23 October 2008

1st Farm Credit Services Harvest Tour

Yep - you read that right. Mike and I are headed to another 1st FCS Harvest Tour stop today and I'm blogging via my Blackberry. The next few stops are different than some of the ones we've done in the past. Don't get me wrong - those have been great, too. We love going to the elevators. Getting outside with the people hauling in the grain, the guys and gals that bust their rears this time of year working in and around the elevator and especially being able to be out with the guys from 1st FCS. It's always interesting to hear from Joe Springer about the financials and how our faltering economy is effecting the agriculture industry. We also get the chance to talk to Ryan Voorhees about Crop Insurance and he's always knowledgeable about what deadlines are coming up - what we need to remember for next year and the best way to plan for each of our specific needs for our own operations. So, again we thank 1st Farm Credit Services for their continued sponsorship of our Harvest Tour.

Back to today's stop. We're headed over to Shirley (hello) to visit with Matt and Connie Hughes. Matt is an At-Large Board Member of the Illinois Soybean Association. Mike and I have lunch in the back of the van (which smells so, so good) and we're going to meet them in the field. Where Connie is combining and Matt is hauling and dumping grain. You often times hear Matt on our program discussing some of the numerous things going on in the soybean industry or even talking to us about how important technology (the same technology that is allowing me to blog while we're traveling) is becoming to an always advancing industry.

Remote stops like these allow for us to recognize some of the best of the best in the industry. Today that's Matt and Connie Hughes of Shirley, IL.

Make sure you tune into The Noon Show on Classic Country 1290 WIRL and you can find out why we think they are so deserving.

Next week we'll be in Emden at the Kleinschmidt's.

A couple of thank you's - again... 1st Farm Credit Services for their sponsorship of the Harvest Tour and to Basta EastPort for providing such awesome lunches for our farmers! Here's to a continued safe and bountiful harvest for all of our listeners.

We'll talk to you on the radio.

All Our Blessings -
The Ag Chick

17 October 2008

Harvest Tour

Mike and I are on the road today. 1st Farm Credit Services Harvest Tour - today we're in Varna at Farmer's Grain Co-op. You often times hear me talk about how much I love this time of year. I think there are several reasons for it...

First - you see the reward for a very hard years work. Yes, the Spring and Fall are the busy times, but it takes a lot of planning to get through those times of year. From selection of seed, chemical application and creating a marketing strategy to allow for a profitable operation. Another thing I love is how it takes so many people coming together to do it all. It's never just one person that does it all. It takes all kinds to make it work.

When you see the drivers - you know they are part of a support staff or family. The women bringing lunches in the field. The people that drive the semi's, the tractors and even the transport vehicles. Sometimes they don't get enough credit. Everyone has to sacrifice something. Long days and nights, stressful months and sometimes nights where you don't get to kiss the kids good night. But you never hear anyone complain.

Then there are the people who work at the elevator. The managers, the girls in the office and the guys outside working with the grain. Everyone is always helpful, kind and generally have a smile on their face. They are a very important part of the harvest season, too.

Today we get to give back a little and recognize all the people that make harvest as easy as possible. For all their hard work, their patience and dedication. So - we're serving lunch and doing my show from 11AM to 1PM. Stop by and see us!

Thanks to 1st Farm Credit for sponsoring our Harvest Tour and thanks to all of the friends we've made along the way. Mike and I always enjoy getting to know you and all your visits. We truly do enjoy it. I suppose I should go - because we just arrived in Varna.


Meghan "The Ag Chick"

16 October 2008

More Pork?

On the heels of last nights debate and the already heated discussion this morning about McCain Vs. Obama... And the Oprah special that aired on Tuesday about Where the Food We Eat Comes From and the potential of Proposition 2 to be passed in the General Election in California... I have no clue where I even want to start. And if I want to be overly opinionated or keep my opinion rather moderate...

So I think today we're going to talk about the Proposition 2 on California's ballot... Now - you may be wondering why something on California's ballot is a concern for a farm broadcaster from Central Illinois. Here is what Proposition 2 is:

This Act shall be known and may be cited as the
Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act.

The purpose of this Act is to prohibit the cruel
confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to tum around
freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.

Chapter 13.8 (commencing with
Section 25990) is added to Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code, to

25990. PROIlIllITIONS.- In addition to
other applicable provisions of law, a person
shall not tether or confine any
covered animal, on a farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that
prevents such animal from:
(a) Lying down, standing up, and fully extending
his or her limbs; and
(b) Turning around freely.

