Monday, August 4, 2014

Right to Farm Part 6: The Big Take Away

As you prepare to cast your vote tomorrow, please consider all the facts instead of all the hype. Below are links to resources that will allow you to make an educated decision. In this final video, you'll obviously see where I stand but I want you to think for yourself and make up your own mind.

Part 1: Does Amendment 1 Protect Corporations or Farmers?
Part 2: Is a Constitutional Amendment Necessary?
Part 3: Is Right to Farm a 'Blank Check?'
Part 4: Does Right to Farm Hurt Small Farmers?
Part 5: Who Supports Right to Farm?

In the final Right to Farm video with Brent Haden, you'll hear his big take away and I couldn't agree more.

If you don't know, read the amendment for yourself, get educated and make your own choice. Check our Missouri Farmers Care to see who supports this amendment and visit Vote No on 1 to see who opposes it. I believe those who support and oppose this amendment speaks for itself. It is clear that Missouri farmers support Right to Farm and who better to decide what happens in Missouri than Missourians!

BIG THANK YOU to Brent Haden for taking the time to talk to me and be part of my little piece of the Interweb.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Right to Farm Part 5: Who Supports Right to Farm?

I've heard a lot of arguments saying that Amendment 1 is a corporate-pushed proposal and that farmers aren't actually supporting it. So I flat out asked Brent Haden, one of the members who helped draft the amendment, how did this come about and who actually supports it? 

Part 1: Does Amendment 1 Support Corporations or Farmers?
Part 2: Is a Constitutional Amendment Necessary?
Part 3: Is Right to Farm a 'Blank Check?'
Part 4: Does Right to Farm Hurt Small Farmers?

Concern: This was created by corporations to try and control more Missouri farmland.

Question: Who created this amendment and who supports it?

Click here to see who supports Amendment 1.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Right to Farm Part 4: Does Right to Farm Hurt Small Farmers?

Many people are concerned that if Right to Farm passes in Missouri that it will hurt small farmers, however, Brent Haden--who helped draft the amendment--says otherwise. He believes that this amendment will impact farmers of all sizes but he see's it as a positive impact. Hear what he has to say.

Concern: If Right to Farm passes it will hurt small family farms and make it more difficult to maintain sustainable practices.

Question: Will this have an impact on small farms and/or organic farms?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Right to Farm Part 3: Is Right to Farm a 'Blank Check?'

Continuing our conversation on Amendment 1, Missouri's Right to Farm. I have Brent Haden of Haden and Byrne, who helped draft Amendment 1.

Read Part 1: Does Amendment 1 Protect Corporations or Farmers?
Read Part 2: Is a Constitutional Amendment Necessary? 

Concern: Amendment 1 will give corporations and farmers a ‘blank check’ to do whatever they want without repercussion.

Question: How will it affect current or future regulations that protect the environment, animals, water, etc.?

Friday, July 25, 2014

How to Lose the Argument on Animal Welfare

Dave Daley, interim dean of the College of Agriculture at Chico State University in California, says that your view on animal welfare depends on what you see when you look out your window.

This is an interesting concept and one that I believe farmers and ranchers can really learn from. At the 4th International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare, Daley gave an outline of  "How to Lose the Argument on Animal Welfare."

