March 19th, 2013
09:15 AM ET
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Ryan Goodman has been involved in agriculture all of his life, working on ranches across the country, as well as studying cattle nutrition and reproduction at the college levels. He works daily with farmers and ranchers, helping their voices become part of the national dialogues on food and agriculture topics. You can reach him on Twitter @AgProudRyan, as well as his personal blog,

Each weekday Eatocracy features a special food holiday. These can range from raw ingredients, regional specialties, or guilty pleasures that satisfy our sweet tooth. No matter where these foods come from, they have something in common – it all started on a farm.

March 25, 2014 is National Agriculture Day; one day we can set aside our differences and celebrate the diversity agriculture brings to the table. This encompasses not only farmers, but also everyone involved in growing, processing, transporting, and preparing our food for the table. The Agriculture Council of America organizes the event and support comes from numerous organizations across the agriculture and food spectrum.

Even though farmers and ranchers may be overlooked when it comes to influence on our food supply, this group of folks has a huge impact on our daily lives. Most of the non-food products we use on a daily basis include by-products from livestock animals and crops. Cotton fibers make up a large amount of our favorite clothing and many crops are used to generate energy and fuel. agriculture has a huge impact on rural business and economies, providing jobs, sources of tax revenue, and many farm organizations make large food donations possible for crisis and hunger relief.

This day has personal significance to me. A few years ago, someone asked why I was proud to be a part of agriculture. After traveling and working on farms and ranches across the country, I have gained a greater appreciation for the commitment members of the agriculture community make to improve our daily lives.

Not everyone will have an opportunity like mine to experience hands-on the science, technology, and conservation work that go into producing the raw materials for food and non-food products we consume every day. Consumers have lost confidence in agriculture practices and we have to improve the transparency of these.

The first step is gaining an awareness of what actually occurs in agriculture. Farmers, ranchers, and agriculture organizations are working to open doors and ask for a civil conversation. Can you provide that for them?

Join us today to celebrate the abundance of Agriculture. Look for events hosted by your state and local agriculture organizations. If you are online, follow the events in Washington D.C. hosted by the Ag Day organization. The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance is hosting an educational briefing on Capitol Hill and will provide an interactive platform. Follow along on their website, or on Twitter using the hashtags #FoodD and #AgDay.

Got a question for Ryan or any of our other farmers? Please share it below and we'll do our best to have a great conversation.

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soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Ben

    Can any critics of GMO and anti-biotics explain physiologically how those are bad for you? Also, please state your educational background. Thanks.

    March 28, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
  2. Wanda

    Talk to a farmer. I am a hog farmer from souther Minnesota. Stop by, grab a coffee and let's talk.

    March 25, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
  3. milksheds

    Technology has got to be a part of the discussion – and the implementation of growing crops – going forward as agriculturists around the globe work for solutions to feeding the projected 9.6 Billion earthly residents by 2050. Case in point – today – as Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, was honored with a statue at the US Capitol. He is credited, by a wide community of humanitarians and scientists has credited him with saving over 1 Billion lives with the wheat varieties he developed in the mid-20th Century. Diversity is also a part of the solution, and I applaud organic growers who can make that model work and maintain their financial sustainability without continual dependence on grants and other sources of outside income. A friend of mine who has lupus is a prime example of why organic farms are needed to complement farms who use technology and plant growth assistants. One of our biggest challenges going forward is for believers in either form of production to not continually step into the bully pulpit, and condemn or desecrate without actually listening to the good points that either side has to offer. All production forms will be needed as we work together to find solutions for world hunger. As others have noted, I would be glad to entertain visitors on my family's farm, and I believe I have a number of family farmer friends who would also gladly open their farmgates as well.

    March 25, 2014 at 8:52 pm |
  4. The Farmer's Wifee

    Feel free to stop by my blog. We are a first generation dairy farm & are happy to answer any questions you might have. or

    March 25, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
  5. sybaris

    Plow fields in 2 days
    Plant fields in 2 days
    Fertilize crops in 2 days
    Harvest crops in 2 days
    Sell crops in 2 days

    Natural disaster detroys crops, no problem, get paid anyway

    Farming is pretty lucrative for 10 days of work.

    March 25, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
    • angryart

      It's comments like this that really keep good discussions from happening. Yes, there are farmers who milk the system (no pun intended), but there's financiers, business owners, doctors, lawyers and someone from any other type of job that does things that are not ethical. Your comment shows a lot of ignorance about anything outside of your spectrum of life. Get out of your mom's basement and experience the world. It's a good place full of fascinating people working their tails off.