2599 I. DEFINITIONS.- For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms
have the following meanings:
(a) "Calf raised for veal" means any calf of the
bovine species kept for the
purpose of producing the food product described
as veal.
(b) "Covered animal" means any pig during pregnancy, calf raised for
veal, or
egg-laying hen who is kept on a farm.
(c) "Egg-laying hen" means
any female domesticated" chicken, turkey, duck,
goose, or guinea fowl kept
for the purpose of egg production.
(d) "Enclosure" means any cage, crate, or
other structure (including what is
commonly described as a "gestation crate"
for pigs; a "veal crate" for calves;
or a "battery cage" for egg-laying hens)
used to confine a covered animal.
(c) "Farm" means the land, building,
support facilities, and other equipment that
are wholly or partially used
for the commercial production of animals or
animal products used for food or
fiber; and docs not include live animal
(b) "Fully extending his
or her limbs" means fully extending all limbs without
touching the side of an
enclosure, including, in the case of egg-laying hens,
fully spreading both
wings without touching the side of an enclosure or other
(I) "Person" means any individual, finn , partnership, joint venture,
limited liability company, corporation , estate, trust,
receiver, or syndicate.
(g) "Pig during pregnancy" means any pregnant pig of
the porcine species kept
for the primary purpose of breeding.
(h) "Turning
around freely" means turning in a complete circle without any
including a tether, and without touching the side of an enclosure.

That being said - how does this affect Central Illinois agriculture? Actually - it doesn't just effect animal agriculture here... It could potentially effect how animals are raised all over the United States. By allowing a statute like this to be passed in one states - it opens a door to waves of these type laws to come in and take action and mandate how animals are being raised. Now I'm not saying we shouldn't care how or where are animals are grown. I am saying that these crates and cages for a reason - to raise healthy animals for American consumers to enjoy.

Here are some facts that the proponents of Prop 2 don't want you (the consumer) to know:

  1. This risky, dangerous, and costly ballot measure, sponsored by a well-funded, Washington, DC-based special interest group, has many negative, dangerous and expensive consequences for California. The measure jeopardizes our food safety and public health, putting us at greater risk for Salmonella and Avian Flu outbreaks; wipes out Californians’ access to locally grown, fresh eggs, and harms consumers by driving up prices at grocery stores and restaurants and creating a dependency on eggs shipped from other states and Mexico.
  2. Proposition 2 bans almost all current modern and safe housing systems for egg-laying hens on California’s egg farms; wiping out almost all modern egg production in the state. This dangerous measure jeopardizes food safety and public health in California, forces a reliance on out-of-state and foreign egg imports, and drives up restaurant and consumer prices.
  3. California egg farmers, working with leading animal scientists have developed modern housing systems to ensure that fundamental components of sound animal care are provided to egg-laying hens: optimal feed, light, air, water, space and sanitation for egg-laying hens. As recently reported in the news media, California and the nation’s food safety is already at risk with infection, poisoning and even death caused by food borne illnesses such as Salmonella. Banning these modern systems forces Californians to rely almost solely on egg imports at increased risk for dangerous diseases like Salmonella, which can be transmitted in the feces of egg-laying hens and other animals. Because California’s modern housing systems effectively separate eggs from feces and other fluids, Salmonella contamination has been virtually eliminated in California eggs over the last decade.
  4. Modern housing systems were developed to protect egg-laying hens from direct contact with migratory and wild birds, which can carry life threatening Avian Influenza (Bird Flu), Exotic Newcastle Disease and other diseases that can be deadly to humans or hens. According to the World Health Organization, transmission of Bird Flu from poultry to humans results in “very serious disease” and “could mark the start of a global outbreak (a pandemic)”. Proposition 2 wipes out almost all modern egg production in California, despite the U.S. Animal Health Association’s assertion that moving flocks inside has “contributed significantly to the improvement in health of the nation’s chicken and turkey flocks”.
  5. The cost to comply is at least 76 percent higher than that for current modern housing systems. California farmers would be obligated to build 8 to 16 times more hen houses as currently are in use to comply with the new law’s requirements and maintain current egg production. Buying the land and securing the necessary capital is prohibitively expensive and economically infeasible, given that California farmers will be forced to compete with out-of-state and foreign egg producers, who won’t be subject to these onerous restrictions.
  6. Yes, the humane treatment of animals, including farm animals, is already required by California law. Enclosing animals without proper care and treatment is prohibited and California law requires that animals have adequate room to “exercise” themselves. The United Egg Producers Certified Animal Welfare Program, established and maintained by an independent scientific advisory board, mandates that certified egg farmers follow responsible, science-based modern production methods in the care of their hens.

