Friday, December 3, 2010

Social Media Prep for #CAFB10

First, I want to thank Dan Toland, from the Ohio Farm Bureau, for having the idea and providing the basis for the information that I am about to share.

I am looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible at the 92nd California Farm Bureau’s annual meeting this week in Monterey. There is an amazing agenda planned, with outstanding speakers, activities and policy discussion.

If you are reading this, you are one of the few individuals who have taken the initiative to engage in social media. The CFBF annual meeting is a wonderful opportunity for you to share insightful quotes, things learned and people met. It is an opportunity for you to share agriculture’s story from the perspective of a grassroots member of CFBF. It is an opportunity for you to share with other members the wonderful experience of utilizing social media to share their story.

Here is a quick run-down of some Facebook and Twitter tips and strategies to help make this annual meeting a social media success. With the theme “New Horizons…No Fences” I challenge you to utilize the social media tools at your disposal, embrace the new horizons and help breakdown the fences, increase understanding, build bridges and grow communities.


Update your status throughout the meeting.

Mobile photo uploads are a great way to share and remember who you meet.

Share the experience that makes Farm Bureau unique in how policy starts at the local level and travels through the process.


The official hashtag for the annual meeting is #CAFB10.

Include the hashtag in all of your tweets from the meeting & activities.

Follow the hashtag to see what is happing.

Mobile photo uploads are excellent way to share.

Some other common hashtags to utilize: #farm, #ag, #agchat, #food, #agvocate, #environment, #quote, #CA, #Monterey


Play “reporter”: Post quotes, thoughts, facts and information.

Share photos: Be sure to include a short description of photo and a hashtag.

Retweet, Like and Share posts from other participants.


• Carry power cords with you. If you get active, you’ll need a re-charge! 

• Always read your post twice, before hitting “send.” It becomes public instantly.


Look for the Know A California Farmer / AgChat Foundation table at the meeting. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have and if you are not already, get you signed up for #KACF.

I look forward to seeing and meeting you all!

Travel safe.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Farm American & #Foodthanks

Project Farm American: a mobile agricultural education unit traveling to schools, shopping centers and sporting events that will reach over 62 million people every year. This project is an opportunity to build bridges between rural and urban America. For years, those in agriculture have been ‘searching’ to find a way to reconnect with consumers, particularly those in urban areas. Project Farm American fits that goal in a unique way.

Every agricultural organization understands the importance of policy development; however, with bridge building to the urban interface, we have the opportunity to garner even more support, outside our own community. We in agriculture clearly understand that the pressures we are facing from regulatory and legislative actions, drafted by individuals without a clear understanding of that which they are wanting to govern. This project will lead to a more informed public and more common sense legislation.
Would it not be advantageous to reach out to the public, educate them on what, why and how we do what we do? The Farm American project will reach over 62 million people, covering all demographics, each year. The potential impact that will be gained through this effort is astronomical.

Further, it is important to note that this project promotes the importance and value of all agricultural enterprises. It will fit hand-in-hand with the multiple social media projects, spread throughout the country, that are already building bridges and growing communities of understanding. The opportunity for consumers to meet local farmers and ranchers, enjoy the product of their toil, and learn how that commodity was grown and harvested will be personal. This is a package that will put the face of the American farmer back on the plate.

This is an effort that all Americans can participate in. Our objective is raise the recognition of the American farmer, so that we are able to continue to produce all of the food that our country needs and not have to rely upon foreign imports to feed our own people. It is fitting that this week is also #world #foodthanks week. Show your support for American farmers and ranchers by supporting the Farm American Project and by visiting, and make some posts utilizing the #foodthanks hashtag.

Together, Troy and Stacey Hadrick, Ray Prock and I are undertaking an effort to raise $1 million dollars to go towards getting the mobile, interactive agricultural education unit on the road. We are asking for pledges for four years at the following minimums, feel free to challenge others for more; individuals, farms and ranches - $50, County Farm Bureaus, Cattlemen and Cattlewomen Associations - $250, State Farm Bureaus, Cattlemen, Cattlewomen and Beef Councils - $2,500. We are counting on agvocates across the US to help us reach these organizations and many more.

To show your support of this endeavor, we simply ask that you post your interest as a comment to this blog and send an quick email to One of us will contact you for the appropriate information. Also, feel free to contact any of us with questions you may have.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My #foodthanks

For many of us this time of the year, giving thanks for food on the table is a time-honored tradition. It may strike some as odd, being as I am a rancher, but I am thankful for the 100’s of farmers and ranchers I have met this past year in person and the 100’s I have met through various social media platforms.

I am thankful for the farmers who grew the corn, almonds, barley, cotton, and soybeans that make up the grain ration I feed to our bulls.

I am thankful for the farmers who grow the fresh fruits and vegetables that we are able to buy at the grocery store.

I am thankful for the farmers who grow the pork, lamb and yes, even poultry, which we are able to buy at the grocery store.

I am thankful for the farmers who care for the cows at the dairies and provide us with a steady supply of refreshing milk at the grocery store.

I am thankful for the farmers who grow the herbs, grains and other essentials that are so readily available at the grocery store.

I am thankful for the multitude of people who are responsible for getting the products from the farm to the store.

Join the AgChat Foundation in sharing your thanks this Wednesday, November 24, in a tweet, a Facebook post, video or blog. Our goal with the #foodthanks campaign is to provide tools and inspiration for spreading personal expressions of gratitude beyond the family table to that extended circle of friends and family in our social media networks.Use the hashtag #foodthanks & use the image.

What are you thankful for?


Monday, November 15, 2010

An 'Aggie' Experience at an Innovation Summit

This past Friday night and Saturday morning I was fortunate to be invited to attend & speak at the 2010 Innovation Summit, presented by Partners for Growth and Innovation. Thank you very much to Marla Schulman and Tanya Noel for allowing me to take part in this enjoyable experience.

