Amanda Radke / Special to Agweek
If you have been on social media lately, you might have seen my open letter to Ellen DeGeneres that I penned for BEEF Magazine after her Instagram video encouraging people to #BeNeatEatLessMeat. In just a few short weeks, the letter has been read hundreds of thousands and times and garnered millions of impressions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
May is Beef Month, and across the country, state beef councils will leverage beef checkoff dollars to promote beef to consumers through fun educational events and campaigns. The Minnesota Beef Council kicked off the month by introducing the "Beef Strong" workout. In collaboration with Lindsey Bomgren, a full-time fitness instructor at Nourish Move Love in the Twin Cities, the 30-minute workout was designed to imitate the physical movements farmers and ranchers do each day, including the hay bale throw and farmer's carry, just to name a few.
It's been a tough year for farmers and ranchers for a multitude of reasons. First, producers are contending with ongoing trade wars, market uncertainties and debt loads rising to increasingly high levels. Second, the average age of the American producer today is 58 years old and climbing. These folks are nearing retirement age and dealing with the challenges of transitioning the family farm, putting together a nest egg and navigating through the ups and downs of operating with multiple generations in one operation.
I'm a ranch mom to three beautiful, rambunctious cowkids — Scarlett, Thorne and Croix. When I became a mom, I realized there were very few agriculturally-accurate children's books available. More often than not, the cow was the main character and not the rancher. Even worse, the rancher, in so many books and Disney movies, was portrayed as evil, sinister and lacking in care for his livestock.
Freshman U.S. Rep.. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) made headlines when she released her Green New Deal plan on Feb. 7. The proposal laid out resolutions to accomplish net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 years. To do so, Ocasio-Cortez, who hails from the Bronx and Queens in New York City, proposes the United States eliminate air travel in favor of trains, retrofit the nation's buildings, provide every person with a living family wage, socialized health care, union jobs and more.
Even as the U.S. economy continues to hum along, farmers and ranchers in rural America are facing a different reality. According to the USDA's most recent Farm Sector Income Forecast, farm profitability for 2018 was down 12 percent from the previous year. Adjusting for inflation, net farm incomes last year were at the third lowest level when looking at the last 20-plus years.
As 2018 draws to a close, we'll welcome a New Year! With a fresh slate heading into 2019, we have 365 days to become better versions of ourselves. Data from a recent poll conducted by Statista reveals the most popular resolutions, which include: save money (53 percent), lose weight/get in shape (45 percent), have more sex (25 percent), travel more (24 percent), read more books (23 percent), learn a new skill or hobby (22 percent), buy a house (21percent), quit smoking (16 percent) and find love (15 percent).
In the United States, McDonald's sells 1 billion pounds of beef to its customers each year. That equates to 5.5 million head of cattle. As the nation's largest purchaser of beef, the iconic burger joint is listening to consumer concerns about the environment and creating benchmarks in sustainability for U.S. beef producers to achieve. "McDonald's wants to play a role in leaving the planet a better place," said Townsend Bailey, McDonald's director of sustainability. "We are on a journey for continuous improvement, but what does 'sustainability' really mean to McDonald's?"
HURON, S.D.—On Nov. 27-29, ranchers met in Huron for the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association 70th Annual Convention and Trade Show. With a full slate of speakers discussing topics such as fake meats, sustainability, the economics of cattle backgrounding, transportation, Beef Quality Assurance, and managing feedlot heat stress, it was a full house as producers listened to the latest research and industry news that could assist them in being more profitable in their operations.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says nearly 10 percent of the nation's 93 million acres of agricultural land will change hands in the next couple of years. As the next generation of farmers and ranchers dives into their production agricultural careers, consideration must be also paid to retiring and aging producers.