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ONE Alltech Ideas Conference: Part II

This is part two of my blog about Alltech’s Idea Conference. Please see the first installment here.

I got to meet fellow bloggers that I have been friends with for years, but never met IRL. These women are amazing and I am so honored to call them friends!

I got to meet fellow bloggers that I have been friends with for years, but never met IRL. These women are amazing and I am so honored to call them friends! This was our pre-conference felfie. Mom at the Meat CounterDairy Carrie, Tales of a Kanas Farm Mom, High Heels & Shotgun Shells, Dirt Road Charm, AgInfo.net, The Magic Farm House.

It was then time. Time to see Captain Lovell, Mr. Naam and THE Woz. Interesting side note, earlier in the week I was on the same elevator as Steve Wozniak. He was super nice and I couldn’t make words come out of my mouth in an order that made sense. I’m sure I scared him a whisper. I did almost the same thing with Ramez Naam when I met him. He asked my name and instead of saying it, I told him I was a blogger. This is why you can’t take me anywhere.

Having seen the movie Apollo 13, I knew who Captain Jim Lovell was and was very much looking forward to hearing him speak. It was almost a surreal experience to have him tell you his story. “Always expect the unexpected” is a mantra I use here on the ranch and hearing him say that live gave me chills. Captain Lovell received a standing ovation after giving a charming, inspiring and funny speech ended with ‘we are all astronauts. We’re all flying through space with limited resources”.

My favorite felfie from the week. @AMagicMama @ramez and myself! Mr. Naam was so kind and personable, thank you Sir!

My favorite felfie from the week. @AMagicMama @ramez and myself! Mr. Naam was so kind and personable, thank you Sir!

Ideas never get chipped, or dented, or worn down, or broken. Ideas only accelerate.Ramez Naam was our next speaker. He is somewhat of a renaissance man, his ideas and points of view have intrigued me for sometime and it was a stunning opportunity to see speak. His talk started out serious, scary at times, “March 2016 was the warmest month on earth ever”. But contained so much information, given in such a hopeful and positive manner, my expectancy for our future skyrocketed. “You can innovate your way out of a problem” and “learn to learn” were quotes that stayed with me. Look him up if you get the chance, read his book, follow him on twitter.

Mr. Wozniak and Dr. Lyons, thank you for such a wonderful chat.

Mr. Wozniak and Dr. Lyons, thank you for such a wonderful chat.

To someone in my generation, who uses Apple products almost constantly, Steve Wozniak is a myth, a legend, an enigma. He helped change how I live my life or as my Dad says “put that phone down!”. He was honored with the Alltech Humanitarian Award because he is so much more than the ‘guy that started Apple’. He was a teacher, a student, Rocky Raccoon, a scientist, a dancer, well the list goes on. Listening to him and Dr. Lyons banter on stage was a highlight of my trip. Learning about all the different endeavors he has had his hands in was fascinating. The Woz knew his audience well threw out such gems as “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad”. Mr. Wozniak is a great speaker and tied this convention all together for me.

Prof McLoughlin was the sleeper speaker for me. I wasn't familiar with his work before this point, but now I'm a raving fan. Probably because he said "the best students in his classes are females" (it's funny because it's true!).

Prof McLoughlin was the sleeper speaker for me. I wasn’t familiar with his work before this point, but now I’m a raving fan. Probably because he said “the best students in his classes are females” (it’s funny because it’s true!).

The final speaker was Prof Damien McLoughlin, again someone that was new to me. He spoke about a book called Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition Irrelevant. Professor McLoughlin asked the question, “do you dare to be different?” which is music to someone like me ear’s. He again reminded me Mary Shelman’s points, where the successful brands are the ones that break free of “rules”.

Dr. Lyons giving Ms. Alonna Wright the Young Scientist Award. Ms. Wright congratulations! I know you are going to do amazing things.

Dr. Lyons giving Ms. Alonna Wright the Young Scientist Award. Ms. Wright congratulations! I know you are going to do amazing things.

