Amanda Radke, Special to Agweek
We can't eat our way out of climate change. There, I said it. And I've repeated this almost daily in recent months since nearly every mainstream media outlet is linking eating meat to disastrous impacts on planetary health. And statements like that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I feel good eating beef knowing that nutritionally, I'm getting the best bang for my caloric buck. Imagine the carbon footprint of completely frivolous foods we fill our cupboards with — buckets of Halloween candy, bottles of wine or Christmas cookie platters come to mind.
I'm slow going this week as I recover from the marathon weekend at the South Dakota State Fair. As I type this, there is a mountain of laundry waiting for me to do, a scattering of wood chips on the floor of every pickup truck we own and a to-do list a mile long as I play catchup from being out of the office over Labor Day weekend.
My Facebook news feed is full of photos from the county fair as proud 4-H moms and dads share the triumphs and heartaches of their children during one of the most exhausting but rewarding weeks of the entire year.
From public schools to daycares to hospitals to the military to daycare centers, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans shape nutrition policies and menus for millions of Americans each year. First implemented in 1980, the guidelines, known as DGAs, are updated every five years to reflect the most current and accepted research and science on health and nutrition.
It was Labor Day in 1988 when Tom and Kathy Wankel, ranchers from Angela, Mont., took their kids on a camping trip to Fork Peck, a federal reservoir located on the Missouri River. When the fish weren't biting, Tom and Kathy decided to do a little hiking and rock hunting, and that's why Kathy saw it — a brown and shiny object that looked like the side of a butter knife.
Ongoing trade wars, low commodity prices, crazy weather patterns, rising input costs, increasing debt, regulatory burdens, retailer pressures — these are just some of the many challenges facing farmers and ranchers in the current agricultural economic cycle. As 2019 progresses, producers are also dealing with flooded fields, no crops to harvest, limited forages to put up hay and an uncertainty about income for the upcoming year and how bank notes will be paid.
Twelve years ago, I was a college freshman spending the summer as an intern for the USDA in Washington, D.C. I'll never forget my first weekend in the nation's most powerful city. It was Memorial Day, and my roommate, Meredith (a vegetarian from New Jersey), and I were exploring the parades and celebrations together when we happened upon a homeless woman sitting on a park bench.
Mother Nature hasn't been kind to farmers and ranchers in the Dakotas and the surrounding states. The year 2019 has been marked with extreme cold temperatures, record snowfall, excessive rain and flooding, multiple late spring blizzards in the peak of calving season and even tornadoes. The above average rainfall may be good for promoting grass to grow in pastures, but it has delayed or even eliminated the possibility of getting crops planted this season. This leaves livestock producers in a bind as they wonder, where am I going to source feed and forages for the upcoming year?
To kick off the summer season, I've been traveling to local libraries and 4-H events to read my children's books, "Levi's Lost Calf" and "Can-Do Cowkids." If you've been following this column for awhile now, you already know that promoting agricultural literacy to young people is a passion project of mine, so having the opportunity to share my beef production story with a wide audience is always a treat for me.
How do farmers and ranchers address the need for safe, affordable and widely accessible food to nourish a growing world population while also practicing sustainable, regenerative agriculture to protect our planet's natural resources? That's a big question, but the ONE: Alltech Ideas Conference in Lexington, Ky., on May 20-22, aimed to provide answers. The conference, also known as ONE19, included 116 speakers communicating to 3,500 attendees from 70 countries.