Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Industrial Beef Producers?

Beef Cow-Calf production in the U.S. - The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has released a report which states " beef cow-calf production in the United States occurs in every state with about 35% of the 2.2 million farms having a beef cow inventory, in 2007. Most of these were small, part-time operations with about a third of farms that raise beef animal having a beef cow inventory of less than 10 cows, mor than half had fewer than 20 cows, and nearly 80% had fewer than 50 cows.

Many small operations are 'rural residence farms' that specialize in beef cow-calf production with their income from off-farm sources exeeds that from the farm.

Beef cattle production is considered by consumers to be the 2nd largest "factory farming" species/industry. Doesn't sound like there are many of those types of farms and ranches out there.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Farmer's Return

I heard an interesting report~ The farmer gets about 20% for every dollar spent at the grocery store on his/her produce. Who gets the rest? Some is spent on regulations, trucking, store overhead, marketing, and... The list goes on. The really interesting thing is this is down from the 1994 levels where a farmer recieved about 25% of every dollar. High input costs have dramatically decreased the profitability margin of farming. Then you add on to it the increase in regulations, fertilizer costs, land costs and niche marketing issues. Doesn't seem like a very profitable way to go... So where is this big business agriculture that is just in it for the money? I dunno!

Monday, March 28, 2011


The environmental protection agency (EPA) was questioned about lawsuits last week. It seems in the last decade or so more regulations have been made because of mitigation of lawsuits from so called environmental groups than through legislation. It is unfortunate this has been the case without the scientific background and research to back up said regulations. Sen. Cordoza from California questioned the head of EPA~ Suggesting that EPA has been actually soliciting for lawsuits so they may place more restrictions on American farmers and ranchers. The head of EPA stated that would be unprofessional~ not confirming or denying the claim. Senator Cordoza went on to suggest maybe mitigating lawsuits was not the way to go if we were going to continue having a viable farming industry. Maybe the EPA should take the time and resources to look into the actual reasoning behind litigation before giving in. An interesting tactic from a Democratic Senator, suggesting maybe science should lead regulations not emotion?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ceasar Chavez Day

Tomorrow is Ceasar Chavez Day in California. He is either hailed or hated by many people. Ceasar Chavez was against the mechanization of agriculture because it put many migrant workers out. It was an interesting time in history with tomatoe picking by machine at the forefront.

It is amazing to look how far we have come in many aspects of agriculture in just the last 50 years. In cattle production, carcass fat has decreased from 35% to 27% and beef production per head has increased 80%.

I don't know if it is for the better. We now have subdivisions, ranchettes, and labels. You can go to the grocery store and decide if you want free-range, organic, natural, or traditional eggs. The choices are immense but so is the impact.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Local Farm Bureau

The local Farm Bureau put on a luncheon for government employees- federal, state, and local. The menu consisted of tri-tip, cheesy potatoes, homemade bread, salad, and dessert. It was wonderful. The interesting part was the income off of this meal to the actual farmers. $2.05 The cost of this meal if it were bought in a restaurant- between $15 and $18.

What a stark comparison! It is amazing how little people are paid for how much work and effort goes into raising food. Guess those money grubbing farmers and ranchers better get better at business because they are not getting what people are paying.

Thanks to FB for putting on such an eye-opening meal.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


As I watched the first day of spring be engulfed by snow "showers" I am amazed at the circle of life. There are daffidols trying to push through the snow and baby calves bucking all over the place. Snow is good this time of year for ranchers, as long as it is not followed by wind. Rain is bad because it equates to mud. Mud doesn't have the insulative properties that snow does.

While I wish for warmer weather, it would be dire for ranchers in this area. The snow would melt, causing issues in the valley along with receding the snow pack which represents next winter forage. That mountain snow pack is the life blood for many ranchers that have to feed stockpiled forage to sustain througout the winter.

I wish we could graze year round but due to weather conditions that is improbable on most years. So, fossil fuels must be used to create winter feedstuffs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Moisture and I have a love-hate relationship. It is the same relationship I have with my contacts, dog, and tractors. I know rain and snow mean grass but on the flip side, I hate mud, I hate snow drifts, and I really hate being limited in what I can do outside.

