In one of their songs, Hillsong United sings "I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground." The collective prayers of a loving wife and a unified community have Zach soaring.Read More
“A farmer understands when he puts that seed in the ground that there are no guarantees. You roll the dice and hope for the best.” Kent continued...Read More
“The best part about farming is that I get to work every day with my best friend. That’s the thing I enjoy the most.” John just smiles back at her in agreement.Read More
Many people are far removed from agriculture and view the relationship between the farmer and animal as distant one. That couldn't be further from the truth. Agriculture revolves around the compassion and connection between the farmer and the animal, a commitment to sustainability and humane practices. It's an age old connection that continues to this day, although usually far removed from daily life of the urban and suburban consumer. The only thing standing in between this gap is experience, a voice, or an image.
I think that is the biggest thing that concerns me about the rhetorically-driven advertisements of chains like Chipotle or Panera bread; without human experience driving your decisions, you are left to trust the merits of the content creator. When the purpose of the content creator is to increase sales through product differentiation there could be an inherent problem.
So please let me introduce you to farmers you might not hear about in media or advertisements who represent the vast majority of US farmers and ranchers.
Thank you for reading. I always look forward to a great discussion about the hard working American farming and ranching families.
One of the greatest sights to behold is the wheat harvest on the plains.
This day was particularly interesting. In the morning, I was serving as an assistant moderator for a focus group with a group of Nigerian flour millers during their stay at certain grain program. Before the focus group began, they talked to me about how much they pay attention to American wheat production.
A few hours later, I was watching the modern marvel of the wheat harvest. American families join together for the success of their small business to reap the hope they had sown in the previous fall. They watched with anticipation and reservation as the winter gave them brutal winds, chill, and little promise.
The spring came, rains come, hail was reserved from the skies, and the fortunate farmers will get a harvest. It hasn't been an easy year for many of Kansas' wheat farmers, but when they begin to harvest their crops, it's a beautiful thing.
Within days, the entire state's wheat will be harvested, counted, and ready for distribution across the world.
Although the message of "farmers feeding the world" doesn't resound in the ears of America anymore, I can guarantee you that message still holds tremendous meaning for people like the flour millers I was able to meet with in the morning.
America's wheat is cheap, high quality, and benefits people from a family pouring their daily Cheerios to a small African towns' flour mills.
The cheap price of Agricultural products such as wheat means that you and I only have to spend approximately 15% of our income on food compared to the 30-50% found in other countries. That additional 15-35% savings is spent supporting the rest of the economy.
To me, that is why American agriculture is a beautiful thing. It is sown on the hopes of American families, for 90%+ farms are made up of small family farms. Their hopes travel across the world.
The American wheat harvest is a sight everyone should see, for in a few days, the risks and hopes of a few make the dreams of many a possibility.
Scott Stebner is an agricultural photographer based out of Kansas.
Grass-fed beef. What does that mean to you?
Personally, I love the taste of grass-fed beef, but I think there’s a misconception out there about how beef cattle are raised in the process. There’s the idea that products that are not labeled “grass fed” have been on a steady diet of corn their entire lives, which is not exactly true. While traditional cattle are usually finished with a high grain diet to put on extra pounds, meat, and fat (which results in taste), they spend the vast majority of their time grazing out in the open range or pastures. Cattle that are only fed grass have a much more difficult time putting on the fat needed to grade Choice or Prime which is one of the reasons grass-fed beef is significantly more expensive.
Cattle spend about 80% of their time grazing ranges that cannot support crops. Let me explain. They’re great grazers that can roam steep hills that no tractor could dream of scaling. This means the land used to raise cattle for the vast majority of their lives is land that cannot be used for grain crops or vegetables to feed people. True, many cattle states have flat sections like my current state of Kansas. However, during the winter months, cattle are often grazed on harvested fields thereby converting forage material that was destined to be plowed under into lean and highly nutritious beef. Cattle grazing, if done correctly as most ranchers do, simulates a natural and sustainable process that not only uses the land for commercial gain but improves it as well.
Nothing is wrong with grass-fed beef. I love it when I can afford it. However, it’s important to note that the vast majority of the beef you buy was primarily raised on open pastures converting grass and weeds into a nutritious product. In the process of creating a beef product, cattle also fertilize fields, improve the density of perennial grasses, and help nature with what was once the bison’s job.
Dialogue is always great for agriculture. If you buy grass-fed beef, why do you do it? Is it for the taste, the practice, or something else? Is 80% grass fed enough for you?
Disclaimer: I know a few very successful agricultural communicators have made a great living and presence with including quotes, facts, and text with pictures. I don’t mean to copy or say that my idea of doing so is original. It just made sense for this post, and I enjoyed doing it...that's all.
Scott Stebner is a husband, father, and Kansas agricultural photographer and videographer that creates cinematically-styled environmental portraits to empower the agricultural community. Click HERE to get in contact with Scott.