Dr. Aoife Lyons then brought out and presented awards to Alltech’s Young Scientist Finalists. The undergraduate winner is offered a fully funded PhD at an University of their choice and the graduate winner will be offered a two year fully funded post doctoral at Alltech in US or Ireland. Alonna Wright was the undergrad winner and Richard Lally was the graduate student winner. What better way for Alltech to show their support in the future of agriculture than give a gift like this?

I have a crush on Riverdance.

I have a crush on Riverdance.

Finally to cap it all off Padraic Moyles the Associate Director of Riverdance took the stage. He spoke about the history behind Riverdance and told us, we do the same thing every night in order to do better, none of us have perfected what we do. Which after you’ve seen it, I find hard to believe, they are breathtaking. He also said that after 5,500 performances they still treat everyone like opening night. Then they put on an epic show that made me cry a little. I know I must have had a really let’s say, jaw on the floor interesting, look on my face because at one point he looked down at me and laughed. But this show was an awe-inspiring show. 

Riverdance.

Riverdance.

Usually after three days of conference, you hit your conference wall, and you want to go home, you’ve had enough. Not with Alltech. I was ready to go three more days. This is by far the most inspiring, engaging and positive conferences I’ve ever attended. I loved that Alltech exposed agriculturalists to ideas, experiences and cultures, outside our normal comfort zones. That is something I am critical of agriculture over, we tend to stay in our same molds. Dr. Pearse Lyons was a stellar master of ceremonies, he kept things entertaining while imparting wisdom.

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I appreciated how Alltech went out of their way to include social media creators. They provided a stipend for me to attend. By giving me the opportunity to attend, I was able to share this new information with thousands of people that normally would never have access to it; they learned with me, they shared my excitement and passion in real time. It helps producers like myself reach “beyond the industry choir” as we say.

Hey Alltech may I please come back and learn more about this please?

Hey Alltech may I please come back and learn more about this please?

To sum up my ONE experience agriculture needs to start pushing the envelope and searching for ways to innovate and change our industry. This is something we should be placing more emphasis on. Alltech is doing a great job of being a leader in that aspect. The other key issue I took away is we need to be ONE. If we want our future to be bright there needs to be an ONE degree of separation between us all. We need to work hard together for the greater good like Mr. Mulally and Coach Cal and Mr. Moyles advised, we need to plan for the unexpected innovatively, and differently, like Mr. Naam, The Woz and Prof. McLoughlin told us. Simply put, because we are ONE. One people, and one planet and we need to realize and remember that.

 

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ONE Alltech Ideas Conference: Part I

The first day. I was very excited to have an opportunity to attend this conference and I think everyone knew it.

The first day. I was very excited to have an opportunity to attend this conference and I think everyone knew it.

I had never been to an Alltech convention before this. I, of course, was familiar with them because of their products and I see booths and such at other conventions and events. But I had no idea what I was in for when I packed up my favorite cowboy boots and left the ranch on a red eye flight to Lexington, Kentucky. This two part blog will cover what I experienced during this convention.

Because I had a press pass I got a point of view most do not get. For a girl that doesn't get off the ranch much, it was quite the experience. Rupp Arena from the stage.

Because I had a press pass I got a point of view most do not get. For a girl that doesn’t get off the ranch much, it was quite the experience. Rupp Arena from the stage.

I’ve been to hundreds of agriculture related events in my lifetime. I have never experienced a convention like ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference. Ever. It is a stand alone conference. It was a cross between a Broadway show, a graduate class, a college agriculture party, a field day, and a team building retreat. Over 3,000 people from 71 countries were in attendance. If you are involved in agriculture or food, or even if you have an interest in agriculture, this is an event you need to attend next year.

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Part of what made this conference so unique was the fact it was deeply entertaining. It included keynote speakers that were not from agriculture, which brought a whole new perspective and vibe. The Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, welcomed us the first day. Alan Mulally of Ford, received the Alltech Medal of Excellence Award and gave us some excellent leadership advice, “working together always works”.

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John Calipari, the Head Coach of the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team, spoke next. I’m going to make a confession here, and I don’t want you to judge me too harshly. Before this event I had no clue who “Coach Cal” was, however now I’m ordering his book. I loved his outlook on life, “when you make life about other people, it becomes easy”. Listening to him speak about how he was able to practice what he preaches and make life better for his players and community made me ponder how I could do the same.

