Donate to South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund

giveblackhillsLOGOjpgMIDRES_smallSouth Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and South Dakota Sheep Growers Association established the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund Oct. 8, 2013 with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to provide support and relief assistance to those in the agriculture industry impacted by the blizzard of Oct. 4-7, 2013.

The fund will be administered by the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association for the direct benefit of the livestock producers impacted by this devastating blizzard.

To donate to the Rancher Relief Fund visit, www.giveblackhills.org and search “Rancher Relief Fund”. Donors can also mail checks to Black Hills Community Area Foundation/SD Rancher Relief Fund made out to the “Rancher Relief Fund.” Address: PO Box 231, Rapid City, 57709.

New Holland “Really Cool Mowing Units”

new holland boomerThis is the face of a very happy compact tractor.

But don’t let its cute little face fool you – this new New Holland Boomer 25 is no toy tractor. “It’s a real tractor which does real work,” says Dan Valen, New Holland segment marketing manager. “It’s only little in terms of its actual size.”

The Boomer 20 and 25 are the newest additions to the New Holland compact tractor family, just arriving on the scene in February 2012. The Boomer compact tractors fall under New Holland’s RCMU market segment, which Dan jokes could stand for “Really Cool Mowing Unit” but actually is Residential, Commercial, Municipality and Utility. New Holland calls the Boomer 20/25 “the ultimate power tools for homeowners, rural lifestylers, landscapers and hobby farmers.” In other words, Tim Taylor would want one of them – or two.

new holland powerstarAlso falling in this category are the PowerStar™ T4 Series utility tractors. “It was really designed from the ground up with the North American customer in mind,” Dan said, noting the innovative features that include the fully integrated loader and high visibility, “so you can actually see what the loader is doing when it’s ten feet in the air without being a contortionist.”

I got to see just how well that works during the recent New Holland media event. Take a look:

The PowerStar is one of those versatile tractors that appeals across a broad spectrum of market segments – from the RCMU folks to full time farmers and ranchers. By the way, did you know that New Holland is actually a world leader in the specialty tractor business for crops like grapes, citrus, apples and nuts? “New Holland is the only major full line manufacturer to offer a grape harvester,” said Dan.

Listen to my interview with Dan here: New Holland's Dan Valen

Country Living Association Says Farewell

The Country Living Association (CLA) has decided to discontinue operations effective today.

Country Living AssociationIn an email to readers, members, stakeholders and friends, CLA director Courtney Yuskis wrote that economic conditions forced them to make this difficult decision.

It’s with some sadness that I am writing to you this week. The Country Living Association has decided to discontinue operations effective today.

The rural lifestyle segment took a major blow following the financial fallout in 2008 and 2009. Through the generosity of our partners and our management company (Drake & Company), CLA was able to continue on and solider through the economic downturn. Unfortunately, an anticipated upturn in rural real estate and equipment purchasing has not materialized.

Given this reality, we currently do not feel CLA can be a self-sustaining organization that provides a positive value for its members.

The content posted on the www.countrylivingassociation.org will remain live until December 2011. We will monitor any comments or discussion; however, effective today, there will be no new CLA Tips, events or other information posted.

Sad news for rural lifestyle fans. Thanks for the memories, CLA!

Central Illinois Company Gives Back to FFA

We’ve all heard of Red Brand fence, right?  They’re a milestone sponsor of the FFA (in fact they’ve been doing so for over 60 years). Did you know that Red Brand fence is manufactured in Peoria, Ill.?  Keystone Steel and Wire Co began the Home Grown program in 2010.  It gave opportunity for local Red Brand retailers to give back to local FFA Chapters.  In its first year – the Home Grown program raised over $100,000 for FFA Chapters across the United States.  On average 704 FFA Chapters across the US received between $400 and $500 each.  One FFA Chapter in Platte, South Dakota was awarded more than $4,000.00.

