A Heavy Mind Filled with Heavy Issues…

While Mother Nature likely provides my biggest challenges at the feed yard, there exist a handful of other heavy issues that bring me frustration and pause as I manage my farm.  The past week or so, my mind has been filled with two of these issues as I debated the best way to write about them.

My dad always taught me to think before I spoke.  As a child, I remember him carefully choosing his words before he shared them.  As an adult, I now think of him and draw upon that example as I prepare to share with each of you.  My daughters will attest to the fact that “Mama always has an opinion”, but I am constantly assessing those opinions to further define my stance when I struggle with contentious issues.

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I had a plan to dedicate the next couple of weeks to two topics that both challenge and upset me in my journey as a farmer:

1. Combative and intrusive federal government regulation (as demonstrated recently by the Environmental Protection Agency).

2. Fear based marketing strategies (carried out by companies such as Chipotle).

I have dedicated time to researching the topics and rolled ideas around in my head periodically for days.  But today, I have to ask each of you to be patient with me as I am not yet at a place to share many written words on the topics.  Despite not being ready to publish a detailed blog on each of the above topics, I do want to share a couple initial thoughts as well as issue a promise that I will address them in further detail as soon as my brain finishes processing them…

  • America works when everyone works — preferably in a collaborative nature blending our goals and perspectives to make our country a better place.  A federal government who gains strength through bullying tactics both defies the Constitution and inhibits its’ citizens ability to prosper.
  • There is nothing more powerful to share than the truth — There is nothing more valuable than looking at the facts in order to make an educated decision.  Companies that market and increase value for their own products by creating unmerited fear and guilt in their customers take away from each American’s personal freedom of choice.

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This Friday, we celebrate Independence Day.  As we gather amongst friends and family to celebrate our past and provide hope for the future, let us all remember what makes our country strong —

Each individual American freely working with pride and integrity…

 

 

17 Comments

Filed under Farming, General

17 responses to “A Heavy Mind Filled with Heavy Issues…

  1. Ann Smith

    Thanks Ann, the EPA and proposed waterway regs are a concern to many in ag. Product marketing and what is implied by it is too. You have always been fair and well spoken on tough issues. Look forward to your writing

    • Thank you, Ann. I appreciate it. I have put much thought into these two topics — and will be glad when I am personally satisfied with my writing on the subjects. They have been weighing on me…

      Best,
      Anne

  2. Elaine Bristol

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on these topics

  3. Anne,
    Two very hot topic issues right now; I am looking forward to reading your view point. Kudos to you for 1) taking time to think and research these topics before publishing your opinion and 2) taking a stand by sharing your thoughts and experience on these topics.

    • Thank you, Robyn. Both of those things that you mentioned are very important to me — I am picky about what I write, and want to feel as though the finished product accurately portrays my feelings.

      Loved your post today.
      Anne

  4. Finally… some meat!

    • Interesting that you feel that way, Bill. I provided what I considered to be very important information last week relative to the environment (https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/environmental-regulation/), and I got very little feedback on it. It amazes me that proactive outreach with my state agency does not resonate with others — I believe that it is one of the most important things that I can do on my farm to ensure sustainability. What I (and other farmers) can accomplish in partnership with our state agencies and other knowledgeable consultants is so very effective when we are talking about environmental stewardship. It always surprises me that proactive and positive outreach gains little momentum in the world of “social media”. I think that we would all be in a better place if that was not the case.

      That being said, I do think that the above issues need addressed — and I will blog about them as soon as I am satisfied with my writings. You know as well as anyone, sometimes you just need to take extra time when you chose your words — this is one of those times for me.

      Hope that all is well,
      Anne

  5. Barbara Kliment

    Anne – I truly look forward to your thoughts and discussion on these two very important topics. You are to be commended for taking the time to fully research and analyze carefully their impact to your family, business and community. Happy and safe Independence Day to you and your family!

  6. cara

    I too am interested in your opinions on these topics. I find myself in agreement with conservative Republicans and Farm Bureau members (!) in their opposition to the EPA’s intrusion into water rights. But, I caution you in your #2 topic (and this is not referring to Chipotle): choose your “science” well. Land-grant universities that take research money from corporations, then get results that said corporations want are a-dime-a-dozen…..I could pontificate much more, but I doubt it would spark much interest…. or passion…..but these so-called scientific or peer-reviewed results are not true science. Unfortunately our universities seem to be slaves to giant drug and pesticide/herbicide companies.

