Category Archives: Agriculture Literacy

SAGE CENTER TOUR

SAGE of Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Center

SAGE, in much of the western United States the first thought of the word sage is joined with brush. It’s pretty when it’s green, it provides habitat for sage grouse, and multiple other animals. But the sage I am talking about is the SAGE of Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Center in Boardman, Oregon. This I-84 visitors center provides hands on learning, graphics and experiences to visitors about modern agriculture and how western Umatilla and Morrow Counties. This region has grown to be one of the most unique and diverse agricultural regions in the world.

I have been back in eastern Oregon over a year, and have been talking about taking a guided Port of Morrow tour with my friend Anna and making a stop at the SAGE Center for months. Finally, I did it. I wanted to show a college friend who was in town from Texas, and equally as passionate about agriculture what we do in eastern Oregon, and how and what people are doing at the Port of Morrow.

Heather and I loaded up with Anna as she drove us around the port describing the processing facilities, energy resources, wood and ethanol plants, freezing and shipping buildings and grain export terminal that is shared by two local grain marketing cooperatives.

Heather and I taking it all in.

Heather and I taking it all in.

As we are still in the midst of the west coast port crisis, the importance of agricultural product transportation finally slapped me in the face. Have you really ever stopped to think what it really takes to move raw and finished products to the consumers of the world?

View from the Port of Morrow offices looking on to the Columbia River.

View from the Port of Morrow offices looking on to the Columbia River.

The cost for either moving products by truck or train are ridiculous than barge. The Columbia River is a priceless asset to Oregon and Washington agriculture not just for the small trickle of water that is used for irrigation, but for moving products in a timely, cost effective manner. There is an awesome display, that was my favorite part of the SAGE Center tour, unfortunately I didn’t snap a picture of it… Here are the facts though:

Barges move 1 ton of grain 500 miles on a single gallon of fuel. Compare that to semi trucks that moves 1 ton of grain only 60 miles on a single gallon, and you’ll see why grain barges still hold the keys to grain export.

Needless to say, I loved the SAGE Center and our personal tour of the Port. (Thanks Anna!) Here are some of my pictures and video from our adventure in Boardman.

Some farmers, ranchers and food production plants are accessing water from the Columbia River currently. There is current plans to utilize more water from the river to support agricultural production in the region. This will only be done with strict management practices. Currently, the river (the gallon jug for visual reference) is flowing at he average annual flow for the Columbia River at The Dalles, Oregon is approximately 190,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) (1 cfs = 448.8 gallons per minute). And the amount of water that is removed from the river for irrigation or energy purposes is less than one half of a percent, or represented as just over a tablespoon.

Some farmers, ranchers and food production plants are accessing water from the Columbia River currently. There is current plans to utilize more water from the river to support agricultural production in the region. This will only be done with strict management practices. Currently, the river (the gallon jug for visual reference) is flowing at the average annual flow for the Columbia River at The Dalles, Oregon is approximately 190,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) (1 cfs = 448.8 gallons per minute). And the amount of water that is removed from the river for irrigation or energy purposes is less than one half of a percent, or represented as just over a tablespoon.

"Generations of our family have cared for this ranch and its natural resources an in turn the ranch as cared for our families, livestock, wildlife while providing quality beef to feed many people. It is a privilege, a challenge, and at times a burden. But we do take a lot pride in what we do and produce. Ranches are an essential part of a successful economy for our county, state, and country." -- Mark and Tami Rietman, Triangle Ranches, Heppner, Oregon

“Generations of our family have cared for this ranch and its natural resources an in turn the ranch as cared for our families, livestock, wildlife while providing quality beef to feed many people. It is a privilege, a challenge, and at times a burden. But we do take a lot pride in what we do and produce. Ranches are an essential part of a successful economy for our county, state, and country.” — Mark and Tami Rietman, Triangle Ranches, Heppner, Oregon

Want to learn how french fries are really made?

So this beauty of a tog boat was one of the last to sail the pre-dammed Columbia River. Check out the movie Sagebrush Sailors for more history of this brave or slightly crazy river cowboys!