Friday evening, in a small group setting, we engaged in a very informative discussion, led by Nilofer Merchant (, on applying strategic thinking and innovation. An insightful presentation and discussion. I then thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking social media strategy, blogging and marketing with Christian Gammill (, and Liz Strauss (

Saturday morning, Naeem Zafar (Professor, Hass Business School, U.C. Berkeley, ) , delivered a keynote on Creating an Ecosystem of Innovation: Lessons from Silicon Valley. It was an enjoyable discussion with question and answer that followed.

I then participated as a panelist discussing Strategic Innovative Problem Definition – from where we are to where we have to be, with Sussan Thomas (President, Trainer Communications), Mark Kithcart, (Marketing Director, Democrasoft), Karolina Caran, (Motivational Researcher and Author), Omar Ahmad, (Co-Founder & CEO, SynCHEnergy Corporation) and Rooley Eliezerov, (Co-founder & President, Gigya), as the moderator.

It was interesting to see the correlations that agriculture shares with corporate America, yet still maintains its unique ability to stay grounded in family and inter-personal relationships with our customers.

A common theme among the panelists was the idea of “failing forward fast” and how society has come to view “failure” positively, since we have the ability to learn from our mistakes. Omar helped me to realize again how thankful I am that we have corporations in agriculture that are able to engage in this philosophy in order for family farmers and ranchers to take advantage and incorporate the resulting innovations.

Following the panel, a great presentation was delivered by Jeremiah Owyang, a partner at Altimeter Group( , on how corporations connect with their customer using web technologies. It was interesting to recognize that AgChat Foundation and efforts within agriculture are ahead of the curve in this arena by utilizing a combination of the ‘Dandelion’ and ‘Holistic’ strategy model.

Sadly, I had to head home early. The cattle and horses were eagerly awaiting their feed and my neighbors were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

I look forward to continuing discussions with those that I met at the summit. It was a tremendous learning experience and I eagerly await the next.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Farm American, Time For Team Work

Three weekends ago, Ray Prock, Troy and Stacy Hadrick and I were invited to attend the Fontana NASCAR race as a guest of the Furniture Row Racing Team. Team owner, Barney Visser, also graciously ran the Farm American paint scheme on the 78 at three races this season. Mr. Visser has first hand experience with the outsourcing of American jobs and does not want to see same happen to agriculture. His passion for American agriculture is obvious and I am excited to work with Furniture Row racing, Ray, Troy and Stacy on his dream to promote American agriculture.

It is time for all of agriculture to step up and come together to support an endeavor that will reach over 60% of population, 36 weeks each year through televised coverage, live races and retail store promotion. After catching 'Undercover Boss' this week, with NASCAR's SVP Steve Phelps and Chief Marketing Officer, and witnessing first hand in Fontana, the similarities between NASCAR and American Agriculture are very apparent. Both NASCAR and American Agriculture place strong emphasis on family values, patriotism and efficiency. The team and partnership are there for the making. Lead by crew chief Pete Rondeau, the #78 team exhibited passion, top skills and professionalism as they performed in the pits, shared attributes of American family farmers and ranchers.

Just as dedicated, to keeping American agriculture viable, was the young, promising and truly dedicated driver of the #78, Regan Smith. Regan is from an agricultural background in New York and shared with us his commitment to doing what he can to further promote American agriculture and keep it viable. Having followed NASCAR for sometime, I can verify that Regan Smith has the perfect attitude, personality and dedication to be the driver of the Farm American car.

Hang on! I am just getting to the real exciting part of the vision, as shared with us by Pat Driscoll, Corporate Relations Director and Shawn Martini, Communications Director. This endeavor is more than an outstanding team, a competitive car, a talented driver and a beautiful paint scheme every race day. The goal is to also have a traveling, interactive, educational mobile tour, that will be at every track and make stops between races. This mobile tour will educate the public about American agriculture & promote products grown regionally, based on the track location. Local family farmers and ranchers will interact with the public, build new bridges and grow bigger communities of understanding.Stops for the mobile tour will include tracks, schools, shopping malls, shows and state fairs.

The photo above is a prime example of the attraction by the public to the #78 Farm American car. This father and his son and daughter we just walking down pit road, looking at the cars, saw the #78, stopped and asked if we would take their picture with it. A neat conversation about farming and ranching ensued.

We need agribusiness, industry organizations, farmers and ranchers to come together on this team of opportunity. Barney Visser, owner of Furniture Row, a man with no ties to agriculture, other than a passion for eating healthy, wholesome, nutritious American grown food, has already invested nearly $2 million of his own to launch the effort. This race season is nearly over and the time is now to step forward and become a member of this winning team for American agriculture.

We have been looking for opportunities to reach out to more people, greater diversity and gain positive air time on major networks. How often does agriculture have someone volunteer to help promote our industry at a national level, in a way that reaches over 160 million people? This is it! It is time to become a part of Team Farm American.

I would like to personally express a heartfelt thank you to Barney Visser, Pete Rondeau, Joe Garone, Pat Driscoll, Shawn Martini and Charlie Krauch for inviting us to Fontana and including us in this important journey. Excited anticipation for the future of Farm American and Furniture Row Racing is an understatement.

To learn more about the team, driver and program, check out:

Recent post by Troy Hadrick on Advocates for Agriculture:

Recent post by Ray Prock:

Twitter -!/Regan_Smith_ (Regan Smith)

Facebook -!/FarmAmerican

Website -

Or, send me an email. and I would be happy to discuss the program with you and get you in touch with appropriate people to become a part of the team.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thoughts On 2010 California Election

A number of folks have asked my position on a number of races, propositions & measures in California, Siskiyou County and Scott Valley; so here are my personal, "Ag Friendly" recomendations.

