|Home||News||Livestock||Crops||Markets||Hay, Range & Pasture||Home & Family||Classifieds||Resources||This Week's Journal|
Letters to the editor
Turning lemons into lemonade
It takes a special breed of person to farm thanks to the many challenges that Mother Nature, the markets and public opinion throw our way. It’s how we navigate those bumps in the road that shows what farmers are made of. It’s how we adapt to change.
I am the fifth generation of my family to farm our land. We started out as a dairy. But, right around the time that I returned home from college to take over the family farm, urban sprawl began taking over. Our farm, which had been in our family since 1938, was on the verge of being taken for development.
I knew that one of my first decisions as entrepreneur of our farm would be my toughest. I was being forced to either hang it up or to change. I grew up knowing there was no other career for me. I studied business so I could return home and be the best farmer I could be.
So, when it came time for me to make a tough decision about selling the farm, the businessman in me—the farmer in me—instead took it as an opportunity to go in a new direction. My wife and I turned our dairy farm into an educational opportunity for suburban and city kids to learn what farming is all about. Through school tours and agritourism, we are putting a face on farming. As the old clichÃ© goes, we took lemons and made lemonade.
Our Southern Belle Farm, a 320-acre agritourism destination, offers u-pick strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, a fall corn maze and educational school tours year-round. Most importantly, it offers kids hands-on experiences with agriculture. I wholeheartedly believe that farmers need to put a face on farming and show people what we do, how we do what we do, and also why we do certain things.
My advice to both young and older farmers is that instead of being afraid of change, we should embrace it. In my case, it definitely led to lemonade.
—Jake Carter, Georgia farmer and chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee
Let's support COOL before it's too late
Everywhere you read, analysts and experts are saying “consumers want to know where their beef comes from.” There is nothing more basic than giving consumers information about the origin of their beef (with Country of Origin Labeling, or COOL). Over $2 billion has been spent on the government-mandated beef checkoff to promote and educate the public about beef, and COOL is a fundamental tool in that promoting and educating.
Opponents to COOL claim it’s too expensive but most of the costs are already in place and have been for some time (after 9/11, new Homeland Security regulations mandated origin traceability for security reasons). National Cattlemen’s Beef Association claims COOL will cost nearly $2.8 billion, when actual costs will be more like $80 million per year. With U.S. beef production somewhere around 25 billion pounds per annum, the cost per pound will be in tenths of a penny.
U. S. cattle producers are part of a global marketplace, and COOL simply ensures that high-quality, domestic U.S. beef produced here is leveraged fully in the marketplace. Marketing 101 teaches to differentiate your product for business success and COOL does just that for U.S. cattle producers. Do U.S. consumers really want to buy imported beef from Brazil (a country which has a problem with Foot and Mouth Disease) without knowing? Analysts and poll data says not, but without COOL, that’s exactly what will happen. Without COOL, beef from a FMD country such as Brazil can be purchased by importers at deep price discounts, brought into the U.S., and sold seamlessly (at a premium price) as U.S. beef.
Cattlemen, it’s time your voice was heard, not simply ignored or worse yet co-opted by others trying to profit from your hard work and determination. Contact your congressman and senators now! Urge them to support keeping COOL the law of the land. Let’s keep the tremendous reputation of U.S. beef worldwide that was developed by your fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers intact and at the same time you’ll help secure a place in the future of the U.S. cattle industry for future generations.
—Eric F. Nelson, Moville, Iowa
Copyright 1995-2014. High Plains Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Any republishing of these pages, including electronic reproduction of the editorial archives or classified advertising, is strictly prohibited. If you have questions or comments you can reach us at High Plains Journal 1500 E. Wyatt Earp Blvd., P.O. Box 760, Dodge City, KS 67801 or call 1-800-452-7171. Email: email@example.com