So this beauty of a tug boat was one of the last to sail the pre-dammed Columbia River. Check out the movie Sagebrush Sailors for more history of this brave or slightly crazy river cowboys!

Next time you a driving through Boardman, take an hour or so and check out the SAGE Center, and keep supporting Oregon agriculture!

Western Wildfire Season

Wildfires in the west are part of the normal summer activities.

Hazy days are closed by smokey sunsets. We are taught from a young age to be cautious. Smokey Bear is a part of everyday life as much as a childhood teddy bear. Sights and sounds of US Forest Service, BLM, state and private contractors fire trucks and rigs are normal. The repercussions of these fires devastates the land, animals, lives and the families that make a living from the land.

The impacts, the stories and discussions that one could have about the impact of fire could host conversations for days. Some are positive, and others are negative. Understanding that fire impacts peoples live is one of the hardest for many to grasp. As hard as it was for people to understand why farmers and ranchers could not act quick enough in the fall of 2013 during the Storm Atlas in southwestern region of South Dakota.

A friend who is an ag teacher, ranchers wife and now fire volunteer on the Buzzard Complex had this to say about what we she was witnessing.

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The fire as of Sunday was larger in land area than Multnomah County, which is home the largest population in the state. 

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There are dozens of other large fires burning in the west. National media outlets are picking up the stories, but they are focused on the million dollar homes in a resort town, rather than the stories of those who make a living from the land.

Stay safe out there and enjoy your summer. Thank you to all of the volunteers, contractors and fire fighters working to control this rapidly moving summer of flames.

Picture from a look out point in the Grand Ronde Valley I took this weekend when we were riding. You can see the smoke socking in the valley and moving through the region.

Picture from a look out point in the Grand Ronde Valley I took this weekend when my Mom and I were riding. You can see the smoke socking in the valley and moving through the region.

God Made A Farmer

I could go on forever about this commercial and my love for this specific Paul Harvey moment, but I will spare you.

I love agriculture, every bit of it. Thank you Dodge and National FFA for supporting American Farmers and Ranchers. 

Talking in Consumer Terms

It is no secret; I am working for a PR agency. Our client base is agricultural organizations; my focus is on the animal health world. I took this job due to the fact I could combine my passion for the cattle industry and communications every single day.

Now, let’s get this straight, all of my opinions are my own on this blog. I have gained access and knowledge to many more resources, but as you have noticed I haven’t had the time to blog a lot recently. Work has kept me really busy.

I wanted to share a few resources about talking with consumers, these resources come from studies I had heard about, but I hadn’t the slightest idea of where to start searching for them. Seeing that most Americans (I mean like the other 99 percent of the population) is three to four generations removed from the farm or agricultural production having the ability to connect and articulate with consumers is becoming harder. These two studies showcase terms that consumers like, and can easily relate too.

Below is page from one of the studies that I found highly interesting, and I reference it every single day.

Capturing the Shipper Mindset-Merck Animal Health

The Consumer Mindset-Merck Animal Health

 

I hope this helps when you are talking with consumers, let me know if you have any questions! 

#ChallengeFriday Summer Sound Track

Some of my favorite memories all are tied to songs.

There always seems to some fun, rather stupid song that just kicks me summer off. This year, I claimed, Call Me Maybe to be that song.

This was followed with my parody of the Harvard Baseball team.

How many great plays on words can there be…I mean it is breeding season and all!

From the Montana Stockgrowers Association

 

Sexy and I Know It has just continued to be a song that you can help, but to like it…or just sing along with it. This song has become a summer phenomena especially, for my love of agriculture. The Peterson Farm Bros from Saline, Kansas have become a viral YouTube sensation with “I’m Farming and I Grow It.”

 

 

I had the opportunity to spend most of the week with the Kansas Livestock Association, Young Stockmen’s Academy, which was a great experience! Being on the road much of the week put me a few days behind my typical social media monitoring. The texts, emails, and Facebook posts were pouring in so I knew I had to watch this video at the first chance I got.  I fell in love with this video, it is s catchy, funny, and yet so real.

Real of the summer life on a farm, an ALL AMERICAN FARM.

