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Articles from 2018 In December

Schools are bringing ag back to the classroom

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Recently, FOX 9 in Minneapolis, Minn., featured a story about a school that had an “Adulting Day,” where high school teachers set aside a day of classes to teach life lessons including how to cook at college, how to change a tire and how to pay bills.

Does anybody think just one day is adequate to instill these important life skills in our nation’s youth? As agriculture and technical classes have been pushed out of schools in favor of standardized testing, we have shortchanged our children and their futures.

Sure, they can do algebraic formulas and provide a correct citation on their essays, but can they create a budget, prepare a meal or know how to save for things like college, a house or retirement?

In recent news, some schools are pushing back against the current curriculums that take the common sense out of the classroom. And not surprisingly, these schools are using agriculture to bring some real-world education to their local students.

What’s more, these schools are not only teaching agriculture, but they are beefing up the school lunch programs, as well. Here’s a roundup of recent stories that showcase how local communities are making agriculture cool again in their schools.

1. “The high school where learning to farm is a graduation requirement” by Mary Ann Lieser for Yes Magazine

Here’s an excerpt: “During the past decade, Olney has integrated farm work and food production into every aspect of student life, from the barn to the kitchen to the classroom. In 2015, Olney became the nation’s first USDA-certified organic campus.”

2. “Local beef in local schools” by the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association

Wall Meats in South Dakota has teamed up with the Wall School District to bring locally-raised beef to the school cafeteria. Learn more about their efforts by clicking here.

3. “Minneapolis school lunch makeover verdict: It’s working” by Jana Shortal for KARE11

Here’s an excerpt: “Nearly seven years ago, the lunch trays in the Minneapolis Public Schools started to get a makeover. They were the subject of one man’s passion to take school lunches out of the trenches of processed food and back to the whole foods they once were, way back when — real food, real farms, real flavor.”

4. “Local beef is coming soon to Burke School lunch program” published in the Tri-State Livestock News

According to the article, “Myron and Carol Johnson will join Rich and Sara Grim and Betsy Senter and Bonnie Noziska as the first donors of a beef to be processed for the Burke School Lunch Program. The Rosebud Rancherettes Cattlewomen spearheaded this unique program and the Burke School District is one of the first schools in the state to bring home-grown beef directly to the school lunch program through the use of a specially certified processor.”

5. “Clarke expanding CTE courses in agriculture, teaching” by Anna Merod for The Winchester Star

Merod writes, “Students in sixth and seventh grades at the Clarke County Public School in Virginia will now have the option to take a nine-week agriculture class as a part of their other nine-week rotations in art, career explorations and introduction to technology classes. Sixth graders can take an introduction to agri-science class, and seventh graders can take agri-science exploration.”

These stories are encouraging to see, and I hope others follow suit in the years to come. With the USDA loosening the reins on school lunch requirements, there is more flexibility for local school districts to tailor their menus to meet the needs of their students.

A greater challenge may be getting agriculture into the curriculum, but there are so many great resources out there to share with local teachers. I encourage everyone to utilize their local Agriculture in the Classroom organizations to help provide lesson plans to teachers that incorporate agriculture into core subjects they are required to teach. 

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

7 ways to effectively communicate agricultural science

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Who is ready to hit the ground running in 2019? We are going to need all hands on deck to appropriately and effectively communicate our agricultural stories in the New Year.

One of my resolutions is to improve the way I present the messages I want to share. It can be easy to just preach to the choir (other producers) and as a result, we often use language that speaks to our value systems and beliefs. But how are our consumers receiving our messages? How are they interpreting our science?

These were the questions asked by Mike Dahlstrom, associate professor of journalism and mass communication at Iowa State University. Dahlstrom presented at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture Antibiotic Symposium last November, and an industry friend of mine recently shared his message with me.

The 13-minute presentation titled, “Communicating Your Science: What’s It Really About?” can be found on YouTube by clicking here. It’s well worth your time to watch the entire thing, but I’ve put together a quick summation of Dahlstrom’s message on today’s blog.

