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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Happy Friday, all! Big plans this weekend? Hubs and I have big plans that involve little to no sleep because we’re moving H to her ‘big girl bed.’

If that doesn’t mean, “Congrats, mom and dad, no sleep for you,” I don’t know what does.

But hey, what are parents if they aren’t gluttons for punishment? Anyway, on to the Weekly Round Up!

  • The big news here in the agriculture community is the current state of the farm economy. If you’re not intimately involved in agriculture, it may be news to you. But for farmers, the downturn in the farm economy has been brewing for a while and it doesn’t look to improve too soon. To learn more about why that’s a problem for farmers – and you – check out these articles from Reuters (this one features one of my favorite farmers, Dave Kestel!) and Farm Futures.
  • Along the same lines, Illinois Corn Growers posted an excellent breakdown of how ag products are priced and the share the farmers receives – it’s Ag Econ 101. Where was this when I was in college?
  • This, because it’s awesome. Here’s the guys and gals out there growing our food. FB_IMG_1459210414746
  • In the same vein as the farm economy stories I mentioned above, here’s another that you may not be aware of. Recently, a wildfire broke out in Oklahoma and then rapidly moved into Kansas. Across the two states, ranchlands were burned, putting ranchers in a tough spot coming in to spring. For more information on how ranchers are dealing with the fires, check out this post from Tales from a Kansas Farm Mom.
  • This, because it doesn’t seem like a day goes by without hearing some other completely incorrect nugget of information regarding GMOs. This? This is good stuff. AnFB_IMG_1454119992741
  • And, speaking of GMOs – check out this article. I realize I’m a little biased because I think GMOs are all around pretty great. And I do have some issues with a couple of the statements made here (especially about pesticide use), but overall, I think it’s a great piece that outlines just how silly mandatory GMO labeling actually is.
  • And finally, this. Because, obviously. Farm to table

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It’s time for another edition of the Weekly Round Up. We have a lot of ground to cover, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

  • Check out this awesome video about Concrete Cowboys, kids in Philadelphia who ride horses in the heart of the city.
  • If you’ve visited Standing Out in the Field before, you might remember me telling you about my own farm background, and the hard-working farm womenmost importantly my mom — I’m privileged to know. Well, direct from Illinois Farmer Today, here are some more pretty extraordinary farm women who are blazing the agricultural trail. Check it out.  All-States-Womeninag%20(1)
  • This, because cheese is awesome. Cheese
  • This blog post, from Illinois Farm Families, which talks about steps farm families take to ensure they’re raising animals responsibly. It’s a great read if you have questions about how food animals are raised and cared for.
  • This, because it’s almost Easter and I can’t think of anything more Easter-y than this cute picture of a calf and a chick. Bonus points because it’s a Jersey calf.calf
  • Last week, I mentioned the proposed cuts to the ag education line item. This time, the Chicago Tribune is taking on the Governor’s proposed cuts. It’s a great story, but I’m really sharing it because it features a school I really love – Chicago High School for Ag Sciences. If nothing else, read it to learn more about CHSAS.

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It’s time for another edition of the Weekly Round Up, so grab a snack and a drink, settle in on the couch and get ready for some of the week’s best stories, videos and memes!

