The One Percent

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For years the agriculture sector has adapted to a changing market, and Colorado State University released data with a high demand for qualified college graduates with agriculture degrees.

Less than two percent, 4.6 million, of Americans live and work on farms, but the agriculture sector employs 22 million for the producing, processing, and trading of food and fiber in the U.S., according to a North Carolina State University study.

At the same time, Purdue University and the USDA project the market will add 60,000 new ag jobs every year for the next five years.

For college students pursuing degrees in agriculture and its associated areas, the job market holds promise for positions after graduation.

The USDA projected close to two open positions for every qualified graduate within the next year.

With the changing agriculture sector, degrees in agriculture have become more diverse as well. Students like Colorado State senior Aubriel Jones is majoring in agriculture literacy and minoring in both global and environmental sustainability and agricultural and resource economics.

When people asks, however, Jones typically avoids the specific titles and simply says “agriculture.”

“They say, ‘Oh you’re learning about corn right? Or you’re learning about how cows eat?’ Things like that,” Jones said.

A large number of people outside agriculture don’t recognize the reaches of the agriculture market and see it as its most basics parts like crops and livestock.

Many modern agricultural students, like Jones, don’t even come from farming or agriculture backgrounds, but recognize the importance and vastness of the agriculture market and sector.

“You have 1 percent of your population feeding the other 99 percent,” Kevin Pond head of Colorado State University’s animal science department said.

Over the next few years, demand for qualified agriculturists will go up to fill agricultural, both direct and indirect, careers, and salaries will reflect the demand raise, Pond said.

Agriculture can no longer be depicted as merely cows and plows. The advancing market and world culture means new age agriculturalist and recognition of their importance.

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Removing Antibiotics and Farmer Support

Subway announced Oct. 20 that the chain would use no meat that has been treated any kind of antibiotic by 2025, and almost instantaneously American farmers retaliated against the restaurant’s marketing tactic.

The choice to remove antibiotics completely from it meat supply came from those who believe antibiotic use in meats helps develop super bugs, or antibiotic resistant viruses, according to Subway.

People like fourth generation farmer Megan Dwyer urged consumers to see through the marketing choice Subway chose, saying consumers deserve to see all sides of antibiotic use.

“I want to know what am I supposed to do when one of my cows gets sick, let them suffer? Because I`m not okay with that.” Dwyer told Quad Cities (WQAD) reporter Jenna Morton Thursday.

For diseases such as pneumonia and pink eye, animals can easily die or infect the entire herd if not properly medicated, said Dwyer.

Dwyer also made a point to say that antibiotic are only used with veterinary assistance.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the United States Department of Agriculture put regulations and restrictions to assure that antibiotics used in meat production have time, a withdrawal period, to leave the animal’s system before the animal and meat enters the consumer market.

Disgruntled farmers took to the Internet and social media posting pictures and stories about antibiotic use on sick animals who without the antibiotics could very easily die from the illness each one contracted.

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Without antibiotics administer at early on, the calves, like the one above named Sangria, born in early spring could easily die of pneumonia.

Producers even caught Subway removing comments arguing the antibiotic-free movement from the company’s Facebook.

After being flooded by such stories, Subway released a secondary statement Saturday:

“We recognize that antibiotics are critical tools for keeping animals healthy and that they should be used responsibly to preserve their effectiveness in veterinary and human medicine. Our policy is that antibiotics can be used to treat, control and prevent disease, but not for growth promotion of farm animals.”

Many producers still feel as though Subway choose to use inaccurate scare tactics to amp sales with their new “totally antibiotic-free” meats considering the secondary statement never appeared clearly on Subway’s website.

The chain restaurant did attempt to clarify its stance on antibiotic use and its purpose in the meat industry.

However, in doing so Subway angered a great number of American farmers in the process.

Hunger Hits Home

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It’s difficult to think that in a country with surplus stores, fab diets, gas station sushi, and more fast food venders than one can count that worldwide one in nine people will live with chronic hunger.

Even in the United States, 14% of Americans face food insecurity in 2014, according to the USDA.

Friday marked the 70th anniversary of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the 36th anniversary of World Food Day.

For the anniversary, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released an article on its USA and Canada page on World Food Day.