Senator - Carly Fiorina

Boxer has been worthless. Period. Carly has pledged to work with Senator Feinstein on the Central Valley Water issues, the Klamath Water issues and understands that smaller government, less onerous regulations and lower taxes stimulate job creation.

Governor - Meg Whitman

Simply put, California cannot afford another term of Brown. Much of the regulatory nightmare we are confronted with today is a result of his previous term. Meg has the complete opposite philosophy and supports growing agriculture in all of its diversity.

Lieutenant Governor - Abel Maldanado

Attorney General - Steve Cooley

State Senate, District 4 - Doug LaMalfa

I have the utmost respect for Doug. He was an outstanding Assemblyman, has a first hand understanding of farming, ranching and the water issues facing our district.

Proposition 19 – No, Would legalize marijauna

Proposition 20 – Yes, Allows Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw congressional districts, not legislature.

Proposition 21 – No, Would impose another new fee

Proposition 22 – Yes, Prevents state from borrowing or taking funds from local government

Proposition 23 – Yes, Will suspend AB 32

Proposition 24 – No, Would repeal Business tax credits

Proposition 25 – No, Would change budget vote from 2/3 to majority

Proposition 26 – Yes, Increases vote requirement from simple majority to 2/3 to impose fees, levies and charges & requires voters to approve local fees or charges.

Proposition 27 – No, Would take job of drawing district boundaries from CRC and give it back to the legislature.

Measure G (Klamath Dam Removal) – No, Would support removal of Iron Gate, Copco 1 and Copco 2 dams, eliminating local, green power and put Scott Valley and Shasta Valley farmers and ranchers water rights in jeopardy.

Measure E (School Bond) – No, Would impose unfair taxes on farms and ranches, taxing all property, including equipment and machinery.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Example of Out-Of-Control Government Impacting Animal Welfare

Seven days ago I returned home from attending the NASCAR race in Fontana CA. I was invited by the Furniture Row Racing team to meet with their owner, driver and team to discuss the future plans of the Farm American car and an interactive, educational, traveling van that will be at all of the NASCAR races as well as stop at various locations during off weeks, educating the public about American Agriculture and promoting local farmers and ranchers and their food at each of the venues. I will talk about this more in another post.

Upon returning home, late in the afternoon, the ranch looked to be in good shape. The cattle and horses were all in their respective pastures and looked to be content. The following morning I took a quick drive on the ATV and checked all the critters out before heading to a meeting in Yreka. They looked healthy and happy. I returned that night well after dark for chores. When I awoke on Wednesday morning and glanced out on the fields, I noticed that there was only one field with cows in it, there should have been three, and we were short a few to boot. I also noticed that our stud horse was not in his pasture, but up the lane next to the mares and foals. This was not a good start to the day.

I quickly hopped on the ATV and proceeded down the lane. After returning the stud to his field I proceeded to try and locate the missing cows and calves. Following their trail, through three downed fences, I found most of them in the river bed and realized the irrigation ditch, which they water from, was completely dry. I immediately called my neighbor, who shares the ditch with us to find out if he had a plug in the ditch. The reply was a negative and further, that upon checking the ditch the morning before, it had been flowing full. Something did not seem to be adding up.

After getting the majority of the pairs back into the bottom field, I did a quick splice on the fence to hold them for a bit, returned to the barn and jumped in the truck to go check the ditch at the point of diversion. We have had issue with several pairs of beavers, in the past, and was expecting to see a dam across our ditch. However, when I reached the fish screen, to prevent fish from entering the ditch, I noticed that the screens and brushes had been removed, the flow regulating headgate had been closed and the bypass had been opened.

I proceeded to the point of diversion and discovered that the headgate there had also been closed. I promptly called our watermaster, an employee of the California Department of Water Resources, who acts under the order of the court and enforces our adjudicated water rights. He informed me that neither he nor the other watermaster, had even been in the area for the past week. A call to the California Department of Fish and Game screen shop revealed that they had removed the screens on Tuesday, around noon, without notifying either my neighbor or myself, but “had not touched the headgates.” However, CDFG claimed the ditch was “dry” and that is why they had pulled the screens. Problem, my neighbor had seen the ditch running full Tuesday morning around 9 am and it takes nearly 8 hours for the ditch to “go dry.”

This is the fourth time in five years that the CDFG has pulled the screens and opened the bypass without landowner contact. The previous three times they had also closed the diversion headgate. Something smells real fishy, and it is not fish!

1. Our diversion is an adjudicated water right, with irrigation rights from April 15th through October 15th and livestock watering rights year round.

2. Legally, the only two entities that may adjust the diversion headgate are the landowner and the watermaster, from CDWR.

3. Legally, the CDFG may not trespass, unless in pursuit of a violator, and it may only be a Game Warden.

4. Legally, the CDFG may not touch a privately owned headgate on a diversion.

5. By contract, CDFG must inform the landowner before visiting, repairing, or adjusting any fish screen.

Due to the suspected actions of the CDFG, cattle and horses were left without water for nearly 48 hrs, since it took 18 for the water to reach them again after turning it back on. I had three breeding groups separated that were mixed again on their search for water. I had a bull get injured, four fences destroyed and stud horse cut up. All of this could have been avoided if 1) CDFG had not shut off the diversion; and 2) if CDFG had contacted the landowners about removing the screens, if indeed the ditch had been dry, as they claim.

This is yet another attempt by a government agency to trample private property rights and display their utter disregard for their actions. Government has become too big and too bold. It must stop and must change.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Response to PETA Article in Sacramento Bee

I am writing in response to the opinion piece that was published in your Lifestyle section on October 11, 2010. It is sad that you would publish an article by an animal rights activist that paints every farm, ranch and animal facility with one broad brush of inaccuracy and fallacy. The vast majority of farmers and ranchers treat their animals humanely and respectfully. As a rancher and an active animal welfarist, I would like to share the following thoughts.