      March 25, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
      • sybaris

        It's comments like yours that resort to insults and a s s umptions that indicate a lack of critical thinking skills and marginal education.

        March 25, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
        • angryart

          It's funny that you talk about a s sumptions. Have you ever worked on a farm? My wife and I hobby farm (which according to another article is the majority of farming), we have 20 acres. We don't plant the crop for just 2 days. Water it for just two days, nor do we harvest it for just two days. We irrigate every day for over an hour during the summer, for four weeks until the hay is cut. This is done 3 times a year. Then we have a two week break where that we harvest the crop. Then the cycle repeats three more times b/c the crop needs to be watered after the last cutting. We're also putting in fence for cows. This is not done in just 2 days either. And the cows don't eat just 2 days a year. Yes, there are massive farms out there that take in subsidies, I don't deny it. Hell, I'd like to get one, too. But there are a lot of us little guys that do it b/c we like being outside, the sense of accomplishment, and that little extra income you can squeak out of the land.

          March 25, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
        • What?

          No, actually it is comments like your original post above – which consists entirely of cherry-picked half-truths on its very best day – which highlight your lack of critical thinking skills and openly exhibit your seriously flawed "education" for the entire internet to see.

          March 28, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
        • That's Why ... @ What?

          That's why we call them trolls. Let it go dude. They aren't worth the BP spike.

          March 28, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
    • Michael

      Wow are you sure? Sorry, you are way off.
      First, I am a 60 year old farmer on the prairie in Minnesota. Our farm is not large, but it feeds two families.
      So, we do not plow anymore, but spring tillage on those fields that get tilled takes over a week.
      Last year we managed to get our fields planted in ten days, but rain storms made the process go on for over a month.
      It takes several days just to apply the manure from our barns, but the little purchased fertilizer we use must be applied in several stages to get it to the crop when it is needed. Total time over two weeks.
      Weed control is a big deal. I spend almost as many hours scouting the fields for weeds as I do removing them. You have to know what you are killing and what to use to kill the weeds without doing damage to the crop or the environment. Total time is almost two months.
      We were in soybean harvest for 5 days last year, and corn harvest took two weeks.
      I have about three months invested in marketing and hauling my crop to town.
      I am one of the uninsured, and there is no natural disaster program that I know of that will cover all of my farms needs. If I get any help at all, I may get 75% of my costs covered. That does not put food on the table.
      Oh yeah, then there is the part time job in town and the church and community meetings I take part in, Yesterday, a day in the off season, had me at work for 14 hours. Not as short a year as you thought is it.

      March 25, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
      • sybaris

        Utilizing inefficient methods and dated implements to work your land is of your own accord and does not add respect for choosing the harder row to hoe.

        IOW, work smarter not harder.

        March 25, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
        • Michael

          Ah, But I do work smart! Although I do not have the latest in technology on my farm, I do keep up, at my age, working smarter is required! Oh and my only help on the farm is my 84 year old father.
          We also work more efficiently since we are using several tools that allow us to work the ground less. This gives us the same yields, but cuts fuel, fertilizer, pesticide and labor costs.
          Also, if it would only take us those few days suggested above to farm our ground, farming must be easy. If that is so, how come more people are not doing it?

          March 27, 2014 at 9:32 am |
        • Ben

          You're BONKERS!!

          March 27, 2014 at 9:43 am |
    • BigSky2212

      I'll answer your comment without insulting you or making an assumptions ...

      I will start off by saying this however – Your comment is very offensive to most farmers. None of us (and that includes the "hobby farmers" with less than an acre) farm 10 days out of the year. We farm year round – we may not be out in the field where you can see us – but we are working nonetheless. Last year I was in the field from March until November. When we are not in the field we are fixing equipment in our shop, working on paperwork, meeting with industry advisers, fixing fence, and many other assorted jobs. 99% of farmers will NEVER be satisfied with the amount of work they get done – there's always something else to do, something to fix, or some goal to accomplish.

      I farm roughly 7000 acres with my dad and my fiance owns a ranch. We are busy 12 months out of the year and work most holidays. I also serve on several advisory committees in my state, my fiance is a volunteer fire department chief, and my dad is the girls basketball coach and also on several advisory committees.

