Tag Archives: rant

Good Intentions

Sometimes Agriculture Has Good Intentions…

The agriculture industry is full of good intentions in terms of lessening the rural/urban divide, well, at least we think we are. Ag hosts field days, ag in the classroom, ag literacy events, all in the name of education. Farmers and ranchers are urged to share their stories with their urban counterparts. We open our barn doors and ranch gates offering our non rural peers a glimpse into our way of life. But what does agriculture do to urge farmers and ranchers to learn about our urban counterparts? What does agriculture do to educate ourselves about our urban peers? How do we glimpse into their lives? Why isn’t an effort being made to make this a two way street?

Sure, agriculture talks about consumer demand and market trends but these are faceless entities, void of any personal connection. Just as the farmer or rancher in our urban peer’s mind might be from American Gothic or a John Wayne movie, a caricature of the real thing. When agriculture talks about “consumer” we aren’t picturing actual living and working people, we see a group that needs to be taught, needs to be educated.

Agriculture loves to claim our urban peers and counterparts are out of touch with us. But perhaps, agriculture being the minority (less than 2% of our populations works in production agriculture), we are out of touch with the majority? What if agriculture is so cloistered within our own culture we forget there is a much bigger world out there? Often the only time agriculturists travel is for industry events, to talk to other industry people about industry things. Living and working in the agricultural world can be very sheltered experience.

If agriculture truly wants to connect, if we truly want to share our way of life we need to realize it is a two way street. We are not entitled to demand everyone learn about us without offering to do the same, simply because we grow food, fuel and fiber for them. We need to see value in all work done to support the society we live in.

I believe it’s time agriculture seeks out an Urban Literacy week. It’s time we take the same responsibility we demand of our consumers; learn about their way of life, form an emotional connection. It’s time we treat our urban peers with the respect and attention we demand. Perhaps it’s time for us to be educated? I urge those of you in agriculture reading this, join me in being mindful of our urban counterparts? Ask them questions about their way of life, their struggles, their concerns. Be less interested in forcing your experiences on them. Work on connecting over issues we share, not what divides us.

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The “Farm Wife”

I used to think I wanted to be a farm wife. I always thought I would follow my Mom’s example. Working unpaid for the ranch. Doing the same work as the men, plus the books, the cooking, cleaning and taking care of me, the kid AND having a full-time off the ranch job for health insurance and financial security. I thought I’d marry, and my husband would take over for my Dad and I would continue my Mom’s role.

See the woman in the center. That "farm wife" is the reason there is a farm in the first place.

See the woman in the center? That “farm wife” is the reason there is a farm in the first place.

Then I grew up. I realized just how much work it was to be a farm wife. I realized they did the heavy lifting. They were the unappreciated glue that held everything together. I finally understood I am not tough or smart enough for the “farm wife” label. Nope. I can handle being a rancHER. That’s easy. But farm wife? I simply don’t have the balls for it. Major props to you Farm Wives! Thank you for running this industry we call agriculture! We all know what you do, but we don’t vocally ever recognize and appreciate you in a way where you get to hear or see it. I hope that starts to change, and after what I’ve witnessed over the past few days, I think it will. We need to respect, praise and appreciate the women that keep us going.

 

Probably the most important read out of all of this. 

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California Beef Council – Let’s Get Better Together!

I haven’t been a huge fan of the California Beef Council (“CBC”) lately. They poked me with a stick and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the way my stick poking was handled, I didn’t like the secrecy (felt like Mean Girls in high school), I didn’t like the outcome. However, cause and effect is a funny thing, because of their stick poking I got to meet my idol and she validated me.

My experience with the CBC was a good thing. It opened my eyes to ways CBC could get better at talking to their producers and our consumers. Instead of staying mad and bitter, I want to help, I want to use my voice, my knowledge  and my point of view to make CBC better, after-all this is my industry and way of life we are talking about.

I got this in the mail. CBC wanted more money, and it seems like California cattle producers didn’t want to give more. I think I know why.

