Category Archives: Regulations

Meet the Farmers

You know it is really frustrating to me when on a night that I have to get up every two hours to take care of an animal who needs some extra attention right now I happen to get online and through a Meet the Farmers promotion that is going on now with McDonald’s I start reading all of these offensive clips about farmers and agriculture.

To top it off, one of the video responses is an “extended version” of the original piece put together by McDonald’s about the beef rancher/supplier that contains some graphic images of a calf slaughter, the most disgusting feedlot I have ever seen and then a drop-kill when the animal just has it’s throat slit and drops thrashing to the floor.

Maybe I just don’t have the extra tolerance at FOUR AM  to keep my mouth shut (meaning my fingers since I have to type this out) anymore.

Yes, there are some farms and slaughter-houses that do use those practices out there in the real world…But, contrary to the believes of the folks who sit in their homes watching the horrific images on the nightly news with the special graphics at the beginning that says “these images are too violent” to be viewed on open air ways that isn’t what happens in the majority of circumstances.

Animals are raised, depending upon what type of animal, in control environments for the animals health or they are released into a pasture. The animals are feed a diet that is designed for the health and nutritional requirements by an animal nutritionist. They get regular check ups from farm hands and yes, sometimes a vet when they are sick or injured.  Once the animal is grown it goes to a butcher or slaughter-house. Many of the large slaughter houses in the US, have changed drastically over the images that we think are involved.

This woman by the name of Temple Grandin has been changing animal handling procedures for many years now. She has designed chutes for animals to move through that the animal is comfortable with. She has designed slaughter-house floors that keep the animals calm and relaxed. She has generated practices all across this country and maybe even world-wide that are renowned for the benefit to the animal. Oh and if you didn’t know…they actually made a movie about her life and you should really watch it. And imagine, all of this coming from a woman with Autism.

Seems to me that if someone like her can take a look at what is a best practice for the health and well-being of an animal, then why shouldn’t the rest of us within the ag industry? And beyond that, why shouldn’t consumers know and ASK how their food is raised and processed?

Everyone out there needs to stop assuming that what you see on the nightly news is real world agriculture! It isn’t. Coming from my perspective, farming is a way of life. My animals, whether it is a 4 pound chicken or a 1200 pound cow, is part of my family. I raise them much like I do the dogs that sleep at the end of my bed. And believe me, if I could figure out how to make room for a calf or two to do the same, I WOULD!

Again, I would like to remind you all that not all farmers are like that. I agree that some of them out there shouldn’t be allowed to raise animals and should be locked down and treated the same way. It’s actually very similar to what goes on in the Pet World. How would you like it if someone came to you and said that all dog or cat owners treated their animals inhumanly? No cat or dog….how about those of you who have mice, rats, lizards or birds? You would get upset and start dancing around, wagging your finger at the person giving them every justification on why you have whatever animal it is that you have. That’s a natural reaction.

When farmers are confronted with this backlash that society seems to give them for being a rancher, dairyman/woman, poultry or swine grower they don’t point fingers and wag. They just buckle down and try to overcome all the barriers. Society says, treat your animals better and what happens? A whole team of researchers, scientists, nutrients, veterinarians, and farmers collaborate together to improve housing, feeding, etc to improve the environment of the animal. Which, in my opinion, is an ever evolving sector as new materials or processes come into the market (for example new fans for air flow, new ways of utilizing manures to generate electricity and reduce that “farm smell”).

Farmers and Ranchers across this country are working hard to please our animals and society.


*Please note the animal sounds in the holding pens. Stressed cattle will vocalize and in this video, there is maybe one vocalization.


It just seems that our voices are never heard through the drowning whine of society. If you have a problem with a commercial system of the meat or dairy market, then buy from a local farmer and talk to them about their practices. Ask them questions. Ask them if you can visit their farm to see how they treat their animals. Ask them where they send the animals for butcher. Basically, what I am asking you to do is: get to know your food. I don’t care if it’s fruits or vegetables, beef or chicken, syrups or jams, milk or cheese.

If you don’t know where your products in your fridge come from…then it really is time that you start asking some questions on where it does come from. Maybe even watch this show called “The Big Waste”:

To those of you who read this that are NOT farmers who have questions about our practices or what products are supplied here on our farm…give us a shout. We will be more than happy to take the time to answer any questions you may have.

Advertisements

Milk Pricing

I have been sitting in front of the computer screen all morning trying to determine just how the Federal Order for minimum milk Pricing for Multiple Component Pricing is figured.

I am going blind and I honestly think I should have paid closer attention in Math classes back in my high school years! It’s full of riddles and complex algorithms that are complicated to understand the language…but I am trying to work my way through them.

I really want to understand just how premium payments are derived, where they are based from and how I can utilize that knowledge on our farm. This is going to be a work in progress I think but something that in the long run will be extremely beneficial.

I should leave this heavy mathematical thinking to Mr. Farmer, since he just reads the information and does the math in his head like some human fricking calculator. You have no idea how annoying that is. Especially when he can’t explain in a normal, teacher like language that I can understand how he came up with the answer.