  • Remember me telling you about a little girl who sustained injuries from a house fire? Reese has dairy cattle and I know (well, know of, more like) her parents because of my years in show ring. Anyway, two years ago, Reese and her sister, Brinkley, were staying at their grandparents’ house when a fire broke out. Her sister and grandfather were okay, but Reese and her grandmother suffered pretty extensive injuries, with Reese bearing the brunt. Well, finally, after nearly 700 days in the hospital, Reese is going home! Check out the story in Bullvine (a dairy mag) and keep the Kleenexes handy.
  • This, which is so awesome, I’m sharing it again. Because I can’t remember if I’ve already shared it once.  FB_IMG_1454818465099
  • If you live in the Midwest, you’ve no doubt seen auger wagon, combines, tractors and planters moving slowly down the road. But, do you have any idea how much that very necessary equipment costs farmers? Illinois Corn Growers gave an excellent breakdown of the Heavy Cost of Machinery on their blog, Corn Corps. Check it out.
  • This, because, obviously. It was 72 degrees two days ago. Today, it has barely broken 40 degrees. And there’s snow in the forecast for the weekend. FB_IMG_1456014244576
  • If you’re not an Illinois resident, you may be unaware of the budget situation with which we’re currently dealing. The situation is this: We don’t have a budget and we probably won’t have one for quite some time. We’re now approaching one full year without the governor and legislature working together enough to get a budget in place. All of that political wrangling means that bills are going unpaid and state programs are being affected. The latest to hit the chopping block was the agriculture education line item, when the governor decided to zero out the funding in early March. To learn more about how this will affect students, check out these stories from WEEK and Prairie Farmer.
  • This, which I obviously love. And yes, I can say, ‘yes’ to everything on this list. It’s a badge of honor. 12794340_10208972861066778_8754308815924586604_n
  • And finally, this story from Forbes, about the USDA’s Certified Organic label. I’ve talked quite a bit about conventionally-raised vs. organic foods and how marketing plays a big role in the way both are perceived by consumers. This piece goes a bit deeper and it’s excellent.

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Time for another edition of the Weekly Round Up — albeit, two days late. Apparently, when I was working on this Thursday, I forgot to schedule the post to go up on Friday. Because I’m awesome.

Oh well, better late than never, right?

  • We’ll kick things off with the big news in Illinois this week — news that has us aggies pretty upset. You see, farmers tend to feel pretty underrepresented and, for the first time, it felt like we had a guy in our corner. Then, all of the sudden, we didn’t. For more info, check out stories herehere, here and here.
  • This, because it seems to fit nicely with the political happenings from this week. farming is easy
  • This story, from Forbes Magazine, which I thought was pretty interesting. There’s been a crusade against GMOs as of late. Folks are out to get them out of every single food they eat — or at least get them labeled. Personally, I’m just fine with GMOs in my food. They’ve been proven safe in study after study, but that’s just my personal choice. But did you know that GMOs aren’t just in food?
  • And speaking of GMOs, this story about a popular spice company going organic and GMO-free by 2016. Again, if you’re all for the organic, non-GMO movement, I that’s your choice. But here’s something to keep in mind as you’re buying organic, non-GMO labeled spices: those spices have always been non-GMO because GMO varieties of those plants don’t exist.
  • This, because it’s awesome. success
  • And this, from the Washington Post, about the tyranny of olive oil! But seriously, am I the only one who really isn’t crazy about the taste of olive oil? I would much rather stick with butter. The fact that I grew up with dairy cattle probably has something to do with that, too. 🙂

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I looked at the calendar this morning and realized October is next week. NEXT WEEK, YOU GUYS.

Then I realized, “Holy crap. I have a lot to get done in October. It’s H’s first Halloween so we need to get her a costume, because I obviously am not talented enough to make her one; then we need to do a little winterizing around the house; it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start getting some Christmas presents purchased because, let’s be honest, my little bank account can’t do that all in one month; and oh yeah, I need to update my voter registration.”

That’s right, folks. We’re just over a month away from the next election. No, this isn’t a presidential election, but that doesn’t mean you should shirk your duty as an American citizen.

Illinois citizens have some pretty big decisions to make this November. Not only are we electing a new Senator to represent us in Washington, we’re also choosing a new governor. Those are two pretty important positions for you to ‘forget’ to vote.