      If farming were as easy as you make it sound (and as lucrative) EVERYONE would do it. But everyone does not do it – and there is a reason – it is not easy. My jobs at Fortune 500 companies (I worked for 2 and am routinely asked to come back) were far easier than running the family farm – those paid vacations, sick days, and holidays were nice – they are now non-existent. I am missing one of my best friend's weddings in May because I need to be in the field planting sunflowers and corn – so I can't go.

      And Michael said nothing about using outdated equipment or methods ... farmers are more efficient now than they ever have been in history – and it still takes time to get everything done. In 2 days I'd be able to seed 1/16 of my crops .... and there is nothing wrong with older equipment (older does not mean horse and plow or cabless and slow) – it functions just as well as new equipment if properly maintained for far less of a price tag ... new equipment costs more than most people spend on their first house ...

      March 25, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
    • BWatkins123

      Would you like to leave me your contact information? I'd like for you to come see what it's actually like on a farm. Free your schedule for red rice season in Arkansas. It only gets 98 with 110% humidity. The mosquitoes might carry you away while you're here. Also, bring mud boots and something to scare the snakes away from you. Also learn to identify pig weed. That's got to be pulled to. And while I'm thinking about it, we will probably need your help walking bean rows as well. How good are you with a shovel? I need some trenches dug and levees fixed. Oh and that relift, it's clogged up. I need you to crawl down in the Cache to unclog it for me, but don't worry. The alligator they found there a few years ago might have been a good 2 ft taller than you, but it was dead – you really just need to worry about the copperheads. They're deadly I hear.
      End day 1 (6am-dark 30)
      I would write out what we would do the rest of the week, but I don't think you'd show up again to work. Most don't. Return rate on farmhands is low a lot of time, can't imagine why since the work is so easy and pay so good???

      March 25, 2014 at 10:16 pm |
      • BigSky2212

        I thoroughly enjoyed this! And I already had a lot of respect for all farmers – but it was taken to a new level last November when I took a trip sponsored by the Cotton Council to southern Georgia. It was eye opening for me the amount of input costs those cotton and peanut farmers take on (I come from a wheat, safflower, sunflower, corn, and alfalfa farm in Montana – and we have high inputs and risk but not as high as I saw down there – I imagine it's much the same in the Arkansas Delta). And I am really glad I don't deal with such critters – the worst I have is a rattlesnake and while they will kill you they are at least kind enough to give you some warning (usually) and aren't nearly as aggressive as the copperhead.

        March 25, 2014 at 10:47 pm |
        • BWatkins123

          Yes Southern Ag is typically has higher production costs (a lot because of irrigation – along with the high inputs). Delta is very much the same in that aspect. As for the critters, they're not so bad once you learn how to spot them before they do you. I'd take our heat over those brutal winters you all experience though!

          March 25, 2014 at 11:34 pm |
    • Troll Patrol

      Sybaris is a troll folks. Move along.

      March 26, 2014 at 7:30 am |
    • Ben

      If farming is so lucrative, then why aren't you a farmer??

      March 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
  6. Ange

    Yes, thank you to all the farmers who produce GMO products, fruits and vegetables laden with pesticides and herbicides and to the agriculture farmers who overfeed and pump up our meats with antibiotics and other poisons. No wonder cancer and illness rates are as high as they have ever been! The only way that one can eat well is all organic/ non-GMO (thanks Monsanto) and only foods you grow and raise. It's sad and pathetic!

    March 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
    • Michael

      Wow Ange, all that anger. First off, where did you learn the things you are saying? I can tell it was not on the farm. We here on the farm eat all of that stuff you claim is poison and would never do anything to hurt our children and grandchildren who work with us. It may surprise you to find out that all of that stuff you are so concerned about is much less toxic than the chocolate and caffeine you consume everyday.

      March 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
    • BWatkins123

      I'd dare that the phone/computer you used to post this emits more cancerous causing waves than eating our food supply does. I have no scientific data proving this, but neither do you. "Poison" – the air you breath is likely more poisonous to you than the food you eat. Unfortunately eating organic will not prevent cancer nor is it proven to decrease your chances of getting it. Hate to burst your bubble

      March 25, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
    • Ben

      You're nuts!!

      March 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
    • Life of an Agvocate

      I'm sorry but you're hating on the wrong part of biotechnology. GM crops are the least of your worries I promise. Mostly because they hold the same nutritional value as non-GM crops. Yes, Monsanto produces them, and a lot of farmers wouldn't necessarily agree with their practices, and would prefer to stay traditional. However, all Monsanto is trying to do is is help farmers feed the world. With an estimated 9.6 billion people going to inhabit this world in 2050, we will be relying on more biotechnology to feed everyone because producing what we can now with the amount of land we have now, is good, but we will have significantly less land in 2050. So unless you're going to convince everyone to only have one are two kids, I suggest you back off on attacking GM crops.

