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.
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)
- Preheat oven to 325º.
- 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.
- Fold in the cereal crumbs and chopped nuts.
- Spread the mixture in the bottom of a greased 9”x13” baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Drain the oranges and reserve 15 orange sections.
- Transfer the whipped topping into a medium-sized bowl. Fold in the dry pudding and coconut. Add the oranges and gently combine.
- Spread this mixture over the baked crust. Sprinkle toasted coconut over the top (optional). Arrange the orange slices over the top.
- Chill for several hours before serving.
Yield: 15 servings
Lower 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Lower 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.
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
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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
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
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
There are lots of factors that come into play when it comes to what will or won’t get done when it comes to agriculture issues in the 2017 legislative session. And while we’re months away from the start of the session, what happens in the coming weeks and months will shape the political and policy landscape in 2017. Farm Bureau News visited with Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Vice President of Government Relations, Bruce Rieker to get a lay of the land on where things are headed.
Farm Bureau (FB) – Bruce, let’s start by talking about money, because ultimately that shapes what the state budget looks like and plays a major role in terms of what the legislature does and doesn’t do. Generally speaking, it’s easier for senators to provide tax relief if the state is in a good position financially. How are things looking right now?
Bruce Rieker (BR) – If there’s any doubters about whether the health of Nebraska’s economy is tied to the agriculture economy, you don’t have to look any further than the legislative fiscal office projections. When the legislature adjourned in April they estimated state revenues would fall $234 million short of what had been budgeted for the two-year budget cycle beginning July 1, 2017. The projected shortfall was in large part due to the struggles in the agriculture economy.
Currently, state tax receipts are down $71 million below projections for the fiscal year. If things continue to head in this direction it sets the stage for the legislature to build a budget that doesn’t have much room for growth, so basically every dollar the state is short of projections is a dollar that potentially adds to the cost of tax relief or tax restructuring that would help us address the issue of property taxes.
FB – While financial status is important, what gets done legislatively also depends on who is in the Legislature. We’re set for some major changes in both the make-up of the legislature and in leadership positions, correct?
BR – There are 11 state senators who won’t return in January due to term-limits. Among them is the Speaker of the Legislature who leads the overall agenda for the body, as well as the Chairs of the Appropriations, Education, Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and Revenue Committees. That means there will be new leaders in the majority of the Committees that work on issues of interest to Farm Bureau. It’s important whoever takes over those positions has a good feel for our issues because they will have a strong influence in determining what gets done.
Term-limits have definitely changed the body if you look at the actual on-the-job experience of senators in the Legislature. Depending on how elections go, 34 of the 49 state senators could have two years or less of experience in the legislature when we start the 2017 session. We know for sure there will be only seven senators who have been there for six years or more.
FB – What does all that mean for farmer and ranchers?
BR – It means a number of things for those of us in agriculture. For starters, it puts more responsibility on all of us, particularly our members, to engage with senators to help them understand the importance of agriculture to our state and the issues that directly affect them it such as property taxes, livestock issues, water issues, and so on.
It also means things tend to become less predictable in the body, at least in the short-run. Anytime you put a large number of new people together it takes time for them to get to know one another and how they operate. Last session we saw a record high 24 filibusters on the floor. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but a contributing factor is the transition of people in the legislature. It’s the equivalent of a major league baseball team changing half its roster in the off-season and expecting it to look and perform the same as it did the year prior. That just doesn’t happen.
FB – We can’t talk legislative turnover without talking elections. All but one of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s “Friend of Agriculture” candidates advanced to November’s General Election. What do things look like there?
BR – As you mentioned, all but one of our “Friend of Agriculture” candidates advanced to November’s General Election which is great news.
It was an interesting primary, particularly for some of the incumbents seeking re-election. One of those, Nicole Fox from Omaha, did not advance to the General Election. Five other incumbents finished second in the primary election, including Sen. Al Davis of Hyannis and Sen. Jerry Johnson of Wahoo. Both are “Friend of Agriculture” candidates and have been very good for Farm Bureau on key issues, including work on property taxes. In addition, Sen. Johnson serves as the Agriculture Committee Chair and he was instrumental in working on bills to advance livestock growth opportunities in the state last session as well as working with us on the “Right to Farm” issue. Agriculture needs their continued leadership in the legislature so it’s vital our members support those candidates in particular.
FB – Why is it so important that Farm Bureau members support “Friend of Agriculture” candidates?
When we have people who come into the legislature who understand and support agriculture, it increases the chances that we can successfully implement Farm Bureau policy positions. And sometimes, more importantly, make sure we stop measures that would harm our members. That’s why our “Friend of Agriculture” designation for political candidates is important. We have a better chance getting things done for agriculture if we have senators in the body who get why it’s important to support Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.
With that said, there will be plenty of opportunities this summer and fall with county fairs, parades, festivals and such where members can support and help out our “Friend of Agriculture” candidates. I can’t emphasis enough how vitally important it is for our members to support these candidates. It’s a great way for members to build the relationships with their future senator. While Farm Bureau is at the Capitol everyday working with lawmakers, it’s important senators have Farm Bureau members in their district that they know so they can reach out to them for information and insight so they can personalize these issues for people in their district.
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs using a hand mixer. Add the sugar and vanilla; mix well.
2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Beat until just combined.
4. In a small saucepan (or microwave), heat the milk and butter until very hot but not boiling.
5. Slowly pour the milk into the cake batter and stir until thoroughly combined (batter should be smooth, yet thin).
6. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 9”x13” cake pan. Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes.
7. Frost as desired.
Yield: 12 servings
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 ½ cups shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
1. Over a medium-high heat in a medium saucepan, sauté onions and minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter until onions are translucent (about 2 minutes).
2. Add rice, stirring continuously until slightly toasted.
3. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Cover, and turn down heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
4. Stir in shredded zucchini, cheeses, and salt. Stir until well combined and cheeses are melted.
Yield: 4-6 servings