I was driving the feed pickup and trailer this weekend. I got stuck~ following my husband's directions of try and stay as close to the fence as possible. He then proceeded to tell me he didn't mean it literally and couldn't I see the mud hole. Well, yeah but you said... So, then he used the tractor to push me out with explicit instructions on going to the third bale from the end before returning to the road.

Oh the woes of communication. The differences between men and women in conversation and moisture. Oh yeah, then he cussed my dog for being in the way on the feed pickup. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tenderness Verfied

A new marketing technique or is science helping us out? Harris, a Eastern grocery store, is using tenderness verified beef. One of the biggest complaints about many cuts is the lack of consistency and tenderness. This may well be a chance to verifiy the tenderness of individual steaks and market them accordingly.

I worry, this will lead to more consumer distrust. You can take the most tender steak but if it is cooked to well done it loses many of those properties~ hence the reason for ordering steaks medium rare. Most meat will be tender and flavorful is cooked properly. It is getting the word out on how to cook cuts in the most appetizing manner that is difficult. Especially, when consumers today spend less than 30 minutes cooking most suppers.

I am as guilty as the next person of rushing through supper. There are chores to do, horses to ride, and SUPPER. Thank goodness for a crock pot!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Dang it! The state of Nevada is in trouble again. Between Harry Reid spouting off about the Cowboy Poetry Gathering and the basic demolish of the extension service, Nevada is on the naughty list this week.

Last year about this time, University of Nevada-Reno gutted their College of Ag. Now, they are gutting the extension service. All the while, they are giving the football coach a raise over the half a million mark. Sad... Athletics above education.

The extension service, whose budget last year was about $7 million from the state, is scheduled to be reduced to $2.2 million. This will effectively cut out most specialist positions, remove travel monies for those left, and complete the disconnect of the rural/urban interface. Most of the Nevada legislature is from Las Vegas and doesn't have the connection. The other 90% of the land mass of the state is left helpless.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wednesday March 9th

Wear green for ag day is Wednesday March 9th. Show your support for agriculture, the week before St. Patty's Day. This is the second annual awareness of Agricultural day using this tactic. Don't forget to speak about why you are doing it. Why ag matters to you!

This is a great idea to raise awareness during budget discussion. Agriculture needs to be in the forefront of everyone's mind. There is a reason why we have not had to go hungry in this nation. It is because of the Agricultural Industry and what it provides.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The article came out.

Awhile back I wrote about talking to a reporter. The article came out~ guess what? She didn't use anything in our interview only a quick question from a meeting I was running. GRRR... She portrayed me as a horse hater. All I asked was if the water was privately owned on the allottments which horses were present is the BLM capable of zeroing out that area and moving the horses. She got the part about zeroing out the herd. That was it. I wish I had some reprecussions but the good news is~ I have been biding my time and the public is speaking out against the reporter and her whimsical articles.

I don't think the editor is going to stop printing her articles because they sell papers. On another note, there has not been one letter to the editor supporting the reporters stories. Guess, it shows what a little emotion and some science can do. Hopefully, we have convinced some people on the fence that horses need to be managed like other livestock.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Smith-Lever Funding on the Table

Were you a 4-H member? How about part of the Master Gardener program? Ever called your local extension agent? Or searched the internet on basic animal questions? Well, the federal funding for these programs is on the table. The Smith-Lever funding is the federal match to state and local funding sources for Extension Service.

It is sad that Congress would even consider cutting such a valuable program that helps take research and scientific data back to producers, consumers, and kids alike. This funding has been in effect since, 1914. The original act was to "aid in diffusing among the people practical and useful information on agriculture and home economics alike." This has since been amended to "to enable people to improve their lives and communities alike through learning parternerships and put knowledge to work".

It is a big mission statement but extension educators all across the country to try to improve peoples' lives and communities through their knowledge and disseminating practical research. If you agree that exentsion is a viable part of the community~ send a letter to your Congressmen and women.