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Farmers and ranchers are notoriously private and skeptical people, especially when it involves the government. Seems like every farming family has a horror story about that one time Great-Great Grandpa’s neighbor worked with “the government” and lost the back 40. Even my own family has tales about eminent domain and “the government.” In an industry that constantly says “this is how we’ve always done it,” it can be hard to change perceptions, including a generations-long perception of the government.
When the government, more specifically the Department of Agriculture (USDA), asks agriculturists for detailed information about their farms every five years, it’s not met with an enthusiastic, motivated cheer. In fact, I’ve seen many of my Aggie peers proclaim the USDA’s Census of Agriculture is dangerous or something they should not be truthful about. This attitude only serves to hurt our industry; in fact, it harms the very people it’s supposed to help.
Since I broke off on my own (kinda) and lease ground from my parents, the USDA considers me a beginning farmer. My heritage pork operation enables me to finally get to be a ‘real’ rancher and have the privilege of completing the Agriculture Census! I worked very hard to get to this point in my career and did use an USDA program. I felt like it would be disingenuous of me to not talk about what I have learned and how I have benefited. Hopefully this will help clear some misconceptions and explain the many benefits the Census for you, my readers.
Over the past few years, our ranch has faced some spectacular natural disasters. From severe drought, to floods, and finally fires, Northern California has “seen some things, man.” These disasters did severe damage to many farms and ranches. Even though insurance has been purchased, it often does not always make things right completely. Sometimes the USDA can offer programs and services that help farmers and ranchers recover or prevent disasters. Without the data gathered by USDA, these programs may not exist at all.
Agriculture often feels under-represented in both government and culture. We often trot out the statistic that less than 2% of our population is directly involved with production agriculture. Having numbers like these, derived by the Ag Census, helps the public understand what a small segment we are and helps build trust, something we want our customers to feel.
Having statistics that we can depend on helps our industry preserve itself and plan for the future. Our elected officials and commodity groups can advocate for agriculture by using these numbers to craft better policy or build facilities that we need to thrive and grow. These numbers can help fund programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program which can help with conservation practices. Programs like this are why I am able to have my own operation now.
For ag marketers, having visible numbers for production, consumption and inventories help markets function competitively, helping farmers and ranchers hedge risk or expand markets. Having research driven data we can depend on is essential for agriculture and customers. Being informed about our worlds is the best way to understand it.
Growing up in agriculture I know firsthand the rumors spread about the Census. Farmers at the corner cafe and the Facebook groups are famous for their tall tales and skepticism. However, if you want to have your voice heard, if you want agriculture to matter, I implore you, please complete your Census truthfully and completely. We need to have information about land use and ownership, operator diversity, practices, and finances. This is information is not only imperative to change perceptions in a beneficial way about agriculture, it is necessary to keep us in business.
*Special thanks to Tricia Braid for the inspiration, information and help writing this blog. She’s good people, please go follow her.
And Natalie Stoppani Csf for the meme, she has a gift.
Don’t worry, I’ll be posting the whole story here in a while.
Want to make something for brunch or breakfast that will be a major crowd pleaser? Want it to be super easy and low stress too? Well I give you Blueberry Almond Croissant Pudding. This has been a winner every time I have served it. I made it for Mother’s Day for my Mom. I made it for Cal Fire (I love them so much) when they were saving the Ranch during the Cherokee Fire I made it for a Ranch Day. Each time, it was met with rave reviews and recipe requests. The almond paste gives it a very subtle nutty flavor that is divine! You can omit the almond paste, but I think it’s what make this dish so good.
Blueberry Almond Croissant Pudding
7 large croissants , cut up
2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 package almond paste
2 teaspoon vanilla
2.5 cup milk
Layer croissant pieces, blueberries, and small chunks of the almond paste in a 9×13 baking pan. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla in your stand mixture until well blended. Slowly incorporate the milk. Pour the mixture over croissant pieces. Put in your refrigerator overnight.
Bake at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes or until set in center and golden brown and a knife comes out of the center clean.
It’s just that easy! But if you need some more breakfast/brunch ideas, may I recommend…
Oh, yes, friends. It is that time of the year again! Time for a list of stuff I love, aka The Aghag’s gift guide for The Holiday’s. Now I have this set up where all you have to do is click on the link (the underlined words) and it should take you to the corresponding shop. These are all products I use and love and I am not being paid to say that.
- Everyone in my life is getting the 2018 FarmHer Calendar because I am in it. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunts, Uncles…..all of them. Silly pig and I are December. But honestly, a good old fashioned calendar is a functional gift everyone can use.
2. My Mom started using these twists and told me for the longest time how awesome they are. She finally bought me a pack of them, and I started using them too. Now I am a raving fan. These would be a great stocking stuffer!
3. From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty. I read her first book and it made 2015’s list. This book is as interesting, if not more. I finished it in about two days and now I tell everyone to read it. I now want to start a funeral pyre business out on one of our ranches.
4. When I went to Europe I experienced bidet use for the first time. I now understand why they think we are dirty Americans. Once you go bidet you can’t go back. It attaches right onto your toilet and is amazing. I installed it myself in about 10 minutes and never looked back. This product makes my list every year because it is life changing. Wiping your own butt is so 2015.
5. I stumbled on this wonderful etsy store because she is local to the valley where I live in the summer. Meagan’s jewelry is custom, unique and totally fits in with Western styles. And it’s handmade! Need a gift for that person that has everything? They don’t have Renegades Bead Work, yet.
6. I am a foodie. I take my food very, very, seriously. I am always learning and expanding my food knowledge. This year I got a sous vide and my steak making abilities rival the best steak house in town. I am not even joking. I can now enjoy steak house style steaks at home, in my undies. This is a game changer. Buy this for the foodie in your life and enjoy the amazing food that will come your way! Here is a link to get a free smart cooker if you live in California. But if you don’t live in California take 20% off on Nomiku.com using the code “NOFOMO.
7. Alamendra wine. This is a local winery, I’ve known the owners since I was a child. They started this winery and distillery in the little town of Durham and I feel like it breathed some life back into the community. I’ve been to several events there and always enjoyed myself and the booze! When the fire happened my Friend gifted me a bottle of the Luna (because Luna saved her pigs, get it?!)
8. I love it when women in agriculture do cool things. My friend Jennifer Campbell over at Farm Wife Feeds did just that! She wrote a book, Meet Pete! This book is a favorite of mine to give out at baby showers and kid’s birthdays. I quest to corrupt children and bring them into the dark side, you know, agriculture!
9. As you may or may not know, the ranch burned up. It was traumatic to say the least. I told myself that if I was strong and did not completely fall a part I could buy myself something shiny. I follow and lurk a lot of stores that sell shiny things but only trust a few. I almost don’t want to share this with you because I still plan on buying myself a squash blossom from them at some point and I don’t want the competition. So just know, if you buy my squash blossom out from under me, I’m gonna be super mad (kidding, kinda). The shiny thing I bought myself was delivered super fast and in perfect condition. I love it. Like I said, I plan to spend a lot more money at Turquoise Creek Jewelry. A side note if you feel like getting me a gift, anything from here would be super!