My Thoughts on This Massacre…

I wrote this on my personal topic blog, but just thought that I would share it with this community as well. Eerie feeling in Colorado right now. Send your thoughts and prayers.

http://shelbybodine.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/to-those-who-think-this-shooting-is-about-you/

1st Annual Cow Appreciation Day Hall of Fame!

Today is Cow Appreciation Day! I asked for your pictures so that I could put a little compilation and what I call “The Rancher’s Daughter Cow Appreciation Day Hall of Fame” Starring: Your photos! Don’t worry, another one will come around next year with hopefully more photos!

Courtesy of Alpine Hills Dairy

Courtesy of Alpine Hills Dairy

Courtesy of Alpine Hills Dairy

There’s moooooooooore!

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Dear Pork Producer…

This is a letter that I wish we could send to everyone who owns even just one pig. Keep in mind this is from the eyes of an animal science student that has spent her entire life in the beef and crops industry. With that being said, feel free to pass this around and maybe it will get back to some major pork producers and remind them of the support they really have. Thanks.

“Dear _________,

As a pork producer, there is one thing that you and the rest of the world can relate to: bacon. All jokes aside, a serious matter has come forward and hit the agriculture industry like a wave hitting a rocky cliff: hard. The war that animal rights activists have waged against us has taken a toll and slowly but surely we see our friends collapsing to the overwhelming bullying act they haunt you with. Continue reading

Protect the Harvest & Their Plan to Protect You

Animal agriculture has been around since the dawn of time and man has made great use by specializing and with advancements in technology to gain the ability to generously feed others. However, animal agriculture is under attack by groups that want to see an “abolition” to the industry. Erik Helland, a Representative in Iowa’s House of Representatives, wanted to make it known that that simply cannot happen last Monday night on RFD-TV, Rural America’s Most Important Network, by discussing a group called Protect the Harvest. Protect the Harvest is a group of individuals that have made it their mission to put a spread the truth about agriculture one farmer or rancher at a time. They are getting these truths out using social media, face-to-face interactions, TV appearances, and radio appearances because they know how critical it is to set the record straight. Although the individuals behind this organization were smart enough to know that just talking to consumers won’t be enough to truly put an end to this battle between the animal agriculture industry and the animal rights advocates.

The main point that should be taken from the interview is this: animal agriculture is under attack and here’s what we can do to stop it. The Humane Society of the United States, HSUS, is an organization known for its commercials that show pet shelters and a celebrity holding an animal and they ask you for donations. They have what is known as a “hidden agenda” and know how to use it, in other words, they have a plan that is not the one they advertise and then do anything possible to achieve the underlying goals with the help of money from those who may have just been misinformed. Erik says that creating an awareness of this hidden agenda could make all the difference in the world. That hidden agenda is then used to scare and intimidate others into doing as HSUS pleases. Visit Protect the Harvest’s website for more information.

Overall, Erik did a fantastic job of explaining how to utilize what resources are available in this fight, and the most important one is also the simplest: be honest with your consumer and let them ask the questions. I recently did a post about that very topic and it can be found here. Protect the Harvest not only provides information on the deception of animal rights groups, but it also provides a sense of community that you can find common ground with someone who might have a completely different story then yours. Make sure to check out their YouTube page for videos like this one:

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Health Update:

Rarely will I make personal posts “about me” because, believe it or not, I am not a fan of feeling selfish. I just really wanted to take a minute to thank all of you for the prayers and well wishes during the little crisis mode I had with 3 ER visits in 7 days. They really meant a lot and I very much appreciate all of you guys! That’s my favorite thing about this tiny little agriculture community is that when a man is down, he’s not left behind. Even though a HUGE majority of you I have never met in real life, you all made me feel like I was being taken care of! Hopefully the case will be closed ASAP!

Our First Step: Listening to Consumers

My amazing grandparents were in town this weekend and my Grandfather had brought down a copy of Future Farmers from September of 2011. He had read an article within the magazine that sparked his interest because it was right up the alley I’ve been paving for myself. His opinions were that of an agricultural background and I could hear some frustration and exhaustion in his voice when he explained his fear for the agriculture industry. Those are included in this piece.

Farmers are talking; will consumers listen?
Mike Wilson

The opinions that critics of agriculture present to the public are rarely from an agriculturalist’s point of view, in turn, providing an inaccurate portrayal of the industry and those within it. The critics create propaganda aimed at consumers that has been carefully thought out to scare consumers and provide falsified information about food. The necessity of food for survival is a fantastic way that critics play on consumer’s fear to manipulate choices and opinions.The fear of food being dangerous is a terrifying thought to all, but the actuality of these claims is not reliable. Informing consumers about food by the people who produce it is as obvious as consulting a doctor for chest pain. Becoming “transparent and gain consumer trust” will be the most important factor agriculture can have in this world, aside from feeding it.

Enter the U.S. Farm and Ranch Alliance, an alliance of diverse food producers and agricultural partners that are spending time and resources to understand and listen to American’s questions about food production. The alliance does not excel because their main concern is making a better profit, but they succeed because for the first time a concern had been make so blatantly obvious, their views on productivity were set aside to allow the big picture to be first priority . The cruciality of informing consumers about the actuality of food and agriculture was brought into the light and quickly made the focus of the industry as a whole. Spreading the message in agriculture doesn’t require a marketing or advertising degree, it takes a heart that has a passion for agriculture that completely outweighs yearly profit.