Now most of the information in the article gets linked back to the parent site and other world hunger organization pages, but many of the facts listed ultimately can be traced back to the USDA and other government sites.

Some of the numbers seem to be rounded up and older statistics (still within the past three years) in efforts to promote a call to action, but the numbers can only be so accurate when some data pours in from underdeveloped countries. The site also offers links to report inaccurate, or ever fraudulent, data.

The World Food Day site comes off as accurately based but more of a branch site for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations does business under a wordy title that seems to have no actual connection to the United Nations governing body.

All of the organization’s pages function with a .org url and not a .gov.

The activist group calls its readers to action with the statistics and facts it provides with the ultimate goal of irradicating hunger.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations moves people to advocate for world hunger.

“Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.” According to the World Food Day organization.

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Good or Bad

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President Barack Obama’s arguably most notable pieces of legislature would be the Affordable Care Act and the stimulus package. However, a new large piece of legislation will add to Obama’s legacy as president.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) helps connect the United States with multiple countries in the Pacific rim region to a massive chunk of the 95% of world trade that goes on outside its border.

Reporter Kai Ryssdal sat down with President Obama and a number of leaders within the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to discuss the president’s vocal support for the TTP.

Ryssdal expertly moved from discussing the president’s stance on the TTP to the TTP’s future effects on both big businesses and the individual producers and consumers.

After getting shorter answers on the “economic anxiety,” Ryssdal restructured his approach to get a fuller answer from the president.

“The question then is, is that the new normal? Should we just get used to that?” Ryssdal asked in reference to the economic insecurity of the U.S. and got an answer readers can assume he was looking for with his previous less direct questions.

Where as Marketplace could have decided to pick different quotes and pieces of this interview to craft an article, the site chose to give a less biased piece by giving Obama’s full answer. Some other sites with more political agendas will likely craft this same interview to portray the TTP as better or worse than the president portrayed it.

See full interview here: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/president-obama-talks-trade/full-interview-president-obama-defends-tpp

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Lady Entomology

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When calling an exterminator, just out of habit a customer expects the person who shows up at their door to be a male.

Now where that stereotype has been rather accurate for years, according to an article published Wednesday by The Guardiana high number of bug hunters have entered the field wielding double X chromosomes.

Women in the entomology field face a number of challenges because sexual bias including comments about their physical appearance, physical ability, and knowledge of the field.

Lydia Brown of Maricopa Agricultural Center at the University of Arizona said times have occurred where she’s felt “threatened” while working on off site facilities.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of 2014 women made up only 3.7% of pest control workers. In the next decade, the woman will gain more opportunities in this field as it’s expected to grow around 20% in the next 10 years.

Commonly referred to as exterminators, pest control technicians require more training than most consumers realize due to the delicate science and chemical behind entomology.

The Guardian successfully explained that entomology remains a male dominated field while promoting women to join the field. However, the article doesn’t cover well the challenges women may face in the field.

Many companies have learned that many benefits follow a gender diverse payroll.

“Women come off as more nurturing and trustworthy at the door when one-on-one and face-to-face with the customer,” said Micki Tolentino, a corporate training administrator at Insight Pest Solutions. “I have put at ease many stay-at-home moms who request an interior service because of my gender.”

For a job field that is demanding physically and mentally, companies have to realize the importance of a diverse employee pool while considering a safe work environment for its employees and the most financially effective routes for its business.

See full article here: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/sep/23/female-exterminators-breaking-through-pest-control-glass-ceiling

Cage-Free Commitment

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McDonald’s recent choice to move to cage-free eggs caused organizations like The Center for Food Integrity to question McDonald’s motives.

Considering poultry- chickens, turkeys, eggs, etc.- firmly holds the spot as Kentucky’s No. 1 ag commodity, many Kentucky poultry producers turned their heads at this announcement.

Even as consumers still remember the pink goo chicken nuggets, McDonald’s announced Sept. 9 that they would transition to using cage-free eggs only within the next 10 years for all its restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.

“This is a bold move, and we’re confident in our ability to provide a quality, safe, and consistent supply.” Said Marion Gross, senior vice president and Chief Supply Chain Officer of McDonald’s North America.

McDonald’s claims to base its choice with health and safety cautions, but in reality, a switch to cage-free eggs isn’t very bold, especially with current culture and market trends.