It’s actually a pretty simple process.  As Christopher Bell, Regional Director with the National FFA Foundation explains all retailers have to do is sign up on Red Brand’s website and for every roll of Red Brand agricultural fencing purchased by a participating retailer $1 is donated to the designated FFA chapter or chapters of their choice.

It’s an easy way to give back and help continue to fund a program that does so much for the future of the agriculture industry.  Also a huge round of applause to Keystone Steel and Wire Co for giving back to a program that does so much (it makes a girl even more proud to be from Central Illinois).  Here’s to a successful 2011 Home Grown Initiative!

>Christopher Bell - National FFA Foundation

Investing Back In Agriculture

Illinois and fiscal responsibility aren’t exactly words that go hand in hand but Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is trying to change that.  Earlier this week Rutherford announced his Ag Invest program in conjunction with the Illinois Farm BureauAg Invest (formerly known as Cultivate Illinois) partners with eligible lenders to offer low-interest loans to Illinois farmers that can be used for operating costs, equipment purchases, construction related expenses and livestock purchases.

So why tweak Cultivate Illinois?  Rutherford says their goal is to give Illinois farmers the opportunity to pay less interest in operating expenses.  He adds along with increasing the amount producers can now borrow – the Illinois Treasurer’s office has made the loan process less cumbersome for lenders and farmers.  By reducing the paperwork and tedious questions they are able to streamline the lending process.

The changes made to Ag Invest are key for Illinois Farmers.  Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson says, “Farming is a capital intensive industry and having access to capital is important to farmers.” He adds this is a positive step the Illinois is taking to assist its largest industry.

Ag Invest

Shopping For That Cowboy In Your Life

Tyler-on-wheeler Everyone has that farmer or rancher in their life to shop for this Christmas, and boy, can it get tough to select the perfect gift for this category. Every year, I think my dad counts on getting Coveralls and pliers from Santa, and I’ll admit, we struggle trying to shop for him. If you are like me, you spend many painful hours trying to navigate the aisles of Sears, Menards or Cabelas in the hunt for the best present, only to purchase the same things year after year.

However, this year is going to be different. Thanks to Agriculture Online, buying the perfect gift for that special farmer in your life is as easy as 1-2-3! In their article, Gift-giving guide for farm folks, there are several handy ideas to choose from including: coats, cookbooks, charitable donations, folding chairs, cutting tools, toolboxes, heaters, etc.

You can’t go wrong this Christmas with this handy, dandy gift-giving guide. Check it out! What are you getting your farmer this year?

What’s Your Definition of Cowboy?

dispImage Everyone has a different idea of who or what a cowboy is. While most definitions vary widely, there is one thing that they all have in common: pride in American agriculture and dedication to get the job done right. Recently, I ran across an article titled, “Who Cares About Cowboys Anymore?” and it discussed how the average American consumer doesn’t care or understand where their food comes from. (Photo Credit: Peter Yang, True Grit)

Today, I’m asking each and every single AgWired reader out there to share their definition of the American cowboy. Leave it in the comments section here, as well as on the article. It’s time we connect with our urban customers once again. It’s time they understand the people behind the products in the grocery stores. It’s time we stand up and speak out before our story gets told by someone else. Remember to share the facts and your personal story to deliver the most effective message. Here is my comment that I left on the website… I hope you’ll take the time to share your story, too.

It’s been said that most Americans are so far removed from American agriculture, they have never even met a farmer/rancher in their lifetimes. However true that may be, I thought I would take this opportunity to introduce myself to the American public as a fifth generation cattle rancher from South Dakota. My name is Amanda Nolz, and my family has been in the cattle business in what seems like forever.

Ranching is a tough profession, especially today, with the increasing price of food, fuel and fiber, and it’s not always easy to earn a living in this career. It’s tough, but necessary work. According to the most recent agriculture census, for every consumer dollar spent on food in the United States, the farmer or rancher only receives 18 cents of that dollar. However, despite the challenges, the people involved in raising food are a passionate group. Over 90% of farms and ranches are family owned and operated, which means that families just like yours are dedicated to raising a safe, affordable wholesome food source that is abundantly available for families across the globe.

