The Truth Behind Fear Based Marketing and Modern Agricultural Practices

The other day I decided to treat myself to a large bowl of ice cream. I was feeling like it needed a little extra something, so I decided to add some chocolate syrup and whipped cream. When I looked at the can of whipped cream, I had somewhat of an epiphany when I saw a bold label that said, “No Artificial Growth Hormones.”  I stared at the label as an agriculturalist and an advocate for the industry and began to understand why there is such a distrust between consumers and producers.

GMOBy definition, a scare tactic is a strategy intended to manipulate public opinion about a particular issue by arousing fear or alarm. Scare tactics are used all the time. They are used in politics, in advertising, and even by our own mothers. We have all had our mothers wag their finger in our face with a “do this or else” threat. While these tactics may seem relatively harmless, in some situations they can be incredibly dangerous. The reality we are facing is that most consumers today are three to four generations removed from their family farm. This distance creates space for misconceptions and misinterpretations to take hold and prevent consumers from thoroughly understanding the day to day operations of a farm or ranch and how their food is produced. This becomes worrisome when consumers begin to gravitate towards things such as “non- GMO” foods or foods with a “no artificial growth hormone” label because of scare tactics used by marketers and the stigmas that surrounds these things. There even has been questioning as to if the use of antibiotics is safe in animals meant for production.

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, have hit the media by storm. Ultimately, this press has created a sense of distrust between consumers and producers regarding their food, where it comes from, and how it is produced. Consumers have legitimate concerns that demand to be addressed. These concerns include risks of exposure to pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides, which could lead to cancer. They are also unsure of the impact that they are making on the environment. Factually speaking, none of these things are true. GMOs have been presented to the public as an evil in our industry, when in fact, they are vital to many agricultural practices. The reality is that GMOs increase crop yields by 21% and cut pesticide use by 37%. Today, 12% of all cropland is planted with genetically modified crops. Highly regarded groups such as the American Medical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the World Health Organization have all reported that there are no health risks associated with GMOs. Ultimately, agriculturalists have no choice but to utilize GMOs. With a rapidly growing world population, they are needed to increase food production in order to ensure global food security.

Cow facesAntibiotics and growth hormones have also been used to scare consumers as well. Like any living thing, animals get sick from time to time. Antibiotics are used to keep them healthy, and are only used when needed. It would be inhumane to not treat a sick animal. If your child was sick, you would more than likely take them to the doctor to receive antibiotics. The same is true for animals. Producers utilize antibiotics under the supervision and direction of their veterinarian. Once the animal is healthy again, a withdrawal time must be respected before the animal is taken to slaughter. This withdrawal time allows the antibiotic to completely pass through the animal’s system and ensure that no traces of antibiotics are in the meat that is available to consumers.

chickens-jj-001Growth hormones help increase an animal’s growth rate and feed efficiency. Steroid hormone implants are approved by the FDA because of rigorous testing that showed that these hormones have no negative effects on the treated animal or the environment. Another important thing to note is that the use of growth hormones it prohibited in poultry. This is because they are not practical or effective in these animals. So, the next time you see chicken advertised with an anti-growth hormone label, be aware of the fact that there are no poultry on the market that have been treated with such things. The label is just there to deter you from buying other chicken products and to scare you into buying the one with the label that appears “safer.” The FDA claims that food products that were raised with growth hormones are highly effective and safe for humans to consume.

At the end of the day, we as producers and advocates for agriculture must be proactive in educating the public and consumers about these issues and fear based marketing. Many people see labels advocating against many of the tools and practices used by producers today to protect their animals or to help them grow and become a higher quality product. These misconceptions are not going to go away overnight, but they are important to address. If all agriculturalists band together and make education a priority, this issue will slowly begin to resolve itself.

 

Rebel Sjeklocha (2)Rebel Sjeklocha is a senior at Maywood High School and is active in the FFA Chapter. She lives on her family’s cattle farm near Hayes Center. She shows cattle and horses and does a variety of other projects in her 4-H club. She has also served as an advocate for rodeo and agriculture as the 2016 Elwood Rodeo Queen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mandarin Orange Salad

Mandarin Orange DessertIngredients

3 egg whites

1 cup white sugar

½ cup rice cereal, rolled fine, then measured

½ cup chopped pecans

2 cans mandarin oranges

2 8-ounce cartons of whipped topping

3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding

¾ cup coconut

2 tablespoons toasted coconut (optional)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325º.
  2. In a medium grease-free bowl, begin whipping the egg whites. During the beating, gradually add the 1 cup of sugar.  Beat until stiff peaks form.
  3. Fold in the cereal crumbs and chopped nuts.
  4. Spread the mixture in the bottom of a greased 9”x13” baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Drain the oranges and reserve 15 orange sections.
  6. Transfer the whipped topping into a medium-sized bowl. Fold in the dry pudding and coconut.  Add the oranges and gently combine.
  7. Spread this mixture over the baked crust. Sprinkle toasted coconut over the top (optional).  Arrange the orange slices over the top.
  8. Chill for several hours before serving.

