It’s that time of year!

It is crazy to believe that this semester is already over, I am happy to announce that I officially have one semester left of college!! At first I thought blogging once a week for the entirety of this semester would be a drag; and just one more bullet point on my crazy to do list but it wasn’t. I really enjoyed taking time to process thoughts and opinions on subjects in agriculture. This semester has been an information overload kind of year, I was continually reading books and learning more and more about agriculture. I found blogging to be helpful for me to summarize thoughts and really formulate my own opinions. I definitely learned how important it is to blog and engage with others on their blogs throughout this year. I realized that it is actually enjoyable to read other peoples blogs and join the discussion on the internet. I think this is a plus side of the internet; that there are actually intelligent and civil conversations happening. I guess one of the only negative things I found while blogging was that it was sometimes hard for me to come up with a topic because my life isn’t exactly full of agriculture experiences but positively it pushed me to find those experiences to write about. In the future if I continue to blog I would love to write about my experiences as a city girl in agriculture. I would like to share those embarrassing moments of never seeing a carcass of an animal before and what that was like for me! It was definitely a bit scary at first but after a while I got use to it and since I am such a meat lover I appreciated the outcome!!! I would also like to share crazy conversations I have had with friends and family because many people in the ag world could learn a lot from those encounters by knowing what us “city folk” actually think!! I definitely could see myself continuing to blog next semester again but maybe not as often, but I think it would be fun to look back on my thoughts when I am older about my perception of agriculture! As always thanks for following, and I hope you enjoy the holidays and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Missouri Right to Farm Amendment

This upcoming year is going to be an exciting time for agriculturist. The Missouri state House and Senate passed the measure during the 2013 legislative session; the Missouri amendment reads:

“That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.”

 Right to Farm laws have been proposed in many states legislatures but only have officially passed in one state, North Dakota. Since Missouri will be voting on the amendment on the 2014 November statewide ballot it’s possible that Missouri would become the second state in the nation to approve a right to farm constitutional amendment. The right to farm amendment would affirm the rights of farmers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices and ensure that the legislature has the only ability to make laws that regulate farming practices in Missouri. Image

Although the language in this amendment is broad in its protections it ensures protection of any activity undertaken by farmers and ranchers to raise crops or animals. Our constitution was set up though for court rulings and state laws to define more specifically upon special cases. Missouri voters will get the chance to consider this amendment on the November 2014 statewide ballot; the amendment will be written on the ballot as follows:

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?”

I think the biggest problem this campaign will have will be the large urban population in Missouri. Even though agriculture is still that state’s most important business sector; there just isn’t as many people connected to agriculture as there were decades ago, so its our job to inform them. It is important that this measure passes to ensure security for Missouri farmers and ranchers. This amendment will protect our state from misguided and damaging laws that could make farming less profitable, limit consumer food choices, and inflate consumer’s grocery expenditures. The Right to Farm amendment has to receive a majority of votes in the statewide election on November 4, 2014. As far as what you can do to help along with this measure is by simply telling your story. It’s important for farmers and ranchers to speak up about their livelihoods and share those stories with the urban population to show them it’s important to you likewise it should be important to them for food security. I am really looking forward to hearing more about what happens in the  upcoming months on Right to Farm in Missouri and around the nation!

Feeling Honored!

At Missouri State University each fall semester the William H. Darr School of Agriculture honors students with awards and scholarships at an annual banquet. This year was very exciting because my parents made the trip from St. Louis all the way to Springfield to support me at the banquet. I knew I was receiving a scholarship but I was unaware of a very special award I receive that night. I was honored with the Anson Elliott Citizen Leadership Award in Agriculture for Ethical Leadership in Public Affairs and Internship Achievements.  I later found out that I was nominated by a teImageacher and had to be approved by the entire faculty; this honestly blew me away. 

The reason I deemed this important enough to blog about isn’t because I want to flaunt my achievements or seek admiration from others but this struck something in my heart. As a nontraditional agriculture student I never imagined myself excelling in these courses or better yet receiving and award in agriculture. I struggled after switching my major because of the amount of information I had to quickly learn just to comprehend material in class. This was very frustrating for me because in all honesty I wasn’t use to being the least informed in a class; I also felt dumb asking questions because I figured they were common sense to the other students, when they most likely were. So I made it my mission to read and reread every book, article, and notes taken in each class because I wanted to know it. I feel so thankful for falling into agriculture because of where I am today, I absolutely love learning about agriculture and it truly feels like where I am supposed to be. This award meant so much to me because agriculture is something I have become very passionate about and I am just so proud to be a part of it. At the end of the day I know that it’s nothing I could have done to receive that award but it was all because of God giving me the passion to pursue a degree in agriculture. Through the doors he has opened for me I have been able to succeed and I will continue to seek to follow that plan for my life. I am really looking forward for graduation obviously because who isn’t ready to graduate but ultimately I am excited to start my career. I honestly have no idea where I will end up but I am open to all possibilities and I am most importantly excited to learn more about agriculture.