Here are the key points from this speech, which can be applied to help us all become more effective agricultural advocates in 2019.

1. Avoid jargon

Dahlstrom says, “Science uses words that often mean nothing to a non-expert. Describe your science only using words your audience uses frequently.”

2. Analogies and metaphors

“Maybe a picture is worth 1,000 words, but a great metaphor is worth 1,000 pictures,” he explains. “Analogies and metaphors offer a comparison to allow a complex topic to be understood through a familiar idea.”

3. Narrative examples

Place abstract ideas into everyday contexts through specific stories to increase relevance, he suggests.

Dahlstrom adds, “Instead of saying, ‘antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to public health,’ we could say, ‘Robert should have recovered quickly from his surgery, but MRSA had other plans.’

4. Consider the best model of communication

In a nutshell, Dahlstrom says we often revert to the transmission model, which focuses on the transmission of facts with a source, transmitter, noise source, channel, receiver and destination. We believe we have knowledge that the consumer doesn’t, and we try to transmit our knowledge across many barriers to be received by our audience. As a result, the information is often lost in translation.

Another similar model is the deficit model of science communication, where science generates knowledge that needs to get to society.

“This does not work,” he says. “Knowledge and attitudes about science are generally not correlated. More knowledge can actually lead to less favorable attitudes toward science and greater polarization.”

He explains, “The reason is knowledge is important but not easy to interpret until applied to an underlying value system. It is this application that drives attitudes, behaviors and acceptance of scientific technologies. There are many competing values across audiences. Science describes and explains the world but can never tell society what should be done.”

Dahlstrom gives the example of raw milk. Should raw milk be legal? The science, he says, is that drinking raw milk significantly increases the risk of food-borne illnesses. However, underlying values differ. Value one is, ‘I want to keep people safe,’ while value two is, ‘I want freedom of choice.’”

5. Use the public engagement of science model to communicate with consumers

“The public engagement of science model is one we need to think about,” he says. “Under this model, controversies about science represent a necessary function of the democratic process. The role of communication is to facilitate discussion toward decisions informed by societal values and accurate science.

“This is a two-way engagement between expert and public. Let everyone debate values and determine how to apply the best science moving forward.”

He adds, “In other words, we may be wasting valuable time and resources by focusing our efforts on putting more and more information in front of an unaware public, without first developing a better understanding of how different groups will filter or reinterpret this information when it reaches them, given their personal value systems and beliefs.”

6. Understanding value systems

“There are lots of ways to measure values and conceptualize values, but the one I want to talk about is the cultural theory, which says many conflicts around science are not really disagreements about science, but are rather differences in aligning the desired solution to what an individual views as good societal structure. Individuals selectively attend to and interpret information in a manner that expresses and reinforces their preferred way of life.”

Using sustainability as an example, Dahlstrom explains how four different value systems interpret this hot topic.

Egalitarians believe greed has destroyed shared resources and that we need to return to smaller institutions and simpler lifestyles where everyone does a little.

Those who believe in an overall hierarchy say a lack of order has destroyed shared resources. They believe we need new organizations with rules and enforcement, and an authoritative truth needs to be accepted.

Individualists say that unnecessary social burdens have destroyed resources. They desire more freedom to allow solutions to arise from competition and say other groups are scaremongers.

The fatalists say destroyed resources are inevitable. They believe all other groups have failed sometime in the past, so stop wasting time and energy trying.

7. Interpreting science through the lens of our own values

In presenting scientific information to the public, Dahlstrom says, “The audience will seek out information that aligns with their existing needs and values. They will also interpret science information through the filter of those values. It doesn’t make science communication easier, but it will make it more effective.”

In speaking to producers, he concludes, “I want to challenge you to reflect on your own values. You’re not immune to this. You have values, too. What values do you use to interpret issues surrounding antibiotic use and resistance? What values are driving social misunderstanding or controversy about antibiotic use and resistance? Consider the arguments for or against the issue in the media or made by the general public. What values are those arguments being used to support?”

