Why be Involved in your Industry?

I’ve recently become an agvocate, or maybe I’ve always been one I just didn’t have the word to describe my passion for ag.  I’ve talked a lot about farming my whole life, especially down in LA where farmers are more scarce.  But more recently I’ve realized that maybe I wasn’t doing all that I could.  I was involved in groups that promoted a positive ag message, but when I heard it and never passed it on, that’s where the message died.  Early this year I attended a conference for Young Farmers and Ranchers and one of the speakers said, “If you’re not at the table, then you’re on the table.”  And those words spoke volumes to me.  Clearly I wasn’t doing my part, so when I got home I started to pay more attention to issues going on in my own industry.  I saw first hand that for many issues, I was not at the table and my story was being told for me by other people.  In some cases I didn’t even know the table ever existed to be honest.  So in the past 7 months I’ve been keeping my eyes and ears open and truly trying to be at the table and show up.  So far this has truly changed my outlook tremendously.

Oklahoma Leadership Conference

Sure it would be easier to just stick to farming.  To be present on my operation, not wanting to get out there and tell the public what I’m up to.  Unfortunately it’s too late for us to hide; because of social media farmers and ranchers have moved from the field, onto computer monitors all over the world.  People want to feel good about what they eat, and because of technology they can just about set foot int the fields and decide what is right or what is wrong.  So that’s why we have to be there, guiding them, letting them see the whole picture.

Oregon YF&R Ladies on a Michigan Farm Tour

I enjoy writing and politics have always fascinated me, so finding a way to be involved via this blog and through Farm Bureau was easy for me.  I understand that maybe these outlets aren’t for everyone, but I think it’s still important to be out there and be a source for those that don’t have their minds made up.  One example of this on a large scale would be the Dept of Labor new farm labor laws that were thrown out because of all the comments they received.  Using social media to pass the word, allowed for us to have a voice in what was going to happen in our own industry, in our own counties, right down to our own fields.  And all of that could never have been done without agvocates, showing up and making sure they were at the table and not to be ignored.

I don’t know if this is all making a huge change, but I think what makes it worth it, is seeing all the other agvocates out there making sure that we’re here, being heard and at the table.

Conventional or Organic…what do you put in your grocery cart??

I am a farmer and I am also an eater. You could almost say that I’m addicted to it…that is putting things in my stomach. I’m also a very avid cooking not-so-much wiz, that loves to try new things and really go out on a limb at times with my experimental foods. I guess you could say I’m a farmer foodie that is just trying to earn her wings in the cooking realm. Because of this I’m usually the one that heads to the grocery store to choose what is going to be put in the cart, in the fridge and eventually on the table. So as I walk through the grocery store I’m always confronted with many many choices! As are most people in the United States, who receive the cheapest and safest food supply in the world (thank you farmers). I see a lot of organic options and conventional options. So what do I buy and why?

Conventional on Left, Organic on Right.
Pretty close to the same, minus a bug hole in the top of the organic.

The organic produce and conventional usually look about the same. Truth be told sometimes the organic does look a bit on the “under the weather” side of things. But that’s beside the point, I think that they both taste good, both have the same nutrients, and in the end both have the same result. So when I go to pick up my produce, here is why I’m more likely to pick-up the conventional…

  • I like to support conventional agriculture. I truly believe that it is still our future and we can’t feed the world without that technology.
  • I myself am a conventional farmer, so I understand how careful we have to be in the US to provide safe food. We don’t just spray to spray, we do it carefully and timely to keep us all safe.
  • The nutrients are not any different, I can still be a healthy person while eating produce that had pesticides sprayed on them.
  • Many organic sprays are not healthy either, and they have to spray more often because they are not as effective.
  • Pricing, conventional is usually much cheaper to buy.

Now I would write here the reasons that I would buy organic, but honestly I can’t say that I buy these products. I think that it’s for a lot of the reasons above and I feel very passionately about them. Plus I can honestly say that I’m very frustrated about the organic movement and what they have done to the reputation of farmers across the US. I come from a farm where all you neighbors are there to help, my agriculture involves lending a hand and some advice to make others also succeed. I come from an agricultural community where literally everyone knows your name and although many of our farms are “Incorporated” we are all still family run farms. With the onset of organic it seems like they are trying to take that away. They make my farm look like we don’t care about the land, like we just go out and spray without any regard to what is going on in the soil, in the air, or around our property. I’ll tell you one thing, we couldn’t care more for the land, because if we didn’t, we would be out of work forever, and this legacy that I’m a part of, I am working hard every day to make sure that it’s there for my children. Organic has hit the scene and they are becoming successful on the back s of farmers who have been here for a long time tending the land. They bad-mouth and accuse and send out false information that just quite frankly isn’t true. I hope that we can find a place someday where we can eat what we want, conventional or organic, and be happy supporting two successful industries!

This is what people think of when they thing “Corporate Farms”…

This is what our “Corporate” Farm looks like, It’s all about family and taking care of the land.

I googled “Organic vs. Conventional” today and came up with a mayo-clinic website. It had a chart of the differences between conventional farming and organic. I would like to point out a few examples of why this debate seems very mis-educated. They say that conventional farmers apply chemicals to promote plant growth. Organic farmers apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants. These statements are true, however they are not complete! As a conventional farmer we also apply manure and compost to our plants to help with plant growth and health. It also helps the soil. Basically through the whole list we conventional farmers look like all we do is pour on the chemicals, when in reality I can truly say that we have done all the of things on the organic side. We do them all year long, the difference is that we can’t produce at the level that we need to, to feed all the people in the world, by not taking advantage of the advances in technology that the agricultural community has worked so hard to make available.

I hope that when you go the store you can choose what you want to eat. That you can look and appreciate that we have so many choices that are safe and economical for our families! Thank a farmer either organic or conventional because we are both doing the best we can for you, for the land and for our families!

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