This week in my Public Relations class in Agriculture I was fortunate enough to meet Dairy Carrie. That is of course due to technology she talked with my class through Skype from her house in Wisconsin. I had never met someone over Skype so I wasn’t quite sure what it would be like. I figured it might be awkward for Carrie to have an entire class of students just staring at her through a computer screen. She handled it wonderfully to say the least. I literally have nothing but wonderful things to say about her. I am hoping that I will eventually get to meet her in person. She has already made such an impact on the agriculture community it is phenomenal. The Skype session really gave me some motivation, and encouragement I have been looking for.
I have posted Carrie’s blog link below, and I highly encourage that you all go read it. She really gave me some good advice that I would like to share. First of all she let us all know that we need to make sure to share OUR own story. It should not be left to others, we are all responsible as a whole. Social media is such a marvelous tool that we must all learn to utilize. Carrie for example has had thousands of views, and comments on her blog. She is reaching out to people who may have no idea what the Agriculture Industry is all about. It is such a wonderful way to let people know what your life is like, and it can help them understand it. I was encouraged to make sure not to polish my stories too much. People want real because they want to be able to connect with you. Sometimes we may have to show the bad side of the industry like the death of livestock. This shows how life really is for some farmers, and it lets the world see that also. My favorite was her explanation on learning how to pick, and choose battles. There has been so much controversy over the Chipotle video, along with other related post that have upset some of the Agriculture Community. I now have a different approach when it comes to controversial topics. I am definitely going to try to improve my blogging, along with letting the world know MY story.
I have found myself becoming slightly irritated with the misperceptions going on in the Agriculture world. Whenever I meet new people they usually ask what I am doing with my life. This often leads to a conversation of why I want to be an Ag Business major. They instantly assume I will be raising cattle instead of crops. Then if I’m lucky they go on a rant about only wanting to eat meat from grass fed cattle. First of all I am going to be farming corn and soybeans, not all farmers actually have to raise livestock. That does mean some cattle will end up eating the crops that are being grown on my family farms. So yes I completely support cattle that are grain fed. Many who claim they only want grass fed cattle are about to be informed about the industry. The entire purpose of this blog is to educate you, therefore you can make better decisions about the meat you eat.
First off ALL cattle are grass fed at some point in their life. The difference is determined by how they are finished. They either finish on grain, or grass before slaughter which determines what kind of meat it will be labeled as. Price wise you must realize it is MORE expensive to buy meat from grass fed cattle. They come from much smaller operations, and it often takes longer for the cows to reach slaughter weight. Feeding cows grain can help them reach slaughter weight as quickly as a year before grass fed. This dramatically speeds up growth, and lowers the cost of feed resulting in cheaper meat for consumers. This also can enhance fat marbling which is used to determines a cut of beef’s USDA rating. The more fat in the meat, the richer the taste, which in turn results in a higher grade. Yes this makes it slightly fattier and unhealthier than grass fed, but not by much. You really have to weigh out the pros, and cons to the situation. Grass fed meat is healthier, but the health facts have been blown way out of proportion.
Shalene McNeill, who has a Ph.D. in human nutrition and is executive director for human nutrition research at the association, acknowledges that “if you feed (cows) grass, you can slightly increase the omega-3 content, but if you look at it in terms of a whole diet, it’s not a significant advantage to human health.” This supports that it just is not worth the price to buy only grass fed meat. A group of testers cooked both types of meat to see which tasted better. It ended up showing that there was no universal preference between grain fed, and grass fed. They each had various levels of beefiness along with juiciness. Basically there really isn’t much difference between grass fed, and grain fed cattle. I hope this will help educate you in some future decision about meat choices.
More info from my source: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/29/grass.grain.beef.cookinglight/
I know this is slightly older news, but I feel as if not enough people are aware about the blizzard that hit South Dakota. An early devastating blizzard wiped out large amounts of cattle, and livestock throughout the state. I was reading articles about the incident, and literally became sick to my stomach. People are completely blaming the ranchers for all the dead livestock. These were clearly under educated people bashing the ranchers. As many as 75,000 head of cattle died in the storm. Ranchers are facing complete and utter devastation. Due to the government shutdown the farm bill was not renewed. This means the government is not giving them any money so people need to quit saying they will get subsidies. This is the ranchers livelihood many will be facing bankruptcy. Even those with insurance on their livestock won’t be completely covered.
We are talking about the cows that produce babies each year. These were not just feed lot cows about to be slaughtered. They were well cared for, and it can take years to build up a herd. The South Dakota ranchers had less than 48 hours to prepare for this Storm. They experienced hurricane force wind gusts. Many did not have time to herd cattle in, that can take days to do. No one was prepared for the magnitude of the storm that hit. This is completely tragic for the Agriculture World. These Ranchers are not only facing complete devastation, but now they must go out and dispose of the cattle. An immediate concern is proper disposal of the dead livestock, which state law says must be burned, or buried within 36 hours for the health not only of surviving herds but also for people. These Ranchers deserve our SYMPATHY not to be scolded. They have already been through enough. This effects us all meat prices are bound to increase. Don’t shake this off like it is nothing if you like to eat meat it concerns you to. Here is a link to an awesome blog by someone effected by the blizzard.
The reason I started this blog is for my Agriculture Public Relations class. Each week I am required to write a post, often I am given the option on what I want to talk about. This week in class we really started delving into some of the misperceptions in agriculture. We were all given an hour to find a partner, and making a video relating to agriculture. My partner and I decided to see what PETA had to say about the beef industry. We were only required to have a two minute video, and we managed to make ours almost three minutes. All we ended up getting to explain was one mere sentence that PETA had made in the opening paragraph of their page. It seems to amaze me how many people have such a strong opinion on something they have no facts on.
There are so many misperceptions of Agriculture it should honestly enrage many people working in the industry. This class is important to any Ag major, because everyone needs a voice. We must defend our way of living along with the jobs we have. People aren’t necessarily trying to offend us they are simply misinformed. The video I made is nothing special by all means. But, just something as simple as a video, or blog can go viral. One thing you post online can change the opinion of so many people. I believe the Ag community needs to go out and get more involved with the internet. Modern technology is how the world is functioning. If more people decide to get onboard then it will make it easier to share OUR story. This will keep people who have no clue what they are saying from poisoning our industry. Even if you do just make a short video off your phone, someone will see it and that can make all the difference.