Here are some facts about modern food production:

  1. Modern housing systems were developed using independent scientific guidelines to ensure the fundamental components of animal care – optimal feed, light, air, water, space and sanitation for egg-laying hens. Modern housing systems for egg-laying hens are designed so hens can groom, lie down, stand, stretch, turn around and engage in other natural behaviors. By arbitrarily altering space configurations, Proposition 2 ignores how this change could negatively impact these other essential animal care components.

I know this is a lot of "technical" lingo that may or may not make sense. But the gist of it is this: The passage of Proposition 2 will undermine animal welfare and food safety in California (which could potentially bleed over into animal agriculture through the nation). It threatens food safety (free range chickens have a higher chance of carrying Salmonella). That alone jeopardizes public safety. AND It will drive up the cost to the consumer (you know - the more expensive it is to produce and the fewer eggs supplied leads to higher prices).

Just some food for thought... for the day.

12 October 2008

A very long road trip...

So here I am on my way home from my very first trip to Door County, WI. Yes - I am blogging in the car - from my Blackberry. For those of you that don't know - if I'm not driving I don't ride very well on long trips. I have to constantly be doing something... And yep - you guessed it - it drives my mom CRAZY!!! Anyway - It is absolutely beautiful up here this time of year. I love the crisp air and the warm sun. It is a perfect combination to a great day to spend with my mom. She loves this stuff - I have grown an affinity to it, too. I'm glad she decided to share it with me!

Peter, my "man-friend" is originally from Plymouth, WI which we passed by on our way up here. It's been a lot of fun talking to him throughout the day... Knowing how much he loves it up here. From the first phone call walking in to Target @ 8 this morning (somewhere North of Milwaukee) from the minute we pulled in to Lambeau Field (an intimate feeling only Packer's fans cam appreciate) to the short conversation I had with him telling him we've begun our descent from Door Co (and him saying Door Co can breathe a little easier tonight knowing we won't be staying there and causing a ruckus over night) have all been great conversations. All reaffirmed why I like him so much and why I am so excited to see him in three weeks. Currently he is at FT. Benning (in GA) going through Airborne School. Hopefully he will make it through safe and sound this time - with no broken bones. He really has turned out to be a delightful surprise. I am not really sure where things are going - but sometimes we have to sit back and just enjoy the ride. I'm sure there will be more about him later... I'll keep ya up to date.

We're currently somewhere between Port Washington and Milwaukee. Heading to Trader Joe's! Yay for us! Today has been pretty amazing... Great scenery. I got some amazing Door County Coffee's, a killer deal at the Lane Closeout Sale (all my Christmas Cards for $10) and this amaaaaazing Corsica Bread (which I shouldn't be eating - but tomorrow or Monday) is a brand new day! Right? Right!

Have a great remainder of your weekend!

<3 ~ mkg

07 October 2008

October is here...

This is always my favorite time of year... I love October... The crisp fall air, the pumpkins, watching the combines work in the field (although I don't particularly enjoy what the grain dust does to my allergies) but all in all - harvest time is amazing. Here is a picture on my way home yesterday from a corn field that had an irrigation system and has since been harvested. Guess what else is this time of year... Well, October specifically... National Pork Month! I <3>

Here are some fun facts for National Pork Month (you can use this trivia to impress your friends).

  • During the war of 1812 a New York pork packer named Uncle Sam Wilson shipped a boatload of several hundred barrels of pork to U.S. troops. Each barrel was stamped U.S. on the docks and it was quickly said that the "U.S." stood for Uncle Sam, whose large shipment seemed to be enough to feed the entire Army. This is how "Uncle Sam" came to represent the U.S. Government.
  • The saying "living high on the hog" came from enlisted men in the U.S. Army who would receive shoulder and leg cuts of pork while officers received the top loin cuts. So "living high on the hog" came to mean living well.
  • The phrase "pork barrel" politics is derived from the pre-Civil War practice of distributing salt pork to slaves from huge barrels. By the 1870's, Congressmen were referring to regularly dipping into the "pork barrel" to obtain funds for popular projects in their home districts.
  • Harry Truman once said "No man should be allowed to be President who does not understand hogs."
  • It takes 74 million bushels of corn to feed Illinois market hogs each year.
  • There are 4.4 million pigs in Illinois.
  • The pork industry contributes $1.7 billion dollars to Illinois' economy each year.
  • DeKalb County leads the state of Illinois in pork production.

As you can see the "pig" is vital to not only American political history... but to our economies and our daily lives as well. Now, the question is... Have you hugged a pig today?

Remember to support your local pork producers - because everything is better with bacon!

We're still going strong with our 1st Farm Credit Services Harvest Tour... Later this week we'll be in Mason City at the Mason City elevator. Keep checking the website for all the details of where we're headed each week.