Tag Archives: transparency

I March For Agriculture

I March for Agriculture

Agriculture loves to put an opinionated woman in her place. My friend Abbi said it best, “the Goldilocks mentality… be strong but not too strong. Be smart but not too smart”. If we step outside our allotted roles we become fair game for attacks and put downs. This does serve a purpose though, it keeps us in our place, it keeps us subservient and quiet.

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Gender roles, patriarchy and sexism are still very much alive and well within agriculture. We still perpetuate them, we still are guided by them, we still adhere to them. I was reminded of this when I was tagged in the comments section of a status update from the California CattleWomen’s Facebook page. The post was a variation of the “Why We Don’t March” status update that floats around rural Facebook every time a women’s march is organized (fun fact: women were not even allowed in FFA until 1969).

Before I delve into why this is an issue, I’d like to post the groups mission statement. I believe it’s important to know the mission of a group. It is as follows: “Because California is the world leader in food production, the most productive agriculture region on earth and because; the production of Beef Cattle is California’s fifth largest commodity, we, the California CattleWomen will focus on promoting a better understanding to consumers as to where their food originates; the quality controls used towards its safety; the impact the Beef Industry has on the economy of California; and the overall, far-reaching contributions the Beef Industry has to society as a whole.”

The post from the California CattleWomen

The post from the California CattleWomen

This is problematic when a public group representing agriculture would post such a divisive, tone-deaf and antiquated status update. Obviously, it’s an attempt to silence consumers who speak up when something is wrong, by women who often have a family name or land that affords them some protection from the wrongs. It also perpetuates the rural/urban divide, which is something agriculture has been struggling with for a long time.

I know many agriculture groups are struggling with membership. This is perhaps a major reason why. All women in agriculture are not going to have the same experiences. A greenhand young woman will not be treated the same as the fifth generation rancher. Women who are brave enough to point out how we can be better by marching, or protesting are not our enemy. Offering support to the younger, more progressive generation will encourage us to join these groups. It will bring new life blood. Alienating us will only continue to spell the inevitable, slow, death march of these groups.

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The cattle industry desperately needs some good PR. We really need consumers to see cattlepeople in a better light. We have lab meat, environmental issues and a whole slew of other controversies where we NEED the public’s support. Posting something that attacks the dominate grocery shopper (women) is not a smart marketing tactic.

Maya Angelou said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time“. It is so easy to find farmers and rancher insulting our non agriculture peers on social media, it’s like we forget the public can see it.  Then we wonder why we are not communicating well with our consumers, why they don’t listen to us. We get upset when they call us uneducated or ignorant. You know what? I think they are just listening to Ms. Angelou; we are showing the public who we are, and are being treated accordingly.

I know the women who run these accounts have attended and even been panelist and presenter at many conferences teaching us ‘to reach beyond the agriculture choir,’ just like me. I learned alienating our consumer on public accounts was a bad idea, even on personal accounts. I just feel at some point we need to admit we’re not really trying to win consumers over, we’re not trying to learn from them. No, we want them to know how much better we are because of our lifestyle. Again, not promoting betting understanding to our consumer.

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The industry is at a tipping point. If our groups and leaders stepped up and lead by example, I know we could create some positive change. We either need to become serious, follow our mission statements, and stop attacking the hand the pays us or realize life as we know it, is going to change. Here is my call to action, let’s be better. Let’s stop putting down our consumers for things they are passionate about. Let’s gently remind (call out) our ranching peers to do the same. When we see industry groups setting poor examples by posting tasteless, hurtful things, let’s ask them to learn from their mistakes and stop. Our way of life simply depends on it.