The younger generation wants a more transparent and sustainable food supply, said food industry analyst Phil Lempert; however, much of the same younger generation does not have the education in ag literacy needed to fully understand these issues.

Many consumers see the words “cage-free” and assume it’s healthier for them an that means the same thing as “free-range” or “pasture-raised”, which all have different meanings.

Between Calloway, Trigg, Graves, and Marshall counties, at least one of each different style farms exist.

This doesn’t mean McDonald’s choice to make the switch is wrong, just perhaps for the wrong reasons.

The cage-free hen houses have unique benefits like the hens’ ability to perform many natural habits, but at the same time, it comes with its own side effects including more premature hen deaths, poorer air quality for workers, and greater risk for egg contamination, according to The Center for Food Integrity.

So McDonald’s recent marketing choice could very well be a marketing and strategic branding move aimed at a younger, more eco-conscious generation rather than a move towards better food quality and care.

See the full articles here:

http://www.foodintegrity.org/mcdonalds-on-cage-free-eggs-weighing-science-with-consumer-preference/?utm_content=buffer9f301&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

http://news.mcdonalds.com/Corporate/news-stories/2013/McDonalds-to-Fully-Transition-to-Cage-Free-Eggs

Help Wanted

Donald Trump, usually praised for his vocal stance on immigration, may lose the farmer vote as his immigration comments fell under fire on Friday on the U.S. Immigration webpage.

Previously calling undocumented immigrant workers “rapists and murderers,” Trump wants to deport all undocumented workers and to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Firm in his belief, Trump risks losing a farmers who depend on the nearly 1.4 million undocumented immigrant workers which is 60% of the ag labor force, said The National Council of Farm Co-Operatives president and former deputy agriculture secretary during the George W. Bush administration, Chuck Conner.

Removing the immigrant work force leaves farmers “screaming” for workers in a field that Americans refuse to enter, Carlos Castañeda, a California farm labor contractor, said. Most Americans refuse to do the back-breaking, labor intensive jobs that undocumented workers dedicate themselves to.

The American Farm Bureau Federation released a 2014 survey revealing that:

If Congress passed an enforcement-only immigration bill, fruit production within the United States would fall by as much as 61%, the average farm income would fall by as much as 30% and the price of fruit in supermarkets would increase by 6% ‒ all due to a lack of labor.

Removing the workforce, even if the majority of that workforce is undocumented, would affect all aspects of the agriculture market and ripple out to other areas. Many farms would not be able to sustain their production rates and risk shutting down completely if their immigrant workers were removed causing a drop in United States grown fruits and vegetables and a rise in produce and meat prices.

Even as Trump bashes the undocumented workers, many farmers stand with their workers rather than Trump and lobby for temporary documents for their seasonal workers because the immigrants will do labor that even unemployed Americans refuse.

See the full articles here:

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/donald-trump-2016-farmers-fear-argriculture-213201

http://www.us-immigration.com/us-immigration-news/us-immigration/trump-could-lose-farmer-vote/

The Other 80%

Of the farmland in the continental U.S.A., 353.8 million acres of those acres aren’t owned by those who farm the land. Over one third of American farmland is rented out, and 80% of the rented ground is owned by non-farmers.

Many land owners rent their acreage out because they do not have the means to or do do not wish to farm the land on their own. The majority of people owning the last big farms are widows in their 60s who have no way of doing the work on their own.

The 911 million acres of American farmland are easily considered a highly valuable resources. This past Tuesday, Ag Web, powered by Farm Journal, reported on the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) issued 2014 Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) survey.

TOTAL is currently the only survey that gathers data on land ownership, and the survey shows great potential in the market. NASS administrator Joseph T. Reilly said:

“Farmland has always been a valuable resource, but what we see in most recent TOTAL results is the emergence of farmland as a future investment. More families are creating trust ownerships to make sure land remains in their family for farming or as an investment.”

In the next five years, 10% of American farmland will change owners. The problem arises when at some point in the land transfer an owner no longer thinks of agriculture or farming as a lucrative enough source of income for the land.

With the agricultural sector under pressures to feed an ever-growing population and Americans demanding fewer imported products, prices for farmland reach new highs. At the same time, developers want the same land for projects and will pay top dollar for sites.