So, here I sit in front of the computer screen. Reading and rereading jargon like this:

Protein price.

The protein price per pound, rounded to the
nearest one-hundredth cent, shall be computed as follows:
(1) Compute a weighted average of the amounts described in
paragraphs (n)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section:
(i) The U.S. average NASS survey price for 40-lb. block cheese
reported by the Department for the month; and
(ii) The U.S. average NASS survey price for 500-pound barrel
cheddar cheese (38 percent moisture) reported by the Department for
the month plus 3 cents;
(2) Subtract 20.03 cents from the price computed pursuant to
paragraph (n)(1) of this section and multiply the result by 1.383;
(3) Add to the amount computed pursuant to paragraph (n)(2) of
this section an amount computed as follows:
(i) Subtract 20.03 cents from the price computed pursuant to
paragraph (n)(1) of this section and multiply the result by 1.572;
and
(ii) Subtract the butterfat price computed pursuant to
paragraph (l) of this section and multiplied by 0.9 from the amount
computed pursuant to paragraph (n)(3)(i) of this section; and
(iii) Multiply the amount computed pursuant to paragraph
(n)(3)(ii) of this section by 1.17.

Um, alrighty then…in normal english please! Does anyone have some type of translator for math equations? I could really use one right now!

Well, I guess there is nothing better to do than plow snow and learn how to do high school math! Hope you are all having a better day than I am!

Preparing to say “So Long…”

It is difficult sometimes to say goodbye.

Watching local businesses that have been part of the landscape here in the area for nearly 100 years shut up part of the product line is heart breaking.

Crowley Foods, which has been in my county since 1915, will be closing down the line that produces such things as yogurts, sour cream and bottled milk. The phone call came yesterday morning. 54 people will lose their jobs and we have no idea yet how many farms this has the potential to impact.

Mr. Farmer has known people who had started their first jobs at Crowley within the Binghamton, NY plant. A few of these folks actually enjoyed working their so much, the worked their whole careers there…several of them retiring just within the past five years.

We see this kind of thing in NY all the time. Third generation restaraunts close their doors. Florist shops that have been in operation for 60 and 80 years. I know, times change. But….I don’t think that is the real underlying issue with what is happening around here.

Taxes are high. Some of the highest in the nation. Land taxes are insane. We have so many subdivisions of multiple government organizations that one always expects the other to complete the task at hand.

Then on top of all that….we got slammed with a major flood from Hurricane Lee. Most of the political officials are working hard to keep “big business” here because it hurts 1,000’s of people, not 54. I don’t know…I guess I am just depressed that one of the agriculture based business within my region isn’t getting the same attention that a corporation like BAE Systems (which operated in an Air Force owned building) who just received an incentive package to stay within the air. Our politicans are also pushing to keep their old building, which is now condemned because of the flood, open for future use.

It is so very frustrating and cuts me to the core. I have always been proud to say that Crowley is right here within my region. Just as I am proud to say that we also have Frito-Lay here as well. But, for some reason when it comes down to dairy products….It kills me to see a company like Crowley go into oblivion. It’s so depressing!

 

On another note, I sat through meetings on both Monday and Tuesday to discuss Bioenergy (specifically biomass) and Direct Marketing for Agriculture.

I am hoping that by the end of this week, I will have my slide show completed to demonstrate the different sectors that Bioenergy, or as I like to call it “Agricultural Biomass”, completed. I will share this useful tool to help those you do not understand the full spectrum of bioenergy potentials. I am always open to conversations or questions, so don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you would like to contact me.

Direct Marketing for Agriculture is a highly beneficial and profitable way to market farm products. There are small keys to make sure you know before you get started though. I will construct a complete blog article on what you should be thinking about BEFORE you get started. Hopefully, I can have that up no later than Wednesday of next week.

One final note for today….”Everything is subject to change. How prepared are you to adjust and adapt to that change?”

Ag Stats

Yesterday provided me with two seperate opportunities to discuss agriculture within my region. The first meeting I attended yesterday morning was a Tioga SET (Sustainable Economies Together) that is focusing on increasing bioenergy awareness and development within the Southern Tier Region of NY. During the meeting, our major focus for this month was demographic, statistical trends and how trends could change through the development of bioenergy within the region.
One attendee made a comment that within the Ag Statistics, he felt that the farms with an annual sale of less than $10,000 should be dropped off the list because they are considered hobby farmers. I will admit, this did upset me greatly. I haven’t delved into my mind about the reasoning on exactly why it bothers me so much…so I am going to discuss it here.
I am one of those farmers that takes in less than 10K/year. Now, I don’t work any less on each individual animal than a farm that makes 500k/year. If anything I think I am more concerned about animal well-being, how my crops grow, how clean my barns are…the list goes on and on. What other reasons concern me about this? According to the NY State overall Ag Stats, this makes up a fair percentage of our farms. Then the rebuttle I recieved when asking what the real issue was over not including those farms, I recieved the following answer: Because they are not really contributing to the over food supply chain within the state. If those farms weren’t factored for Ag Stats, they wouldn’t recieve tax deductions and would have to pay tax on all the goods they buy.
Now, that develops into a whole different issue for me. As a land owner that pays 26% or more of the land value for taxes every year (grand total is 140/WEEK), I would atleast like to be able make enough “farm sales” to be able to pay for my taxes every year. I don’t consider myself a hobby farmer. I consider our farm part time employment! Two hours every morning and night equals four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year….more hours and devotion than someone flipping burgers at McD’s. Now considerating just those hours contributed, wouldn’t I still be qualified as a worker in agriculture?
Now, taking a step back and accessing this from the bioenergy sector…I personally think that these farms are the ones that could contribute the most. I think they are much more capabile of diversity too. Flexibility in agriculture is growing in importance due to the swinging shifts in Ag Markets. It makes each farm less dependant upon just the price of corn or hay.