Finally, he says agriculture needs to ask these fundamental questions when designing messages for the public: What is my goal? Who is my audience? Why would they care? How best can I reach them? What values might guide their interpretation of my message? How can I earn their trust?

As we enter a new year, we have 365 new opportunities to share our stories to protect our future, maintain our food security and keep farmers and ranchers producing food, fiber and other resources for a growing planet.

If we are to be effective, we must not only have sound science to share with the public, but we also must appeal to the value systems of our audiences.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Dec. 31, 2018

There's a no-travel warning for the stretch of Interstate 29 through North Dakota. High winds have caused blowing and drifting snow.

There's an information void for farmers because of the government shutdown, as well as an aid void.

There's no night trading on the CME for the next two nights because of the new year.

American flags are back up to full staff, after lowering them for the death of George H.W. Bush. The flag was lowered for 67 days this year. 

MORNING Midwest Digest, Dec. 31, 2018

A woman was killed by a lion at a game park in North Carolina. She was from Indiana. 

A big day for the NFL across the heartland yesterday.

Combines will be rolling in Brazil, but analysts continue to cut acreage estimates there. 

State-by-state health rankings are out. Minnesota and North Dakota are among the best.

Farm Progress America, Dec. 31, 2018

Max Armstrong shares insight on how the commodity markets are being impacted by the partial government shutdown. A key area of interest is whether China has started importing U.S. crops; in addition farmers need information ahead of planting for 2019.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

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This Week in Agribusiness – Dec. 29, 2018

Note: Start the video and all parts will play through as the full show

Part 1

Max Armstrong opens the last show of 2018 with the tradition of looking back on the year. Each year the show gets insight from farm broadcasters from across the country. Max talks with Alan Watts, WKDZ Radio, Cadiz, Kent., about the 2018 crop. Steve Bridge, WFMB Radio, Springfield, Ill., shares how well the season went for his part of the country. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje shares highlights of the weather of 2018; and he looks at key weather patterns that could impact agriculture in 2019.

Part 2

Max Armstrong talks with Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net, Columbus, Ohio, shares how the trade conflict with China is impacting farmers in that part of the country. In the FFA Chapter Tribute, Max Armstrong profiles two chapters – Shickley, FFA, Shickley, Neb., a small town with big dreams. Member Madeline Kamler, shares what she’s learned from her experience in FFA. And the River Edge FFA, Elizabeth and Hanover, Ill., is an active chapter with a range of projects. Member Connor Brown talks about how members are recognized for their work in the chapter. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje continues his look at the rest of this winter and a potential view of spring 2019.

Part 3

Max Armstrong continues his conversations with farm broadcasters. Greg Akagi, Kansas Ag Network, Topeka, Kan., looks at what he sees for 2019 in his part of the country. And for dairy perspective, Max talks with Brian Winnekins WRDN Radio, Durand, Wis., about the significant slump farmers are facing.

Part 4

Max Armstrong turns the show over to Orion Samuelson who is at USDA to talk with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Orion talks with the Secretary about a range of issues from hitting the milestone of visiting 48 states to work to restore trade with China. He also discusses the new farm bill and its key features.

Part 5

Orion Samuelson continues his year-end conversation with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. They discuss how Secretary Perdue leverages his travel schedule to connect with producers. He also shares some positive actions by the Trump Administration aimed at helping agriculture, including work on E15. And they discuss how USDA will engage areas struck by disaster both fires and hurricanes.

Part 6

Orion Samuelson continues talking with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and what he has learned from his listening sessions. Trade and other issues have taken the lead, but Perdue notes that farmers understand that agriculture is a long game. Perdue, just off a meeting with the new Minister of Agriculture in Mexico, also discussed some key features of the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement.

Part 7

Continuing an annual tradition, Orion Samuelson turns Samuelson Sez into the Secretary Sez. Sonny Perdue shares his thoughts and comments summing up 2018, including work on key topics from Waters of the U.S. to E15.

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Dec. 28, 2018

Authorties in Michigan are holding a 20-year-old man for murder charges.

