Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Random thoughts

We enjoyed a couple of days camping with some very dear friends.

But once again, the headlines can make you dizzy.

U.S. agriculture is the only sector in the U.S. economy with a trade surplus--but we seem to be continually attacked because US farmers are being subsidized. See a great study (here) that concludes that agriculture has a special status in both developed and developing countries with a wide variety of subsidy and protection instruments in place.

Agriculture's efficiency just seems to keep getting better and many of the activists groups want us to go back to the 'old ways'. Why is it, after only a few days our computer needs to be updated, but farmers aren't suppose to update to new technology. Read here that “To produce one billion kilograms of milk in 2007, we need 20 percent less cows, 25 percent less feed, 10 percent less land. In 2007, we produced 40 percent less methane and 56 percent less nitrous oxide compared to 1944. The reason for that is improved efficiency, and these are huge gains.

The Ad Council is teaming up with HSUS to launch a three-year, $80-120 million effort to change the way Americans view shelter pets and boost adoption rates of homeless cats and dogs across the country. Maybe why this campaign is being developed is that too many people have forgotten that pets are an animal that must be cared for daily. Unlike farmers and ranchers who have chosen a field of work that requires a commitment 24/7. Not everyone is designed to be a farmer or rancher--it takes special character and commitment.

Maybe it's that character and commitment that makes our family enjoy the opportunity to camp for a few days. We just can't pack up, lock the house and go. We must arrange for someone to do the chores--twice daily. And it's not too many people we can ask to be responsible for a $60,000+ investment. Plus, the hay can't be be ready.
Actually, for all the planting to be done, hay not ready and someone able/willing to do chores for us all -- happens only rarely (kinda like a blue moon).

So as we celebrate the first official day of summer break, I'm thankful that we are a farm family. That we do have the responsibility of many animals and that the fruits of our labor our enjoyed by many.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Filming at TD Borg Farms

Terry got to explain how our no-till corn planter worked and the benefits of no-till farming to PBS producer Phil Marshall for an upcoming documentary on Sustainability. As my nearly 80 year old father-in-law said "we use to beat the crap out of the soil--before we knew any better". Farming has come a long way and thanks to lots of new technology, we're producing more with a lot less...all to feed a growing population safe, abundant and affordable food.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our neighbors first ride in a semi at 83 years young.

Snapshots at our Farm

So much to Sort through

Everyday since my last posting, I've had ideas for a blog update--but it is nearly impossible to organize my thoughts.
There is the Indirect Land Use Charge (ILUC) that may make corn ethanol and soy biodiesel not meet the RFS2 (renewable fuel standard 2).
An Atlanta TV station does a expose on HSUS and within 24 hours it is removed...and then another 48 hours and it is removed off of YouTube due to copywrite infringements--that is after 15,000 views.
Someone I follow on Twitter believes that all GMO crops must be irrigated!!
Our president is apologizing for US behavior when overseas!!
Our president wants to close Gitmo - without a plan -- and finally he loses, because there is no plan. How many of us can make a business decision and not have a plan.

Some thoughts that I can organize it what has occurred the last two days...WIND, WIND and HEAT. We had high winds (up to 40 MPH gusts) and our topsoil stayed where it belonged. Thankful we are full-time no-till farmers. I drove to town yesterday afternoon for the kids fun day and the town had a haze (it looked like pollution to the untrained eye) and it was dirt. My husband and I visited, do these farmers who till - not see the damage. They are losing their most important piece of the high yield puzzel....soil.

Today I just read that it appears there will be a show-down on the cap & trade legislation. Yesterday, I read that Chairman Harry Ried wants to push a 964 page bill through with little debate. I am glad to hear, common sense is starting to have some momentum in DC. See more at Cap-and-trade Showdown

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and that we take time to honor those who stood for Freedom and paid the greatest cost and those who have been part of our life and gone before us.
May God bless America.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

NE farmers willing to share their experiences via Twitter.

Nebraska farmers sharing their experiences via Twitter Micro-blogging tool provides a glimpse of farm life and food production.

LINCOLN, NE ­ If a farmer uses Twitter to talk about planting the latest hybrid, would you call it ³tweet corn²?