      Now the pumping meat with antibiotics... Yeah you're meat isn't pumped with antibiotics. If anything you should be worried about the milk you drink. So let's step back and think- humans use antibiotics to treat illness. Ranchers use antibiotics to treat illnesses in cattle. In beef production cattle, you don't need to worry about consuming the antibiotics. However in dairy production, you should worry, especially if the cow is being treated with the hormone rBGH (which I'll add here is only 17% of all dairy cattle). rBGH increases cows chances of getting mastitis, a bacterial infection in the udder witch causes inflammation, swelling, and pus and blood secretions into the milk. Yummy, right?
      Anyways, they treat mastitis with antibiotics, and just like with humans nursing their baby, cows pass the antibiotic through the milk- BUT ONLY IF THE FARMER DOESNT ALLOW A SUFFICIENT WITHDRAWAL PERIOD! However if there is any traces of the antibiotic in the milk, it builds up the resistance of the bad bacteria in our body to that particular antibiotic, which makes treating the illness even harder for humans. But as I mentioned before this is only done with 17% of dairy cattle. And many store chains such as Costco or Safeway, and well as dairy product producers like Yoplait, Dannon, and Starbucks do not purchase milk treated with the hormone rBGH, which decreases the chance of the milk being treated with antibiotics.

      But honestly in the big picture, think of it this way; would you rather be drinking a little bit of antibiotic residue, if any at all, or drinking pus and blood with your milk?

      As for cancer and illness rates- those have more of a link to technology, and medicines given to you from a doctor. So in other words, get off your technology if your so worried, and start taking some vitamins to keep you out of the doctors office.

      March 28, 2014 at 11:55 am |
      • The Farmer's Wifee

        Life of an Agvocate- I am not sure, but what do you "AGvocate" for? Because I am pretty sure you just threw the dairy industry under the bus with information that is not correct. I will share with you a blog post I wrote about this very topic only because I am headed out shortly to milk.

        March 28, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
  7. Philo99

    Based on stats, facts, and reality, I just assume any farmer is a welfare queen sucking off the working tax payers.

    From subsidized crop insurance, price controls to tax breaks farmers are the most subsidized group in this country.

    I'll hug a farmer when they take their hands out of my wallet.

    END FARM SUBSIDIES NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 25, 2014 at 11:57 am |
    • Farmers Daughter

      Can we please be open minded? Do you really think that it costs nothing to farm? Do you think farmers want subsidies? I have never once heard a farmer say "Can't wait to screw the people and get a big fat subsidy payment". Do you know how many people collect HUGE subsidies yet have never farmed a day in their lives, but just own farmland? Everything they/we do – is based upon our government. Our Government sets the prices. Many farmers would, believe it or not, prefer to avoid Monsanto, but it's challenging to do when Monsanto has acquired almost every other seed company. It's expensive to farm. Seed is not free. Fuel is not free. Fertilizer is not free. Equipment is not free. Insurance is not free. What bothers me most is that most of these commments are written by someone with a full dinner plate. Let's be realistic and try to see the big picture before posting ill informed comments.

      March 25, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
    • Michael

      Uhmm, I do believe that our oil companies get much more government help than our nations farmers, and farm programs are only a small part of the so called farm bill. Actually most of the "Farm Bill" goes to welfare programs.

      March 25, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
    • BWatkins123

      Thank you for voting to increase the poverty level by making our good unaffordable to grow. Subsidies are there to keep the cost for consumers small. We are blessed to live in a country full of natural resources that we are able to utilize efficiently to produce for our own – and help supply the world. Our farmers produce enough to also be given to countries in need. Be thankful you are not deficient in nutrients an grateful to have the freedom of speech to ridicule those you support everyday by consuming their products. Thank you. Keep eating well!