 

Yield:  15 servings

Egg-Citing News – Food Prices Down for Easter

2017_Spring_Marketbasket_Graphic_vertLower retail prices for several foods, including eggs, ground chuck, sirloin tip roast, chicken breasts and toasted oat cereal resulted in a significant decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey.

“As expected due to lower farm-gate prices, we have seen continued declines in retail prices for livestock products including eggs, beef, chicken, pork and cheese,” said John Newton, AFBF’s director of market intelligence.
The informal survey showed the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $50.03, down $3.25 or about 6 percent compared to a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 11 decreased, four increased and one remained the same in average price.

Egg prices are down sharply from a year ago and also are down slightly from the third quarter of 2016.

“Egg prices continue to move back toward long-run average prices following the bird flu of 2014/15,” said Newton. “The Agriculture Department is currently monitoring bird flu detections in the Southeast U.S. If detections continue, retail poultry prices could feel an impact due to lower exports or changes in supply,” he said.

“As farm-gate prices for livestock products have declined and remained lower, prices in the retail meat case have become more competitive,” Newton said.

Retail price changes from a year ago:

  • eggs, down 41percent to $1.32 per dozen
  • toasted oat cereal, down 15 percent to $2.83 for a 9-ounce box
  • sirloin tip roast, down 13 percent to $4.95 per pound
  • ground chuck, down 10 percent to $3.92 per pound
  • chicken breast, down 6 percent to $3.17 per pound
  • apples, down 6 percent to $1.55 per pound
  • flour, down 5 percent to $2.36 for a 5-pound bag
  • shredded cheddar cheese, down 4 percent to $4.10 per pound
  • deli ham, down 3 percent to $5.42 per pound
  • bacon, down 3 percent to $4.65 per pound
  • potatoes, down 1 percent to $2.68 for a 5-pound bag
  • bagged salad, up 6 percent to $2.34 per pound
  • white bread, up 2 percent to $1.72 per 20-ounce loaf
  • orange juice, up 1 percent to $3.22 per half-gallon
  • whole milk, up 1 percent to $3.27 per gallon
  • vegetable oil, no change, $2.55 for a 32-ounce bottle

 

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon whole regular milk, $2.10; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.20; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $3.48.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm) 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,” Newton said.

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 dinner cost 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 117 shoppers in 31 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in March.

Humans, Just Like You

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Yesterday evening, I went to visit my grandpa in the nursing home. When he asked “Do you know when I’ll be able to come home?” I thought to myself, “Living at home isn’t something you’ll be able to do anymore.” However, I wasn’t going to tell him that. Instead, I looked at Grandpa with hopeful eyes and said, “Well, I’m not sure! I guess we’ll have to wait and see! What’s so bad with being here though? I think they treat you pretty good!” Grandpa replied with a smile, “They sure do! But there’s nothing like living on the farm with my wife.”

As Grandpa expressed his love for his farm life through those words, I was reminded of his journey. It’s been a long one. Cecil, my Grandpa, has been living his whole life for the Lord, his family, and for farming. In my opinion, the greatest things around! Now, as he grows older, he has to separate from one of those things. The Farm. There comes a time when we grow too old to care for our cattle and too weak to climb up the tractor. I know Grandpa wishes nothing more than to be rolling through the snow in 30 below wind chills to feed his black beauties. That’s the passion of a farmer. The devotion of a farmer is something that goes unnoticed. People disconnected from agriculture are often misinformed and don’t view us as hard working humans. They instead view this industry as a machine. Yes, we are industrialized, but we are much more than that. My grandpa is a prime example of what’s really at the roots of agriculture. Here are 3 things that I think go unnoticed by our consumers.

