Carrying on the Family Tradition at the Denver Stockyards

In the midst of mud from the freshly melted six inches of snow, miles of pens, and the hum of generators, I stand above the ground and take in my surroundings. The catwalk in the Denver stock yards is one of my favorite places in the world.  On it, I am able to look over a place that has historic value, as well as significance to my family.


One of my favorite memories was this past January, seeing my photo on the Wall of Champions in the Yards as National Hereford Queen, since my parents and grandparents are on the wall, too. I am the fourth generation of both sides of my family to exhibit cattle at the National Western Stock Show, and the fifth generation on both sides to raise Hereford cattle.


Photo Credit: Michelle Wolfrey

While these two traditions have uniquely influenced my life, the broader traditions of agriculture run deep in many families, such as my own.  There are technical traditions, such as branding cattle with the brand (and sometimes the same branding irons!) that have been in a family for years.  There are also traditions of agricultural life that are more so associated with values and soft skills.  For example, when I think of integrity, I think of a cowboy, because the image that most people have of a cowboy is a kind person who always helps and does the right thing.  Other traditions of agricultural life include grit, courage, and passion. These are a handful of the reasons that I am proud of the traditions that I keep as part of an agricultural family.


Dairy and Bacon Prices Down, Apples Too

Lower retail prices for several foods, including whole milk, cheddar cheese, bacon and apples resulted in a slight decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $54.14, down $.12 or less than 1 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased and six increased in average price.

Higher milk and pork production this year has contributed to the decrease in prices on some key foods.

“Energy prices, which affect everything in the marketbasket, have been quite a bit lower compared to a year ago. Processing, packaging, transportation and retail operations are all fairly energy-intensive,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. Lower energy prices account for much of the modest decrease in the marketbasket.

CS15_128 Fall Harvest Marketbasket SurveyThe following items showed retail price decreases from a year ago:

  • whole milk, down 17 percent to $3.14 per gallon
  • bacon, down 11 percent to $4.55 per pound
  • apples, down 7 percent $1.45 per pound
  • shredded cheddar, down 5 percent to $4.56 per pound
  • flour, down 4 percent to $2.37 per five-pound bag
  • bagged salad, down 4 percent to $2.46 per pound
  • vegetable oil, down 3 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
  • Russet potatoes, down 3 percent to $2.64 for a five-pound bag
  • white bread, down 1 percent to $1.69 for a 20-ounce loaf
  • chicken breast, down 1 percent to $3.42 per pound

These items showed modest retail price increases compared to a year ago:

  • eggs, up 56 percent to $3.04 per dozen
  • orange juice, up 7 percent to $3.43 per half-gallon
  • ground chuck, up 6 percent to $4.55 per pound
  • toasted oat cereal, up 3 percent to $3.09 for a nine-ounce box
  • sirloin tip roast, up 3 percent to $5.67 per pound
  • sliced deli ham, up 1 percent to $5.47 per pound

“As expected we saw higher egg prices because we lost so much production earlier this year due to the avian influenza situation in Iowa, Minnesota and some other Midwestern states,” Anderson said.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $2.21; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.79; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $4.16.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.


“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $54.14 marketbasket would be $8.66.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal quarterly marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The series includes a Spring Picnic survey, Summer Cookout survey, Fall Harvest survey and Thanksgiving survey.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 69 shoppers in 24 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in September.

A Message From the Nebraska Farm Bureau President: Farm Bureau Members Are Part of Larger Family

steve corn head shotMany times we talk about Farm Bureau being a family. It’s easy to see why having just attended the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation’s 97th Annual Meeting and Convention in Kearney. The convention represents a chance to see old friends, make new ones, gather to enjoy good food and entertainment, and talk about the many issues that affect the way farm and ranch families make a living and to work collectively to find solutions to those issues.

While I reference the convention, I realize we have many members in Farm Bureau who don’t make their day to day living on the farm or ranch. If that description fits you and your family, please know the work that’s done by Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation throughout the year does touch you and your family in many ways.

Over the years I’ve had many people who aren’t involved in agriculture ask me why they should be a Farm Bureau member. There are lots of reasons that quickly come to mind. Access to insurance products through Farm Bureau Financial Services is clearly a benefit. So is the large list of other member benefits that range from discounts on Chevy vehicles, to saving money on a family trip to the Great Wolfe Lodge, and everything in between.

It’s also no secret that when Nebraska farmers and ranchers do well, Nebraska’s economy as a whole does well. That’s been proven time and again. And of course, the very heart of the Federation is that we support the people who raise our food, which is important because we all need to eat.

All those benefits aside, the thing I really try to emphasize is that when you’re a member of Farm Bureau you’re part of something bigger. You’re a part of an organization that wants you to succeed. And it doesn’t matter whether that success comes in the form of growing food or protecting what matters most, your family and your home.

As a Farm Bureau member you are truly part of a larger family. For that I thank you.


Steve Nelson

Value of a Home Project

A couple weekends ago my husband and I undertook what I call our first “renovation.” We painted our kitchen countertops with the Rustoleum Countertop Transformation kit. We had been talking about it all summer and now the time had come. Besides the usual party games, this was the first time we would really work together, as a team in a timely fashion, and hopefully not end up with a disaster.

beforeFrom the time the paint roller first touched the counter tops, we had 20 minutes to get the area covered with a base coat and topped with decorative chips. (This is where the timely teamwork came in.) Communication was key. It was amazing to focus in the job at hand and execute the process. chips

After an overnight drying, we sanded the tops smooth and applied the top coat. It wasn’t perfect. We each had a spot where we smudged the paint or sanded a little too much, but all in all, it looked pretty good. Although the instructions said we could lightly use the surface after 48 hours, paranoid to mess it up further, we waited a week. sealed

Completing the project as a couple gave us a sense of achievement and satisfaction. I think coming from the farm has instilled us with a strong work ethic and really makes me appreciate the work we did in our kitchen, even though it wasn’t perfect. I actually look at the tiny, kitty paw print, forever impressed in my countertop, with fondness. (Hopefully, no one else notices it when they come over!) The whole experience will definitely be a wonderful memory to look back upon.

before and after

The values of family, productivity and wholesomeness are something all Nebraska Farm Bureau members possess, whether they come from a farm or the biggest city. You don’t have to be a farmer to possess these values, you just have to be willing to get your hands dirty and pour on the elbow grease if that means an improved quality of life.


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