Social media works wonderfully as the starting point in communicating to consumers. In Wilson’s article he brings up a statistic, “277,000 online conversations about food and agriculture in May, but the ag industry barely joined the discussion.” My own Grandfather asked, “Well Shelby, when do agriculturalists have time to blog or time to use Twitter?” The honest truth is that each individual uses social media in their own way and and present their honest opinion so differently and diversely that it’s hard to say. What can be said about keeping up with the media and putting informative information out there is a time consuming activity on top of their tireless careers. To be as active in the social media community as most are by spending any free time checking Twitter or WordPress updates, speak volumes about those farmer’s and rancher’s priorities.

The pivotal point in this movement is to educate consumers on food, however the key is to ask the consumer to ask the questions they are curious about. Agriculture is a supply and demand industry, not a “If you build it, they will come” industry. The consumer ultimately calls the shots and thus proves the incredible importance for clearing up any misinformation. The need to be professional and talk down to consumers should be evaded indefinitely, no question about it. Speaking from the heart and allowing the passion of agriculture to come out in your tone and your words can do more for a conversation than a flip chart and a graph ever could. Remembering that the consumer is the focus is crucial, because taking this strategy and attempting to fight the critics will place both parties where they stood before hand. The ultimate motive here is to gain the public’s trust by being completely open and honest and then continue that honesty once the questions have been satisfied.

A huge problem agriculturalists face is the public’s perception on motives a producer might have. For instance, a producer that uses hormones on cows and heifers in feedlots might think they can profit more than grass-fed beef in the end, or the input costs to raise dairy cows could be cheaper than allowing a free-range environment. That perception is rarely true and really allows “rumors” to be spread that can ultimately put a farmer or rancher out of business. What consumers need to know is passion, heart, and love of what agriculturalists do for a living. There has been an untrue assumption made towards farmers and ranchers thanks to a tactic critics use that throws a cape over the women in dirty jeans and cowboy boots and the women wearing muddy muck boots and Carhartt bibs. The people who make up the agriculture population have love and passion in what they do, or they simply wouldn’t do it.

The most valuable opinion agriculture needs to hear, is that of those who buy the food.

More information about U.S. Food and Ranch Alliance Here.

Mental Health Aspects to Eating Meat

Admitting I am young in this industry would be the understatement of the year. I have a body that was made for an early-twentysomthin’ gal who wasn’t going to beat it up too badly, whoops. My mind has outrun my body by a long shot, leaving my thoughts to be those of a much wiser and much more traveled soul. I’m not chalked full of wise words to live by, but saying that “nutrition is everything” wouldn’t be too far fetched. Day after day I read a different version of the same discussion that is crucial to us AGvocates. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the different perspectives that both parties bring to the table for expert opinions or research projects. However, there is one voice that seems to stay quiet in this ethics dispute and that is psychology.

The theory that the study of psychology strictly focuses on the unstable and insane, is simply a myth. Psychology is the study of any kind of cognitive choice that your mind makes or that you make with your mind. However, psychology gets a bad rep due to the bad rep that mental disorders get. When was the last time that you met someone and the first thing they said was, “Hi I am Pam, and I have depression.” The rarity of that occurring is extremely unlikely because of the bad reputation that mental disorders have been tagged with. People with mental disorders rarely are ready to tattoo their disorder to their foreheads and put on a superhero costume called “The Hyperactive Hero” that knocks out all those supervillains in a child with ADHD’s life called, well, everything. Individuals affected with a mood disorder more often than not spend huge chunks of time trying to stifle that huge piece of their life.

With all that being said, I ask for your respect during this post because I will be sharing bits and pieces of my own story. This is a huge leap of bravery and you are reading the result of hands that were trembling, so please show the respect that would be expected of you for any of my other posts, and feel free to ask questions, make polite comments, or close the page.

April of 2011 I was diagnosed with moderate-severe bipolar disorder type 2. If you were to ask my opinion on being diagnosed, it would be full of anger and resentment that is tethered back to nowhere. Ask me today what my opinions about bipolar are and you will hear an answer that is full of sincerity and truth, decorated with lessons that truly have been learned. The road that’s led me here has not been easy by any means, my mind doesn’t ever want to wander down the simple paths, so this was only characteristic of my hard-headedness. There are two dark sides to bipolar- mania and depression. However, those are just vague name tags for all of the symptoms that are the true deviants. Depression a much deeper and scarier kind of sadness and loneliness. Feeling worthless, skipping meals due to no appetite, isolating oneself, sleeping too much, feeling fatigued, and loss of self-esteem make up a recipe for depression that is nastier than a week old dead possum in southern Texas over Labor Day. I find the mania much harder on my body seeing as it’s ingredients consist of reckless behavior and poor judgement, little need for sleep (hmm… wonder why this is getting done at 8:30 am), increased energy that can push you to work out harder and in turn get hurt, skipping meals, taking too much on, talking too much or too fast, and going on spending sprees all make up for a pretty exhausting sentence, let alone a life.

Those things carry negative qualities, this is true, but without them I would never have been able to reach the full potential of my creativity, gained the ability to see emotion in almost everything I see, and my true desire to give back and sheer instinct to know that my life could be worse. For example, I have never had to face the awful reality of nutrient deficiency (more information can be found here). For my entirety, I have been blessed to have red meat on hand daily. That streamlined my brain in the right direction and I started researching meat’s impact on mood disorders. The results were interesting to say the least, but I also felt my own trial and errors would add a new perspective as well.

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