First, this is a personal issue for family farmers and ranchers like me. We consider our animals a part of our family and often spend more time caring for our animals than we spend with our families. We make sure our animals have the highest quality food, water and veterinary care; health is paramount. We also do our best to protect our animals from disease, competition, injury and predators.

Second, the writer makes it sound as though these practices are typical. Those of us involved in farming and ranching know that is not so. Without healthy, content animals, farmers and ranchers could not stay in business. We understand the importance of animal care in assuring safe and high-quality meat, milk and eggs for our communities. Some of us personally know our consumers, others do not, but we always make it a priority to ensure that the food we are raising is the best cared for and of the highest quality.

Third, farmers and ranchers are as disgusted as anyone by the abuse alleged in this opinion piece. If people are abusing animals, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. One incident of mishandling is one too many. There must be zero tolerance for inhumane animal treatment, period.

There are a lot of dedicated people who specialize in animal care, people like veterinarians, animal scientists and experts on animal well-being. Farmers and ranchers have been actively working with them to create quality-assurance programs that set guidelines for animal handling to eliminate stress, decrease risk of injury (to both animal and human) and ensure the highest quality of animal products for American consumers.

In closing, as a family rancher, I thank you for the opportunity to respond as an individual who depends on ensuring the health and welfare of the livestock I raise to be able to continue to provide a high quality, safe, wholesome and nutritious product.

Farmers and ranchers across the United States are telling their stories through videos, blogging and photos. Consumers can connect with them to see how they care for their animals and raise the safest food possible at Readers may also contact me directly at

Monday, October 4, 2010

#140conf: Building Bridges & Growing Communities

I'm off to the #140conf in LA, filled with excitement and anticipation of the opportunities that await.

Being a part of the #140conf in SFO was an eye opening experience and I am truly grateful for Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) inviting both Ray Prock (@RayLinDairy) and myself to also be a part of the Los Angeles event.

Many of my friends and acquaintances within the agriculture community have asked me why I want to travel to LA and participate in a conference filled with "non-aggies."

The answer is simple. Everyone eats and if we in agriculture do not re-connect with our customers, what they eat will not be from here, but imported.

Consumers today are so far removed from the farm and ranch that they have lost a true understanding of how their food, fiber, fuel and shelter are grown.

I believe it is essential for farmers and ranchers to stop relying on others to communicate their with consumers. Yes, it is helpful, but having the actual growers share their personal story is what builds strong bridges and communities of shared understanding.

I look forward to events that have diverse interests in attendance. Agriculture has relied primarily upon industry organizations to spread its message for to long. It is high time for family farmers and ranchers to tell their own story.

Here in LA, I am going to share my story, make new friends, build new bridges and expand the ever growing and caring community of farmers, ranchers and consumers.
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Whitman, Illegals & Desperate Measures

The recent headline of California Governor Candidate Meg Whitman has me fuming.

Why is there no discussion about the employment agency that provided the Whitmans with employee?

Employers often utilize employment agencies or guest worker programs to find employees so they do not have to deal with hassle of background checks.

With the recommendation of an employment agency, copy of a social security card and a drivers license, the Whitmans had no reasonable reason to question the legality of the employee.

Did the Whitmans pay the respective taxes and social security payments based on the provided documentation? Yes.

Did the Whitmans terminate the employee when they discovered the status of her citizenship? Yes.

Unless you have employees and have had to do back ground checks, zip it!

The fact that the employee was recomended, had forged documentation and had resided in California, drawing a paycheck for as long as she did, demonstrates the complete failure of our current immigration system.

I support a strengthened border to eliminate the entry of illegal aliens. It is a National Security matter and the safety of our citizens demands it.

I support a functional and reliable guest worker program. The American economy, especially agriculture, depends on it.

Finally, I honestly believe this story hit the news for one single purpose, political gain through negative publicity, when the other candidate, Gerry Brown, realized that the good folks of California were not buying his bag of goods.

Do not allow this desparate attempt to discredit Meg Whitman influence your opinion. Look at the substance of her position on the issues.

California needs a governor who understands the importance of a healthy and viable agricultural community, can cut spending and not tax and regulate business out of the state.

I have met Meg Whitman. I trust Meg Whitman. I believe Meg Whitman is the only choice for California governor.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

One of Those Days

Ever had one of those days when try as you might, you just can't finish anything on your plan of work?

I started my morning working on writing a white paper for local control of natural resources. My son awoke, I fixed him breakfast and settled back in. No sooner had I sat down, I received a call from a gentleman with unbelievable scientific knowledge. Needless to say, the call lasted an hour and fourty three minutes. I got my son dressed and dropped off at his grandparents. The white paper was stalled.

When I got home, I fired up the chainsaw and dropped three dead oak trees for winter fire wood. Before I could finish getting them de-limbed, I had gone through three chains. I took the chains in to be sharpened and bought a fourth chain. Shortly after re-starting my woodcutting I blew a hole in the diaphragm of the carb of the chainsaw. Wood cutting stalled.

I called to see where the swather was to pick it up to finish cutting third cutting here at home. Left to pick it up and got a call that it won't be ready until tomorrow. Hay cutting stalled.

I went to pick up the trailer at my parents to haul weaned heifer calves to the scale and get weaning weights. After hooking up to the trailer I realized it had a flat and the spare was flat. Weighing calves stalled.

I've resolved to go back to fixing fence. I have plenty of clips, wire and posts.

I'm certain their is a song that can be written about this experience, perhaps even a rap, but I'm to tired to think about it. LOL
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thoughts On My Son's First Day Of School

As I walked my son to his first day of school, pre-school, I couldn’t help but contemplate the state of our educational system and the potential impacts it is and will have on society.

