Corn crops - what a difference a year makes
June 6th, 2013
12:45 PM ET
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Editor's Note: Brian Scott farms with his father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. They grow corn, soybeans, popcorn and wheat. He blogs about it at The Farmer's Life.

If I'd met Mother Nature in 2012, I would have to assume at this point in 2013 that she is bipolar. Record high temperatures last March pushed us to planting time nearly a month ahead of an average start date. At the beginning of June 2012, we did not yet know that the rain wouldn't fall for another six weeks, and temperatures would hold steady in the triple digit zone.

I asked my sister to snap a picture of me standing in the corn we planted on April 2. I was surprised at how well the crops looked without more than a few tenths of precipitation since seed met soil, and wanted to show off our earliest planted corn blowing away that old "knee high by Fourth of July" saying.
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Why my hogs are on a healthcare plan
May 3rd, 2013
09:00 AM ET
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Chris Chinn is a family farmer in Missouri, and serves as a Face of Farming & Ranching for U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. She previous wrote about the effects of the drought on her farm. Read more about her on her blog and follow her on Twitter @chrischinn.

On our farm, it’s normal for us to have entire groups of pigs that never have had any antibiotics when they go to market. Yes, you read that correctly. I know this is not what you see on the internet about how farmers use antibiotics. It seems everywhere you look, you can read or hear a very different story. I’m here to tell you this is a myth.

I like to explain our antibiotic use like this: our hogs do not carry health insurance and all medications are expensive. We cannot afford to use antibiotics unless absolutely necessary to improve the quality of health for our animals. And we always use antibiotics under the guidance of our veterinarian. He decides what medication will be used when necessary and what dose will be used.
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Opinion: Blocking 'ag gag' laws may prolong abuse
April 25th, 2013
09:15 PM ET
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Mike Haley is a fifth generation farmer, raising corn and livestock on his Ohio family farm. Follow him on Twitter @FarmerHaley.

Editor's note: So-called "ag gag" bills proposed in states across the country would either require anyone who videotapes, photographs or records incidents of animal cruelty to turn over the evidence to authorities within 24-48 hours or prohibit the making of undercover videos, photographs and sound recordings on farms, depending on local legislation. Proponents say that these laws protect agriculture business. Opponents say they hinder free speech, food safety and animal and worker rights. One such law, HF 589, has already been signed into law in Iowa and makes it illegal for investigative journalists and activists to take jobs at animal facilities for the purpose of recording undercover footage.

Growing up on a farm, one of my biggest responsibilities was tending to the animals in our family’s care. At times livestock can be unpredictable in ways that are both amusing and frustrating, but much like a parent cares for their child, I cannot think of a moment that my top priority was not in the best interest of our animals and our land.

That is not saying that our livestock always respond in a positive manner to our practices. They are not capable of understanding how regular occurrences on the farm like vaccinations are for their benefit. I often wonder how others would respond if videos and pictures were shared out of context while I was caring for our animals.
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Opinion: What the 'ag gag' bills mean to my farm
April 19th, 2013
02:15 PM ET
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Ryan Goodman is a generational rancher from Arkansas with a degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, studying beef cattle management. Goodman is one of many farmers using social media to bridge the gap between farmers and urban customers. Follow his story daily at AgricultureProud.com or on Twitter and Facebook.

Editor's note: So-called "ag gag" bills proposed in states across the country would either require anyone who videotapes, photographs or records incidents of animal cruelty to turn over the evidence to authorities within 24-48 hours or prohibit the making of undercover videos, photographs and sound recordings on farms, depending on local legislation. Proponents say that these laws protect agriculture business. Opponents say they hinder free speech, food safety and animal and worker rights. One such law, HF 589, has already been signed into law in Iowa and makes it illegal for investigative journalists and activists to take jobs at animal facilities for the purpose of recording undercover footage.

There are several critics of bills being passed into law at the state-level across the country. These so-called “ag gag” bills are making news in publications like the New York Times. Op-eds with headlines “Open the Slaughterhouses” bring about much support, as seen in a Times reader's response “Silencing Witnesses to Animal Abuse.“

What does the threat of undercover video mean to me as a cattle producer or as an employee of a concentrated animal feeding operation (often called a CAFO)?
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