If you haven’t checked out this video, I encourage you to do so.

#ChallengeFriday

What is your favorite advocacy video on YouTube? Mine is a close tie between the Peterson Brothers and another video that got 30,000 views…and is done by (coughing *Texas A &M). Both are great videos, show casing agriculture…what are your opinions on social media and agriculture?

Wholly Media Week

Wowwzers.

Let me start this post with, this might be a little all over the place, so hold on. 

What a week for American agriculture in the media.

On Monday night I arrived back to the LBK from a fun-filled weekend in Kansas. My mini spring break, I know you are probably thinking, “really Kansas is an inland state with no beaches, what kind of college student are you?” I have a special spot in my heart for Kansas and K-State, so it was GREAT!

I didn’t get a picture of it, but I loved the signs by the Kansas Agri-Women, that state “1 Kansas Farmer Deeds 128 People (and that number had been changed several times).

I stole this photo from another blogger...thanks TilTheCowsCome

Kansas Agri-Women is an organization that is high on my list of doing great things, thank you!

Traveling always leads to a pile of laundry.

Sitting on my bed watching the evening news following my arrival home, and in the process of tossing everything out my suitcase, I was stopped dead in my launch of dirty clothes. The beef, pork, and lamb industries had fallen under attack from the mainstream media.

Now I went through the study, it looked to be reasonably well done. My major issue was the old data that they used, and that this data was not collected with the intentions of proving that red meat consumption was bad for you. The link above directs right to the study so you can check the facts for yourself.

There is two sides to every story that the media reports, and that this study is allowed to be scrutinized. And if it wasn’t not allowed to be, we wouldn’t be researching ANYTHING, EVER.

  • LA Times Article (I love what the LA Times has reported on about agriculture, they play both sides of the story, but this week well it made me a little sick.) This blog calls out the issues within it. She has two other follow up posts that are good reads.
  • Super blog post that discusses both sides of the issue.
  • Check out the Beef Daily blog for a great blog post on this issue.

It also reminds me of something that a one of my research participants said:

“American agriculture has nothing to hide, and I am not sure why we have been operating like secret society.”

Next major media story of the week:

The Lean Finely Trimmed Textured Ground Beef media blunder is also on the minds of many Americans. If you missed my blog post with numerous resources please check it out.

Today’s animal agriculture related story:

And today…I am not totally up on the whole “Luck” TV scandal, but it will continue to make news for the next week or so. PETA and HSUS is involved. What I heard briefly from an interview with the California State Vet was that he wished all of the horse industry was as well documented and cared for as the horses were on this television show. My first thought was well, dont horses die on the track every once in a while? I mean I could be so wrong, but horse racing is an interesting world, I will leave it at that.

And thank you all for your encouraging words about my mission of education and advocacy, it means more me to me than you know! 

Challenge Friday–Share the Resources

The first Friday of March should signify something right? Spring is getting close, flowers will be blooming, crops will be planted (when mother nature allows), and beautiful white face calves will be hitting the ground (or any color, but I am partial).

Either way, I am going to kick of March with asking a question. Not to you the faithful blog reader, but to the Center for Food Integrity and their blog called Best Food Facts.

The Center for Food Integrity started the blog called Best Food Facts with the hopes of creating a running tab of agricultural resources from the leading researchers in the field. Anyone can ask a question, about anything related to food and agriculture.

So here is the Challenge for Friday March 2, 2012.

Go ask a question on the BestFoodFacts.org website, and then share this website with your friends, family, and social media network. This organization wants to become the WebMD of food, so lets help them! Don’t be scared, start asking, the organization and the panel of researchers want to answer your questions––we are all consumers!

Here was my question:

What is the hormone level in beef compared to that of other animal protein products? With that how does an animal that has been implanted with synthetic hormones excrete those hormones? 
 
I honestly dont know the direct answer to this, so I figured what better way to find out than asking an expert. 
 

I hope you will check out this new website that was launched this week by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is called Know Your Farmer, Know your Food Compass.

Again, SHARE these resources!
Consumers want to know about the food they are purchasing so let’s share with them!

Example of asking a question on BestFoodFacts.org