Stand up! Speak out! Share Ag!

Katharine _ 1My passion for agriculture started when I was a very young. I was barely able to walk (still in diapers) but I would be riding in the tractor with my dad to check cows. By the time I was seven or eight, I knew the numbers and family history behind almost every single cow in our herd. From the age of 9 to 18, I showed cattle, chickens and sheep. I grew up in an area that was very agriculture oriented.  My community promoted agriculture, and everybody understood what I was doing with my livestock and what I was talking about when I said that I was going to move cows, work calves, or haul corn.

Fast forward to high school, when I was showing chickens and sheep at the state fair. The state fair brings in many families from a different background other than agriculture. I was asked so many questions about my animals and what I was doing to prepare them for the show. Being a country kid, I was amazed at how many kids and parents that had never touched a chicken or a sheep. I was so glad that I could share my life style with others. This is the moment that I started to realize how blessed I am to have grown up on a farm and to know where my food comes from. However, I also realized that there is a large population of people who don’t understand what happens to their food before it ends up on their plate.

Katharine_2Now that I’m in college, I can see the great importance of sharing my story of what happens during my daily life on a farm. As farmers and ranchers, we know what happens to the food on our plates, because we know how much care, time, and effort goes into our own crops and livestock. However, many of our consumers don’t know that, and they want to know the story behind the corn and beef on their plate. Let’s tell them that we got up at three in the morning to do calving checks, trudged through the mud, herded a cow/calf pair into the barn because the temperatures were below zero, and the cried because after staying up all night to tube feed a calf, it still didn’t make it. Tell them about planting in the mud, irrigating in the baking sun, and harvesting all through the night just to beat a snowstorm. Simply sharing a picture of what you do daily or telling a story about your day can go a long way. Something so simple can change a person’s perspective of the rural lifestyle. Making a connection and finding a common ground is so important in order to bring together producers and consumers.

 

Katharine Schudel attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and studies Animal Science. She grew up on a family farm south of North Loup where she raised crops and cattle. Katharine loves sharing the story of the American farmer and rancher to make a connection with people about how agriculture impacts their daily lives.

Spring Time on a Western Nebraska Cattle Ranch

It is finally spring time in Nebraska!  After a crazy winter, farmers and ranchers are ready to begin their spring work.  Our cattle have all been at our house since early February as we calved.  For ranchers around the state, it is time to get the cattle out to summer pasture.  Before cattle are ready to go to grass, there are a few things that must happen.  One major thing that happens on most ranches in the spring is branding.

 

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These cows made it just a few steps outside the gate and found a mouthful of green grass!

 

Growing up, branding has always been my favorite time of year.  It usually meant that I got to skip school for a day or two to come home and help out! Brandings are often great social events!  Many neighboring ranchers come together to help each other get the job done.  At a branding there are many things happening.  Calves are getting branded as a way for ranchers to identify their cattle should they accidentally get into a neighboring pasture.  Calves are also getting a shots.  These shots are given to prevent the calves from getting sick on summer pasture.  At the same time, the cows are often given shots too.  The cows are given shots to help them breed over the summer with a calf for next year.  Branding day is a fun yet tiring day.  Getting to work with the neighbors and joke around all day is great but by the end of the day everyone is ready for some supper and a place to sit down for a while.

Once all of the calves have been branded and given their shots and the cows have had their shots, it is time to take everyone to grass.  On our family ranch, we have to haul the cattle 20 miles from home to summer pasture.  The day we haul is another crazy day.  Many of our neighbors bring their pickups and trailers and we load up all the cattle that we can fit on and hit the road.  At times we have as many as 11 pickups and trailers going in our convoy.  It is a really cool thing to go down the road with all of us in a line, or maybe it is just us that think it is cool!

 

Allie cattle trailers

The whole crew hauling cows!

Once we get to the pasture, we unload all of the cattle into a pen and let all the mammas find their babies and then we open the gates up and they have free range to the pasture.  In the fall, the cows will go back to corn stalks for the fall and part of the winter and then it’s back home to start the cycle all over again.

 

 

Allie PortenierAllie Portenier is a senior at Eustis-Farnam High School in western Nebraska. She plans on attending college to major in Ag Business with the intent of becoming a livestock auctioneer and raising cattle. She is involved in many activities including 4-H and FFA.