Read the full story on Beef Today

Here are 12 problems that he sees with the current state of agriculture’s point of view towards animal welfare:
  1. Assuming science will give us all the answers. Science doesn't solve ethical questions. -This is important because farming and animal welfare is such an emotional topic and too often we, farmers and ranchers, look at it from a logical standpoint
  2. Using economics as justification for animal welfare practices. -Again, think emotional response, not logical. But it's OK to remind folks that farming is a business as well as a way of life.
  3. Defending all agricultural practices. Defend those practices that are defensible. You lose credibility by trying to defend all practices. -Stick to what you know and your own farming practices. "While I can't speak for all farmers or ranchers, here's what we do......" Always be honest and transparent but don't overshoot the target.
  4. We can do better at animal welfare. -While there is always room for improvement, don't rollover just to please someone else. Be proud of what you do and confident that you are doing the best that you can do on your farm.
  5. Attacking everyone who disagrees (i.e. PETA, HSUS, vegans, etc.). -This is a tough one for me. While I certainly don't oppose people's choice of eating habits, nor do I wish to change their diets, I do have issues with PETA and HSUS. Just remember that it's OK to agree to disagree and always, always, always think before you speak (or rant in my case).
  6. Not being willing to listen. -This one is HUGE! Preaching will get you nowhere fast. Listen! Don't talk at them, talk to them. Find out why he/she/they oppose what you do and create a dialogue. You don't have to change their mind, just build that bridge to better understanding. Again, it's OK to agree to disagree.
  7. Assuming the lunatic fringe is the general public. -The Fonz says, "Assumptions are the termites of relationships." True story! A lot of people just assume that you abuse animals because of how you raise them. Moral of the story: Don't add more crazy to the pot, it's filling up fast enough.
  8. Being reactive instead of proactive. -How many times have we heard this one?! This is why it is so important to tell your story.
  9. Assuming that because someone disagrees with you they are stupid, evil or both. -Didn't we just discuss this? Assumptions are the devil!
  10. Not working hard enough to build coalitions that include the public. -Connect, connect, connect!
  11. Criticizing/mocking non-conventional production systems. There is room for other methods of production, so let the market determine success or failure. -'Nough said. Just like there is more than one way to skin a cat (not that I recommend any of them), there is more than one way to sow a seed, raise a pig, etc. Live and let live. It's about bridges, not road blocks.
  12. Trying to lead a parade without seeing if anyone is following. -While this is quite humorous to witness on the streets......wait, visualize of a guy flamboyantly marching down the street with a baton and he's all by himself. Now giggle, I know I am......
The bottom line is simple, we can't butt heads with those that oppose what we do and expect to get anywhere useful. We can't fight crazy with crazy. It just doesn't work. We need to be creating conversations, real conversations were you speak, then you listen and you respond to the response. Connect, connect, connect! (name that movie)

Building bridges is what it's all about. We need to stop leaping from one extreme to another extreme, instead, we need to jaunt along the middle ground.

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” ― Abraham Maslow

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Right to Farm Part 2: Is a Constitutional Amendment Necessary?

Again, we're hearing from Brent Haden, Haden and Byrne, who helped draft Amendment 1, Missouri Right to Farm.

This series is an effort to make this proposed amendment clearer so that you can make an educated decision before you cast your vote on August 5. 

Read Part 1: Does Amendment 1 Protect Corporations or Farmers?

Concern: Farmers already farm so a constitutional amendment is unnecessary.

Question: Why a sudden need for a constitutional amendment giving people the right to farm in Missouri? 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Right To Farm Part 1: Does Amendment 1 Protect Corporations or Farmers?

In Missouri, there is a lot of talk about Amendment 1, also known as Right to Farm. This Amendment would change the Missouri Constitution to protect family farmers from attacks from radical groups like HSUS, however, it would NOT alter any of the existing regulations concerning the environment, water, public health, etc. It would also allow future reasonable regulations to be made, as needed.

I have heard many concerns about Right to Farm, so I spoke with Brent Haden from The Law Firm of Hayden and Byrne. Brent was involved in the drafting of this amendment and here is a series that answers several questions and concerns that people have.

Concern: Right to Farm is merely a curtain for corporations to hide behind.

Question: Does Amendment 1 protect corporations? What does it actually do?


Monday, June 16, 2014

Waste Management on Hog Farms

The Hatton meeting regarding a proposed hog confinement operation brought up a slew of questions. In fact, a list of questions—which were somewhat answered—were handed out at the meeting.

So, with that in mind, how about a little Q&A? The following questions are from the community meeting and I will briefly answer them to the best of my knowledge and ability. 

What is the management plan for air quality and smell control?

While every farm is different, there are a few options. On our farm, we rely on trees to help control odor and fans to maintain air quality within the barns. Some farms also add air scrubbers, which basically ‘scrub’ the ammonia out of the air to reduce atmospheric ammonia. To my knowledge, these are not widely used yet because of cost but they are still in the development phase and I look forward to seeing how they develop in the future.

