Using Social Media to “Agvocate” for Farmers and Scientists

It is no secret that I am passionate about agriculture. I am a fourth generation agriculturalist, educated in various agricultural sciences, and I love the advancements that science and technology are bringing forward in agriculture and food production daily. I try to share my love of ag on all of my social media platforms.

Recently, I had a great interview with the wonderful people at CropLife International. CropLife International’s mission speaks to me, as it reads: We champion the role of agricultural innovations in crop protection and plant biotechnology to support and advance sustainable agriculture.

To read the interview check out Using social media to “agvocate” for farmers and scientists. You may also want to check out other blog posts with great information.

Croplife International can also be found on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

**Note: I was note paid or provided compensation in anyway for this interview or to share information about CropLife International. I just happen to believe in their mission, and we share a common passion for agriculture and the farmers and agriculturalists around the world.


Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
Facebook
Pinterest

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Ag lives matter… Slow down

We have all experienced inconsiderate and dangerous drivers, but in the agricultural community that risk can be even greater when large, heavy equipment is involved. Recently, a longtime family friend was telling our local branch of Cattlewomen about an experience that happened to her daughter’s friend.  Please read the editorial that Annalyn Settelmeyer submitted to the local papers.

Our teenage daughter, niece and their friends are helping on the hay crew this summer.  My daughter’s 15 year old friend was driving a tractor and hay tedder through Genoa yesterday.  At the main intersection stop sign, her tractor stalled. The tractor has fail safes and is difficult to restart in a fast manner. People behind her were upset started flipping her off, calling her a moron and questioning her parent’s linage. She had never been yelled at or called these names before and got flustered which in turn, exacerbated the situation.  She finally managed to get the tractor going and headed to Jacks Valley.

I grew up near Genoa and was ashamed of such bully-like behavior.  I would like to invite them to come drive a tractor.  People often talk about moving to the area because of the rural lifestyle, green open spaces, cattle and eagles in the fields. We are an agriculture based community and you will often see farm equipment.  This summer while you’re traveling around the valley, please remember we farmers and ranchers have a narrow window to get hay crops up for our cattle and hay customers.  This means more motorists and farming equipment sharing the roads.

According to the National Safety Council 1/3 of all tractor accidents happen on public roads.  Farm equipment moves slowly. A car traveling 55 mph toward a tractor can close a gap the length of a football field (300 ft.) in FIVE seconds.  Our equipment is only moving 15 mph so please slow down as soon as you see a farm implement and the slow moving equipment sign. Our equipment is heavy and difficult to stop.  We need room, don’t assume we can see you.  We don’t have the opportunity to move off the edge of the roads safely allowing others to get by.

The key to safety with farm equipment: caution and patience.  Please slow down.  Don’t follow too closely.  Never cut between the equipment and the escort vehicle if there is one, the escort is there to protect you and us.  Don’t pass until it is clearly safe.  Often it will be difficult or impossible to see where we are entering a field.  Please pay attention to our blinkers and hand signals.  Yes, when making that turn we do have to swing wide.  Yield to large wide equipment coming the opposite direction as well, our equipment is heaver and bigger than most passenger vehicles.

We understand we are delaying you, but please understand we don’t want to be on the road any more than we have too.  We are being as careful as we can.  The main issue is when others are impatient. We have to move in a diligent way to remain safe. We are doing our jobs in proving food for our families and yours.  Please remember, it is someone’s dad, mom, son or daughter driving that tractor.  We are your neighbors, your kids coach, your politician, your church member, and your pharmacist’s daughter.  We share a community together, please, for a short window each year, share the roads with us as well.   We love our teenage daughter, niece and their friends who are working hay crews this summer and are passing on not only a tradition, but a lifestyle that has been in this valley for generations.  Thank you so much!

If you ever encounter a piece of agricultural equipment, a combine, or livestock in the road please proceed with caution. These pieces of equipment are large and heavy, they cannot stop quickly. Ask yourself if passing the agricultural equipment in a dangerous spot is worth dying for or killing someone else? Is something so important that you can’t wait a couple more minutes to pass?


Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
Facebook
Pinterest

#plant15… Wordless Wednesday

tractor
#plant15 is underway. However, in Nebraska we are less than a 1/2 inch of rain away from breaking ALL-time-records (in the history of recording!) of precipitation in the month of May. So #plant15 has been a little slow in Eastern Nebraska…

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Is the beef industry sustainable: A look at grass-fed, hormones, growth promotants, and more

Recently, several of my colleagues and I hosted a Sensitive Issues: Media and Communication Training, we worked on developing and improving our communication skills around agriculture and agricultural topics. One of the topics we received more information on was sustainability.

Dr. Jude Capper, a livestock sustainability consultant, was our first speaker. I want to share with some of the messages about sustainability shared by Dr. Capper.