During my short 40 years, I have seen the transition from a focus on cursive handwriting, to printing, from typing to keyboarding, from writing out mathematical solutions to graphing calculators and party lines with rotary dial phones, to digital phones with answering machines, to cell phones, to smart phones that are used more for texting, tweeting, posting and emailing than talking.

These transitions of focus included a transition away critical thinking and in my humble opinion have resulted in the following:

1. People rarely write thank you cards or letters anymore. Instead, the cards are pre-printed, digital or email is utilized. People no longer have to think about how to say what they feel and then legibly put those words to paper. Humanity is lost. Let us return to the days when a “rough draft” for an essay meant writing it on paper. Would this not improve critical thinking and reduce the temptation to “cut & paste” from an electronic file?

2. People are unable to compute mathematical problems without a calculator or computer, let alone run a proof to determine if the given answer is truly correct. “Experts” working for regulatory agencies rely entirely upon computer models without any regard for the quality of the data entering, whether the data was entered correctly, whether the data was utilized properly and are unable to “prove” the outcome is accurate without utilizing multiple runs on another computer, using the same files and same model. Start putting it back on paper people!

3. People become agitated when responses to questions are not answered in a timely manner via social media or email, when a phone call could give an immediate reply. I fear cell phones, if not already, will soon be utilized more for digital communication than speaking. Will this lead to the inability of individuals to communicate effectively vocally and introduce classes on texting instead of speech?

Do not take this the wrong way, I appreciate technology and utilize all forms that help me to be more efficient. However, I do think that we need to re-introduce some of the basics back into schools. Teach students how to write again, legibly and grammatically correct. Require students to show ALL of their work in math, not just answers and bring back speech and debate classes.

While I am looking forward to my son’s future experiences in his educational endeavors, he can rest assured that what he does not receive in school, will be waiting for him at home. Until then, it is back to changing water and ranch work alone, two days a week. At least I get to be weaned from him in phases. :-)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Cowboy & A Dairyman Experience SFO

I recently had the opportunity to attend the San Francisco #140 Conference with Ray Prock (@RayLinDairy) through the gracious invitation of Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver). This was the second twitter conference Ray and I have attended, the first being a #140tc in Seattle, Washington, hosted by Parnasus Group. Both events were extremely well organized, very informative and everyone was gracious, receptive and a bit intrigued by a cowboy and a dairyman in attendance.

There are a couple of points I would like to make in reflection of my experience attending these conferences. First, I would highly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to attend, to do so. There is something of value for everyone to gain through the presentations, speakers and panels. Listen to what is being said; forget what sector you may be from. Value can be found in every presentation. Nuggets that can be utilized and interwoven into your use of social media, no matter what who is doing the sharing.

Second, the networking opportunity is truly amazing. Ray and I have met some folks that I am certain will be friends for ever; individuals who I would never have believed meeting a year ago. Everyone attending these conferences is there for at least one common purpose: how to communicate more effectively and build communities by maintaining the humanity of the interaction.

Finally, there is much for agriculture to learn from sectors that have been utilizing social media since the beginning. There is also much for other sectors to learn from agriculture as I have discovered. It is important for people from all walks of life to connect, communicate and learn from each other. Bridges are being built that will last generations.

In closing, thank you very much to Jeff Pulver for the opportunity to speak and a very gracious thank you to all of those Ray and I met and talked to in San Francisco. It was especially nice to finally meet Frank Plughoff (@Earthnik) whom I have been tweeting with for the past year. It is always fun to meet tweeple in person.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Time - Focus On Children

The past three weeks has caused me to contemplate the matter of time and how I budget time. Like finances, time can be budgeted and I highly recommend that folks do, for many of the same reasons. Like money, time can be wasted. However, unlike money, more time cannot be earned. We are here on this planet for a finite period and it is important we invest our time wisely.

Begin your Time Budget by establishing what is most important to you, budget your time accordingly and then write it down and stick to your budget. Similar to money, time has an ROI (Return On Investment) value. It is important that the time you spend is quality time, especially when it comes to time invested with our children.

Spending time with a child is valuable, but make it quality time. Give your undivided attention to your son/daughter, eliminate the distractions and let them set the pace. Think about it. Do you simply reply in short responses (“I see,” “that’s nice,” “interesting,” etc.) or do you engage in dialogue? When going for a walk or ride, do you go ahead or let them set the speed and travel with them, seeing what they see, when they see it and in the manner which they see it?

Having the opportunity to be a single parent for a month has caused me to realize the importance in spending quality time with a child. It requires me to slow down my pace, have patience and listen. Does it require time? Certainly! But my son is a high priority and I have modified my Time Budget to be able to spend more quality time with him. Approaching time in a different frame of mind has opened the door to a vast world of opportunity to teach; making those drives in the pickup, rides in the swather, changing water on the ATV and evening walks down the lane all the more special and valuable.

How do you budget your time?

My budget says it is time to take my son fishing, at the neighbor’s reservoir, before we get into the routine of 2nd cutting.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Single Dad For A Month

Single Dad For A Month

It’s been a while since I made the time to make a post. Hay season is upon us, changing water two and three times a day, the usual chores with cattle and horses and my wife is taking a class in Colorado for a month; which means I have our son to myself for some quality time.

Certainly, having both sets of grandparents nearby is a tremendous help for those nights when we are baling from 9 pm until 4:30 am, taking a two hour nap and continuing at 6:30 until noon. They are also very helpful on those nights that I have meetings to attend, County Farm Bureau, Department of Water Resources, Department of Fish and Game, etc.