    • Hi Cara,

      Glad to hear that you are interested in what I think. The EPA’s intrusion affects our farm directly, and throws an enormous hurdle at us — it brings me a tremendous amount of concern.

      In terms of your concerns relative to #2, we have a diversified farm where we grow products for several different markets. My husband is the farmer in the family and he uses a variety of research sources combined with years of personal experience to make decisions for the crop side of our farm. I agree that whenever you look at scientific data, you need to bring a wide perspective and be prepared to debate and critique what you read. Matt has had good luck with the University of Nebraska and holds them in pretty high esteem. I think that it is interesting that you bring this topic up, as what really bothers me about certain product marketing is not “whether the science is accurate” — it is rather putting one product down in order to sell another when there is no clear scientific basis that one is better than another. They are simply different and appeal to different people depending on their personal beliefs and preferences.

      Anyway, I appreciate your feedback and hope that you will get something out of my posts.

      Best,
      Anne

  7. Rex

    Anne,
    I was in high school when the Cuyahoga River burned (twice), the perch disappeared from Lake Erie and Friday night fish fries pretty well disappeared from the churches in the Rust Belt. The Clean Water Act was passed as a result. Since then the Cuyahoga has not lit fire again and Lake Erie has become fishable, but the long list of impaired rivers seems to never change. I wonder if part of the issue is how we organize and analyze data.

    • Hi Rex,

      I honestly don’t know the answer. From my point of view, I have a positive working relationship with my state regulatory agency as well as the NRCS; and this interpretive rule change will negatively affect both of them. It will also drastically change the red tape that Matt will have to undergo in order to perform regular farming practices.

      I have had personal experience with the EPA—their attitude was incredibly antagonistic and their actions (in my opinion) did nothing to improve the environment of my farm. I prefer to deal with regulators that understand farming and do not recognize the regulatory process as a bully session.

      Good thought — I don’t know the answer but you have given me something else to think about. Thanks!

      Best,
      Anne

      • Rex

        Last summer during the Water Funding Task Force meetings I was impressed by a presentation by the public works director for Hastings. Hastings had a munitions plant on the east side of town, which contaminated that ground water, particularly with the solvents for cleaning. They have a feed lot west of town and farms in the area that are not contributing to the nitrate problem they do have, which was the result of farming practices several decades ago. That plume of pollution is slowing headed their way, and will eventually pass under the city well fields and then on to some spring that feeds the Mississippi. No matter what regulation is adopted, it won’t fix that problem which will probably contribute to the Missouri’s pollution the next millennia or perhaps century.

  8. Johnny Stansell

    I don’t envy you trying to sort out right, wrong, or in between. I’m not even sure it’s worth doing except to satisfy your own thoughts. There are plenty of people on either side that will shoot you down whatever you write.
    I am a conservative that leans heavily towards organic, but refuse to eat at Chipotle because of their comments or Sonic for proudly giving $100,000 to HSUS. I will not use Roundup, but have looked at the “science” pro and con and fully believe both test were pure junk science carried out by PhD scientist.

    • Hi Johnny,

      Thanks for adding to the discussion — I appreciate your thoughts. We have a diversified farm that includes both organic and traditional products. My favorite farmer (my husband) and I both believe that consumers have the right to choose what products they would like to purchase so we grow for multiple markets.

      The science deal is a tough one — we try to do broad research from a variety of sources in addition to relying on experience (both our own and that of my father in law who has been farming for many many years now) to make decisions. We have also found that management practices for different pieces of ground need to be adapted to fit the particularities of that land — in other words, a one size fits all doesn’t always work for us when we manage the different pieces of our farm. Putting together “the pieces of the puzzle” so that each component of our farm combines together in the best way is both a challenge and a source of pleasure for us — my husband and I both tend toward the “intellectual” side and truly enjoy that part of farming.

      I applaud you for taking a stance that stays true to your own beliefs. That is so important.

      Best,
      Anne

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