Capper– Sustainability is defined as “able to last or continue for a long time.” Many livestock farmers and ranchers are sustainable – whether they raise 10 head or 1,000 head. If you have never heard of the Century Farms Program, you should check it out. The American Farm Bureau Foundation recognizes farms or ranches by state that have been in a family for 100+ years! That is sustainable.

– There are essentially three things that need to be considered to be sustainable: 1) the economic viability, 2) the environmental response, and 3) the social acceptance. I think you would agree that no matter the type of agriculture system, these are all important to livestock farmers and ranchers.

– Every farmer and rancher can be sustainable! Sustainability is seen in all types of agriculture — conventional, organic, grass-fed, grain-fed, small, and large. Size of the agricultural enterprise is NOT a determinant of sustainability. Sustainability does not just apply to niche agricultural products.

– Animal agriculture’s U.S. carbon footprint is small! According tot he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meat production accounts for 2.1% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

– If everybody in the U.S. went meatless every Monday for an entire year… The National carbon footprint would only decrease by less than 1/3 of 1 percent!

– If animal agriculture did not exist, what would be the carbon cost of sourcing product ingredients that currently come from agricultural byproducts? Think about all of the products we use daily (i.e. cosmetics, gelatin based foods, paints, etc.), medications, and even food for our pets. Animal agriculture helps keep the carbon footprint low!

– Meat and dairy can be replaced with vegetable proteins, but humans produce methane too!

– In 1977, it took five animals to produce the same amount of beef as four animals in 2007. Raising beef has become more efficient. 

– In 1977 it took 609 days to get them to a harvest (slaughter) weight, in 2007 it took 485 days.  This equates to 3,045 animal days in 1977 and 1,940 animal days in 2007. Raising beef has become more sustainable, and is reducing resources.

– If we converted our current cattle feeding system entirely to a grass-fed system:

– We would need 64.6 million more cattle for a grass-fed system. These cattle average a 615 pound hot carcass weight (the weight after the animal has been harvested, hide, hooves, and intestines/variety meats removed), and it would take approximately 679 days to get them to a desirable harvest (slaughter) weight.

– In comparison, a conventional (or grain-fed beef animal) has an approximate 800 pound hot carcass weight and takes approximately 444 days to get to desirable harvest weight. 

*** All cattle farming/ranching systems are needed and valued, whether it is grain-fed, grass-fed, organic, or natural — one is not better than another, they are just different.

– If, the entire beef industry converted entirely to grass-fed beef we would need an additional 131 million acres of land, 468 billion gallons of water, and 131 million tones of carbon!

– Hormones in food are considered unacceptable, but lifestyle hormones are acceptable.

– One 8 ounce steak from a non-implanted beef animal contains 3.5 ng of estrogen, from an implanted beef animal (a beef animal given additional hormones) it is 5.1 ng of estrogen. One birth control pill delivers 35,000 ng of estrogen. In comparison, a woman would have to eat 3,000 pounds of beef daily to get the same amount of hormones through meat that is found in birth control!

– Growth enhancing technologies (i.e. growth hormones) reduce the environmental impact of beef by 10.7%! More specifically, 4.2 tonnes of feed, 1 acre of land, and 22,722 gallons of water per 800 pound carcass and reduced if growth enhancement technologies are used.

– The extra beef produced as a result of using beta-agonists and implants on a single carcass with supply seven children with school lunches for an entire year!

All foods and food systems can be sustainable. Sustainability is best achieved by optimizing efficiency across the entire food and agriculture chain. Technology has allowed beef farmers/ranchers to produce more beef using less resources.

What other questions do you have about sustainability? I have also written about it here.

cow-calf pairs

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Glyphosate and cancer: What does the data say?

Dr. Andrew Kniss, University of Wyoming Assistant Professor, recently discussed Glyphosate and cancer: What does the data say? I encourage you to check it out and to follow up on some of the links he provides for further information. At this time there is no major cause for alarm, as the vast majority of persons are not exposed to glyphosate.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

National Ag week… 5 reasons to thank a consumer

This is National Ag Week, with March 18 being Ag Day, a day to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture.

While I could spend the time today sharing with you how great I think agriculture is, and how much I adore the people who grow or raise agricultural products, I will not. Instead I want to celebrate the consumer – the user of the agricultural products.

Consumers are essential for agriculture. They buy agricultural products (i.e. meat, milk, fuel, pharmaceutical/medical supplies, fruits, vegetables, seeds, byproducts of the various ag enterprises, and more). While survival on this planet would be difficult (impossible) without agriculture, we are in this together – consumers and farmers/ranchers.

Some of the specific things I want to thank the consumers for:

1. Making food sexy and fun again. The “foodie” movement has allowed for persons to look at and taste food in a whole new light. People from all walks-of-life are enjoying trying new dishes, new flavor and texture combinations, and new venues (i.e. food trucks) for getting their food. As someone who loves food from all corners of the earth, I love that this is happening, and so do my taste buds.

food collage
A variety of foods that I got to eat in Austin, TX… Yum!