For me and my family, we are proud to raise nutritious, delicious beef. It graces our dinner table on most nights. Despite the common misconceptions in the media today about our nation’s food supply, we firmly believe that American farmers and ranchers produce the safest food in the world. Maybe you have never met a cowboy before, but I hope that you will remember people like me that are working hard everyday to fill the center of your dinner plate. We are “cowboys,” and it’s a lifestyle we are dedicated to, no matter how difficult it gets at times.

Amanda Nolz
5th generation cattle rancher
Mitchell, SD

What I’ve Been Up To Lately…

Diego It’s been a few weeks since I have had the chance to sit down and blog on AgWired. I can’t believe how crazy busy the summer got, and how quickly it is fading into fall. In the past two weeks, I was at the Minnesota and South Dakota State Fairs with cattle in tow, and it’s amazing how much time and effort goes into taking a few head of cattle to display at livestock expositions! Anyway, I thought I would share some of the highlights of the last couple of weeks, and now, it’s time to get back in the saddle and get down to the business of blogging!

While at the fairs, I took in cattle shows, Century Farm Awards, Beef Cookoffs, speech contests, town hall meetings, carnival food, concerts and more. In the upcoming weeks, I will share all of it with you. So, get ready for a fun recap of my state fair adventures. And, while we’re at it, why don’t you tell me some of your state fair stories? What have you been up to lately? What fairs did you attend, and what did you do while you were there? Can’t wait to hear all about it!

Meals in the Field

Print More than one-hundred Illinois farm families will be reminded to stay “Alert, Aware & Alive” as they enjoy a complimentary lunch meal delivered to where they are working during the September 20-26 National Farm Safety & Health Week. Farm Credit Services of Illinois is sponsoring the annual “Meals in the Field” program to help promote farm safety. Growing up with meals on wheels out in the field, I imagine that receiving meals while doing field work was a great hit amongst the participating farmers and ranchers!

The theme of the 2009 National Farm Safety & Health Week is “Rural Roadway Safety: Alert, Aware, & Alive.” From Monday through Friday, each of Farm Credit’s 20 branch offices selects at least one farm family to provide a lunch meal. The Farm Credit staff serves the lunch wherever the farmers are working that day – whether that is in the field, in the machine shed, or around the kitchen table.

MITF '09 B&W Agriculture continues to rank as one the most dangerous occupations and industries in North America and across the globe. Illinois farm-related deaths increased for the second consecutive year last year. Farm fatalities in the state numbered 33 from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009 – up from the 29 deaths in 2007-2008. Roadway collisions were the second leading cause of death; tractor rollover is number one. Especially during the long harvest work days, farmers are reminded to take breaks and drink plenty of water to help them stay alert while operating machinery – both in the field and on the public roads.

Funny Video to Perk Up Your Tuesday, Or Not…

Remember this video? With 1.5 million views and counting, this popular video on YouTube has received comments both hilarious and depressing about the nation’s views on agriculture. Is it funny that people think that wool comes from cows, or is it just sad? How do we reach out to the folks in big cities who have never been exposed to agriculture issues? Let me take that back. They HAVE been exposed to farm animals in Disney movies, and that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Anyway, regardless of the very sad and disturbing truth that there are many people out there that have absolutely no clue where their food comes from, I hope this video gives you a laugh this afternoon!

Who are the Next Generation of Food Producers?

Most ranch kids can trace their heritage back to a long lineage of food producers. In past generations, if a kid’s father were a rancher, he or she would more than likely grow up to be a rancher, as well. Yet, today’s generation may have many ancestors of ranchers in their family trees, but because of the many challenges facing producers today, they often opt to pursue big city careers in favor of returning to production agriculture.

bilde According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are two times as many farmers over 65 as under 35 in the United States today. In addition, it is estimated that one-quarter of the nation’s farms will change hands in the next decade. Yet, it’s a rare occasion for a young person to return to production agriculture, which is why a young person like Seth Zilverberg is making the news. Seth is a fellow Limousin breeder, and I recently chatted with him and his mother about his move back to his family’s cattle operation. Here is what his mom, Peg, has to say about young people in production agriculture.