10 Lessons I Learned on a Family Farm

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1. Appreciation:
In high school, everyone one says that they are ready to leave this town; however, I can’t wait to come back to my family farm. I want to give back to my family farm. It grew me so much as a person. I learned respect, responsibility, and hard work at a young age. Once you leave the farm you see how different the world is, but you will always have your work ethic to fall back on.

2. Driving:
I was driving anything and everything that my dad would let me drive on the farm. Every experience prepared me for the next. I was always up for the challenge. Looking back, I realized how much confidence I gained through learning to drive and operate machinery.

3. Exercise is Important:
Who needs summer weights when you have 5-gallon buckets? Don’t even get me started on moving livestock. Herding sheep sure feels like guarding a basketball opponent. Those two things alone will get you ready for basketball season more that any weight room.

4. Family is Everything:
Living on a family farm, my family and I spend A LOT of time together. My younger brother and I spend almost every day together doing chores or doing other jobs on the farm. We spend so much time together that we just know each other so well. There are times that we argue while working livestock or when the combine breaks down for the third time in one day, but we know it was from the heat of the moment, all is forgiven, and you keep moving ahead together. Family is the heart of our farm.

5. Nothing Goes According to Plan:
There are days that nothing will go as planned. The ability to be flexible and shift your plans is mandatory. You may make two or three trips to the John Deere dealership because you have broken down several times in one day. You just power through and keep moving forward.

6. There is a Lesson in Everything:
I have learned so many lessons over the years. The Fall of 2018 was a lesson in patience. Harvest was continually delayed because of rain and snow and then more snow. We waited patiently and then helped where we were needed when it was time to harvest again.

Christina Blender7. Animals Become Your Best Friends:
There are many animals that run around on the farm. Whether it is livestock, a dog, or cat, you grow to love all of them. Growing up my family had a farm dog, Shelby. She joined our family when I was a baby, so we grew up together. I will never forget her because we spent many hours together doing everything from shearing sheep to sweeping the shop floors. I may have spent a lot of time by myself on the farm, but I was never truly alone because I always had Shelby there with me.

8. The Cycle of Life:
From a young age, I learned about life and death. It became evident just how precious life is. I have carried cold lambs inside the house and helped them warm up. It is one of the most amazing experiences to watch a newborn lamb get on its feet again. Last year, I had a twin set of Babydoll Southdown rams. They were born on a cold night unexpectedly. When I went to do the night check I found the two tiny ram lambs. They were cold and separated. I put them inside my coat and carried them to the house. My parents and I spent many hours that night nursing them back to health even though there were moments we thought we were going to lose them. We kept the faith, because if you see a glimmer of hope, you can’t give up on them.

9. Passion:
I love my jobs on the farm and I truly believe that I have the best one in the world. I get to see new life come into this world, while taking on the challenge to continue feeding the world. The best part of farming are the days it doesn’t feel like work. I have been truly blessed to grow up on a family farm.

10. Work Ethic:
Rain, snow or shine you have to be ready to work. Sunup to sundown is a way of life. My dad has always worked long days. When we were young my dad would leave early and get home late, my mom would take us to the field to eat lunch with him. Sometimes this was the only time we saw him. My parents gave us responsibility early in life. As we aged, they added more chores and activities that we could manage. There are countless hours in the cab of a tractor or sitting in the lambing barn watching a laboring ewe. These lessons have served me well.

Eliza Hunzeker

 

Eliza Hunzeker is a senior at Pawnee City High School. After graduation, she plans on attending Northwest Missouri State University and majoring in Agronomy. Eliza stays busy working on the family farm and participating in 4-H, FFA, and school activities.

Will Japan Continue to Buy U.S. Beef?

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

The beef sector has been largely unphased by the ongoing U.S. trade disputes with other countries. Fortunately, trade quarrels with the largest U.S. beef customers, South Korea and Japan, have been avoided. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), through October of last year, the value of overall U.S. beef exports was up 19 percent compared to the previous year. Exports to Japan were up 15 percent and those to South Korea were up 50 percent. Japan was the largest U.S. customer, purchasing nearly $1.5 billion in U.S. beef. For Nebraska, the nation’s largest beef exporter, these exports have helped offset the less than stellar export performance of other agricultural commodities.

steakNebraska beef producers need exports to grow again in 2019 to help offset the expected growth in beef production. However, the launch of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) at the beginning of the year could be a headwind for increased export growth. The CPTPP is comprised of 11 countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Japan. It was resurrected from the ashes of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) of which the U.S. was a part until President Trump withdrew in January 2017. Under the CPTPP, Japan will lower tariffs on beef imports from CPTPP members over a 15-year period. Japanese beef purchases from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Mexico will have reduced tariff rates and purchases of U.S. beef will continue to face higher tariffs, placing U.S. exports at a competitive disadvantage.