And just in case you don’t buy how important it is to vote, I thought it was the perfect time to resurrect our list of “Top Ten Reasons Why Voting is AWESOME!” It was originally published here in 2012, but like all important things, it bears repeating. Just to keep things fresh, I’ve added some updates, included in blue:

  1. It’s your job. And hey, just because Congress doesn’t seem to be doing their job, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing yours. Huh, funny how this hasn’t really changed in two years, right?
  2. Your vote counts just as much as anyone else’s. Still true.
  3. You get a cool ‘I Voted!’ sticker. Definitely still true! I voted
  4. You never know – if you’re unattached, you might finally have a chance to run into that cute neighbor you’ve been eyeing. Go ahead, impress him or her with your knowledge of politics and civic duty. Yep.
  5. Believe it or not, every political decision, policy or issue has or will affect you. It’s your future, why let someone else control it for you without a fight? This won’t change in the history of voting. One of the best reasons to vote.
  6. If your friends don’t vote and you do, you automatically have the right to endlessly mock them. Seriously. Still true.
  7. Don’t forget — this isn’t just a presidential election. During the election on Nov. 6, you’ll also have the chance to elect members of Congress and local representatives. And, local elections like school board and city  council races really do have an impact on your daily life. Okay, so this isn’t a presidential election, but that doesn’t matter. You’re still voting for some pretty important stuff. Oh, and the election is Nov. 4 this time around.
  8. You don’t want to earn your paycheck just to have someone else decide how you have to spend it. It’s your money and the people you elect will decide how much of your wealth to invest in public services and taxes. Oh man, am I feeling this one this year. With a little one at home, we need to stretch every penny, so I don’t want to have to feel guilty about not voting for the guy that would help me save some of my hard-earned.
  9. With the internet, it takes a fraction of a second (okay, maybe a little bit longer — but not much) to get all of the registration and voter information for your county. Coincidentally, today is the last day to register to vote here in Illinois — SO GET IT DONE! I believe the last day to register to vote here in Illinois this year is Oct. 9 — SO GET IT DONE!
  10. Failure to vote means you’re no longer allowed any paid holidays. None. Or something like that. I’ll check into that, but in the mean time, just believe me. Definitely still true.

Now remember, go vote!

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By Richard Guebert, Jr., president, Illinois Farm Bureau

By Richard Guebert, Jr., president, Illinois Farm Bureau

From unpredictable and uncooperative weather to high input costs, successful farming takes a thick skin, perseverance and the ability to work around obstacles. One obstacle farmers hope to never have to work around — or fight against — is the federal government.

Still, for the last three years, Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) members have overwhelmingly said the federal government and over-regulation are their biggest work-arounds and threats to long-term profitability.

And that government over-regulation talk is about to ramp up again – not only for farmers, but for a variety of small businesses – with the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest try at a government land-grab: Its proposed rule changes to the waters of the United States outlined in the Clean Water Act.

Since it was created in 1972, the Clean Water Act has helped to make significant strides in improving water quality in this country. The Act regulates so-called ‘waters of the U.S.’ Until now, those have been defined primarily as waters that can be navigated. State and local governments have jurisdiction over smaller, more remote waters such as ponds and isolated wetlands.

However, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are seeking to expand the definition of ‘waters of the U.S.’ to include not only navigable waters, but also puddles, ponds, ditches, small wetlands and even land that resembles a stream during a rainstorm but is dry otherwise. If the expanded definition is allowed, permits and other regulatory roadblocks – having to hire environmental consultants, for example – would stand in the way of conducting routine business activities like building fences, removing debris from ditches, spraying for weeds and insects, and removing unwanted vegetation.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns report indicates there are nearly 2,700 businesses in McLean County that employ 100 or fewer people. Among them are homebuilders, real estate agencies, aggregate producers and related small businesses. They would also be negatively impacted as the proposed role would increase federal regulatory power over private property. The definitions would create confusion and, because they were intentionally created to be overly broad, could be interpreted in whatever way the federal agencies see fit.

Agencies like the EPA and the Corps of Engineers are not charged with writing the laws of the land. Congress is. And when Congress wrote the Clean Water Act, it clearly intended for the law to apply to navigable waters. Yet these agencies seek to stretch the meaning in order to gobble up privately owned and managed lands.