Traders have been a little in the dark because of the government shutdown, so there's no weekly export data.

If you bought a wreath, you may have brought in some insects. When it's time to dispose, burn or bag the evergreens.

Security fatigue. The MacAfee headquarters is going through it, with consumers. 

The best of BEEF Daily for 2018


As we wrap up 2018, it’s always fun to look back on the beef industry news we’ve covered in the past year.

It’s particularly fun to look back this year as I celebrated my 10th year of writing for BEEF in 2018. A lot has changed in the last decade, but one thing has remained constant — I’m just as passionate today as I was 10 years ago about the beef cattle industry. As a rancher myself and a journalist focused on beef production, it’s a privilege to write about topics that interest me both personally and professionally.

Over the years, the BEEF Daily community has joined me in discussing a wide range of topics such as better management practices, nutrition research, consumer trends, succession planning, multi-generational ranching, business management strategies, regulatory pressures, activist tactics, greenhouse gas emissions, sustainability, farm safety, politics, the Beef Checkoff program, lab meats, food labeling laws and so much more.

Of these many topics, it’s always revealing to discover which ones were the most popular with readers.

Thanks to BEEF Digital Editor Jamie Purfeerst, here are the 10 BEEF Daily blogs that received the most traffic in 2018:

1. Researchers conclude livestock have no detectable effect on climate
2. Hay bale kills ranch mom
3. Move over kale; steak is the new superfood!
4. Winter Feed: Do You Have Enough To Feed Your Cows?
5. 10 favorite tractors ranked in farmer survey
6. McDonald’s is taking the “happy” out of Happy Meals
7. On The Magic Pill, Halle Berry & the Ketogenic Diet
8. Cardiac surgeon says beef can help prevent heart disease
9. Is The #FluffyCow Trend Good For The Industry?
10. Six Reasons Why I Eat Meat Every Day -- Mondays, Too

Browse through the top 10 and let me know what you would like to read more about in 2019. The goal of this blog is to serve cattle producers and their interests, so topic ideas are always welcome! Please email me your suggestions to [email protected]

READ: What will you do a little bit better in 2019?

I hope you all enjoy safe and festive New Year’s Eve celebrations tonight. Join me tomorrow as we welcome in a new year with a brand new blog post. Thanks for tuning in for the past decade and cheers to the next 10 with BEEF!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

7 ag stories you might have missed this week - Dec. 28, 2018

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Need a quick catch-up on the news? Here are seven agricultural stories you might have missed this week.

1. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, worked with Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, to pass a bipartisan farm bill. Does that make him a target for the right? – McClatchy

2. A Nebraska farmer is double-cropping winter wheat and soybeans in east-central Nebraska. – Nebraska Farmer

3. The use of agricultural robots is expected to grow on U.S. farms as farmers address a farmworker labor shortage.- Fresh Plaza

4. Software programs and science are helping Fresh Impact Farms inch closer to its goal of delivering edible flowers and herbs catered to the taste preferences of top-tier chefs. – NPR

5. Kansas State University weed scientists have identified Kochia from two different corn fields in western Kansas that have developed multiple resistance to dicamba and fluroxpyr. Kochia in those two fields showed three to fifteenfold resistance to dicamba and four to eightfod resistance to fluroxypyr. – Kansas Farmer

6. China has loosened the rules on the transportation of breeder pigs and piglets in provinces that are affected by African swine fever. Beijing has reported more than 90 cases of African swine fever since August. - Reuters

7. George Washington was one of Virginia’s largest growers of hemp. Hemp was one of the most important crops grown in Colonial America. Hemp legislation is included in the 2018 farm bill. The bill allows growers to apply for federal crop insurance. – The News & Advance, Newsday

And your bonus.

There’s a growing movement to showcase Brazilian cacao and it centers on doing as little to the cacao as possible. Nugali, a high-end chocolatier founded in 2004, focuses on “bean to bar” products and Q Chocolate, puts a precedent on carefully cultivated cacao. Both source their raw ingredients from Leolinda Farms, a family-owned business in northern Brazil. - Forbes