Another fantastic invention that is gaining popularity is digesters. Digesters convert methane gas into electricity. These are fascinating but again, there is a cost issue so not everyone uses them.

One last way we control odor is by knifing manure into the ground instead of using a traveling gun or running it through a center pivot irrigation system.

Explain how below-building waste pits work.

Basically, the pig does his business wherever and whenever he (or she) pleases. Then, their ‘business’ falls through the slat flooring and is stored in a reinforced concrete basement that is about 8 feet deep and the same length as the barn. Then, twice a year—in the fall and spring—they are pumped out and knifed into the field as a natural fertilizer.

Pit under construction.

What is the average nutrient value of the waste? Does it add organic matter to the soil or only nutrient value?

The great thing about manure is that it is basically a nutrient package deal. Just like the phone and TV companies, they bundle it. In most cases, manure provides all your phosphorus and potassium needs and the bulk of your nitrogen. Of course, only soil and nutrient testing will give a for sure answer to what is there and what isn’t but those are the three nutrients farmers always need and they are the three that are always present in manure. For farmers that don’t use manure, they have to purchase separate chemical fertilizers to cover each of these nutrient needs. Manure also adds organic matter that improves overall soil health. If you care to learn more about the nutrient and economic value here are a couple resources:

Nutrients and Value of Liquid Hog Manure

Economic Value of Liquid Hog Manure

 Will the hog urine be applied to the soils and what is the expected effect on soil quality due to urine?

I was surprised to see this question on the sheet, but it is a valid question. Yes, the poop and pee fall through the slats and into the same pit so it’s all mixed up together into one big pot of liquid gold. See previous question for soil quality concerns

How frequently will the waste pits be pumped dry?

Every fall and spring the fields get feed—by way of manure.

Do you have any questions about farming? Let me know in the comments and I’m happy to answer them.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Raising Havoc in Hatton

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking at a community meeting in Hatton, Mo. Of course, I wasn't exactly invited to speak. I just temporarily took over the mic because that's how I roll. Aaron, my husband, begged me not to go up there. "Just leave it alone," he said. He's not much on public speaking and certainly doesn't like to stand out in a crowd. But, I just couldn't help myself. I couldn't stand there and let the crowd verbally beat down the farmer and his family without anyone to speak up for not just him but pig farmers everywhere.

This meeting was due to a proposed sow facility that an Iowa company wants to build on a Hatton farmer's land. Basically, the family farm in Hatton is teaming up with the company in Iowa to accomplish two things: 1) The Iowa company wants sows closer to Missouri finisher facilities, 2) The family farmer gets all the manure. Some may say the family farmer is getting the crappy end of the stick, but manure is invaluable to a farmer. It decreases costs, adds valuable organic nutrients to the soil and reduces the use of petroleum chemicals like anhydrous-ammonia.

The meeting was fun, for me anyway. I had forgotten just how much I love public speaking, especially when I'm talking about my family's farm. I also get a kick out of mild controversy. This meeting also reminded me that education is needed more now than ever.

Despite the efforts by farmers, ag organizations and others, consumers seem to be shifting further away from agriculture and more towards misconceptions. There's the belief that there is only one way to farm and that there must be some sort of rivalry between farmers--organic vs. modern, small vs. large, old-school vs. new technology, etc. Why?

The moral of this story is simple: If you ever get a chance to go to a community meeting regarding a local farm family, please go! In fact, any chance you get to share your farm story, do it.

My family didn't have to go to this meeting. We don't even live very close to Hatton and we have absolutely nothing to do with this business venture. We went to support a fellow farmer. We went because it was the right thing to do. I didn't have to speak. I could have just sat in the back row and kept my thoughts to myself, but I didn't. I saw an opportunity to represent farmers and I jumped on it.

My challenge to you: Make a point to share your story. Tell a neighbor, write a blog post, post something on Facebook or Twitter or go to a local meeting and start a conversation. It's easy to ignore the issue, but at what cost?

Consumers deserve to know where their food comes from and farmers—not lobbyists, extremist groups or the like—are the best ones to educate them on this matter. It's a heavy burden, but one we must carry.