First, in case you aren’t a cattle producer, this is the way check off works. We have the CBC and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. The Cattlemen’s Beef Board is the national level the CBC is the state level. When we sell a cow/beef animal/bull/calf/anything, we must give $1 from the sale of that animal to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Fifty cents from that $1 is then given back to the CBC. Our $0.50 per head investment is meant to have CDC  do these things (pay attention because I am going to refer to this A-F list often):

A) Increase beef consumption;

B) Give out accurate information about the nutritional benefits of beef;

C) Talk about methods that cattle people use produce beef;

D) Talk about all the high standards beef producers use to produce beef;

E) Educate about what would happen without a beef industry;

F) Educate about beef trends to help our consumers understand the industry.

All very important things, right? But this is where I have my issue. Once the CBC got on my radar and I started trying to communicate with them to ask them for help with these things, they didn’t (see below) help me at all! In fact I felt like they basically said “we don’t do that”. I voted no on the referendum because of that.

The above referenced e-mail from Christie (Christie works at the CBC and we went to college together, I think we even had the same job in the farm office, right Christie?)
My e-mail back. I never got any suggestion back.

If my Beef Jar readers recall, I went on a quest with our local paper earlier this year. They printed poorly done, unfactual articles about the beef industry, I went to the CBC for help (you can read more about that quest herehere and here). I never got help.

I tried to ask My Beef Checkoff how I could help,  and as you can see below, I got the same vague run around.

I started getting paranoid. What if it was just me this was happening to, fortunately (or not), I’m not alone!

This would be a great opportunity to post Dr. Grandin’s video about the slaughter house abuse.
She’s got a point.
Another producer would like a dialogue.

I got myself so worked up about this, I even wrote a column about it for Feedstuffs. The “Megan obsession thing” is kinda happening. I just feel like my industry could get better, together.

I feel if CBC made a few changes they would be a more effective organization. If they became more effective, producers would be far more likely to increase our fee when asked next time. I know I would have no problem supporting the CBC if they communicated with us, the producers, especially when those producers point blank ask for help.  It is frustrating, being ignored by the very group that is supposed to promote what we do.

The California Beef Council has a website, a facebook and twitter account – and I think they are being under used. Social media is a powerful tool. I see several other state beef councils doing a wonderful job with it. Instead of ignoring the people commenting in their facebook and twitter, they engage them, ask them about why they have question. These are our consumers, we want them to talk to us, to trust us, not the media or the “google educated” farmers, right?

CBC, do the things you were created to do. Promote, educate, and share. There are so many wonderful cattle producers, processors, dairypeople, chefs, dietitians, scientist, professors,  and veterinarians in California that would be ecstatic to contribute to CBC. If you aren’t comfortable talking about an issue (for example custom exempt slaughter) within my industry ask us! Use us! Come to a family ranch in California, according to your ballot you have at least 1,829 ranchers that met your requirements, can you imagine the stories  they could tell? I think it would be far more authentic than explorebeef.org, don’t you?

When I browse the CBC facebook page I see fluff. Go ahead – check it out, if I was just an average consumer, looking for industry facts I wouldn’t find them there.  I would find information about football rivalry, or burger battles,  nothing about Lean Finely Textured Beef or mad cow, or the the recent animal abuse videos. I don’t understand why CBC doesn’t talk about relevant topics – isn’t that supposed to be their job?

Ok CBC, let’s get better. Start using your social media to talk to both your consumers and your producers – no one likes to be ignored. Remember on social media it’s not always about the one person asking the question or making the comment, it can also be about the 10 other people that are lurking the conversation too. Also take some responsibility, I know you are busy and I’m not asking you to respond to “every media request”, just to some, once in a while, when someone asks. And finally don’t be so scared to post information that is relevant to what the national media is covering, I feel like that is an important part of your purpose.

California Cattlepeople let’s help. We need to become more vocal when the councils we fund, start dropping the ball. We shouldn’t accept the fact that our state council isn’t stellar – let’s help get it there! I cannot tell you how frustrated I’ve become with other producers that just nod their head in agreement when I tell them CBC needs some work but laugh and roll their eyes when I suggest they get involved (you guys know who you are!). Let’s get motivated! Our futures as cattlepeople depend in it.

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Filed under Ag, Beef, food, Media, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized