You’re not organic farmers but you don’t grow GMO’s? How do you talk about that?

As part of our “How do you talk about that?,” series, Shannon Seifert shares how she tells the story behind their non-organic and non-GMO farm. 

Not organic and no-GMO’s. Confused? Many are. Orange Patch Dairy doesn’t grow GMO crops, but we’re not an organic farm Non-oganic and non-GMO. How do you talk about that? with Shannon Seifert www.AgChat.orgeither.  With GMO’s in the news, this only increases the importance of communicating about our farming practices. Here are some points we use when talking about GMO’s:

Stress the importance of using crop rotation to control pests and weeds.  We’re conventional farmers, but thanks to a crop rotation which includes forage crops like alfalfa, we haven’t needed to use GMO technologies in our corn varieties.  We basically only grow corn and alfalfa to feed our cows.  Alfalfa works as a great crop to control weeds and break up our corn crop rotations.

Be transparent: when needed, we do use herbicides and insecticides.  We use chemicals as needed, based on the recommendations of our agronomist, but since our crops are fed as forage, we want to minimize the amount of chemicals we use.  We capitalize on the natural defenses of our crops.  However, this can also be said for GMO crops as well, since they allow a reduction in many chemical applications.

GMO’s are an option that we might use if needed.  We could benefit from GMO’s or might use them in the future if we face an issue where our agronomist would recommend them, but for right now, our crop rotation and farming choices don’t require GMO’s.  In the past pests like corn borer, have damaged our crops and lowered our yields, but we’ve been able to use other agronomic tools and rotation to minimize future damage.

Just like consumers, we demand choices.  When we choose our seeds for the growing season, we have a wide variety of traits to choose from: height, grain yield, forage yield, digestibility, drought resistant, standablity, tolerance to insects, resistance to herbicides, etc.  As dairy farmers, we put a strong focus on varieties that will make the best, most digestible feed for our cows first, yield comes second.  If we can grow high quality feed for our cows, we know we will get high quality milk.  A grain farmer will choose varieties that may have a higher grain yield instead; different farmers with different goals.

There’s no single “right” way to farm.  Often we forget that there is no single “right” way to farm.  Each farm has its own environment and a farmer manages and makes choices which are the best for that environment.  We make choices on how to best improve our soils, use our natural fertilizers (cow manure), and produce the most tons of forage per acre, while making sure that each pound of feed we grow helps us grow healthy cows.  We make choices that are the best for our environment and our cows.

Are you a non-GMO and non-organic farmer? How do you talk about your farm?

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Shannon Seifert - Visit www.OrangePatchDairy.blogspot.com

 

Shannon Seifert is a dairy farmer from Southern Minnesota. After working a full time job as a dairy nutritionist for 4 years she returned to the farm in 2009, working side by side with her husband every day. Together they milk around 200 cows. They love what they do and wouldn’t trade it for the world. You can catch up with Shannon on the Orange Patch Dairy Facebook page or on their blog OrangePatchDairy.blogspot.com.

 

Farmer In the Spotlight – Nicole Small and The County Fair Linky Party

Telling your story is an important piece of agriculture advocacy but its only a piece. What happens to your story if it doesn’t reach your Nicole Small, Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom hosts The County Fair Blog Linky Party each Friday. www.talesofakansasfarmmom.blogspot.com intended audience? It remains an untold story. So how do we get to those audiences? Nicole Small, of Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom and known for her Flat Aggie series, has once again reached into her bag of tricks to develop The County Fair project. We were able to catch up with Nicole to learn more about this new project and how she agvocates.
What is The Country Fair Blog Party and how does it work?
The Country Fair Blog Party (aka Linky Party) is where bloggers can link up 1-3 of their own posts to the party. The links show up on all of the co-hosts blogs. We welcome any topic, but each week we feature the most viewed posts in the following 3 categories: Agriculture, Food, and DIY Projects.
While we don’t award “prizes” we do feature the favorite posts the next week. I know from the experience of being featured on other parties that it can get you 100+ hits on an old post. We try to invite at least 3 non ag bloggers each week to the party. I usually invite newer food blogs. And, we invite newer ag blogs when we find them as well.
How did you come up with the idea for the County Fair? 
I have a pig farmer wife friend who reads lots of blogs.  She kept finding these linky parties that she insisted I participate in.  They really Linky Party on www.talesofakansasfarmmom.blogspot.com helped me reach beyond my friends and family and find a whole new group of followers and bloggers to follow and learn from.
I got to thinking that I needed to try to get some of my ag friends to join in the fun and decided to try one of my own.
How has the County Fair project increased your engagement with non-agriculture folks?

