Newly weaned pigs arrive to our farm when they are about 3 weeks old and weigh about 13-15 pounds. Here is a video of move-in day on our farm.
Minnesota Farm Living is about connecting consumers with those who grow their food. I share my passions — my life, my farm, and my family.
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Is this what farmers want? Are farmers thrilled about it? How do they feel about President Trump? Can we get the U.S. and China back at the negotiation table? How much patience do U.S. farmers have, and at what level will they leave their support from Trump? How do we feel about being patriots? Will farmers vote for President Trump in 2020?
The media are asking these and other questions. Before I go any further, let’s look at some background information.
The new round of MFP will total $16 billion. It will be split into three separate payments, and payments will be based on a per acre basis. If commodity prices increase, they reserve the right not to pay out the last two payments. The first payment will probably reach farmers in July. This is different than MFP Round 1, where payments were based on $ per commodity.
Currently, the markets are on a rollercoaster. In addition to the trade issues, the entire Midwest is dealing with wet weather issues where farmers are trying to plant crops. But last week trade issues took center stage for at least some of the media.
The first question they want to know is what do farmers think of the President they voted in. Do farmers regret their decision? First, with only 1% of U.S. population that are farmers, they don’t have the power to swing an election. Not even close. Secondly, I know not all farmers voted for President Trump. I have really good farming friends on both sides of the aisle. But it’s the angle the media wants to take. It was fairly obvious the slant they wanted to take on their reporting.
I was part of the “farmer class” the media wanted to talk with. Last Thursday morning, I received an email from Fox Business News asking if I would be willing to talk about my viewpoint on the new Market Facilitation Payment program that was going to be announced that day. Here is a link to that interview. I also used Skype to talk with a Chinese TV show, CCTV, this morning. (A funny story about the Chinese interview. We used Skype for the video part but used a phone for the audio. They wanted me to use a headphone. I have no headphones for my Iphone! I had to chase down my husband in a tractor to ask if I could use his ancient, but reliable, flip phone to conduct the interview. I will probably never live that down.)
So how did I prepare for this interview? I started prepping myself with background information. I received some talking points from commodity organizations. In fact, I had 3 pages of notes. My main message was that farmers do not want aid; we want trade. I know of no farmer that prefers aid. We are farmers. This is what we are born to do. It kills us if we cannot plant our crops. I know some people think we want “welfare”, but the truth is far from it. So I was armed with information.
As my interview with Fox Business Network started, I stated how I was appreciative for the aid, but it was only a short-term fix and not a solution. The ag industry knows how important it is to achieve a good trade deal with China. We also know that China consumes a lot of pork. It is their meat of choice. China has been a good market for us, both in pork and soybean sales. And we also know that with the African Swine Fever devastation China has experienced, they will be looking to feed their people. Their consumption of soybeans will be lower because, with a much lower hog inventory, they don’t need soybeans to feed their animals. Yes, there are many moving parts, which does not make this a simple issue. I will also say that media interviews are, having only talked about maybe ½ page of my scribbled notes.
My hope is President Trump and President Xi will meet at the G20 Summit next month and hopefully refuel the negotiations. BOTH COUNTRIES NEED TO NEGOTIATE. Currently, China put on an additional 50% tariff on top of the original 12%. The pork industry wants to bring the tariff level back down to the original 12%. Soybeans have a 25% tariff.
We have worked too hard and too long to build our family farm and are dismayed about the harmful impact trade agreements (and something we have zero control over) have on our farming business.
We want the two Presidents to sit down and reinitiate the trade talks. Get the deal done. Farmers depend on it.
Duluth, located on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, is one of my favorite places to visit! Why? It’s a place I can let myself go and forget just about everything. It is a peaceful and relaxing place to get away from the busyness of life. We try to visit Duluth when we can fit it into our schedule, even if it’s only for a few days. By car, it’s about a five hour, well worth the trip. But the true beauty in Duluth is well worth the trip.
Sometimes farming affords you small breaks. And we had a break between planting and spraying. We decided to take advantage of it and spend a couple days in Duluth. Yes, I could have stayed home and planted my potted flowers and many other items on my to-do list. But . . . I needed my “Duluth fix!”
Take a break and come along for a “Duluth Fix” virtual tour.
Visiting Gooseberry Falls north of Two Harbors, MN. The waterfall was showing it’s fierceness while we visited during mid May, 2015.
And a stop to Betty’s Pies north of Two Harbors is a must! They have so, so many different flavors of pies, it’s hard to choose just one! My pie choice was the Raspberry Rhubarb Crunch. So good!
Duluth is proud of it’s history and heritage noted by the motif on the overpass.
If you are fortunate to take the Lakewalk in Canal Park, you may have this train pass you by! The North Shore Scenic Railroad ride is a relaxing experience and the open cars are the most fun to ride in.
Even at 43 degrees, store owners had their doors open. It was really fun to watch Canal Park get ready for it’s big Memorial Day weekend – the kickoff to a very busy tourist season. And Duluth caters to it’s tourists!
And ships coming and going out of the harbor. This video was taken a year ago. We only had a few ships coming and going when we were there the past few days.
Some of our Duluth traditions do focus around food. Along with eating at Betty’s Pies, we also enjoy Chicken Wild Rice Soup at Grandma’s. When we travel to Duluth, we either stay somewhere on the North Shore or in Canal Park. Our favorite place to stay in Canal Park is the Inn on Lake Superior. They have S’Mores available every evening, summer or winter. So fun!
If you are ever have the chance to travel to Duluth, I highly recommend it. Enjoy the beauty and peacefulness the lake and the city has to offer.
The 2019 Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit was held May 8 and 9, 2019 in Kansas City. The theme this year was “A Seat at the Table.” The conference is about engaging with each other. To hear from and be heard between key stakeholders in restaurant, retail and foodservice companies, farms and ranches, government agencies, agribusinesses, and agriculture and food associations. As expected, the Summit was outstanding. Here are my top 10 takeaways from the conference:
For those that monitor social media, these facts don’t reflect what is perceived. Even through all the social media mud, consumers still make food purchase decisions about price, safety and taste.
Going forward, what lessons can be learned?
It still is about communication and developing relationships. We have to find a way to tell our story to consumers in a way that is easily available for them to access. We need to be able to look past the “loud voices” and know the truths about consumer beliefs and their food. Yes, consumers need food choices. Everyone agrees with that, but we also need to make sure we have an informed consumer, which is an enormous challenge.
Food is an emotional topic for consumers. They have their beliefs and the truth rarely changes their mind. Therefore, we need to listen, acknowledge concerns and find new ways to have conversations with consumers.