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Wordless Wednesday: Happy Boo Dog

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Wordless Wednesday: Marissa’s Last Litter

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Wordless Wednesday: California Cow Chrome

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Wordless Wednesday: Baby Blues 

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Podcast, Mental Health and Agriculture

Recently, I had an incredible opportunity to be a guest on Shark Farmer’s podcast. It was the first podcast I’ve ever been asked to appear on, I really wanted to do a good job! Rob and I have been social media friends for ages, so I knew he would be kind. We scheduled a time for an interview and well, the rest is history!
I am very proud of this podcast because Rob brought up something we don’t talk a lot about in agriculture: mental health. I’ve been very open with my struggles throughout the years with anxiety. Having this new and larger platform to share my message, that everyone has problems and it’s OK to talk about them and seek help, was phenomenal.
Please check out this podcast! It was a lot of fun to do, and it was wonderful getting to know Rob a little better! And please remember, if you need to talk, shoot me an email, I’m here for you.

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Click on this picture and you will be taken to the podcast page!

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Why I Use Antibiotics

Antibiotics are amazing. They can do so much, so quickly! I want to tell you a story about one calf and one shot of antibiotics.

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We found this little calf in the morning. Her mom gave birth to her in water during the night and left her. She was very ill. Very cold, very close to death. In fact, when we first saw her, we thought she was already dead. We loaded her in the back of the polaris and took her to the hospital pen. We dried her off, treated her with antibiotics, electrolytes, fluids, iodine on her naval, and some vitamins. We followed the label on the antibiotics and the advice of our veterinarian to the letter.  A few hours later,  she was able to stand up by herself. She was ready to go back to her mom in about a day.

Before and after, in just a matter of hours.

Before and after, in just a matter of hours.

My point here is, despite what Subway would have you think, antibiotics are not always bad when used in animal agriculture. They actually save a lot of lives and a lot of suffering. By the time this calf hits the market, no residue will be left. So please think about that next time food marketers talk about antibiotic free.

Antibiotics are a hot button issue within agriculture right now. Farmers and ranchers are working very hard to fight antibiotic resistance, because we realize how this can and will impact us. Personally, our ranch uses superior genetics, nutrition and vaccines to prevent illness. But as I showed here, sometimes we still have problems and we need to be able to do the humane thing and treat our animals. It’s the right this to do.

I urge you to talk to other farmers,  ranchers and veterinarians to learn how and why they use antibiotics on their ranches. Coming from agriculture and seeing how we have changed our protocols, I feel like our general public might not know what we have changed and why, in regards to this topic. Fear and half-truths have been used often to promote “antibiotic free” meat marketing agenda.

I even got the opportunity to learn more about antibiotics at the Alltech convention I attended last May. Meat scientist Dr. Yancey wrote a nice recap about it, you can read here.

Is antibiotic resistance a problem? Absolutely. Do we know for certain what is causing it? Kinda. Is agriculture doing something about it? Yes.  It is a complex issue. But,  friends and readers, feel safe about the meat your are eating. Trust that your friendly neighborhood ranchers are aware of this problem and we are working hard to continue to keep our food supply safe and affordable. 

If you have more questions or would like a list of more experts, veterinarians, farmers or ranchers to talk to please leave me a comment below and I will do my best to accommodate you. Thank you.

 

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The Sacramento Bee, Twitter and Red Wattle Hogs

It’s no secret that this ranch girl has embraced social media like my life depended on it. Some might call it a hobby, my Parent’s call it an addiction, I think it’s a necessity in this day in age. Recently, my social media persona and “real” life has collided in some big ways. The result has been some rather amazing and interesting opportunities.

The catalyst for this recent wave of attention was an article by Edward Ortiz in the Sacramento Bee. Randy Pench contributed beautiful photos and awesome video that accompanied the online version.  But first let’s back up just a whisper shall we?

The screen shot!

The screen shot!

Mr. Ortiz started following me on twitter sometime back. Of course, I followed back because I get all kinds of excited when journalists, teachers, and/or people I lurk follow me. These are the people I learn from, these are also the people I want to learn from me. I respect their thoughts and opinions and I know others do too.