We are still in the infancy of this project, but I keep inviting food bloggers to link up with us each week and I am getting them to link up, but more importantly they are starting to follow me on other outlets so we continue the conversations about how food is raised.
What & how much do you farm?

We raise corn, soybeans, wheat, milo, hay and cow/calf  6000 acres
How long have you been blogging?

  
I started blogging in March of 2012.
Which social media outlet is your favorite and which is most successful?

I prefer to use Facebook currently, but Pinterest definitely drives the most traffic to my blog.
You are also the founder of the #FlatAggie project. Tell us a little bit about that project and the results as far as reaching non-farm/ranch folks.
I can not take credit for the founding Flat Aggie that does to the Sarah of The House That Ag Built, but she has been excited to watch our Aggie’s as well as her own class’s.  I love this project, because I can get farmers to talk about their farms that wouldn’t normally.  They will write a report for kids with a paper doll, because it isn’t as intimidating as talking with adults.  The funny thing is that so many are so far removed from the farm that often we need to break things down to the kids level for them to be understood.  I can’t tell you how many adults (especially the teachers that sent Flat Aggie out) tell me that they have learned so much from the reports.
It has been a great way for me to get agriculture into 4 classrooms in 2 states (Kansas and California) on a regular basis.  I can work on the reports when I have time and the teachers can present them when they have time.  It is a win win for both of us and the kids love the reports.

ACF Announces Luncheon Keynote Speaker U.S. Olympian Katie Uhlaender

We’re extremely excited to announce, the addition of U.S. Olympian Katie Uhlaender to the 2014 Cultivate & Announcing Katie Uhlaender as the luncheon keynote of the 2013 Cultivate & Connect conference - Photo courtesy of Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports. Visit AgChat.org/Austin to register!Connect keynote lineup.

Katie is a U.S. Olympic skeleton racer, accomplished weightlifter and passionate farmer. She is a three-time Winter Olympian, a two-time Skeleton World Cup champion and the 2012 World Champion. When Katie isn’t training for her next competition, you can find her on her family’s Northwest Kansas farm. Katie is a proud agriculture advocate and believes athletes and farmers live a very similar lifestyle.

Katie will be sharing her unique and touching story while sharing her go-to tips when advocating for agriculture. Don’t miss out on meeting a true American hero!

Seating for ACF’s 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference is limited. Be sure to register today! Early bird pricing ends May 25th.

REGISTER TODAY!

 

David Hayden – Better Conversations When You Push Yourself At Conferences

David Hayden discusses the benefits of attending AgChat conferences. Visit AgChat.org/Austin to register for the 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference!Conversation with David Hayden – David says that going to the AgChat Conference in 2012 pushed him to reach beyond his “normal” audience and have better conversations about food and agriculture with non-ag focused people [audio].

Seating is limited at the 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference so register early!

Direct link to MP3 audio.


Take the 2014 Farmer Challenge – #2014FarmerChallenge

Oregon farmer and alumnus of ACF’s 2014 Northwest Regional Agvocacy conference, Brenda Frketich has taken a good friend’s challenge and ran with it. Fellow farmer Dan Worley, also of Oregon, put the video below on Facebook yesterday asking farmers and ranchers to take a few minutes to share what they do during the day.

2014 Farmer Challenge via Agriculture.com

Frketich not only met her friend’s challenge, she and Agriculture.com have teamed up to put all of your videos in one place. We echo their efforts and encourage you all to make your own video simply showing a bit about your day on the farm or ranch. Be sure to visit Agriculture.com to view other’s videos including Frketich’s.

So, we do wonder, would these be called #FarmerVelfies?

Ready, set, VIDEO!