Grassfed vs. Cornfed

Just recently I was talking with a girl
from California, we had an interesting conversation. I overheard her talking to
someone about how fresh and healthy the food is in California. She went on and
on about how much better the food is there compared to the Midwest. A part of
me wanted to say something then, but I continued to just listen to her
statements. I couldn’t hold back any longer when I heard her say how all the
food is so much healthier there because they have grass-fed meat and organic
vegetables. I wasn’t exactly surprised at her statements because I genuinely
believe that most Americans think organic and grass-fed animals are healthier
options; but this is just not entirely true! Up until this fall I myself didn’t
know much about the difference between organic and conventional operations; and
now I am really going to look into this debate. I believe organic is simply a
niche market, but I don’t think there is a elevated nutritional value with
organic foods over conventional foods. I understand that in some cases
grass-fed meats are healthier for you because they are typically leaner cuts of
meat since they aren’t finished off with grain. although there are definite
downsides with that. I believe 3 of the most important factors in this debate
are always: price, taste, and nutrition. possibly in that order as well. well
it is known that most consumers make decisions based off of price, and they
usually end up picking the cheaper option and the tastier over nutrition. When
understanding the markets of organic and grass-fed its important to realize
that they are niche markets and people are willing to pay a premium price for
the products. there are differences, but it all has to do with personal
preference. my worry was that overhearing this girl promote that these products
are healthier was problematic; because she was stating opinion as facts. I
explained to her that all cattle are started out on pasture but the difference
is how they are finished. She had no idea, she thought cattle were just fed
corn their entire lives in a stall I am glad I could clarify that it isn’t true
for any cattle productions. I will continue to eat what I believe to be tastier
and that is corn-fed beef, although I understand if that isn’t your preference
because we are all unique in our choices.

Antibiotic Resistance

Last week in my animal welfare class we had the privilege to hear from Dr. Craig Poyne a veterinarian. He really clarified some big issues that are circulating in the agriculture world; those being: hormones, do animals feel pain, and the issue I want to speak more about is antibiotic resistance. In regards to antibiotic resistance he referred to research down by Dr. Hurd froImagem Iowa State University; who really delved into the causes of this resistance. The Centers for Disease Control has an annual report and for 2013 and in their report there wasn’t much information presented against antibiotics in farms. Surprisingly enough the main cause presented in this report of human resistance to antibiotics was due to human’s use of antibiotics. The take away message for me was that humans are the main source of the problem for antibiotic resistance; even though people love to blame farmers for this resistance. I am glad to see the science research proves otherwise. I can actually apply a life situation of my own to this, I feel like many times I have visited the doctor he was very quick to prescribe me medication. His ultimate fix for most problems is medication which probably isn’t the best idea since it creates a resistance the more you use antibiotics. Farmers and veterinarians agree that using antibiotics creates resistance so they are slowly phasing out antibiotic use for growth promotion. Although there has never been a case to occur where a human had a resistance to antibiotics from animal products; this is because of the extensive chain of events that would have to go on. The antibiotic resistant bacteria would need to leave the farm, survive harvesting, surviving retail, and then surviving preparation within the kitchen. The person then would need to get sick, get treated with an antibiotic, and then have treatment failure.  Even if there was bacteria present in the meat, thorough cooking will kill both resistant and susceptible bacteria. This chain of events would be very hard to occur due to the small amount of antibiotics used when you compare a 1,200 pound animal to the average 150 pound human. This is why the use of human antibiotics is more risky than eating a burger.

Should We Believe This?

I have been just looking around the PETA website for my animal welfare class and this video stood out to me for a few reasons. This video was about Why Should You Care about the mice and rats being used in experiments. The actions they are proposing in this video seem to be cruel, as they cut a little mouse and watch is squirm—it’s very unpleasant. To start though I think it is very important to first take into consideration where this video is coming from—is it credible and reliable? Well to start their allegations towards mice and rats are concerning those in the U.S. but isn’t it a little strange that the narrators voice has a British accent? This factor almost completely leads me to believe that they aren’t being truthful about where this video was being filmed. If they are making a case about the U.S.’s treatment of mice and rats in experiments shouldn’t that evidence be found here? This discounts a lot of their material! Well, the video goes on to appeal to our emotions by saying statements like, “ who cares if rats are affectionate or form lifelong relationships”…“who cares if they giggle when they are having fun”…“who cares if like dog and cats are good mothers that will rescue..”..These are just a few of the statements used to compel viewers to consider if they care. I have an issue with their wording because it is comparing rats and mice to humans, by saying that they are able to form lifelong relationship and all of the qualities listed are of humanlike qualities. They do this so when they announce how they are being treated then viewers will empathize towards them like they do to a human. Regarding the treatment of these rats and mice I feel it isn’t ethical to knowingly abuse them, but how are we to believe them in whether or not this is true based on their videos credibility. I believe it is ethical to use such animals to use in experiments if the suffering is minimized as much as possible while experimenting and when there is no other way to test in order to gain human benefits. I think when the experiments cross the line of inflicting pain for no reason, or just for pure enjoyment that is unethical.
I do know that scientists are encouraged to follow guidelines of the 3 R’s: Reduction, Refinement, and Replacement. Which is reduce the amount of animals used by improving techniques and refining the amount of suffering they incur with better living conditions and medical care, and then replacing them by using cell cultures instead of animals. Overall though, the issue of animal experiments is straightforward but we first have to consider if we believe animals have rights, and personally I don’t believe they do. Rights are inherited by our creator not given by the government or other beings. Our rights cannot be taken away from us as humans so comparing us to animals isn’t relevant because they were created completely different with different purposes. Our creator gave us the duty to take care of our animals and flourish from them so I believe it is our job to ensure that they are being handled correctly and humanly but as well, they are here for our benefit through feeding us and improving our livelihood.