I FEEL GOOD ABOUT EATING MCDONALDS

Today, I’m loving this video.

You should really take the time to watch it.

I watched the video and loved the authenticity. Loved how the reporter showed us the exact image we’ve seen on Facebook and didn’t mince any words about whether or not that image was accurate. Loved that a scientist talked to us and shared all this information. She talked TO us, not AT us.

Then I checked out McDonald’s “Our Food, Your Questions” page. It is brilliant. I was drawn in particular to the question here about whether or not the animals eat Genetically Modified Organisms because, as a farm girl, that question pertains to me and my family’s livelihood.

mcdonaldsThey do. There’s no reason for the animals not to eat GMO corn and soybeans, though McDonald’s doesn’t say that.

It’s interesting how the internet and social media in particular has connected farmers with their consumers. Chicken farmers used to just raise chickens and sell them, never thinking too much about what happened next. Now Tyson thoughtfully considers the farmers raising their chickens. McDonald’s thinks about who they will buy chicken nuggets from.

Farmers and food manufacturers and suppliers like McDonald’s are engaged in many of the same issues and battles and that’s a relatively recent change in the American food landscape.

I feel good about eating McDonald’s occasionally and feeding McDonald’s chicken nuggets or burgers to my kids occasionally. I know the farmers raising these chickens and cattle are responsible, because I’m sure they aren’t that different from my grandpa and dad. Now I see that Tyson and McDonald’s work together to make sure that each chicken nugget is a wholesome product.

I feel good about helping consumers with no tie to the food industry understand these important issues, and entering that educational process with partners like McDonald’s.

If you are a farmer, check out what McDonald’s is doing and consider how their work could apply to your own work to help local non-farmers understand what you do on your farm.

If you are a non-farmer, you definitely must watch the above video and skim some of the questions on McDonald’s site. They are doing a great job to answer your questions.

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

THE GREAT FARMER DEBATE

For years now farmers have been arguing over many things from weather to which coffee shop they are going to sit and argue at. But, now, here are the greatest farmer debates of all time.

1. Chevy vs. Ford

This is an age old debate for farmers and non-farmers. There are the two main truck names, Chevy and Ford. I will even throw a bone and include Dodge in this discussion. They made a pretty remarkable influence on the agriculture industry with The Year of the Farmer in 2013. Most of you will remember the “So God Made a Farmer” Superbowl commercial? (If not, you can watch it here.) However, daddy raised me a Ford girl through and through. So, in my opinion this is a closed debate.
ford
2. Weather Channel vs. AccuWeather

With the new and ever changing technology, farmers are now fighting over which weather app is better on their smart phones. Don’t get me wrong, to some, the religious watching of the news and looking at the radar at the local elevator will never change. But, just like the technology in that smart phone, agriculture technology is changing as well. It is a lot more convenient for a farmer to quick check on the incoming storm while sitting in the tractor. The question is now which app is more reliable and the most accurate?

3. Organic vs. Conventional

As the consumer is becoming more and more food oriented and organic vs. conventional is becoming a very important debate. It comes down to preference by the farmer. Organic farmers have a great deal more regulations and rules to follow than conventional farmers, but at times the payoff is greater due to the demand for organic products. Neither is better than the other, like I said, it just all comes down to preference. Before you make a decision make sure you do your research from a credible source to make an educated decision!

farmer

Don’t be afraid to go out and visit a farmer to get some first-hand experience!

4. Seed Dealers

Monsanto, FS, Becks, AgReliant, Stone Seed, Dow, the list goes on and on of where you can buy your seeds to plant this year’s crop. Farmers put a lot of thought into this decision. Some brands claim to produce higher yields, some claim to be more pest resistant but they will all grow a crop, so it is in the farmer’s hands to decide what will work best for him. Farmers will work with these companies and their dealers to determine which product is the best fit for their land.

5. Red vs. Green

Ahh… John Deere vs. Case IH. A debate that will never be settled and I’m sure has even come to blows at one point. Every farmer has a favorite and, much like his favorite baseball team, the whole family better support that color. Some say that John Deere is overpriced, but JD lovers sware the quality is worth every penny. In the end, every piece of equipment does the same thing and the color truly does not matter. My family is green but our combine is red, my boyfriend’s family has red tractors but has a green combine. Riddle me that one!
Farmers are very passionate people, they have to be to get out there and work as hard as they do to produce the food for you and me. This translates into the decisions they make on their farm every day. Choosing wrong could cost you a couple bushels that you cannot afford to lose. This could be the same as forgetting your coupons while Christmas shopping, I hope you were not planning on using the money you would have saved on someone else’s gift! I challenge you to take on a farmer in one of these debates!

Merry Christmas everyone!!

cmCourtney Miller
ICMB Social Media Intern

4 THINGS YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT FARMERS

There are various myths about farmers; such as what they wear, how hard they work, or even what time they wake up! So what four things do you think you know best? These are the four that first come to my mind!

  1. overallsFarmers wear overalls

Not many of the farmers I know actually wear overalls. They may own a pair or bring them out of the closet here and there but in all reality, I see farmers wearing jeans and a dirty, old T-shirt…add the Carhart jacket for the winter time. Aren’t overalls uncomfortable and out of style anyways?

 

 

  1. Farmers wake up at 4 am

sunrisefarmNot all farmers are up at the crack of dawn. When you are working for yourself, you have the luxury to pick and choose what days you need to work and therefore, what time you want to report to work. We can probably all agree that a farmers alarm clock is going off earliest during harvest season!