  1. The passion we have for taking care of the land is absolute. As farmers, we don’t just plow through our land without a care in the world. We have a passion for what we are working with. We take pride and joy in knowing that the land we are working with has been an art project in the making. We work hard to preserve our land over the years so the next generation can inherit it.
  2. The care we have for our consumers is far beyond what others believe. What many people forget is that we, as farmers, eat what we produce as well. We wouldn’t produce anything that we wouldn’t eat ourselves. Consumers are always in the back of our minds when we are working hard to produce quality food.
  3. We are humans, just like you. What people will often forget is that people in agriculture are just as human as everyone else. We have families, we have feelings, and we have jobs that have much more passion behind them than advertised.

kelli-photo-2

If you take anything away from this blog, take away this: when you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal this month, think less about the technical side of things and more about the personal side of things. Look at your hearty meal and see the hard work, dedication, and passion that farmers endured to produce what you’re eating. We aren’t just producing food to produce food. We are caring for our land, caring for our consumers, and being humans, just like you.

 

kelli-mashino-info-bar

Egg, Dairy and Chicken Prices Down, Beef Too

CS16_167 2016 Fall Harvest Marketbasket SurevyLower retail prices for several foods, including eggs, whole milk, cheddar cheese, chicken breast, sirloin tip roast and ground chuck resulted in a 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 $49.70, down $4.40 or 8 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 13 decreased and three increased in average price.

Egg prices dropped significantly due to production recovering well from the 2014 avian influenza, according to John Newton, AFBF director, market intelligence. Milk prices are down substantially from prior years, particularly compared to record-highs in 2014, due to the current global dairy surplus.

“For all commodities in agriculture there is a lot of product on hand and prices are depressed,” Newton explained.

The following items showed retail price decreases from a year ago:

  • eggs, down 51 percent to $1.48 dozen
  • chicken breast, down 16 percent to $2.86 per pound
  • sirloin tip roast, down 11 percent to $5.04 per pound
  • shredded cheddar, down 10 percent to $4.09 per pound
  • whole milk, down 10 percent to $2.84 per gallon
  • ground chuck, down 9 percent to $4.13 per pound
  • toasted oat cereal, down 9 percent to $2.80 for a nine-ounce box
  • vegetable oil, down 9 percent to $2.39 for a 32-ounce bottle
  • flour, down 7 percent to $2.21 per five-pound bag
  • white bread, down 7 percent to $1.58 for a 20-ounce loaf
  • orange juice, down 5 percent to $3.26 per half-gallon
  • bacon, down 3 percent to $4.40 per pound
  • sliced deli ham, down less than 1 percent to $5.45

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

  • bagged salad, up 16 percent to $2.85 per pound
  • apples, up 10 percent to $1.59 per pound
  • potatoes, up 3 percent to $2.73 for a 5-pound bag

“Dry conditions in the Northeast and Northwest the last few years likely contributed to smaller supplies and higher retail prices for apples,” Newton said. In addition, he said salad prices are up due to lower output in the West, particularly in California and Arizona.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $1.86; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.26; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $3.48.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks 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 17 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $49.70 marketbasket would be approximately $8.45.

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 59 shoppers in 26 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in September.

Fudge Puddles

fudge-puddles1

Ingredients
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
 FUDGE FILLING:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chopped peanuts
Directions
1.    In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and sugars until blended. Beat in egg and vanilla.
2.    In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Refrigerate the dough, covered for1 hour or until easy to handle.
3.    Preheat oven to 325°. Shape into 1-inch  balls. Place dough balls in greased mini-muffin cups.
4.    Bake 14-16 minutes or until light brown. Remove from the oven and immediately press a 1/2-in.-deep indentation in center of each cookie with the end of a wooden spoon handle or a mini-tart shaper.
5.    Cool the tarts in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
6.    For the filling, in a microwave, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth.
7.    Whisk in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until smooth.
8.    Fill each cookie with filling.  Sprinkle with peanuts. (If desired, refrigerate remaining filling; serve warm with ice cream.)

Yield: 3-4 dozen

Honey-Garlic Glazed Meatballs

honey-garlic-glazed-meatballs2Ingredients
2 large eggs
¾ cup milk
1 cup dry bread crumbs
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds ground beef
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter
¾ cup ketchup
½ cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions
1.    In a large bowl, combine eggs, and milk.  Add the bread crumbs, onion, and salt.
2.    Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.
3.    Shape into 1-inch balls.  Place the meatballs on a greased rack in a shallow baking pan.  Bake, uncovered, at 400º for 12-15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
4.    Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute garlic in butter until tender, but not brown. Stir in the ketchup, honey, and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
5.    Add meatballs to the sauce.  Carefully stir to evenly coat.  Cook for 5-10 minutes.
6.    Serve as appetizers or as a mealtime meat dish.
Yield:  5-4 dozen, depending on meatball size