Forget keeping regular sleeping hours without mom around. He is a trooper! Cutting in the swather, raking in the tractor and day baling in the tug are some of his favorite things to do, as long as he has his books to read when he gets bored. A fanatic about changing water as well; quite the hand helping move swing line, dragging hose and carrying clamps for his ol’ man, he gets upset on the mornings he sleeps in and I’ve changed the water before he rises. I’ve come to realize how important it is to start education children at an early age; their minds are sponges.

Already, at the age of three, he is setting timers on the pumps, starting the pumps, connecting and disconnecting handline, controlling the throttle for the balers in the tugs and starting the ATV to move it to the next riser. We are even sharing the chores: he waters the lawn and feeds the dogs, I water the dogs and mow the lawn; he hays the horses in the barn while I hay the bulls on the hill; I cook the meals while he sets the table and I wash the dishes while he dries. For entertainment, he gets to choose 1 hr of television per week, has an hour each day to play with his toys & ride his bike and we have 30 minutes of story time each night.

Reflecting on the past two weeks I cannot help but wonder if our country would still have a childhood obesity problem if more parents would simply take responsibility for teaching their children proper work ethic, eating and sleeping habits and shut off the computers and televisions. Stop blaming everything else for problems and look within yourself.

Despite our both missing mom, we are both looking forward to another two weeks of father son time. Taking advantage of the time and opportunities that we have to spend with our children should not be ignored nor passed by.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guest Post: Undercover Agendas

Mike Haley is a fifth generation farmer in Ohio.  Together with his wife and father he manages a small herd of purebred Simmental cattle, in addition to raising corn, soybeans, and wheat.  Mike is active in social media and agriculture advocacy and can be found on twitter @farmerhaley

Tuesday night I watched a horrendous video of a farm employee blatantly and purposely beating dairy cows and calves.  It is hard to describe everything that I was feeling; I was enraged, mad, speechless, and in the end I could barely keep from crying.  That video in no way depicts the way I treat my cows, or the way in which the vast majority of farmers would treat their livestock.  I personally can guarantee that it is the worst thing I ever seen or heard of happening on a farm in Ohio, or anywhere else around the country.

The video never left my mind today as I took care of my livestock and tended to my hay.  I don’t know who the individual was that was in the video.  I don't know if he was employed by Mercy for Animals, or if he was just that sadistic.  I do know he deserves to be punished and am glad to hear that he has been charged with 12 counts of animal abuse with investigators looking into more.

With that said I would also like to share my thoughts about Mercy For Animals, their agenda, and how poorly they handled this whole situation.  First, I am appalled by the fact that they were documenting the same abuse week after week, for almost a month, before handing the evidence over to authorities.  A representative from Mercy For Animals made the excuse that they needed “enough time to document the cruelty and that it was an ongoing pattern of abuse, and that the owner had knowledge.” To me this is a weak statement.  I feel that they needed enough time to get enough video footage to further their agenda, and taking it to the authorities right away would have meant that they received less attention.

Secondly, I am appalled by not only Mercy For Animals, but statements by PETA and other animal rights groups.  These organizations stated that this is common practice on farms across the U.S. and suggested, as put in the end of the video, that we “ditch milk”.  Now, I may be a farmer, but it seems that it would be common sense to anyone that the images on this video are acts from a deranged individual and would not be commonplace on any farm.  In fact, acts like these will put a farm out of business quickly, as stressed out cows will not produce milk very well.  I am not the first to admit that there are some whacko’s that don’t take care of their animals.  There are also parents that abuse children and that don’t mean all parents are child abusers.

My third point about Mercy For Animals' handling of this case is the way they released it.  It screams of a group trying to push an agenda, not making an effort to stop the abuse on the farm.  Any investigator would know not to simultaneously release undercover footage until after investigators had a chance to gather enough evidence to convict.  As of right now the farm owner has not been charged.  Part of me wonders if he will be as investigators may not have enough evidence from one scene of video that is black and white and hard to make out.  For the record, if the farm owner was abusing his animals, I hope he gets his punishment as well.

Living and farming in Ohio, animal abuse has become a touchy subject for the past few years, mainly because groups like Mercy For Animals lobbying to pass laws that would micro-manage how we operate.  I am frustrated about how these groups are using this to further their agenda and the legislation they are trying to pass in Ohio this fall.  Their proposed legislation, as Ohio Director of Agriculture Boggs pointed out "their ballot initiative would not have prevented this action from taking place at all."  Don’t worry though; Mercy For Animals and the Humane Society of the United States are already working this video into their campaign – which also makes me curious about the motive for the undercover sting in the first place.

I encourage everyone to take the correct course of action.  First, treat your animals with respect, take care of them as if you were on a reality TV show that everyone can tune in to watch. Second, if you hear of, see, or suspect animal abuse, report it.  Third, stand behind the Ohio Livestock Care Board that was voted in last year as a way to create new standards for how livestock are treated in Ohio as well as enforcing, investigating, and creating stiffer penalties to those that do participate in these horrendous acts.  We can’t turn our back on abuse.  It's wrong, immoral, and anyone participating in it will meet their fate sooner or later (hopefully both).  Glad to get that off my chest, I feel a little better now, but I am still mad and upset.  Funny thing is I am also kind of relieved that the undercover sting happened.  Even though Mercy For Animals may have done this for the wrong reasons, personally I am glad that those cows are no longer being abused.

Monday, April 5, 2010

AgChat Foundation Appreciation

As one of the founders and directors of the AgChat Foundation, I would like to take this opportunity to share a couple of observations that may escape some people.

First, it is truly awe-inspiring how the agricultural family and industry is able to come together for a common cause and work together. I do not know of another industry that has this respect and ability. We have small, medium, large, conventional, natural, organic, single family, multiple family and family corporations talking, reaching agreement and taking an idea into fruition. This respect and professionalism that is shared and the acknowledgment that it will take all of us, working together, to keep America’s food supply safe, healthy and affordable is to be commended.