Mr. Ortiz emailed me last fall and wanted to talk about my hogs. Since my falls, springs and summers are generally my busiest times, I had to wait until January to have him and Mr. Pench out to see the ranch and hogs. Winter is the time I get to dedicate to my hogs and opening this ranch’s barn doors.

My Dad couldn't stand it and had to be apart of the interview.  So I felfie photo bombed.

My Dad couldn’t stand it and had to be apart of the interview. So I felfie photo bombed.

Opening your farm or ranch “barn doors” can be a terrifying thing to people in production agriculture. Unfortunately, we expect to be attacked for what we do. There is just much mis-information being put out by our opponents, we are forced to play a never-winning game of catch up.

I was just a whisper excited.

I was just a whisper excited.

That is why I take such a transparent stand. I want every reasonable person, who has a thirst for knowledge about their food, to come on out. I want them to know what I do, and why I do it. It really is in my best interest. Having a reputable paper like the Sac Bee come out, makes me accessible to more than a ranch day ever could.

If you get the chance my fellow farmers and ranchers, I urge you to reach out to your local media. Follow their facebook and twitter pages, answer their questions if they ask. I’ve had such wonderful and positive experiences interacting with the media, especially with the Sacramento Bee.

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The Future of the Farm: The Aftermath

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to take “The Megan Show” to my alma mater, CSU, Chico and participate in a discussion. The discussion was about “The Future of the Farm”. I was lucky to have David Robinson Simon the Author of Meatonomics as a discussion partner. I felt that Mr. Simon and I contrasted nicely and it made for an interesting conversation.

It always makes for a fun and lively conversation when two polar opposites sit down to discuss an issue both are passionate about. Being a cattle rancher, obviously I feel very strongly about what I do. Mr. Simon is a vegan and based on my own experiences and others I know, one must feel very strongly to maintain that lifestyle (it was really hard for me and I failed).

Mr. Simon spoke first. He had a powerpoint that basically outlined his book. Some of the slides had pictures that painted animal agriculture in a poor light. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, but unfortunately they often only tell part of a story. Because agriculture has typically kept our barn doors shut, we have left ourselves open to misunderstandings like this.

While I did disagree with Mr. Simon about several issues, Ag Gag, factory farming, and ag terrorism being a few. I was surprised about how many issues we held similar views on. For example eating “local” might not always be the most efficient and grass-finished beef is not always the most sustainable method in beef production.

It's always a win when I get to share this!

It’s always a win when I get to share this!

I felt like this discussion was time well spent. Being able to sit down and have a conversation with people that don’t always agree with me helps me become a better communicator and helps agriculture open our barn doors. Getting to interact with an audience enhances the experience for everyone; personal connections are made, passions shared. If agriculture wants to engage with our public we simply must take every opportunity, that is why I was disappointed in the College of Agriculture.

It's rare that I remember to take pictures before I speak. I kinda did it this time! Thanks to my friends that came!

It’s rare that I remember to take pictures before I speak. I kinda did it this time! Thanks to my friends that came!

There were only two agriculture students (thanks guys!) in attendance and no staff or faculty. Our industry leaders need to make sure our students and future ag leaders are being exposed to and urged to have conversations with our public. Our leaders are the ones that need to set that example. A huge part of why I am able to speak and engage the public is because I saw my professors do that.

Although I was excited to have the opportunity to participate in this discussion and give back to the University that helped shape who I am (and I’d do it again in a hot second), it worried me that there was a low ag turn-out and Dr. Jones had no success finding someone from the College of Ag to participate. If agriculture is serious about transparency and engaging our public our local leaders must do a better job of setting that example or they run the risk of “The Megan Show” doing for them – scary thought, huh?

 

At least The Megan Show has pretty boots! Thanks Jenny over at http://prairiecalifornian.com/ for coming!

At least The Megan Show has pretty boots! Thanks Jenny over at http://prairiecalifornian.com/ for coming!

 

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Wordless Wednesday: The Master

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