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Cage-free eggs not all they’re cracked up to be

Cage-free eggs not all they’re cracked up to be

By Mike Barnett

Cage-free eggs. Sounds good. But is it really better for the chickens that lay them?

Maybe if you believe in live free and die hard.

Cage-free eggs are the new rage. Driven by consumer perception that cage-free chickens are happier and healthier, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Costco and, most recently, Panera Bread will require suppliers to go cage-free over the next decade.

That leaves the egg industry—worth $10 billion a year—struggling to figure out how to shift from confined hen laying to cage-free.

It’s not as simple as turning chickens loose. Cage-free doesn’t mean problem-free.

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5 family farm facts you should know

5 family farm facts you should know

By Mike Barnett

Family farm. Two words Americans love. With good reason.

Family means many things. Loving. Caring. Nurturing.

All apply to the family farmers I know. Too bad there are many misconceptions about what family farms are and aren’t.

Could be many of us are far removed from farm life. Some think of family farms as idyllic—a small place where the sun always shines, with chickens and cows, a patch of corn and a vegetable garden.

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Growing five generations of sustainability

Growing five generations of sustainability

By Colin and Laura Chopelas

Every week, it seems there is a new fad or breaking news story on television or the internet.  What happens in the rest of the world can instantly be news in America. The words of our politicians can move commodities or stock markets thousands of miles away.  Some of these issues can inadvertently undermine the hard work and long hours that every American farming family endures daily.

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Texas farming is a give and take

Texas farming is a give and take

By Chandler Bowers

As I am top dressing wheat with fertilizer and herbicide, I am reminded of the sacrifices that we all must make to keep the world revolving for generations to come.

There are lots of sacrifices made by farm families in order to keep their businesses profitable. Long hours, seasonal vacations, the unpredictability of Mother Nature—these are just a few of the challenges that we face. And that’s just the beginning of the “lessons learned at the end of a dirt road.”

So, if these lessons are so great, why would young people come back to farm and ranch?

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Texas agriculture—responsible water users

Texas agriculture—responsible water users

By Billy Howe

Danny Reible’s op-ed in the Houston Chronicle on May 29 was a curious mixture of “right on target” and “Hey Danny, you’ve got to be kidding.”

First of all, agriculture is committed to efficient water use, and he is correct that a public investment in developing that technology would be very productive. However, Mr. Reible is way off the mark when he suggests agricultural irrigation, which is mostly groundwater, will be responsible for future water shortages in the high-growth areas of Texas.

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