited that lunchbox season is here. She likes to sample the lunch meat and her job is quality control to ensure that the contents of the sandwich is of the best for her "dad".

While I was making Joe's lunch, it sort of reminded me of the times when I would pack our daughters lunches for their first day of school when they were little and how eagerly they were to begin the school year. So heading out the door with a big grin, he says, "I'm off to feed America!" With that my friends, this farmer and all the rest of the hardworking farmers will continue to provide everyone with safe and economical sources of food.

If you want to read more about the personal commitment of this farmer, go to the next page on the At Home on the Farm titled "The Commitment of a Farmer".

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Value of Perception, Farmers vs Urbanites

As I was driving to work this beautiful almost Spring morning, I saw a cow outside of a barn and remembered a comment and discussion from last week's Ag conference. It was during a break out session conducted by Michele Payn-Knoper an advocate for agriculture. It went something like this, one man said during a group discussion, "it's just common sense that if you mistreat an animal that you are not going to get optimal performance out of them. Why would we mistreat our animals when our livelihood depends on them? Common sense dictates that you don't abuse your source of income. The happier the animals are, the better they produce" ...... I replied yes that is true and it is common sense to you and I, but it is not to many of the people who have never lived on a farm. The non-Ag sector of the population do not have that frame of reference and rely on the propaganda from PETA, HSUS and the other 25 anti -Ag groups out there. That was when one woman joined in and confirmed my comment by saying "I recently married a farmer, but I grew up in an urban setting, so what may seem like common sense to a farmer, isn't what urbanites believe to be true." Another woman said, yes as a nursing mom, "if I am stressed, it affects my breast feeding! I never thought of it that way before."

Anyway, my point is that every one's point of reference and what they think is just plain ole common sense is not that way at all. So one more reason to just talk to people, explain what we do, why we do things in a particular way and get a conversation going. Otherwise these very same people have no one to tell them that these anti-Ag groups are full of the "end product from a cow"... =)

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Farmers go to the Big City

Many dedicated farmers/ranchers took time out of their busy schedules to attend a Nat'l Agriculture conference. Joe & I along with several other Idaho producers also attended this event. In this picture is my husband Joe Anderson (in the green shirt), myself and our other farmer friend, also named Joe Anderson (in the sport coat). Both Joe Andersons farm about 30 miles from each other and both are active in the wheat industry. Many who know these guys often refer to them as "Genesee Joe" and "Potlatch Joe" to avoid confusion. My husband is the secretary on the Idaho Grain Producers Association and "Potlatch Joe" is a Commissioner on the Idaho Wheat Commission so we see each other frequently at meetings.

Within the Vendor Exhibit hall, there was this great booth by Monsanto and these bill boards say it all. I stopped by their booth to request permission to print some of these, and it was granted. The reps told me these were real farm families, not models.

These are the faces of some of the people who feed you. 99% of us live on our farms and produce 94% of the food. For tax purposes we may structure our farms as "corporations" but we are still family owned and operated. We are not the big faceless corporations that the anti Ag groups try to make us out to be.

This caption says, "American Farmers Grow America. Ag helps feed our economy with nearly 100 billion in exports and over 24 million American jobs here at home." With these figures, why are the anti Ag groups trying to put us out of business?

If people don't like being dependant on foreign oil imports, can you imagine what it would be like to depend on foreign countries for our food? If you don't think it can't happen here, take a look at the United Kingdom. They were exporters, now they are importers for their food. To read more, click on the above link.

Do you realize there are 27 dedicated anti Ag groups out there? 27 !!! All trying to put the family farmer out of business with their actions and attempts to implement unnecessary and costly regulations on the family farmer. These groups prey upon consumer ignorance of where their food comes from as well as using emotional scare tactics to garner voter support. Again, this is listed in my earlier blog of a court ruling (so click on the above high-lighted sentence). The HSUS is not the same humane society that we get our dogs and cats from, this is a very convenient and well thought out ruse on their part.

By the actions of these anti Ag groups, they are trying to take away food choices of the consumer and force their views upon everyone. Let the consumer choose organic vs conventional farming, let them choose to pay more for organic if they want.

Below, Secretary of AG, Tom Vilsack addressed our conference and urged farmers to take action and be proactive. Did you know in 1950 15% of the population were farmers? Today, it is 1%. In 1950 an average farmer fed 20 people. Todays farmer feeds about 120 people. We can't go back to that era, unless of course you want to be one of those that goes to bed hungry. What was stressed over and over not only from the Secretary of Ag, but by other speakers was, we need to reach out and begin telling our story. Farmers by nature are modest and we assumed (wrongly) that people knew that we were trying to provide the best food possible at the lowest price for them, we feed the world. Now if we do not heed this warning, our way of life and your food source is in danger. Please support your American Farmer. If you have questions about food practices, call or write your State's Ag groups, they will give you the facts and info. Do not believe the food extremists as they are trying to take your food choices away.

On a lighter side, it was eye candy for the farmers with all sorts of new bright shiny equipment. You should have seen all of these guys crawling all over the equipment.

So as you are reading this, if your tummy is full and you have clothes to wear, thank a farmer. Please ask us questions and please support us, do not be duped into enacting laws that will harm your food producers.

All in all it was a great conference, the seminars and meetings were informational as well as educational.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spring is coming....

Driving home today after work, it was 57 degrees, very rare for the 1st day of March (at least around here). I could hardly contain myself and wanted to be outdoors, knowing with it being so warm that I would be able to smell the dirt. The fresh earth smell is a wonderful smell unlike anything else and I have always loved the smell of dirt even as a child.

So with our recent lack of snow this past winter, Spring work for us is here. Joe was down at our Tammany farm which is about an hour away from our Genesee farm and sprayed about 150 acres of Roundup which kills weeds and/or volunteer sprouts from the previous crops. They do this in preparation to plant the new spring crop, which in that particular area will be spring wheat. Joe took this short video with his camera phone last week while driving the 4 wheeler behind the dry fertilizer truck which was topdressing the winter wheat (which is planted in the Fall of 2009).