>From corn and soybean farmers to livestock producers, Nebraska farmers
have flocked to Twitter provide insight on those subjects and more by ³tweeting² what they are up to on any given day ­ and helping their ³tweeps² (Twitter followers) and others around the world better understand farming, farm life and food production.

³Posts on Twitter are captured in real time and provide a peek into the life of farmers. People can read what we¹re working on that day, the issues we¹re facing, why we do the things we do and more,² said Debbie Borg, a farmer from Allen. ³If people choose, they can join Twitter and ask us questions.²

Borg, who is known as ³@iamafarmer2² on Twitter, frequently posts information on planting and crop progress, cattle production and related issues. She said Twitter is easy to use with a web browser or other software that will help keep track of people you decide to ³follow.² By following someone, you can see what they have posted and their replies to others who are on Twitter.

³This time of year I¹m posting about planting progress, problems that come up some days and issues that are important to me as a corn farmer,² said Brandon Hunnicutt, a farmer from Giltner. Hunnicutt is ³@cornfedfarmer² on Twitter.

Other Nebraska farmers on Twitter include Ryan Weeks of Juniata
(³@huskerfarm²) and Susan Littlefield (³@firefighter89²) of Surprise. Weeks has been posting planting and crop progress updates and related information, while Littlefield has been describing the impact of weather on her operation and providing updates on lambing.

³Twitter is unique in that it is relatively simple to use and posts are a maximum of 140 characters so people can read them quickly,² Hunnicutt said.
³It¹s a great way for anyone to follow a farmer and see what we¹re up to.²

Borg said Twitter is also a great way to ask farmers questions if someone doesn¹t understand what is happening or why. ³I¹d encourage anyone to have a look and pose a question if they are looking for a better understanding of why farmers do what they do and food production in general. If we don¹t know the answer, we¹ll find someone who can help,² Borg said.

To see what these farmers are up to, just follow these web addresses or search for their username at Twitter.com:

§ Debbie Borg: www.twitter.com/iamafarmer2
§ Brandon Hunnicutt: www.twitter.com/cornfedfarmer
§ Ryan Weeks: www.twitter.com/huskerfarm
§ Susan Littlefield: www.twitter.com/firefighter89

Let's keep the Choices

There is so much information available every morning to review, digest and then decide which to believe. How does one know what is science vs. junk science? I seem to be using the words 'everything in moderation' more often these days. Is one food bad? Yes, because we need variety everyday. Every food can be bad-if that is the only one you consume. But when consumed in moderation, I believe we can all enjoy some of the abundance that the US population can choose from.
That's what I keep coming back to, one of the great things about living in the United States of America-is the freedom of choice. Do I think organics are bad? NO. Do I want to feed my family organics? NO. But I am so glad we have the choice to choose today. And I am concerned if we keep heading down the path we're on today - in not too long of time - those choices will not be available.
So I encourage everyone to be wise and read health claims on marketing materials with a degree of skepticism - enjoy the amazing bounty we have and enjoy all the choices we have.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What is all the talk about Indirect land use?

Have you heard about 'indirect land use' and direct land use? If you haven't - you probably will soon. It is a phrase that was inserted into the 2007 Energy Bill. Th at bill raised the ethanol mandate from corn to 15 billion gallons and established a biodiesel mandate starting at 500 million gallons. One of the concessions to environmental groups in the deal-making was to require new ethanol plants and all biodiesel plants to make ethanol and biodiesel that have lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels.
Clearing of land to plant more crops has been going on for about 10,000 years. The rate of rainforest destruction is not highly correlated with biofuels production – which is very recent - or even grain and oilseed prices. Rainforest destruction is caused by a myriad of factors unique to each country. Please note that cropland in the US is shrinking every year. None-the-less, the language is in the law and EPA has to find a way to deal with it. The law could be complied with if only domestic land use changes were considered.
Congress passed a bill that was supposed to ramp up renewable use but then tied conditions to the production of renewables that make it nearly impossible to actually accomplish the goals.

See more at: http://www.soygrowers.com/newsroom/releases/2009_releases/r050509.htm