2. Showing interest in agriculture. There has been a lot of renewed interest in knowing how food is grown or raised. People want that connection with their food; and I think that is great. Farmers and ranchers know what they do is awesome, I mean not everyone gets to witness the miracle of an animal birth(s), look out over a crop that was grown by your own hands, or sit upon a horse who helps you get your daily work done. While consumers may not be able to do these things, they want a chance to experience them.

3. Questioning agriculture. You will probably hear farmers and ranchers say they do something because that is the way it has always been done. In agriculture there is so much risk involved, that farmers and ranchers are afraid to make drastic changes without knowing the outcome, or without having an incentive for their investment. Consumers are starting to question farmers and ranchers about why they do the things they do. While this has come with some growing pains from farmers and ranchers, ultimately it has helped identify areas where changes can and should be made. Things can and will be better as a result of it.

4. Establishing relationships with your local agriculturalists. I am seeing/hearing/reading about more and more relationships developing between consumers and farmers/ranchers. Consumers can put a face to their food. They are getting to meet the people who grow or raise their food, either where the food is sold, via a farm/ranch tour, or a field day on a farm/ranch. Farmers and ranchers are generally surprised that someone wants to see how they plant a crop, how they move livestock to another pasture, or how they harvest grain – but consumers want to see/read/listen about these things, and they want the farmer/rancher to explain it to them. Shared agricultural experiences, between a consumer and a farmer/rancher, are becoming more and more popular.

Bently Ranch
Shared learning about agriculture!

5. Increased transparency. Consumers want to know the ins-and-outs of how their food was grown or raised. Until recently, this was not something that many people really cared about, and farmers/ranchers being the private people they are, never shared that information… until now. More and more farmers/ranchers/ and agriculturalists are taking to social media to share the ag story. To share what they do on a daily basis, and to bring the farm or ranch to the masses who can’t go to the farm or ranch.

Growing and raising food is a hard job that is not for the faint of heart, but there is a renewed interest in food production. This is a great time to be an agriculturalist and a consumer!

Bridgeport_final
Cows grazing on pasture int he Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Babies…Babies Everywhere — Wordless Wednesday

Lots of babies being born at the Research and Extension Center where I work. Love this time of year!

cow-calf pairsnursing calves

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Nebraska’s Advantage

Jenny does a nice job of discussing a white paper that was produced by UNL and where growth in Nebraska may/may not be able to increase. Do your states have agricultural expansion plans? Have these conversations happened in your state?

JenREESources's Extension Blog

This week, I’d like to share some information that came out in a white paper from the UNL nebraska advantageAgricultural Economics Department on the special relationship we have here in Nebraska between crops, livestock, and biofuel production capacity not found in other parts of the U.S. to the extent we have here.  It’s called the “Nebraska Advantage”.

I think it’s important for all of ag industry to realize we need each other as it seems we sometimes forget how inter-dependent we are.  Crop producers need the livestock and ethanol industries as they are a high percentage of our end users.  Yet many times I hear of crop producers fighting livestock expansion or livestock coming into an area.  The purpose of the white paper was to share the numbers of where Nebraska livestock, grain production, and ethanol production currently stands, and what Nebraska could gain if we worked to increase livestock production…

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The top 10 of 2014…

I have completed my first full year of blogging! While I was not the most diligent blogger, I learned a lot, met some great people, and had some great conversations. My social media goals and expectations were exceeded! Many thanks to you, my readers for your interest. I have new ideas for blog posts and delivery methods in 2015, so stay tuned!

My top 10 blog posts of the year are as follows:

10. Jello, lipstick, and marshmallows – oh my! – learn more about the animal byproducts in the things we use daily!

9. Cold temps cause frozen ears – cute baby calf picture warning, and a useful product too!

8. Toothless Grins…Fun Fact Friday – because who doesn’t want to know random information about animals?!

7. Gluten Free Myths – a guest blog by my friend Dawn Earnesty, MS, RDN.

6. Caring for Livestock in Cold Temperatures – livestock receive the best care they can, even when temperatures plummet.

5. Organic and Natural Programs – part of the meat labeling series on why these terms are not interchangeable.

4. No added hormones and no antibiotics – part of the meat labeling series to help clear up confusion.

3. Growing up a Rich Rancher’s Kid – a fun post for me to write about perception of wealth.

2. Grain-fed and Grass-fed – part of a series on meat labeling terms, and better understanding what they really mean.

1. Dumping Discover – where I explain why I will be finding a new credit card company.

Cheers
Thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year. May it be full of health, wealth, and happiness! Cheers.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

IF FARMERS HAD BUSINESS CARDS …

This a humorous, yet realistic post on the fact that farmers/ranchers have many skills needed to do their daily jobs. It makes me chuckle to think what a business card created by my Dad, a rancher, would look like… would he include things like animal nutritionist, livestock reproduction guru, animal care expert, or fencing, building, and equipment repair specialist?