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In agriculture, labels matter—until they don’t

In agriculture, labels matter—until they don’t

By Gene Hall

In my more cynical moments, I suspect that the great confusion and controversy surrounding agriculture today is on purpose.

In this mindset, I can easily conclude that those organizations that survive by demonizing modern agriculture manipulate the language and the labels to suit their own purposes. In this way, passions are inflamed. Money is raised. A public is misled. Calling you “Big Ag” could mean “Big Bucks” for me even though all I’ve contributed to the debate are a couple of politically charged words.

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5 things ag is doing wrong (and how to correct them)

5 things ag is doing wrong (and how to correct them)

By Mike Barnett

When it comes to new machinery, new cropping methods or new herbicides and pesticides, farmers and ranchers are on top of their game.

No doubt that’s why American agriculture is the most progressive in the world.

Not so much, though, when it comes to communicating. We have work to do. Farmers and ranchers have talked about “educating” the public for all of my 30-year career in Farm Bureau.

Truth. The public doesn’t want to be “educated.” They want answers. To their concerns about food. How you grow it. And what you do to ensure their family’s safety.

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Profit is not a four-letter word

Profit is not a four-letter word

This blog was originally posted on Dec. 10, 2012. 

By Mike Barnett

Your profitability as a farmer or rancher ranks low on the list of concerns of those who consume your products. I call them customers.

I’ve noted this fact in a survey or two and was reminded of it the other day when a Facebook friend posted some tidbits he had read from an article in the excellent publication Livestock Weekly.

According to the article, consumers believe the priorities for those farmers and ranchers who genuinely try to make a living from agriculture should, from first to last, be:

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What? A meatless corny dog? You’re kidding!

What? A meatless corny dog? You’re kidding!

By Gene Hall

No, I guess they are not. The State Fair of Texas will serve meatless corny dogs for this first time at this year’s event.

A Fletcher’s corny dog at the State Fair of Texas is, for that brief moment in time, “Texas on a stick.” It’s a rite of passage. A Texas moment that can even be experienced by those of you “not from around here.”

The news of a meatless corny dog shook me up a bit. I like veggies as much as the next omnivore and I salute the farmers who grew the ingredients for this experiment. But a corny dog without meat is like church without a prayer. You kind of know you’re there, but leave feeling a bit empty.

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Remembering a celebration of science and technology

Remembering a celebration of science and technology

By Gene Hall

When I was in the eighth grade, my father loaned me his copy of The 1949 Yearbook of Agriculture–“Trees”–to prepare for a 4-H forestry judging contest. It helped our team win third place. When published by the Department of Agriculture, the yearbook devoted a substantial volume to a single subject of research or agricultural science.

When I left for a job with the Texas Farm Bureau in 1977, Dad gifted me his entire collection of USDA yearbooks. I’ve added to it over the years and received some gifts of hard-to-find volumes. I now own every year from 1932 until publication ceased in 1992. There are also volumes from 1896, 1918 and 1919. I’ll continue to collect them. Everyone has to have a hobby.

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