Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Tharp among 15 to be honored by White House and USDA
Beth Legan Tharp carries daughter Kate, 1, along a path on the family farm east of Greencastle earlier this week as representatives of the National Association of Conservation Districts visit the property to view conservation practices implemented on the farm.
(photo by ERIC BERNSEE)
(photo by ERIC BERNSEE)
The White House and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will honor Beth Legan Tharp and 14 other young farmer Champions of Change, leaders from across the country who are doing extraordinary things to build the bridge to the next generation of farming and ranching.
The champions are leading in their industries and communities, the USDA said, inspiring others who want to find careers and a life on the land, and providing food, fiber, fuel and flora around the world.
The Champions of Change program, as announced by President Obama during his State of the Union address, was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.
Tharp, along with her husband Nick and parents Mark and Phyllis Legan, owns and operates Legan Livestock and Grain, a commercial swine, corn and soybean farm east of Greencastle off State Road 240 (1498 S. CR 775 East, Coatesville).
She serves as chief financial officer of the Legan operation.
In listing her as one of the Champions of Change, the USDA noted that Tharp "lends her voice and experience to local community boards representing agriculture to connect her community with her passion for agriculture."
The White House program, which begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday, will feature USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden discussing efforts to ensure that beginning farmers and the growing ranks of agriculture -- women, young people, immigrants, socially disadvantaged producers, returning veterans and retirees -- have access to the programs and support they need.
The event will include a discussion about how to continue growing and supporting the next generation of America's farmers and ranchers.
Besides Beth Legan Tharp, the other agricultural Champions of Change are:
Ryan and Tiffany Batalden,
Lamberton, Minn. -- Fifth-generation beginning farmers in Cottonwood County, Minn. Along with their three young children they grow certified organic corn, soybeans, oilseeds and small grains on 380 acres, raise a small number of livestock, and have a direct-market popcorn business called Patriot Pops.
Bill Bridgeforth, National Black Growers Council, Tanner, Ala. -- A fourth-generation farmer, he is employed by Darden Bridgeforth & Sons, which grows cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans and canola using a variety of cutting-edge agronomic techniques and land conservation practices. He is chairman of the National Black Growers Council, he advocates on behalf of Black farmers in the U.S. and abroad.
Jake Carter, American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, McDonough, Ga. -- He operates Southern Belle Farm, located 30 miles outside of Atlanta. It consists of U-Pick strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and peaches, as well as a fall corn maze and educational school tours. He was recently elected American Farm Bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher Committee chairman.
Kristin Fritz Kubiszak, MBG Marketing "The Blueberry People," Paw Paw, Mich. -- She is the retail manager for Brookside Farms, a fifth-generation family farm in southwest Michigan. After obtaining her bachelor's degree in social work, she returned home to her family farm that focuses on growing and packing blueberries for distribution through MBG's cooperative marketing network.
Lee Haynes, Nature's Best Egg Co., Cullman, Ala. -- An egg farmer from north Alabama, he returned to the farm after graduating from the University of Alabama and has held a key management role in his family farm ever since.
Melinda Litvinas and Jacob Hunt, University of Delaware Creamery and Windy Brow Farms, Newark, Del., and Newton, N.J. -- Melinda manages the UDairy Creamery at Delaware's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and leads student interns and employees through their hands-on experience at the Creamery. Hunt is managing partner at Windy Brow Farms and Cow's Brow Creamery. After receiving a degree in Animal Science and Agricultural Marketing from the University of Delaware, he returned home to expand his family's small business by opening his own creamery. Each year 30,000 people visit the farm.
Lindsey Lusher Shute, National Young Farmers Coalition, Clermont, N.Y. -- She is executive director of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC). Led by young farmers, NYFC advocates for policy change, provides business services, and creates networking opportunities for new growers. She and her husband also own and manage Hearty Roots Community Farm, a diversified vegetable farm.
Adam McClung, vice president, Arkansas Cattlemen's Association, Vilonia, Ark. -- McClung was raised on a cow/calf operation in central Arkansas and received his bachelor's degree in Animal Science with emphasis on Business and Agriculture Economics. His wife works for Farm Credit of Western Arkansas. Together they run 7 Diamond 3 McClung Cattle Company near El Paso, Ark.
Fabiola Nizigiyimana, Worcester, Mass. -- Fabiola is a Burundian refugee farmer and a single mother of five who speaks five languages. In 2013, she was a founding member of the Immigrant Farmer Marketing Cooperative, a USDA-Rural Development project to assist socially disadvantaged farmers.
Quint Pottinger, owner of Affinity Farms, New Haven, Ky. -- Owner of Affinity Farms, a mixed row-crop and herb far, he pursued his education at the University of Kentucky, majoring in agriculture economics. Quint currently serves on the Kentucky Soybean Association board and has just started a year of service with the Corn Farmers Coalition.
Jesus Rodriguez, Washington State -- Born in Los Angeles, he is the son of Mexican and El Salvadoran immigrants. His family moved to Central Washington before he entered school to work in the tree fruit industry. Jesus will enter college this fall, pursuing a degree in horticulture, and hopes to be a field representative for a fruit warehouse or chemical company, and one day, own his own orchard.
Vena A-dae Romero, Cochiti Youth Experience, Cochiti Pueblo, N.M. -- Romero, who is Cochiti Puebloan and Kiowa Indian, is the granddaughter of a Pueblo farmer. She attended the University of Arkansas School of Law's Food and Agricultural Law Program, and now consults for First Nations Development Institute, a leading Native American nonprofit whose mission is to strengthen American Indian economies.