      March 25, 2014 at 9:59 pm |
  8. cayuse


    Farmers make so much today

    1) Just 4 years ago Wheat was $2.87 a bushel to day it is pushing $10.00 a bushell (even a small farm where I live at 100 bu per acre 80,000 bu or an increase of $560,000 a year with NO INVESTMENT. GIVE THEM A BIG HUG
    2) You are building WINDFARMS on farmer ground her where I look out my windows. That is $1000 per accre per month tax free for the farmers. Small farm of 1000 acres that is another $1,000,000 increase in with NO INVESTMENT. GIVE THEM A HUGE
    3) Then there is CRP for not growing
    4) Then there is CROP SUPPORT for failure, making lots of money has its risk. You might have to cut back on your spending on toys. The need crop insurance TO MAINTAIN THEIR WAY OF LIVING. GIVE THEM A HUG
    GIVE THEM A $1,560,000+ HUG for 3 months of work (1 month seeding, 1 month preparing and feritlizing and 1 month cutting and 9 months worring about weather, storing and speculating with hedging on last and this years crop

    March 25, 2014 at 11:06 am |
    • B Mead

      Farmers? Some of the biggest bilkers of our corrupt tax code there are. Used to be all they worry about was the weather, now its how many deductions they can claim on their taxes, if they even pay any.

      March 25, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
    • BigSky2212

      No investment to grow wheat?!?!

      It is not cheap to produce any crop. Input costs have rises 5 times as fast as the price of commodities in the last decade. A farmer might make money off that crop – and he might not. It's not cheap to feed the world.

      Insurance is often a farmer's top expense (despite the subsidies) and very often it won't or barely recovers input costs in the event of a disaster. Any farmer prefers to pay in and not collect an indemnity. It's also a government program that operates in the black NOT red.

      Anyone can put up wind farms if they have enough land and the desire. It's not limite to farmers.

      Also it's insulting to insinuate we work only 3 months out of the year – particularly operations with cattle – we work year round. Maybe not out in the field where you can see us – but come find us in our offices, shops, and grain bins. We work 12 months a year and most holidays.

      March 25, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
    • BigSky2212

      Oh and wheat is worth roughly $7.50 a bushel today. Not $10.

      March 25, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
  9. What?

    To all of you out there doing what the overwhelming majority cannot – or will not:

    Thank you; thank you; thank you.

    March 20, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  10. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Dude looks like Colin Hanks

    March 19, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  11. EM

    Our blog features farmers and ranchers! From beef to vegetable producers – telling the story of agriculture one person at a time! Take time to visit us and learn about where your food comes from!

    March 19, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  12. thedesigngoddess

    I know a lot of progress has been made in efficiencies, allowing farmers and ranchers to be more productive. Have those new methods helped the impact of ag on the environment or made it worse? How?

    March 19, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Suzie Wilde

      thedesigngoddes, we are cotton farmers who use some of the new technology. It has made such a positive impact on the environment on our farm that we would never consider going back to growing conventional cotton. You can read about the cleaner water, air and soil on our blog, Thanks to the genetics in our cotton, our farms have been insecticide free for many years now and the beneficial insects have flourished.

      March 19, 2013 at 10:51 am |
      • thedesigngoddess

        Well that's good news.

        March 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Jodi

      In Michigan, there is a voluntary program, Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, that helps farms reduce risks to the environment. Take a look at the web page for more info. I am a technician in this program helping farmers reduce any risks,in particular risks to ground water, on their farms. In most cases farmers are all ready doing a great job in reducing the risks since some of the older farming practices would cost a modern farmer thousands of dollars. Hope that helps.

      March 20, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Mathena

      The new plant tech is helping in reducing the amount of fertilizer, and water needed to raise more food on fewer acres.

      March 20, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • SlowMoneyFarm

      More productive is just part of the consideration. There is a wide range of things that can fall under efficiency and technology. More efficient feeding and medical care provides more comfort and production from our animals, but I think that also ties in to environmental considerations, in that we can feed more efficiently. This helps the farmers producing that feed, also, to be more efficient.

      We use 'old fashioned' things like composting to make better use of "waste". We also use misting systems to keep animals cooler in hot weather, and make the maximum use of that with fans and 'reusing' the water for plants as much as we can. Drip irrigation also makes efficient use of water, and we're working towards a geothermally heated/cooled, solar/wind barn system for heritage breed rabbits. It's not only more efficient use of resources, but reduces the stress from weather extremes for our rabbits.

      Making the best use of our resources helps all of us, and frankly I like that cardinals make our buffers home and that we have owls that hoot-hooo at night. At the same time it needs to be balanced with protecting our birds – but as much as possible is something we all should have an eye towards. :-)

      March 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  13. SlowMoneyFarm

    We, too, are open to talking to folks about what we do and food choices. :-)

    March 19, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  14. Brian

    Farmer Brian here from Indiana. Would love to talk with anyone about my operation!

    March 19, 2013 at 9:31 am |
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