Second, the agricultural family extends beyond the farm and ranch. Many agribusinesses, throughout the country recognize the importance of consumers learning about where their food comes from, how it is produced and why farmers do what they do. It is this realization that has brought forth a tremendous willingness to share resources, skills and time to help the AgChat Foundation in its endeavor. This friendship and feeling of family is what makes American agriculture unique. Certainly, the tremendous diversity presents a multitude of approaches and philosophies. However, it is widely understood and agreed upon what the objective is: communicate and reconnect with the consumer. Farmers voices are invaluable and need to be heard.

Through professionalism and respect, I expect great things to evolve through the unique nature of the AgChat Foundation. I would also like to personally thank all of the individuals who have been involved in the creation of the Foundation, those who have volunteered to serve on the Advisory Board and the businesses that have so graciously volunteered personnel, time and resources. This is definitely the dawning of a wonderful creation.

To see what a positive collaboration of farmers and ranchers results in visit

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Thoughts On HSUS

As a participant in SM, specifically with Twitter & Facebook, I am encountering more questions from folks asking “Why is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) so bad?” and “What do you have against HSUS?”

This has especially come to the forefront following the successful grassroots effort that resulted in Yellow Tail Wines withdrawing their support of HSUS, re-evaluating their donation policy and the current effort directed towards Pilot Travel Centers and their corporate sponsorship of HSUS. It is my opinion that many of these companies and the public have been mislead by the HSUS and do not fully understand the intent and motivation of this organization.

I fully support companies supporting animal shelters, we all know they are in need of financial assistance, but let’s make sure those dollars are really going to help animals and not working against caring, hard working farmers and ranchers.

In an attempt to make clear my concerns, I have put together a few key issues that I have with HSUS.

1. HSUS considers livestock to be companion animals & often places animals as equals to humans.

The vast majority of farmers and ranchers take extremely good care of their livestock. Note, I said livestock, not companion animal or human equivalent, which is how they are viewed by HSUS & other animal rights groups. Farmers and ranchers understand the important relationship between stress & health and strive to keep their livestock under low stress & healthy. It is this attention to making sure livestock are happy & healthy that leads to feelings from spouses, at times, that the critters are getting more attention than they are. I care deeply for all of the livestock our family raises. My dog is definitely a dependable (most of the time) helper on the ranch. However, if my son were in danger at the same time as my dog and a calf, my son gets my attention first and foremost EVERY time. There is NO hesitation!

2. HSUS strategy is to implement laws and regulations that incrementally work towards the abolishment of animal agriculture and promote a vegan lifestyle for both humans & canines.

Farmers and ranchers live and breathe animal care, day in and day out. They have learned best management practices, and are constantly adapting those practices through firsthand experience and new scientifically supported methods so that livestock are handled in as stress free an environment as possible. On the other hand, the HSUS is constantly trying to implement laws and regulations on farms and ranches that are not based on science or practical experience, serving only to hinder the efforts of caring farmers and ranchers and place the producer and animal in jeopardy, both in terms of safety and health. It is and has been the HSUS practice to “dictate” management practices on animal agriculture without basis, instead of trying to understand current practices and working with industry to make improvements where necessary. The bottom line, from personal observation and experience, is that the HSUS wants to regulate farms & ranches out of business.

3. HSUS goes undercover to expose bad apples.

For the record, I do not have a problem with “bad apples” being exposed and held accountable for their actions. Anyone who intentionally abuses animals should not be allowed to own animals. It is wrong. Having said that, here are the issues I have with HSUS tactics. First, undercover reporting for political gain, in my opinion, is deceptive and wrong on several levels. HSUS’s practice is to record violations & then hold the video for opportune periods of time in which to air the videos so that they can gain financially & politically. If someone is undercover, and they truly care about welfare of the animals, they should address questionable actions immediately, not wait a month or several months to “reveal” the practices at a politically advantageous moment. As a rancher, when I see someone mistreating an animal I don’t wait; I address the issue at the time it happens so it doesn’t continue. Why? Simple, I truly care about the welfare of animals, want to help teach and share better methods with fellow livestock producers and don’t have an agenda to make money, gain political points or get prime time exposure.

4. HSUS advertisements are misleading.

We have all seen the commercials that play on people’s emotions, requesting money to help these “poor animals.” In fact, based upon the HSUS’s own tax returns, they spend less than 1% of their annual budget of over $100 million on direct ground level animal care and assistance. The remaining 99.5% of their budget is spent on lobbying, implementing ballot initiatives, publicity campaigns and lining the pockets of HSUS employees. Unfortunately, by association of name similarity, many people believe that the HSUS is related to the hard working, underfunded local Humane Societies and animal shelters, which is NOT the case. If you want to see your money go directly to helping care for pets that have been abandoned, mis-treated or need medical attention, and not into someone’s pocket, keep your donation local.

In conclusion, I applaud folks like Temple Grandin, who see opportunities to improve management practices and work with industry to make positive changes. I am grateful to the university system which is constantly testing and evaluating industry practices and equipment, looking for new and better ways to raise livestock in safer, healthier and less stressful ways and then sharing that information with students & industry through outreach. I appreciate the underfunded local humane societies and animal shelters and promote their efforts in order to bring them more financial support. And, I encourage fellow farmers and ranchers to evaluate each other’s practices and call into question those that are not appropriate, so that changes can be made for the benefit of the animals.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why I Support Food Check Out Week

I was reminded again today at church the importance of letting the Holy Spirit flow through us, and guiding us in our decisions and actions. One of the scriptures hit me in an "Ah Ha!" moment that was the reason behind my publicly recognizing and promoting Food Check Out Week.