Pierre Sleiman, founder of Go Green Agriculture, Encinitas, Calif. -- CEO of Go Green Agriculture, an innovative company that grows produce inside climate-controlled greenhouses using hydroponics. He also sits on the board of directors of the San Diego County Farm Bureau and will graduate this year from the California Leadership Farm Bureau program.
Desiree Wineland, Cambridge, Neb. -- Born in Sweden, she became a U.S. citizen and served in the U.S. Army. Desiree and her family call Cambridge, Neb., home, where she raises grapes and operates a butcher shop.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Monday, June 9, 2014
The Biggest Myth About Organic Farming
Posted by Ross Pomeroy June 6, 2014
The majority of Americans believe that organic foods are healthier than food grown using conventional methods. The majority of Americans are wrong. Two systematic reviews, one from Stanford University and the other by a team of researchers based out of the United Kingdom, turned up no evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or lead to better health-related outcomes for consumers.
But the idea that organic foods are healthier isn't even the largest myth out there. That title belongs to the widely held belief that organic farming does not use pesticides. A 2010 poll found that 69% of consumers believe that to be true. Among those who regularly purchase organic food, the notion is even more prevalent. A survey from the Soil Association found that as many as 95% of organic consumers in the UK buy organic to "avoid pesticides."
In fact, organic farmers do use pesticides. The only difference is that they're "natural" instead of "synthetic." At face value, the labels make it sound like the products they describe are worlds apart, but they aren't. A pesticide, whether it's natural or not, is a chemical with the purpose of killing insects (or warding off animals, or destroying weeds, or mitigating any other kind of pest, as our watchful commenters have correctly pointed out). Sadly, however,"natural" pesticides aren't as effective, so organic farmers actually end up using more of them!*
Moreover, we actually know less about the effects of "natural" pesticides. Conventional "synthetic" pesticides are highly regulated and have been for some time. We know that any remaining pesticide residues on both conventional and organic produce aren't harmful to consumers. But, writes agricultural technologist Steve Savage, "we still have no real data about the most likely pesticide residues that occur on organic crops and we are unlikely to get any."
Scientists can examine pesticides before they are sprayed on fields, however. And what do these analyses show?
"Organic pesticides that are studied have been found to be as toxic as synthetic pesticides," Steven Novella, president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society, recently wrote.
Organic foods are no safer than conventional foods. Even Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), recognizes this as fact. An “organic label does not promise a necessarily safer product," she once remarked (PDF).
So why are the misconceptions so pervasive? According to an in-depth report by Academics Review, a group founded by University of Illinois nutritional scientist Bruce M. Chassy and University of Melbourne food scientist David Tribe, the organic and natural-products industry -- which is worth an estimated $63 billion worldwide -- has engaged in a "pattern of research-informed and intentionally-deceptive marketing and advocacy related practices with the implied use and approval of the U.S. government endorsed USDA Organic Seal." Like their succulent fruits and scrumptious vegetables that we eat, the organic industry has given consumers a nibble of untruth and a taste of fear, and have allowed misunderstanding to sow and spread while they reap the benefits.
Commenting on the extensive report on his popular podcast, The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, Novella had some blunt words for the organic industry.
"People buy organic because they think it's better for the environment; it's not. It's safer; it's not. It tastes better; it doesn't. It's more nutritious; it isn't. And these are all misconceptions that have been deliberately promoted -- according to these authors -- by organic farmers and organic proponents despite the fact that scientific evidence doesn't support any of these claims."
*Section updated 6/6
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
IALF to offer estate, succession planning seminar
A seminar on estate and succession planning will be presented by the Indiana Agricultural Law Foundation on . The seminar will provide basic resources for families considering the future of their farm.
“Conversations about what happens to the farm after someone’s death can be uncomfortable,” said John Shoup, IALF director. “If families let that discomfort prevent the conversation from happening, it can end poorly for everyone. This is an opportunity to hear from two of the most highly regarded attorneys in the state that deal with these family-farm issues.”
The day-long event will feature sessions on why a succession plan is necessary for a farm, basics of estate planning, choosing a business structure, Medicare planning and insurance.
The seminar will end with a question-and-answer panel with three of the day’s presenters, which include attorneys Gary Chapman of Bose McKinney and Evans and Dan Gordon of Gordon and Associates, and Ken Roney of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance. Ken Foster, Purdue Department of Agricultural Economics, is also on the agenda.
Early registration is available for $50 until . If space is still available, the registration cost after will be $75. Space is limited for this event. Early sign-up is encouraged.
Future seminars on estate and succession planning are being designed; this seminar provides a foundation for those in the future.
Indiana Farm Bureau is a sponsor of the seminar, which will be held at the IFB home office in downtown Indianapolis. Registration and additional information is available on the IALF website, www.inaglaw.org, or by calling Maria Spellman, 317-692-7840.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Farmers get ready for milk hand-off
Two Indiana dairy farmers are preparing to be the most sought-after people at the Indianapolis 500. Ken Hoeing, a dairy farmer and Farm Bureau member from Rushville, and Alan Wright, a dairy farmer from Muncie, are this year’s Indy 500 Milkman and Rookie Milkman.
Hoeing lives and works on the dairy farm his grandparents established in 1947. He and four of his brothers take care of 400 dairy cows and raise crops on 3,000 acres. He and his wife, Denise, have two children, Kim and Chris.
Hoeing will hand the coveted Bottle of Milk (once chosen as the "Sports World's Coolest Prize") to the winning driver. Wright will hand a bottle of milk to the winning team owner and chief mechanic.
The 2014 race will mark the 59th consecutive year that milk has been presented to the winner of the Indy 500.