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    Hemp: What Are We Waiting For?

    It has been a while since I have taken the virtual quill to paper. The past year was absolutely hectic with career changes. I now have one focus, Memes Associates. With this focus I can now get back to writing and sharing information about my love of agriculture! 

    I can think of no better topic to write about than industrial hemp. This will be the first in a 7 part series on this spectacular crop.
    Part 1 
    What is Industrial Hemp?
    Hemp is the common name for plants of the entire genus Cannabis. This term is often used to refer only to Cannabis strains cultivated for industrial (non-drug) use. 
    Industrial Hemp
    Industrial Hemp, cannabis sativa L. subsp. sativa produces minuscule amounts of THC, so little in fact, that there are no physical effects as compared to marijuana, an entirely different strain of Hemp. Currently there are approximately 100 different strains of industrial hemp stored in seed banks. The uses of industrial hemp, from food to skin care to phytoremediation and textiles, are vast, allowing farmers to produce a crop with multiple market demands...once we finally decide to move forward and decriminalize its production.

    Where Can It Grow?

    Hemp originated in Central Asia. It then spread through the Europe in to Chile and later North America. Actually, it can be grown virtually anywhere:
    Industrial Hemp growing regions, courtesy of Illinois Business Council, University of Illinois

    No matter your climate, industrial hemp can most likely be cultivated as a cash crop. With its deep penetrating tap root, strong resistance to pests, disease, and weed infestations, it makes perfect sense to investigate adding industrial hemp into your crop rotation. And the best part? the long tap root means industrial hemp can find water with the best of crops making it an excellent crop to help reclaim land in drought conditions. Texas and California anyone?

    If It Is So Good, Why Aren't We Producing More of It?

    I am glad you asked! In 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act was passed and Harry Anslinger, then the head of the newly formed Bureau of Narcotics, ordered hemp prohibition. Mr. Anslinger believed that it would be too difficult to tell the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana so farmers were no longer allowed to produce industrial hemp. We did have a hiatus during World War II though. Not only that the USDA was subsidizing the production of hemp and promoting it as a patriotic endeavor!

    Yes, the USDA was asking us to produce hemp!

    The war ended, hemp prohibition was put back in place and all hemp crops were destroyed by the Air Force and Marines.

     Fast forward to today and it is still illegal to produce industrial hemp in most of the United States, although there is progress on the legislative front. See Colorado and Washington. It is past time that we start looking into integrating industrial hemp into production agriculture in the US. Other countries like Canada, China, and parts of the EU are well ahead of us. Let's get moving! 

    What Are The Markets for Industrial Hemp?

    I will focus on these broad categories in this series:
    1. Food Products
    2. Skin Care
    3. Paper
    4. Textiles
    5. Composite Materials
    6. Phytoremediation
    In Part 2 I will cover the potential for industrial hemp in the food products market. Nature's crop, industrial hemp, will be a major player in production agriculture moving 

    My Take On The Yahoo Story on Ag

    If you haven’t already, you may want to subscribe to the RSS feed using that button over there on the right.


    By now most of us have read the recent Yahoo article regarding useless college degrees. Topping the list was a degree in agriculture. The 4th useless degree was animal science. The author points to data from the US Department of Labor that projects a net job availability decrease of 64,000 jobs in agriculture over the next 7 years.

    The natural first reaction (if you work or are studying agriculture) when confronted with this is to become a little offended. How can someone so removed from agriculture call what I spent (currently spending) my entire college career studying useless? We can’t survive without food. The nerve of that guy, right?

    Well, I see it completely different. I am not offended. All the author was doing was taking data from the Department of Labor, that does indeed show job declines, and then correlating that to the ability to find a job based on said major. I don’t see it as a personal attack, and I certainly don’t believe that the author is trying to be disparaging toward agriculture. It is just data.

    We need to take a step back and remember that we don’t need to defend our degrees. We need to show our passion for the field that we love so much. We need to be transparent in how we operate and why. We need to continue to reach out and engage the public.