Farmers who operate in the break-even margin cannot afford to buy lands from owners so the chance of it being sold to developers is always present.

But if even only a few farmland owners each year sell to developers, America will no longer have the means to sustain its population and reach a new level of national hunger.

See AgWeb’s full article here: http://www.agweb.com/article/80-of-rented-ground-owned-by-non-farmers-NAA-ben-potter/

It’s All About the Bottle

Alkaline, asparagus, cucumber, cactus, coconut, maple, pitch birch, electrolyte-infused, high pH – what happened to regular water? Where it used to only being common place to see athletes carrying gallon jugs of water, it’s now common to see a variety of people carrying different bottled waters everywhere. The Wall Street Journal recently covered this explosive trend and the effects bottled water is carrying into other drink markets.

“Nestlé… sold more water than Dr Pepper Snapple Group sold soda last year.” The Wall Street Journal wrote. Nestlé is now the third leading company for nonalcoholic drinks in the U.S. Due to the increased health emphasis and the current trends the sales of bottle water rose 7% from last year alone and is projected to be a bigger seller than soda by 2017. Over the last few decade bottled water consumption has increased steadily while soda consumption has steadily fallen. At the same time bottled water prices have fallen while soda prices have continued to rise.

Consumers have chosen to pay a little extra for bottled water over tap since a 2013 industry survey blamed tap water for a some illnesses, and many companies have noticed these trends and jumped on the opportunity. As more companies enter the bottled water market, companies are becoming more creative and more innovative with their brands, flavors, and bottles. Even as environmentalists have addressed their concerns (18 national parks including Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon have banned the sale of bottled in the parks), consumers choose factory bottled water over using a more enviro-friendly refillable bottle. Even during the massive droughts in California certain companies have continued to bottle in the California.

People have been told they need eight glasses of water a day to be properly hydrated; however, most people don’t realize that the recommended amount of water factors in fluids you receive from foods you eat as well as other beverages. So many of the people drinking water by the gallon a day are actually over hydrated. Many consumers also claim that certain waters like the alkaline water are easier for them to drink than regular water, but the Food and Drug Administration can’t monitor many bottling plants or make companies share their results so they state “for most people, plain water is best.

As for me, I spent a large part of my childhood drinking well water and tap water and have never been healthier. Everything is good in moderation, but I am not willing to pay high prices for labels that have little to no regulated testing. Also water is water why do we need to infuse it with fruits, vegetables, and other plants?

The Uninformed Consumer

Many of today’s American consumers have a number of misconceptions about agriculture and agricultural practices. One such consumer happened to be a senior journalism student at the University of Iowa named Cassidy Riley. After taking an internship with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Riley opened up to “The Des Moines Register” in an August 22nd article about how her internship opened her eyes. By working side-by-side with a variation of agricultural producers, Riley was able to confront a number of the worries she had entering the ag sector. Riley is not alone in her confusion when it comes to the agricultural sector. The majority of consumers have had little to no exposure to the ag field beyond their grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

Growing up on a small farm then moving in Illinois to a college town in another state, I have been able to see first hand where certain misconceptions can negatively affect agriculturalists. The exposure gap exists not only in urban settings but in rural settings as well. In a small town, citizens who live in the city limits may only know what the media tells them about their farming neighbors. These misconceptions can be clarified if consumers meet with the same local producers that they are more and more frequently demanding.

As Riley said in her interview, most of exposure to ag producers came from the media and from other consumers. This is common for consumers; however, the media tends to only cover the ag news when something negative happens in the sector. By doing this, consumers unfortunately develop many incorrect ideas about their food producers such as infected feeds making livestock sick, highly medicated livestock being sent to meat processors, and farmers polluting water without worry.

Even as agriculture is one of the most important parts of daily life, many modern consumers distrust producers for false reasons. Without ag producers, the world wouldn’t have food to eat, clothes to wear, or gas to travel. There is a lack of education and exposure to the agriculture sector that causes huge communication gaps between producer and consumer. As consumers have begun requesting their products from smaller, more local producers, they should request a new level of information to shrink the number of misconceptions. This knowledge gap ultimately will only create an inaccurately informed consumer and damage the ag market.