I worked hard all year growing crops and caring for my land, so I hope I’m on your “nice” list this year. There are only two things I want this holiday season, but they are pretty technical, so you’ll need you’re most tech-savvy elves to do the job. I promise it’ll be worth it, though, because these two things will help me farm more sustainably and safely next year!
A Bird’s Eye View
We already use drones on our farm keep an eye on our fields when the plants get too tall to walk through, but the newer drones have higher quality cameras. Being able to see more detail would help me spot stressors like bugs, weeds or disease in our crops earlier than I can now. Spotting these things early means I can use less invasive measures to solve the problem before it becomes a bigger issue.
Also, I’d like a new planter – but not just any planter, a multi-hybrid planter. You see, we have great soil here in Illinois, but it still varies, even across a single field. A multi-hybrid planter would help us plant not only the right amount of seeds in a section of the field, but also to plant specific varieties in the area of a field where they will grow best based on information we get from soil tests. Just like Mrs. Claus probably has her favorite varieties of apples or tomatoes, certain varieties of corn and soybeans grow better under different conditions, and we’re really good at growing corn and soybeans here in Illinois.
Thanks for taking the time to read my letter. I’ll leave some grain and water outside at my farm so the reindeer can get a bite to eat before you fly off to other farms and cities. And, of course, some milk and cookies will be by the Christmas tree for you!
Heather and I are proud parents to three of God’s greatest gifts, and we thank Him every day for the joy they bring into our lives. Outside of farming, we like to go camping, go to movies, stay involved in our small town (as we encourage everyone to do), as well as other local committees and groups.
It’s important to understand that almost all the food that we (or animals) eat contains DNA and proteins. The DNA and proteins found in food, GMO and non-GMO, are processed by the digestive system in our gastrointestinal tract. During digestion, GMO and non-GMO DNA is broken down into the four nucleotides that make up all DNA, and/or into small nucleotide fragments. Similarly, proteins, again GMO and non-GMO, are broken down into one or a few of the 21 amino acids that exist in nature. Many studies have been conducted on the potential for GMO DNA or proteins to be transferred into animal tissue. No intact or immunologically reactive protein or DNA has been detected in animal tissue.
GMOs are created to achieve a desired trait, such as resistance to a pest or tolerance to drought conditions. The 10 genetically modified crops available in the U.S. today include: alfalfa, apples, canola, corn (field and sweet), cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash and sugar beets.
GM crops were created for:
Insect resistance. This category of traits provides farmers with season-long protection against target pests, reduces the need for pesticide applications, and lowers input costs.
Drought tolerance. GM crops that express drought tolerance have better moisture retention and can better endure drought conditions without the need for additional irrigation.
Herbicide tolerance. Crops developed to tolerate specific herbicides allow farmers to fight weeds by applying targeted herbicides only when needed and enable them to use conservation tillage production methods that preserve topsoil, prevent erosion, and reduce carbon emissions.
Disease resistance. Through genetic engineering plant breeders can enable plants to resist certain diseases, like the papaya ringspot virus (PRSV). The GM Rainbow Papaya, developed to be resistant to PRSV, allowed Hawaiian papaya farmers to recover from an outbreak of this devastating disease that crippled their industry.
Enhanced nutritional content. Genetically modified soybeans with an enhanced oil profile, much like olive oil, have been developed and are longer lasting and trans-fat free.
Reduced food waste. Genetic engineering has been used to modify potatoes and apples in order to eliminate superficial browning and bruising (potato only) when the produce is cut or handled. These traits can help reduce the amount of produce thrown away by producers, processors, retailers and consumers.
Improved manufacturing processes. Certain biotech corn varieties enable more efficient biofuels production by improving the process through which cellulose and/or starch is broken down and converted to fuel. This helps reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing process by decreasing the amount of water, electricity, and natural gas needed to produce biofuel.
Why would another country want U.S. meat? Well, it turns out that in many countries, the U.S. is well respected as providing high quality protein. Some countries, like Mexico, don’t grow enough hogs to provide all the pork their citizens want, so they buy from the U.S. because it’s close, easy, and cheap because of our free trade agreement.
Other countries appreciate our food safety standards. Or maybe governmental officials from the country have visited our farmers and they like what they see. The reasons are endless.
The guide helps international customers understand the frozen, uncooked chicken cuts that are available, as well as the processed and specialized products for sale.
Maybe more importantly, the guide also helps the customers understand the safety standards U.S. poultry is subjected to before its allowed to be sold.
“All U.S. chicken meat which is offered for export must be inspected and approved by the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The 90-year-old agency is regarded as a
model for food inspection services worldwide. A USDA inspection stamp indicates that a chicken product was properly processed, has been inspected and is safe to eat. There are three integral layers in FSIS food safety assurance: manual inspection, HACCP and pathogen reduction.”
Did you realize you live in a country that provides one of the safest food options available worldwide?
We talk a lot about trade on this blog, but let me boil it down for you again:
American farmers are great at growing food. Corn, is a big commodity, but because we’re great at growing corn, we are also great at growing cattle, pigs, and chickens because they eat corn.
When one country has all the food (corn, soybeans, pigs, cows, chickens) and another country doesn’t, the answer is trade.
Last week, our board got a chance to meet with the U.S. Meat Export Federation, whose goal is to help other countries that need more protein sources understand how to use the protein we sell from the U.S. and help them import it into their country.
The effort that goes into opening and servicing an international market is huge. First we must work with government officials to alleviate any concerns working with the U.S. Then we have to help the chefs and restaurateurs understand how to use our cuts of pork in their traditional recipes. Finally, we work with grocery stores to help international customers know how to prepare our pork in their homes.