Is a small ditch navigable? How about that dry ditch that only fills with water during a rainstorm? Or even that puddle in your backyard? Those bodies of water don’t sound navigable to farmers, either.

 

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You know what’s amazing? Every time I turned on my TV over the last eleven days, I’ve seen something about the government shutdown. The national media have rehashed it 1,000 times. How it’s affecting furloughed employees. What does this mean for the economy? Common, everyday tasks and information that is now impossible to do and get because the government is partially shutdown. Even how it’s affecting middle America and farmers.

Shoot, as an IFB employee, I’ve gotten most of those calls from the media.

What’s more amazing? The fact that the national media haven’t picked up on one of the biggest impacts of the partial government shutdown: South Dakota farmers and ranchers being left out in the cold.

Don’t be surprised if you need me to further explain. After all, there’s been little to no national media coverage about the blizzard that ravaged western South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska last weekend.

But ravaged it was. While the western plains states are accustomed to early snow, they aren’t accustomed to inches of rain followed by feet of snow and 70+ mile per hour winds – all in the first weekend of October. And their livestock aren’t accustomed to it, either.

Which is why it’s estimated more than 70,000 cows in western South Dakota are now dead. And that doesn’t include sheep and horses that perished in the storm, either. Without FSA and USDA offices open, farmers and ranchers have no one in which to turn. Add to it there’s no new farm bill, and ranchers are really left out in the cold, with no disaster relief programs or indemnity programs.

For livestock producers and folks involved in agriculture, that’s gut-wrenching enough in itself. Losing animals is never easy. But, for me, what’s worse still is some of the internet chatter I’ve read following Facebook photos and information surfacing about the blizzard.

It’s the clearest illustration I’ve ever seen of the disconnect between farmers and ranchers and the general public.

SD Blizzard 2 SD Blizzard

Because of the lack of national media attention, a South Dakota rancher posted a picture to Ellen DeGeneres’ Facebook page, asking her to cover the story on her talk show and the comments got a little heated, as you can see above. As of last night, more than 6,000 people had commented on the photo. Some, just to leave well wishes, and others to question the efforts of farmers and ranchers. Still more, ranchers themselves, to comment on just what they could and couldn’t do.

Now, I’m no rancher. But in my previous life working for an ad agency (and animal health company), I’ve had the chance to visit and interview a whole lot of ranchers and I can tell you this, most of them would have given their left arms to be able to save their herds. Here are the complications with which they dealt:

  • Most cattle were still on summer pasture, meaning there are fewer draws and creek beds in which to hide out. On a normal year, South Dakota may see some early snow, but nothing that would prevent cattle from staying on summer and fall pastures through the middle to end of October.
  • Being that it is still early fall, most cattle and horses haven’t had the chance to grow their winter hair yet, which would have insulated them from 24+ inches of snow.
  • Ranching is the backbone of South Dakota, with many ranchers owning hundreds of cows. When those cows are on summer pasture, further away from homes, it’s much harder to move them quickly to another pasture. And, in many cases, shelter wouldn’t be an option anyway because of the shear number of animals.
  • Most importantly, from the ranchers I know and have interviewed, I can tell you this isn’t just a loss of profit. Sure, that will be a tough cross to bear. But many of these ranchers have been developing their genetics and family lines for generations. Meaning the cow, with the calf at her side and the unborn calf, that is lost is three generations of herd genetics those ranchers can’t get back by going out and buying a replacement. It just doesn’t work that way.

So what’s the point? The point is it’s time for more questions and less judgment. Or even, more support and less judgment. Farmers and ranchers aren’t out to make the quickest buck and leave their livestock high and dry. And, if you don’t believe me, check out some of the articles and blogs from the very best sources, the ranchers themselves.

You can read some of the best here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here (warning: some of these pictures are tough to see), here, here and here. Oh, and this last one, too.

If you would like to help support ranchers in South Dakota, visit the Ranchers’ Relief Fund.

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