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This morning plenary left me excited and inspired, deeply stimulated and ready to learn and affect change! Perfectly primed for the in-depth and new knowledge industry experts shared with us in special sessions.

Selecting the special sessions I wanted to attend was the worst part of the conference. I had a hard time choosing because many were both interesting and relevant to me. I ended up seeing part of Global Beef Opportunities, The Business of Agriculture and Opportunities in the Pig Industry. I would have loved to have attended Craft Brewing and Distilling because that’s something I’d like to start doing. The Aquaculture session, especially after last summer’s experiences, and Emerging Markets and Trends and Innovative Agriscience because I love to be on the cutting edge of new ideas.

Alltech made sure to showcase the best Lexington had to offer. Having dinner in the arena of The Kentucky Horse Park was probably an once in a lifetime experience for me.

Alltech made sure to showcase the best Lexington had to offer. Having dinner in the arena of The Kentucky Horse Park was probably an once in a lifetime experience for me.

 

The arena set up for our dinner. It was beautiful!

The arena set up for our dinner. It was beautiful!

However, the sessions I did attend were perfect for me and what I need to know right now. I started in the Beef session sitting next to a real, live meat scientist. If I had questions about something I could simply lean over and ask her to clarify. It was glorious. I left the session feeling deeply validated about the methods we are using on our Ranch and eager to learn more about how nutrigenomics will continue to play a part.

I then transitioned into the The Business of Agriculture session where I was able to hear Mary Shelman’s session about food rules (there are no food rules!). We learned about brands like Ben and Jerry’s and Emerald, that broke the “food rules” and became very successful. She spoke about how “food is a hot thing to talk about”. Food trends amongst our younger generations are changing, they are rejecting big ag and big food, they want a product that is good for the environment and communities and are willing to pay more. They trust their friends more than advertisements.

Something I repeat often. Local doesn't always mean safer.

Something I repeat often. Local doesn’t always mean safer.

Dr. Johanna Fink-Gremmels took the stage. She covered soils, fungi, bacteria and how they play a part in health. She shared “gut health is the key to animal health and productivity” and “feed the soil and you will feed the world”. She stressed that we have a major responsibility to our partners, our environment and animals, for the benefit of the people.

This is advice I have been trying to implement for my ranch.

This is advice I have been trying to implement for my ranch.

Aidan Connolly, Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President, Corporate Accounts, Alltech then spoke on antibiotics. This is a hot topic that I see many people, both in agriculture and on the consumer side, talk about often. He said the  “U.S. estimates 506 antibiotic prescriptions per 1000 people annually when only 353 were necessary”. That is  some serious food for thought. He had a term and idea that I loved and I see working for me. Prosumer – the idea of connecting with our consumer and getting them to advocate for you and your brand, business and product. As Ms. Shelman pointed out earlier, our younger consumers want this.

Dr. Mark Lyons talks about pork production in China

Dr. Mark Lyons talks about pork production in China

Because I still have much to learn about hog production, especially commercial production, I was especially excited to attend the Opportunities in the Pig Industry Special Session. Russell Gilliam started the session with Disease Prevention and Eradication. He pointed out, “is it safe” is the number one priority to consumers. He then covered factors that contribute to poor animal health and how we can prevent them. Lance Barton of Belstra Mills then shared his ideas and experiences about engaging the 98% that are not involved with production agriculture. Jacob Dall and Dr. Mark Lyons then shared information about hog production from Denmark and China. Comparing pork production methods from the two counties was enlightening and I am going to be applying some of my new knowledge to my operation.

from Lance Barton

People’s reaction to a hog farm. From Lance Barton.

I finally had time to visit Alltech’s One Vision exhibit. Again, before this point, I have never experienced anything like this. It was interactive, innovative and inspired. It felt like an utopia of what our world could be. Allergy free peanuts, edible food packaging and lab grown meat were all ideas explored. So often we are bombarded with negativity and worst case scenarios. This was like a breath of fresh air, it was positive and hopeful and I walked out I was asking myself what was the ONE thing I could do in order to be apart of a solution. We need more exhibits and interactions like this.