We are so proud of Seth and happy to have him home. I wish there were more young people returning home to production agriculture, and I think it’s so disappointing to know that more often than not, these kids are encouraged to pursue outside opportunities. So many people told Seth he was ‘too smart’ to return home to the farm, and I think that’s the biggest mistake of all.

So, who are the future of food producers? Where is the next generation going? How can we help beginning farmers? What’s your story? Do you come from a farm background? How many generations of agriculturalists are in your family? What are your plans for the future? Inquiring minds want to know?

Speaker to Debunk Animal Activists

A workshop to educate farmers and ranchers on how to become spokespersons for agriculture will be held June 19, 2009 at Westwood Park in Geauga County, Ohio. This workshop, sponsored by the ProAnimal Coalition of northeast Ohio, will provide information on how local speakers can tell the factual story of animal agriculture and its importance to us and our food supply.

matt-sv-thumb Featured speaker will be Matt Sutton-Vermeulen, nationally known for working with leaders in the community and agricultural industry to help them reach out to the community with factual information about animal agriculture. If you’re in the area, this workshop sounds like a valuable resource for spokesperson training.

Sutton-Vermeulen will focus on the myths and misinformation from animal rights groups that are out of touch with today’s agriculture and putting our food supply at risk. He is well-know for working with non-governmental groups to help them become animal agriculture activists.

The June 19 workshop is open to all interested people who want to be spokespersons for animal agriculture and its importance to our country. Threats are coming from the Humane Society of the United States that they are coming to Ohio with a program to restrict sound, approved livestock practices. Such restrictions, if imposed, would reduce our food supply and increase the cost.

Registration for the workshop can be done by calling the Northeast Farm Bureau Office at 800-410-4613 by June 15. Registration is free if made by June 15 and $30 after that date. Westwood Park is located at 9465 Kinsman Road, state Route 87, in Russell Township, Geauga County.

For more information, link to John Parker’s article at Trib Today.

Proud of Miss America, Past 4-H Member

miss_america_09 I think the Miss America pageant has found a real gem with their 2009-crowned winner, Miss Katie Stam. As a past 4-H member, this Indiana farm girl gives credit to this youth program and her passions in community service. In fact, that is the topic of her platform: Passion for Service: Promoting Community Service and Involvement As a former farm girl and 4-H member, Stam believes in the power of agriculture and giving back, and after her crowning in January, she has been on the fast track to spreading the word.

Miss America had some awesome experiences in 4-H as a kid, spending every summer in the performing arts and creative dramatics program and visiting 4-H friends and family at the Jackson Co. Fair. Stam credits her 4-H experiences to her values in leadership, mentorship and community service. As an American starlet, Stam could use her crown and her platform to transform the way young people think about giving back to the communities and the power of 4-H.

Stam is currently being considered for Time Magazine’s annual 100 Most Influential People List. The annual list asks the public to rate each candidate on his or her influence on the world. Those recognized fall in one of five categories: Leaders & Revolutionaries, Builders & Titans, Artists & Entertainers, Scientists & Thinkers, and Heroes & Icons. Within each category, the 20 most influential people are selected, for a grand total of 100 each year. If you think Stam deserves your vote, visit TIME. Voting ends April 28

As a past 4-H member, I’m so proud of Katie Stam, the 2009 Miss America, for her strong background in 4-H, local communities and agriculture. Stam will undoubtedly make a huge impact during her year of service in representing America.