    At the end of the day, maybe it will be harder to find a job as a farm manager over the next 7 years. It could be just as difficult to find a job in business development or graphic design or whatever. I still believe you should pursue your passion. And we all know that there are plenty of other roles besides farm manager!!

    I am proud to be involved in agriculture. I am proud to provide services to farmers and others in food production. I am proud to be an #agnerd. I am proud to be “useless.” How does that sound all you “useless” aggies!!!!

    Agriculture+Community+New Friends+Great Times Is Harvest Tour 2011.

    I had the immense pleasure of taking part in the inaugural Harvest Tour over the weekend. The short of it is, fabulous!

    Now the longer version…

    The event took place in the town of Hampton, IA. When you think of a bucolic town, Hampton certainly epitomizes this. It is the county seat for Franklin county with 4,461 city residents. The downtown area was amazing with small shops along each side of the town square. And, oh the agriculture: it was indeed everywhere. What a sense of community!

    Here is a list of the scheduled activities:

    • Maynes Grove and Star Gazing
      • I missed this event on Friday night Sad smile. It just so happens that the Iowa Testing for my son was last week so he had to to attend school that day. We did get to view the beautiful autumn night as we were driving and it was magnificent!
    • Shopping Downtown
      • What a marvelous town square in Hampton. It was full of interesting stores. My family and I had just the best time visiting these stores. My daughter Kate purchased a new backpack while my son and his friend picked up some neat 3-D puzzles and figures. The shop owners were just the epitome of what you can expect from a small town. The shop owner at Cornerstone Cottage loaned me her Flip camera since I left mine back at the Bed and Breakfast. She didn’t know me, but knew Deb so “any friend of Deb’s was a friend of hers.” Now that is just awesome!
    • Fashion Show (Car Show too!)
      • This was a neat little event put on Orange Possum. Afterwards we all took photos with the local media. I managed to sneak out a bit early to check out the car show. And the memories of my childhood came flooding back with all the older automobiles. I spent the greater part of my teenage years restoring and building older vehicles.
    • Combine Rides
      • One of the local farmers hosted the group with lunch in the field (fried chicken, yum!). This family farm operation then answered questions from the group with topics that ranged from proper tiling to conservation efforts. As usual, the local farmer was a wealth of information!
    My Son Alex Getting Ready To Harvest!
    • Tour of Latham High-Tec Seeds
      • John and Shannon Latham, along with their son, hosted our group and talked about the neat things they were doing and then showed the group around their facility. I really enjoyed meeting both Shannon and John. Their operation is impressive and very much rooted in community. My hats off to the Latham group on their success and support of the Hampton community!
    • Sukup Demonstration
      • Sukup provides grain handling, storage, and drying equipment. They have a product that allows for effective drying of grain ensuring even test weight and higher quality of grain.

    Sukup Demo
    Photo Courtesy of @UncommonQuest
    • 1917 Movies – “A Night Like It Used To Be.”
      • This was a really fun event where folks dressed up in the clothing of 1917. There was a plethora of hors d'Ĺ“uvres and local win
    • Brunch with Bloggers and Family
      • This event was a perfect time for the bloggers and their families to sit down at brunch and talk about agriculture, community, and, of course social media! Naturally discussions about social media were a constant among the group.
    • Fall Festival
      • I missed this event Sad smile. My children were ready to go back home so we had to head back to Illinois. But everyone should stop by and visit Harriman-Nielsen Farm
    My family and I had a wonderful weekend in Iowa. My thanks to Deb Brown for all her efforts, organization, and thoughtful planning. I think the event was a smashing success.

    Bloggers To Connect With:

    Claire Celsi: Twitter, Blog, Facebook, G+
    Jon Swanson: Twitter, Blog
    Sara Broers: Blog,
    Heather Lilienthal: Twitter, Blog
    Jocelyn Wallace: Twitter, Blog, Facebook, G+
    Laura Gaulke: Twitter, Blog, Facebook, G+
    Deb Brown: Twitter, Blog, Facebook, G+

    I will be posting more photos and videos from the weekend on Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, G+, Tumblr, and Twitter. So, whatever platform you use, I’ll be there!