Photos of the ONE exhibit does not do it justice. You need to experience it.

Photos of the ONE exhibit does not do it justice. You need to experience it.

The rest of this blog will be posted tomorrow. In the meantime please check out what these other women in agriculture thought…

Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom

Dirt Road Charm

Mom at the Meat Counter

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Slaughter Trucks

I’ve been seeing posts in my social media streams about ‘slaughter trucks’. I have to say, nope. The pictures that are being passed as slaughter trucks are simply not slaughter trucks. They do no killing. In our case theses trucks haul our cattle between our summer and winter ranches. Like a cattle bus. They are also called “bullracks, cattle pots, pot bellies or cattleracks” in the industry.

So called "slaughter truck"

So called “slaughter truck”

Yes, these trucks can take cattle to feedlots where the cattle will be fed until they are ‘finished‘ and then slaughtered for our consumption. But no, these are not ‘slaughter trucks’. If a label must be applied to a slaughter truck I would call the truck that comes out to the ranch to do custom exempt slaughter, a “slaughter truck”.

A true slaughter or abattoir truck. It performs a wonderful service to farmers and ranchers like myself.

A true slaughter or abattoir truck. It performs a wonderful service to farmers and ranchers like myself.

The good news is this misinformation has inspired a lovely movement from the agricultural community. Instead of getting mad and defensive, we started a toy drive. We started sharing more about what these trucks actually do. We opened our barn doors. Great job industry! 

I’ve attached a video of cattle being loaded into one of these trucks. As you can see it is not scary for them at all.

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Guestpost: Help Save the Wild Salmon

In June, I was able to attend part of UC Davis’ 1st Annual IFAL (Institute for Food and Agriculture Literacy) Symposium.  For me, it was the equivalent of walking into the Academy Awards or other famous award show. People that are celebrities in my world were everywhere!!! I was star stuck the whole time, I mean check out a sample of the speakers: Dr. Pamela Ronald, Dr. Kevin Folta, Yvette d’Entremont, Dr. Cami Ryan, Dr. Anastasia Bodnar, Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam.

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Watching these experts in their fields talk about our food and the technology that they are developing to better our food and fiber was a game changer for me. I mean, I’ve always been interested in the science and technology that surrounds agriculture, but to see and learn from professionals that are doing it was inspiring. When Dr. Folta got emotional talking about meeting starving people, and when Dr. Van Eenennaam reminded us we can’t save wild fish by eating them, I was inspired to use my media platforms in a way that will help the general public understand how important this work is. 

When I heard there is going to be an orchestrated attack on this technology that will benefit our lives, I wanted to help! Since I’m not a scientist, Dr.Anastasia Bodnar* was kind enough to write a guest post for The Beef Jar. Dr. Bodnar has been one of my biggest mentors for years. I finally met her “in real life” at UC Davis, it was glorious. Please friends, take some time to learn about this issue and the benefits this fish will offer us. I know we all want safe, sustainable food and this is one tool to help us get that. Please support it. Thank you.


On Thursday July 9, an anti-biotechnology group is orchestrating calls to Costco asking that they never carry fast-growing genetically engineered salmon. They’re trying to bully Costco into making a decision on selling GE salmon before it’s even on the market. See below for Costco’s contact information and a sample script.

GE fast-growing salmon can be an environmentally friendly way to meet increasing demand for seafood. These salmon are a healthy, safe source of protein and omega 3s, and will potentially be available at lower cost than non-GE salmon. There simply aren’t enough wild fish stocks to meet demand so we must farm fish. The way these GE salmon will be raised has a lot of advantages over farming fish in ocean pens – namely they won’t spread disease to native fish populations. They’ll also take less feed to get to the same size. If you want to learn more, check out my article Risk assessment and mitigation of AquAdvantage salmon (the article is a few years old but as far as I know, little if anything has changed) or visit the AquaBounty website.

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If you have a moment, you could contact Costco (especially if you’re a member) to let them know you support genetically engineered foods and specifically that you would choose this salmon if Costco had it available. While you’re on the phone, you could also express concern that so many Costco-brand foods are only available in organic, increasing costs with little or no benefit to the consumer.