A Special Cause: Vote for ACMA Entertainer of the Year

george_strait_2005_croppedI need your help. The Humane Society of the United States is working to vote Carrie Underwood in as ACMA Entertainer of the Year to launch her as a better spokesperson for their agenda to abolish animal agriculture. I’m challenging everyone to head over to the ACMA website and vote. Read the following excerpt, and tell me you don’t want to stand up for agriculture today! It only takes a minute to register, and I voted for George Strait because he is a great singer, a PRCA member, a team roper and a true friend to agriculture! You should too! Word-of-mouth is definitely agriculture’s best marketing tool, no? Make a difference and cast your vote today!

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the most radical animal “rights” and anti-hunting organization in the country, has been quietly trying to get Carrie Underwood voted Entertainer of the Year via the Academy of Country Music. The problem is, a large percentage of country music fans are also gun owners and hunters who do not like Carrie Underwood’s active support for HSUS. And HSUS knows it.

Underwood and American Idol have already listed HSUS as a beneficiary of the proceeds of one of her songs and now HSUS is enlisting their radical animal rights supporters to vote for her in the Entertainer of the Year contest. But they are trying to keep it quiet. In an e-mail sent out to supporters by Kathy Bauch, the HSUS Senior Director for Corporate Relations & Promotions, she asked people to vote for Underwood, but added, “Feel free to distribute this to friends and family, but please don’t post to lists, twitter, etc.–anything that would identify that HSUS is urging people to vote for her, or it could just breathe life into the opposition.”

Oops, too late! Perhaps someone should tell the folks at HSUS that e-mails are not exactly the most secure way of communicating their “secret” agendas. Country music fans who do not appreciate Underwood’s support for HSUS should go and vote for an entertainer who shares their values and supports America’s hunting heritage. Please share this with every meat-eating, freedom loving American you know and then VOTE!!!

Rural Broadband Debate

I’m not sure where you would come down on the idea of stimulus money being spent on the continuing development of rural broadband but I’m all for it. Thanks to rural_broadband’s heads up on Twitter I thought you’d be interested in these two stories.

The first one is from NPR, “Stimulus Stirs Debate Over Rural Broadband Access.” In it they quote former FCC Economist, Michael Katz. He’s obviously a city boy who doesn’t have a clue. Here’s an example of what I mean.

But he also spoke of rural places as environmentally hostile, energy inefficient and even weak in innovation, simply because rural people are spread out across the landscape.

Dude, could you possibly show more of your arrogance and ignorance? Fortunately this is a pretty well-balanced story as the following shows.

Rural advocates say high-speed access is a necessity in a global economy, and a critical part of economic revival and survival for rural places. Obama agreed during his campaign for president. His rural platform included this plank:

“Barack Obama will ensure that our rural Americans have access to modern communications infrastructure. He will … [promote] affordable broadband coverage across rural America as well.”

Let’s hope he keeps that pledge.

Then there’s another story pointed to in this article which is on the Daily Yonder titled, “Broadband Connection Highs and Lows Across Rural America.” The article pulls data from the Census of Agriculture and PEW Internet surveys. We’ve pointed to them before but this article has some nice charts and summaries of the data like the following.

Over 2.2 million farms were included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Census, which is conducted every five years. In 2002, the Census found that half the farms in the country were connected to the Internet in some way (broadband or dial-up). By 2007, the percentage of farms with some kind of Internet connection inched up to 56.5%.

However, only 33% of farms in 2007 had broadband connections.

In a chart showing internet and broadband percentage for farmers by state it was interesting to see that Connecticut had the highest percentage of farmers with broadband and Mississippi had the lowest. We need to get some of that broadband stimulus money going in the deep south!

Talking About Photography

ZimmCast-206 - Pro PhotographyChildress, TX is home to one great photographer and that would be Russell Graves, RussellGraves.com. I spent a half day with him yesterday and feel like I learned a lot from the experience.

Childress, TXI know that a lot of AgWired fans are pro photographers themselves or at least have a real interest in taking pictures so I hope you’ll really enjoy getting to know Russell and listening to our conversation about his work. Russell also teaches high school ag technology classes. He has a passion for his home state and looks at his work as a way to chronicle the rural lifestyle he grew up in so that current and future generations will still be able to enjoy it captured in pictures. If you take time to look through his pictures I’m sure you’ll see many that will make you think, “I’ve seen that same picture before (in your own life).” He could probably live anywhere he wants but he chooses to raise his children in a country environment and I applaud him for that decision.