Australian beef is the primary competitor to U.S. beef in Japan. A report by the University of Tennessee showed the shifts in beef suppliers to Japan could be significant under the CPTPP. According to the report, “For chilled beef, lower tariffs appear to benefit Australian beef, at the expense of U.S. beef. The projection range suggests that Australian beef could increase by as much as $139 million, while U.S. beef could decrease by as much as $143 million.” Analysis by the USMEF echoes the University of Tennessee findings, “. . . the U.S. share of Japan’s growing beef imports is expected to decline, from 43 percent to 36 percent by 2023, and to 30 percent by 2028. Due to widening tariff disadvantages and lost opportunities, U.S. beef annual export losses by 2023 are estimated at $550 million, and will exceed $1.2 billion by 2028. On a per-head basis, losses are estimated at $20.40 by 2023 and $43.75 by 2028.”

The Trump Administration is in the process of negotiating a free trade agreement with Japan. The specter of the potential losses in beef exports has many in U.S. agriculture encouraging the Administration to see these negotiations to a successful end sooner rather than later. A trade agreement with CPTTP-like tariff reductions on U.S. beef would level the playing field and help maintain U.S. market share in Japan’s large and growing market. Nebraska, more than any other state, needs to see these negotiations be successful.

 

Jay RempeJay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and a firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide an in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

8 Tips to Host a Farm/Ranch Field Trip

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Inviting students to your farm or ranch gives a firsthand look at what farm life is like. Follow these tips from Ag Pen Pal volunteers on how to host a successful field trip at your farm or ranch! Continue reading

Why Do I Show Cattle?

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I have been a part of the show industry for about ten years now and I still get asked the simple question “Why do you show cattle?”. As I grew older and became more knowledgeable about the show industry, this was one of the best questions anyone could ask me. Being able to talk about something I love and learned so much from is beyond the best. I have grown up on our family farm and cow/calf operation all my life and there is nothing I am more proud to be a part of. Showing allowed me to fall in love with the cattle industry and gave me the chance to be successful in something that isn’t easy and takes a lot of hard work, but why do I show?

Showing cattle has taught me how to accept failure and move on from it. There is no worse feeling than receiving no achievement for all the hard work I put into these cattle but losing has taught me to push myself to be better. Trust me, any show kid knows how much work we put into our livestock. Waking up right when the summer sun is coming up to beat the heat to rinse, exercise, blow out, and feed these spoiled animals is not easy. Every single day we are pushing ourselves for the hope to have our cattle to their best potential at the end of the year.

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Showing has brought my family closer together. I would not be where I am today without the help of my family. The miles on the road, fast food suppers, and all the laughs is something I will always cherish. My little brother, Nicholas, just started showing a couple years ago and he is already doing better than me. I am so excited to teach him and watch where he goes with the industry I fell in love with so long ago. My Dad has pushed me to be where I am today and was the one who started this incredible journey for me. He has taught me so much and I will never be able to thank him enough.  My mom has never missed a show once and the endless support I receive from her and the rest of my family is something I will always be grateful for.

I have met so many great friends and families from the showing industry that I know I will always have lasting relationships with. I know I can always count on them for a helping hand to fit a leg, carry tack, move cattle to the wash rack, or even just a nice conversation. I have to thank the show industry for all the amazing people I have met and continue to meet.

Not only has showing helped me develop better personal qualities to be a more well-rounded, successful person, but it also introduced me to something I will continue to hold on to. Through all the hard work each and every day I put into my show cattle, I know I will always continue to do my best.

So, why do I show? It is my life, my passion, and my happiness.

 

Emily GroetekeEmily Groeteke is a junior at Boone Central High School. After graduation, she plans on attending the University of Nebraska Lincoln and plans on majoring in Agribusiness and a minor in Animal Science. She is very active in many activities, especially 4-H and FFA. Agriculture is the main focus in her life, and will continue a future in this industry.

 

 

Downsizing Your Stuff Can Be Good Therapy Entering the New Year

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For most of us, losing weight, eating healthier and making more time for ourselves and family, is part of the promise we make as we start off the new year. If you want to make good quality family time, take on the challenge of decluttering your home. It can be good therapy. Not only will sorting through items and moving things around give you a physical workout, it will give you a chance to do some mental decluttering too. Continue reading