Costco’s Customer Service phone number is 1-800-774-2678 (press “0” to speak with a representative).

Here is a sample script:

I have been a Costco member for __ years and I support biotechnology. I would like Costco to base their decision on fast-growing GMO salmon on the best science, not activist demands. Land-raised, fast-growing GMO salmon is an environmentally friendly way to make healthy, safe fish available for more people. Please consider selling GMO salmon when it becomes available.”

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*Dr. Anastasia Bodnar is Director of Policy for Biology Fortified, Inc., an independent non-profit devoted to providing science-based information about biotechnology and other topics in agriculture. Learn more about Anastasia at https://about.me/geneticmaize. Disclaimer: Anastasia’s words are her own and views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of her employer(s).

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Fun Ag Facts XIII

fun ag fact of the day: A new technique called “precision farming” boosts crop yields and reduces waste by using satellite maps and computers to match seed, fertilizer and crop protection applications to local soil conditions.

fun ag fact of the day: A ½ cup serving of cooked collard greens contains 150% percent of the daily value for vitamin A.

fun ag fact of the day: 1/2 cup of raw carrot sticks contains 150% of your daily value of vitamin A.

Fun ag fact of the day: Carrot references can be found in many part of the arts and sciences. Carrots have been included in several major works of art and helped in identifying species in the 16th century using the paintings of the Dutch masters.

fun ag fact of the day: Iceberg is a head lettuce that is very low in nutritional value and flavor. The most abundant nutrient in iceberg lettuce is water. Dark green lettuce leaves always indicate higher fiber, flavor and nutritional value. 

Fun ag fact of the day: The spine and ribs of lettuce provide dietary fiber, while vitamins and minerals are concentrated in the delicate leaf portion.

fun ag fact of the day: Lettuce, except iceberg, is also a moderately good source of vitamin C, calcium, iron and copper.

fun ag fact of the day: If possible, do not cut or slice lettuce leaves in advance. Damaged, cut lettuce leaves release an ascorbic acid oxidase, which destroys vitamin C and causes the cut edges to discolor.

Fun ag fact of the day: Texas is the top producer of wool in the United States, followed by California, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.

Fun ag fact of the day: Sheep are usually shorn once a year in the spring to keep them cool and harvest their fleece.

Fun ag fact of the day: There are 47 breeds of sheep in the United States. Fine wool breeds, long wool breeds, dual purpose breeds, hair breeds and minor breeds are types of sheep that can be used for their wool or hair.

Fun ag fact of the day: Wool is flame-resistant. It will not melt and stick to your skin like synthetic fibers. Instead, wool will usually smolder and extinguish itself when the source of the flame has been removed.

Fun ag fact of the day: Doll makers used to use wool from the Cotswold breed for dolls hair because of its beautiful ringlets.

Fun ag fact of the day: Wool can be felted, knitted, spun, woven, crocheted and more. It can even be used to make insulation, carpet, pool table baize, tennis balls, mulch, and mattress filling.

Fun ag fact of the day: 89,400 acres of ponds are used for farm-raised catfish production in the United States. 

Fun ag fact of the day:  Farm-raised catfish tend to be more consistent because of their scientifically formulated diets and constant care.

Fun ag fact of the day: 94 percent of all farm-raised catfish in the United States is raised in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas.

Fun ag fact of the day: Alabama boasts 22,000 water acres of fish farms. It is home to nearly 200 commercial farmers who produce 25 different aquatic species.

Fun ag fact of the day:  Mature catfish lay 3,000 to 4,000 eggs annually per pound of body weight.

fun ag fact of the day: The eggplant is actually considered a fruit.

fun ag fact of the day: Eggplants are related to tobacco, and actually contain a small amount of nicotine, though to a lesser extent than tobacco.

fun ag fact of the day: An eggplant is almost 95 percent water.

fun ag fact of the day: In 2010, an estimated 159.8 million pounds of eggplants were grown in the U.S.

fun ag fact of the day: About 98 percent of eggplants grown in the country are produced for fresh market, with the remainder used for processed products like frozen entrees and specialty dips.

fun ag fact of the day: The eggplant received its name back when white, egg-shaped varieties of the fruit were more common.

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