Russell and I talk about equipment, software, work flow and why we love what we do and do what we love. I think this is a great conversation and I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for listening.

You can download and listen to the ZimmCast here: Listen To ZimmCastZimmCast 206 (35 min MP3)

Or listen to this week’s ZimmCast right now:

Listen to

The ZimmCast is the official weekly podcast of AgWired which you can subscribe to using the link in our sidebar. You can also subscribe in iTunes

Country Lifestyle Connection

Country Living AssociationIf you’re trying to reach the rural lifestyle market, the Country Living Association has your Country Connection.

Country Living Association (CLA) now offers a low-cost way for companies and organizations to assist local dealers and representatives in order to reach the rural lifestyle audience. Research continues to show that members of this audience want specific, local information, and if local representatives can provide this information they will remain in the “inner circle” of that particular customer’s decision making process.

CLA will be hosting a webinar on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009, 2:00 p.m. CST to demonstrate the new “Country Connections” program. Contact Courtney Yuskis at 636-449-5088 or yuskis@drakeco.com to reserve a spot. Space is limited to the first 10 organizations to respond.

“Country Connections” is affordable and effective. The program combines monthly e-mails and direct mail pieces to help local dealers and representatives promote events, special offers and promotions, pricing incentives and more to Country Living Association members in their area.

New Media Impact on Rural Lifestyle People

You can learn more about the rural lifestyle survey that Susan Spaulding conducted courtesy of Paulsen AgriBranding.

Day two of NAMA’s Trends in Agriculture: Rural Lifestyle Marketing kicked off with a discussion of the impact of new media on rural lifestylers. Susan Spalding of Market Directions and Courtney Yuskis of the Country Living Association looked at the products and services that are gaining the interest of Rural Lifestylers.

Survey of Rural Lifestylers’

Courtney YuskisThe first session today at Trends in Agriculture was all about a national survey of rural lifestyle people conducted by Susan Spaulding, Market Directions. She worked with the Country Living Association on the survey and the presentation was made jointly by Susan and CLA Director, Courtney Yuskis (pictured).

One of the interesting things I heard was the high level of importance that rural lifestylers’ place on new media. Very interesting. I asked Courtney to tell us some of the things they found out besides this. She says that this group is being hit with a lot of messages from lots of different types of companies and that suggests to me that there may be some real opportunities for companies to do some co-promotions.

You can hear more about the survey in my interview with Courtney here:

Listen to

If you’d like to purchase the full survey, contact Susan at Market Directions.

NAMA/NAFB Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the NAMA Trends in Agriculture/NAFB Convention is being sponsored by:

DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

Marketing To Idyllic Lifestyle Seekers

ZimmCast-195 - Idyllic Lifestyle SeekersSomehow this post got deleted so I’m not sure what I originally posted but let me get it fixed.

At the NAMA Trends In Agriculture conference I learned about “Idyllic Lifestyle Seekers” from Dan Duffy, CEO, United Country Real Estate. He was on the program to talk about how they’re marketing to those you like to live a rural lifestyle. I’ve never heard them referred to as that but it works for me.

Dan DuffyDan says the term they use to describe this market came from research they conducted after he started working with the company.

He says that their job at United Country Real Estate is to help people make the transition to the rural lifestyle.

You can download and listen to the ZimmCast here: Listen To ZimmCastZimmCast 195 (8 min MP3)

Or listen to this week’s ZimmCast right now:

Listen to

NAMA/NAFB Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the NAMA Trends in Agriculture/NAFB Convention is being sponsored by:

DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

The ZimmCast is the official weekly podcast of AgWired which you can subscribe to using the link in our sidebar. You can also subscribe in iTunes