 

 

  1. Farmers work for large corporations

Marty Marr FamilyDid you know that the United States Department of Agriculture reports the vast majority of farms and ranches in the United States are family owned and operated?  In fact, 93 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the United States are family owned farms! That means that the majority of farmers in our country definitely do not work for large corporations.

 

  1. Farmers are uneducated

This could not be any more false. All of the farmers that I have ever interacted with are very educated people who provide great insight and background knowledge related to their profession. I know farmers who went to college and farmers who did not. About 30 percent of today’s farmers and ranchers have attended college. Also, a growing number of today’s farmers and ranchers with four-year college degrees are pursuing post-graduate studies. But does/should attending college truly define how educated one is? After all, farmers are pretty darn good at what they do in their fields!

ElizabethElizabeth O’Reilly
Illinois State University student

 

IF FARMERS HAD BUSINESS CARDS …

Farmers don’t really have business cards.  The fact is that farmers grow up, work their entire lives, and die in the same small communities where everyone knows them and there are absolutely no need for business cards.  Still, the rest of the world understands business cards as a way of telling someone new who you are and what you do.

IF farmers had business cards, here are a few I think they would trade …
farmer business cards 1Every successful farmer is a pro at marketing and economics.  Think about it – farms are one of the very few industries that don’t get the privilege of charging whatever they want or need for their products.  If the price goes up to plant corn, farmers can not pass that cost onto their consumers!  So they become exceptional at marketing and watching for market signals.  If they aren’t good at marketing and economics, they aren’t farmers for long.

farmer business cards 4

Some farmers are very engaged in various social media platforms and other public relations efforts.  One of our farmer leaders hosts tours to their farm for Chicago folks, hoping to alleviate fears for the people who are concerned about their food.  Other farmer leaders have active Facebook pages to help their online community understand what farmers do and why.  Public relations is a big priority for farmers across the nation as non-farmers show more significant concerns about how farms are managed and food is grown.

farmer business cards 5

Every farmer is a mechanic, handiman, and even a computer tech when the mechanics and electronics in the tractor, combine, grain bin, fuel tank, or office quit working!  There is a popular saying that a farmer can fix anything with baling wire and duct tape.  In the age of technology, I’m not sure that’s 100 percent true, but it is pretty close.  Farmers are excellent at knowing how things work and repairing them with only what they have.

farmer business cards 3

Oh, the weather.  The weather is the biggest joy and the biggest heartache of farming.  When the weather is appropriate for the growing crops – rain when crops need rain, heat when crops need heat, cool and dry when crops need cool and dry – farmers delight in a gray soggy day or a 95 degree day in August.  When hail or high winds or too much rain or too much heat show up, the weather can ruin a year of work.  Farmers must be climatologists to try to predict when to plant, when to apply fertilizer, when to harvest and when to do a myriad of other tasks to optimize their efforts.

farmer business cards 2

Farmers make their living off the land and their families eat the crops they grow and drink the water from their wells.  Because of this connection with the land and the fact that they rely on it for their yearly sustenance, farmers are expert environmentalists.  They are interested in preserving soil and water quality because that soil and water must be available to plant a crop next year and 50 years down the road.  They care about the wildlife and the preservation of what they have spent their lifetime building.  Farmers work hard to protect the environment and they appreciate everything the land gives to them.

Questions about how farmers do all these jobs and more every day?  Ask away in the comments!

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

 

 

 

A COUPLE OF SURPRISES ABOUT FARMERS

Always excited to see something that’s not negative in the media.  (Isn’t that something?  We’ve come so far that we don’t wait to see the positive, just are happy to see something not negative!?)

cowsAnyway, this article was fun.

Imagine.  U.S. News and World Report running something that sets the record straight on farmers.  It’s a cold day, and we’re not sure where, but we’ll take it!

12 THINGS I LEARNED GROWING UP ON A FARM

  1. “If you mess with the bull, you get the horns.” I know this is a pretty common saying, but that is also a very solid piece of advice on a cattle farm.
  2. Being sick might get you out of school for a day, but it rarely gets you out of chores.
  3. Hay bales are significantly heavier than straw bales.
  4. The “Circle of Life” is more than just a great song from The Lion King; it’s also a lesson that all farm kids start learning very early in life.
  5. Hard work is not an option. And when that hard work starts paying off, it is so much more rewarding than something you didn’t have to work for at all.
  6. “Curiosity killed the cat.” Again, a common saying but also a very literal lesson on the farm! (See “Circle of Life” in lesson #4.)
  7. You can fix just about anything with duct tape, twine, and a little imagination.
  8. “The difference between getting a job done and getting the job done right is usually about 5 minutes.”
  9. Anything after 7 a.m. is “damn near noon” and it’s in your best interest to get out of bed before that time. Besides, the animals eat before you do, so if you want breakfast you better be out in the barn bright & early!
  10. Respect. The farm life teaches you respect for so many things. Respect for animals, respect for the land, respect for Mother Nature, and respect for others.
  11. You will have to tell your friends over and over again that cow tipping is not a real thing. (See lesson #1. It’s not a good idea, people.)
  12. Resilience. Farming a’int easy, my friends. The success of your farm can greatly differ from one year to the next. But we always keep on truckin’ because we do what we love and we love what we do!

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant