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    ProFood people you should follow on Twitter

    I would also like to add a few people who work hard at developing local food economies that supply healthy fruits and vegetables to their community. I have been in vigorous debates with each and every one of these individuals. They are passionate about their ideals (almost as much as I am about mine :)) and are always up for a good discussion. We may not agree on everything, but we certainly all want the same thing: safe, healthy food for our community, family, and especially our children.

    @Jambutter - Rob is the founder of Every Kitchen Table. On this blog you will find the 5 stones of the #ProFood movement. Rob is extremely active and very strong in his opinions, which certainly makes for a lively debate. Rob also blogs on The Huffington Post. I look forward to more fruitful (pun intended) discussion on how we can bridge the gap from farmer to consumer as well as from #ProFood to other #ag folks we engage in on Twitter. As an aside, Rob has asked if I would write on his blog a response to the 5 Stones. I have said yes, and have not delivered. I hope to get that done next week. Sorry for the delay Rob.

    @ZacharyCohen - Zach is a food television writer and producer. He also has a blog where he covers the food debates with fairness and sincerity. I have spoken to Zach and he is sincere in his desire to engage with modern farmers to learn as well as discuss the merits of the ProFood movement. Thanks for the good discussions Zach.

    @Kubileya - Joya is an organic market gardener. Joya is a strong supporter of the tenants of #ProFood, whether that be organic production or CSA's. She is involved in it all.

    @meridithmo - Meridith also is a big supporter of CSA's. If memory serves, she is in the process of starting one in her community. Go Meridith!

    As you can imagine, there are many more that can be added to the list. As time goes on, I am sure I will be able to add a #FF shout out to other individuals and companies involved in the #ProFood movement.

    Agriculture folks you should follow on Twitter

    I thought I would add a little more pertinent information as to why you should follow the following people/organizations you should follow on Twitter for this #FollowFriday. The following list is certainly not exhaustive, but will give you a good start if you are interested in food, feed, fiber, and fuel.

    Agriculture is the backbone of our society and these people are working hard at spreading the message to the public on what farmers are doing to ensure an adequate food supply, while at the same time adopting new technologies and management practices to ensure a sustainable world. So, without further ado, here is my list in no particular order:

    @FarmerHaley - Mike Haley is a 5th generation farmer producing grain and purebred Simmental cattler. Mike works hard every day to support his industry through various social media outlets.

    @JeffFowle - Jeff is a rancher raising cattle, horses, and hay. Jeff is very knowledgeable about the beef industry and shares his knowledge freely with all who are interested.

    @RayLinDairy - Ray is a dairy farmer who is very active in social media. He engages in healthy debates on the growing of our food, always above board, and share some pretty funny stuff to boot!

    @mpaynknoper - Michele is a well known speaker and agriculture advocate. You can find more about her on Facebook through her Cause Matters page. She also is the founder of #agchat, an open forum every Tuesday night that allows people from all walks of life to participate in discussions with farmers from around the country. It is a great 2-3 hours of lively debate and knowledge share.

    @WriteNowBiz - Jan is a freelance writer who also raises rabbits and horses, as well as farms. She is also an advocate for agriculture and always participates in the food debates currently taking place.

    @TroyHadrick - Troy is a 5th generation cattle rancher. He has a blog titled Advocates for Agriculture, where he focuses on spreading the positives of modern ranching and farming. Check out his blog for some really good farming information

    @USGC - This is the Unites States Grain Counsel. They focus on increasing farmer profitability by supporting the export markets for grain. They recently came back from an overseas trip in Morocco. Thanks for your work

    @agleader - He is a 6th generation farmer in CA. I enjoy his tweets and particpiation in the food discussions. He also has a focus on water management and the issues we in agriculture must deal with.

    @JPLovesCOTTON - Janice is a PR rep for Monsanto. She is also a wine enthusiast and great photographer. I enjoy here photos and tweets...what a great sense of humor.

    @agchick - Tricia works in media and recently started working with the IL corn board (I believe that is the organization). She is very active is social media and is working on how we, in ag, can spread the message about our industry. See you at Farm Progress next week Tricia

    @OliverRanch - Carrie is president and founder of Oliver Ranch, an artisan beef producer. Carrie is full of great knowledge on the beef supply chain and works on building transparency in here operation for the benefit of the consumer.

    @KYFarmersMatter - They produce beef and have produced a variety of crops prior to opening their full time business "http://www.johnscustommeats". They focus on quality and supporting their local community by providing safe, healthy, and quality beef.

    There are certainly others in the ag community that you should follow, not just on friday, but each and every day. Knowledge share is how we are going to continue to produce food, feed, fiber, and fuel sustainably, thereby making this world a better place for our children. My thanks and gratitude to all the ag folks who engage with me on Twitter and other social media outlets. I hope to meet in person at one of the many events in 2010.

    Progress or Proving who is Wrong?

    Agriculture is the cornerstone of a healthy, vibrant society. Anyone who is involved in food production can agree on this point. If you cannot feed your people, high gas prices, taxes, and healthcare are mute points. Besides this point, on the surface it seems that the agreement ends there, but this is just on the surface. What I see happening is that the debate on food production is getting derailed by generalizations and assumptions. This just needs to stop, indeed, stop immediately!

    Food production is a complex process involving science, logistics, economics, and policy to name a few. To think that only one approach is going to "solve our food problems" is just plain wrong. This is not a problem that can be solved by developing an equation and solving for X, with X being safe and healthy food. We need to take a step back and engage ALL parties. Just to be clear, here is the actual definition of engage: to carry out or participate in an activity; be involved in. I do not see anywhere in that definition where it states your position is the only correct approach. Engage means you bring your knowledge to the table and share, then LISTEN to the other party as they share their knowledge. It is a bit irritating reading the latest articles from TIME "http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1917458,00.html" and the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/opinion/23kristof.html What do the authors really think is going to happen when they paint with such a broad brush? What really happens is this: alienation and defensiveness from the ag community, and rightly so I might add. Put yourself in the place of a modern farmer and read these articles. They were not represented at all. If you doubt the reactions of a farmer, just read their blogs, which you can find via this blog site. After this step in the debate "process", the ProFood advocates then make a claim that modern agriculture:

    1.) Cannot handle criticism and
    2.) Call anyone in the media who disagrees with their position just a sensationalist.

    As you can imagine, this creates a vicious circle that teamwork and innovation cannot take part in. So how do we go about working together, us modern agriculture and ProFood folks?

    Step one is for everyone to acknowledge that we are all ProFood, especially farmers. What farmer in their right mind is going to go out there and pump their livestock full of unessential antibiotics and then turn right around and feed it to their family? I personally do not farm, but feel very confident in the fact that the answer is none. This applies to the production of crops also. So how about we start off with the foundation that we are all ProFood? For more information on ProFood visit here http://everytable.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/five-stones-of-pro-food/ Step two is to do away with the assumptions that advocates for modern agriculture have an agenda that supports corporations polluting our water, ruining our environment, and destroying our soil. Looking outside in to the discussions, it is clear to me that farmers just want the facts about how THEY run their business included in the media. Ask the average consumer how food is grown and see what answers you get. I will bet you bottom dollar that over 70% of the answers will be very similar to the recent articles that have been published. No wonder consumers speak out! I certainly would if I thought that was how ALL food was produced.

    Where the debate should fall is upstream of the actual production. To be fair, much of what ProFood focuses on is upstream; however, a broad brush is used and alienates the same people you claim to support; the farmer. Why can we not have modern agriculture supplying local food economies? We can, but this takes time. Another very important piece of the local food economy is the actual food you grow? Currently much of the ProFood movement are growing vegetables and fruit. What about the staple crops that we all depend on? Do you really think a 2 acre wheat field is the same as a 2 acre vegetable field? It isn't. Please read this article: http://bit.ly/Hzlde It discusses local food economies with staple food crops.

    I am going to reiterate that we divorce the word industrial with modern/conventional. Maybe this can help facilitate calling a spade a spade instead of calling a heart a spade. Both ProFood and modern agriculture can learn from one another and actually, believe it or not, complement one another. ProFood can learn from the modern farmer and utilize the technologies they are able to develop to better manage their food.

    Just a quick thought due to last nights #agchat. If you haven't read the postings yet, look here: "http://www.trufflemedia.com/twitter/Agchat20090825RA.html" Thanks @TruffleMedia for compiling this very useful information! I leave you with this definition Tact: The ability to make a point without making an enemy. We could all benefit with a bit more tact.

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    Can ProFood and "Conventional" Agriculture co-exist?


    Given the fact that there has been a vital shift in the amount of knowledge consumers are demanding from agriculture, as well as a focus on the "how" of food production, I believe we need to adress the question: Can the ProFood movement co-exist with "conventional" agriculture? In short, I say yes, of course it can!


    The first thing we need to do is divorce the connection between industrial agriculture and conventional agriculture. This may be a difficult task given the history of agriculture, but it is imperative we, as a society, make this happen. I work in agriculture, obviously, but do not farm. I spend a great deal of time with farmers and respect what they do and why they do it. There is a 100% garauntee that the family farms (of ALL sizes) that I work with are good stewards of the environment, focus on the welfare of their animals, and take very seriously the notion that "we are feeding the world". For this, we should all be thankful and provide our support for farmers. Now, are there some bad apples (no pun intended) out there? Absolutely! I reject the idea that these bad apples are the norm. Maybe that is my tendency as an eternal optimist coming out? So be it then! By lumping all these "conventional" farmers together with the current definition of industrial farming, we are doing a dis-service to the very many hard working farming families across our country. The vast majority of conventional farmers ARE NOT growing as much as they can with total dis-regard to the soil and the natural resources Mother Nature has blessed us with.


    So back to the orginal question and my position of Yes. The ProFood movement is compromised of very educated consumers. In our country, change can only take place if it is driven by the consumer; the essence of a free market system. We in agriculture can, and should engage in this movement. To be frank, ProFood can learn from farmers who have been growing our food for many years. There is no amount of researching and education that can replace the knowledge of experience. Another reason we in agriculture need to engage is so we can propogate the innovations and technological advancements that have been made in production agriculture. These advancements have led to reduced chemical use, sustainable processes, and reduced water use, to name a few. Is this not a stepping stone in the ProFood ideals?

    It is my position that conventional and sustainble will ultimately converge; once the economics become viable, and they are not now. By design, sustainable agriculture is closely related to organic methodologies. The tenents of organic growing require a shift in the labor required to produce crops. Technology is adopted on a limited basis in organic agriculture. Couple this with the fact that our population shows zero signs of decreasing. To the contrary, we have had rapid expansion in our population. I am not convinced that ProFood can sustain this rapid expansion; at least not in it's current form. On that note, it should be noted that conventional agriculture will also have to adapt, and has been for many years.

    There is room for all types of farmers in the agricultural space. Each has a place and provides the food we require to sustain life. As we continue to engage in fruitful conversation about the growing of our food, it would do us all good to remember that a "conventional" farmer should not be associated with the negative connotaions of "industrial" agriculture. It is due to their hard work and determination that our country has flourished. We are all looking for better ways to produce our food.

    Please stay tuned for more in depth posts touching on the agri-supply chain.




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    Agriculture passionado! I lead GeoVantage's Sales, Marketing, and Business Development activities. If you haven't explored the benefit of remote sensing for production agriculture, now is the time! Not one to rest, I am also a part of the Memes Associates team where we focus on assisting large companies in the agriculture space to "re-discover their inner entrepreneur" through the introduction of market disrupting technology(s) and services.  

    Have questions about agriculture and technology in agriculture? Ask away! 


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