Now let’s consider this…in Chemung County says there are 116 farms with less than $1000/year in annual sales. My mind tells me that these are probably farms that produce seasonal products for local farmers markets or they are selling something like eggs directly off the farm.

Extending that out to my afternoon, I attended the Local Food, Fiber and Fuel Event at Cornell University’s Mann Library. There were vendors that produced hydroponic fruits turned into jellies and jams, a weaver that made socks/hats/sweaters/gloves from alpaca fur, local vegetable producers and even local organizations that assist agriculture. Our both was set up to discuss how Ag and biomass can work together for alternative energy. While there, I started circulating through the tables and held conversations with each table about Ag Marketing and NY Agriculture. Not one person could tell me when they last time they saw any type of advertisments supporting NY Ag. This is one of my major concerns and issues. There is no development to educate the public about what products are produced throughout the whole state. Yes, the wine manufacturers have done a fair job of promoting their products…but yet, there are still limited advertisments or write ups across the state.
No one seems to know where advertising money for NY Ag comes from or where it could even be established. My growing concern is that one of the major players that should be promoting NY Ag states, “Even if every available acres was planted, it could still only supply 30% of the food requirements for NY.” I ask you to consider this, NY Ag also supports the major city zone around NYC. I am not saying they aren’t part of the states population but do they really factor in under the Local food supply chain for the Northern District of NY, which is about 8 hours away? Or even my local food market when NYC is a four hour drive? I am going to start breaking the state down by region and the amount of food “stuff” that could be supplied within those regions. More will follow up on this topic over the next couple of days!

Feel free to comment or add your input, it is extremely valuable knowledge as I move forward in developing some type of consideration advertising for AG in any area.

Inspiration Number Fourteen-Combinations

Learning new ways to incorporate agriculture and farming with other things is my next inspiration. Since I have worked for the past two years developing and working on a new business format that will use agriculture products that would typically go to waste on the farm, I have learned that I really enjoy working on this type of project.
There aren’t photos today, but referrals to our business website:

http://www.broomebiomass.com
There is also a tab located at the top of this page to learn more about the project and what we have worked so hard to develop!
If anyone has any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment or send an email!

Busy Busy

Things have been hectic to say the least. Spring time is always a busy time. This year is worse than most due to fallen barn roof and weather that can’t make up it’s mind.

We have been working on getting things cleaned up inside the barns from a winter of freezing weather. The bedding pack for the cows needs to be picked out and removed for the compost pile. We also need to clean up the areas where the round bales sat this winter…with no feeder mind you. There are also rocks that need to move out of the lawn/mowed areas because of the snow plow. Fence posts that need to be put back in the ground. A barn wall that needs to be releveled. The list goes on and on.

Of course there is also the unending list of things that need to be done for the biomass business. Right now I am working on setting up meetings for local sustainability within our region, very specifically for the heating industry. I work hard to develop models that have fuel stock flexibility. As long as the product is locally sourced, it makes me happy. It isn’t an easy job and requires a ton of research and then even more time spent on development. In the long run, all of my hard work and dedication will be for the best within my neighborhood and community and will be able to be passed along to other areas.

I never thought that I would take agriculture to this next level, but now that I am working in this sector of the industry, I can’t ever imagine myself doing anything else. And so every one knows, it isn’t about the money. It’s about doing what is right, not only for me, but for everyone. I am excited and glad that I have had the skills given to me through life lessons that have made this an important part of my life. I am excited that I can now use all of this knowledge to assist other people with their energy needs, when crisis always looms on the horizon!

Farm Sustainability

I am currently learning all about digesters. It is interesting to learn that no matter what size farm you operate they can function. The best units are one’s that are “cookie-cutter” packages for farms with over a 1,000 cows, but they can be done for smaller farms too.

From the information that I have read so far, they really aren’t that difficult to construct and build. I have not gotten into the cost for the retaining walls, but I did find out that you can build them with a flex-wall! That would save loads of money over the traditional concrete I have seen used.

I think it may even work for a small farm like us. I will be completing some calculations over the next week or so to determine if it is an option for an operation as small as we are. I will update with the news of my discoveries on the topic!