Over the past several weeks, family farmers, ranchers, outdoorsmen, pet owners and people in general have voiced their displeasure with the factory fundraising machine, known as the Humane Society of the United States, which collects millions of dollars in the name of “saving pets,” when in actuality, less than 1 percent goes to actual animal care. What about the rest? It finds itself going into pockets of people and working to end animal agriculture in the United States through legislation and ballot initiatives and the conversion of carnivorous canines to vegetarians. This gross use of playing on people’s emotions and mis-representation of their true agenda brings to light the importance of making donations locally.

What, you make ask; does this have to do with Food Check Out Week? First and foremost, I care about the health and well being of the livestock I raise, but I also put people first. It saddens me to see organizations such as the HSUS raising millions of dollars in the name of animal welfare, just to take that money and use it to end the production of food, when we have so many people who are homeless, and hungry. I was raised to be compassionate, caring and loving towards humanity, and when I see those who are most unfortunate and in need, the children and our seniors, I do what I can to help them.

This is the reason I chose to promote Food Check Out Week by donating beef to our local senior meals program. A program that is short on funding, but always manages to provide one hot, healthy meal to senior citizens in our community every Thursday who are alone, unable to provide for themselves or are restricted to home care.

As a family ranching family we are not cash rich by any means, but we do have a resource readily available that can provide nourishment and sustenance to those who are hungry. I ask you to join me, and look around your homes to see what you have, that you too can donate to a local program and help those less fortunate, not just this week, but make it a personal goal to help locally, on a regular basis. If you are uncertain what you can do, ask God, he will speak to you. Perhaps it is offering your time to hold, play with and read to orphans, cook or deliver meals for programs.

It is not important what you do. What is important, is that you do something. I feel so much more satisfied when I know that donations I make, stay local, help local people, help my local community and did not get spent lining someone’s pocket or worse yet, were spent to stop what I do, providing food, care and love for people.

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1 John 4 v7-8

Friday, January 15, 2010

Response to de Vendômois et. al's Report on GMO's & Organ Damage

After reading a recently sited report on the relationship between GMO’s and organ damage by de Vendômois et. al., ( I did a little research on the study and came to the following conclusions.

1. de Vendômois et. al. did not use traditional statistical methodology to reassess their toxicology data resulting from their studies with the three varieties studied.

2. de Vendômois et. al's conclusions appear to be unsubstantiated.

    a. The HCB (French High Council on Biotechnology) stated that de Vendômois et. al's study did not contribute to the safety assessment of GMO’s.

    b. The FSANZ claims that de Vendômois et. al “distorted” the significance of the toxicology by failing to account for “other” relevant factors and overly “emphasized” the statistical treatment of the data.

3. de Vendômois et. al failed to considered the following:

    a. Reproducibility

    b. Dose-related trends;

    c. Relationship to other findings;

    d. Variance of delta and relationship to findings in the norm; and

    e. Rate of occurrence when findings varied between sexes.

4. At first glance, de Vendômois et. al's findings demonstrate no negative effects with the three varieties used, especially when considering normal/traditional statistical analysis.

5. Put simply: de Vendômois et. al's study was designed to reach a pre-determined outcome and thus, utilized statistical methodology that would support that outcome.

Certainly, I’m just a farmer and rancher, but I do have a college education with ample background in statistics and science. I would be interested if anyone with a doctorate in science finds any flaws in my Common Sense approach to analyzing this study while feeding hay in the field.

Back to feeding now, I certainly am enjoying this air card for the laptop.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AFBF 2010 Convention Demonstrates Open Arms, Appreciation & Values

At the 2010 American Farm Bureau Convention, President Bob Stallman opened the activities with an inspiring address and was commended through a standing ovation by a very diverse crowd of family farmers and ranchers. Farmers and ranchers representing every commodity, every state, including Puerto Rico and every method of production were joined together for one objective; to work together to ensure “Passage to Success” for all American Agriculture. It is the ability for this diverse community to come together and discuss sensitive issues in a professional and civil manner and coming to agreement for the benefit of agriculture that makes the American Farm Bureau Federation so special.

The American Farm Bureau Federation opened the doors to the media, including representatives from publications of opposition. It was and is the intent of the American Farm Bureau to welcome individuals with open arms to engage in positive dialogue and demonstrate the tremendous grass root foundation that exemplifies Farm Bureau’s purpose to make progress based on freedom and dignity of the individual, sustained by basic moral and religious concepts.

Certainly, it was disappointing to see several articles published that portrayed the American Farm Bureau Federation in a negative light. However, family farmers and ranchers will continue to encourage positive dialogue, even with those who are in opposition, in the hope that understanding can be reached in an effort to share the positive message that farmers and ranchers have with the public. Family farmers and ranchers are and always shall be optimistic, welcoming and looking for opportunities to engage the public in a civil manner with the hope for beneficial outcomes.

As Terry Bradshaw stated in his address to the delegation, “Life is too short not to smile and be appreciative for the bountiful blessings bestowed upon us by our creator.” We should all be thankful for the work of America’s farmers and ranchers for providing the country and the world with a bountiful supply of safe and healthy food. Thank a farmer!

About Me

My photo
Jeff Fowle is a fourth generation family farmer and rancher from Etna, California. He and his wife Erin and son Kyle raise registered Angus cattle, Percheron draft horses, warmbloods, alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay. They also start and train horses for riding, jumping, and driving. Their family run ranch has incorporated many environmentally beneficial and water efficient technologies and management strategies. Jeff attended college at Colorado State University for two years and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for four and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. Following college, he worked in Washington State for a year as a herdsman for BB Cattle Company and then returned to Etna, California in 1995 to own and operate KK Bar Ranch and Siskiyou Percherons. The latter was started by his grandfather, Clarence Dudley, who devoted much of his time to the Percheron Horse Association of America, specifically to developing their youth education program.