    You will notice the title of this post mentioned agriculture, community, and new friends. Please check back soon as I will be posting about each of these topics in separate posts.

    Thanks again for reading.


    Circle Fatigue? Not This Guy!

    I just read an article (came across my Twitter feed Winking smile)  in Fast Company called “Circle Fatigue: The Dark Side of Google+”

    After reading it, I just had to post something as there is one sentence that I just do not follow:

    “Rather than classify my contacts as I might subconsciously in real life--as family, friends, or coworkers--I've been forced to consciously determine my relationships with these people online.” (emphasis mine)

    Being active in social media ain’t easy

    I am diametrically opposed to the author’s viewpoint. I actually welcome the chance to build my social graph. Its like having a do over so I can take the mistakes I made and use this experience to enrich my online experience. In real life, I have more than just friends, family, and coworkers. I do agree that building your social graph isn’t easy, but neither is real life relationships. The are complex and cannot be reduced into 3-5 general buckets. It takes effort, a great deal of effort, to maintain valuable interactions in the world of social media. The simplistic argument that maintaining “too many” circles is tiresome only resonates with people not fully engaged. You have to work at it, be genuine, and invest time, just like you would if you met someone new offline.

    The Other Side of Complexity

    There are two kinds of simplicity: one of this side of complexity and one on the other side of complexity. I prefer the other side as it means you have worked diligently and focused your time on getting through all the complexity that is relationships and arrived at the other side of complexity. Circles, once you start getting into it, are the other side of complexity. What the author talks about in the article is simple, just on the wrong side. So as you start working through building your circles, keep in mind that you will get to the “other side”, you will find that the benefits are quite rewarding.

    Learning Curve

    As with anything, Google+ being no exception, there is a learning curve. When you first start building your circles (aka social graph) it is a little overwhelming (agree with the author on this point). But, I didn’t reach fatigue, rather, I started to really think about not only what I wanted out of my online experience, but what others I interact with may want from me!

    What do you think? Do you agree with the author of the Fast Company article? Are circles giving you the opportunity to begin anew?

    The Unsung Heroes

    This is a guest post from a friend of mine who has an interest in agriculture. Here is my preamble, followed by Woody’s guest post.

    It is sometimes difficult to find information on just how much the American agriculturalists provide not only our nation, but others as well.  Our farmers, ranchers, and dairy men and women provide a vital service to the world. After all, agriculture, in the broadest sense, is the backbone of thriving societies.

    The development of agriculture in 8000 BC changed the hunter-gatherer approach and resulted in more food for more people. And this resulted in the building of thriving societies and ultimately, cities. Thus, sophisticated social systems had there start. It is in agriculture that we began to build where we are today.

    One last comment about this guest post: I am humbled by the remarks and thank Woody very much for his kind words. So, without further adieu, here is Woody’s post.

    “It’s clear that those involved with agriculture are a passionate bunch. Followers of Nate’s postings can see how much he enjoys his occupation. However, the everyday conveniences provided by agribusiness and people like Nate are often times overlooked.

    I’ve found that getting your hands dirty and starting some small scale farming helps me appreciate agriculture and agribusiness. My apartment in Santa Barbara is now hosting a small garden with tomatoes and avocados alike!

    Unfortunately, tending a small garden may not translate to all people. In this case, using references or guides can offer insight to the practices and sheer size of domestic agriculture. This specific reference from FindTheBest is actually pretty interesting. You can compare different commodities and filter results based on several variables (state, county, practice, yield, etc)

    Agribusiness oils the wheels of commerce in America and offers a crucial service present in daily life. I intend this post to be a well deserved ‘thank you’ to Nate and all those involved with agriculture, and shed light on a service and product that should not be forgotten in our everyday routines.”
    Thanks again to Woody for the post and his support of American Agriculture. You can find him on Twitter @Find_The_Best and on Facebook

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