I know we don’t always use the term climate change in agriculture circles. Whether we like that term or not, it’s here to stay so I say we’d better pull up a seat to the conversation.
We know that hurricanes and tsunamis have become more severe during the last generation. Inland fires and storms have become more prevalent and severe. Terms such as ‘derecho’ have become more well-known, too. There is evidence out there pointing to climate change being real.
There is evidence human activity has affected climate over the years. Even though farmers are less than 2% of the population, we operate most of the land. Agriculture more than any other industry has the ability to harvest and hold more carbon within the soils we farm.
No-till, minimum-till, grazing, perennial crops, cover crops and forestry are a small list of strategies farmers use to harvest carbons within our soils. A key component of completing the environmental cycle includes cattle. Harvesting crops fed to cattle and using manure as fertilizer is key to maintaining a healthy growing crop in which to harvest carbon from the atmosphere.
The agronomy of farming is a crucial first step in delivering the healthiest, safest food to tables around the world.
Just about everyone, including farmers, trucking companies and agri-businesses, are suffering from lack of labor. This has affected perishable food. Food waste is part of our environmental impact. Food waste in the U.S. is estimated at 30 to 40%. With spoiled and excess food being thrown away, food waste happens at every step from the field to the plate. The labor shortage has increased this waste by stressing the system. If there is not enough labor to harvest the products, we have waste. The same goes if we can’t get timely trucking for the product to get to its destination.
A solution we have found is that livestock can consume some of the wasted food we cannot. Cattle can convert potatoes, other vegetables, distiller grains, cottonseed and sometimes even cookies or other sweets into another source of healthy protein.
Today, our customers expect transparency more than ever before. As many as 50% of our consumers are 35-years old and younger. They fall under the ‘mission driven’ category of consumers. With a growing relationship between diet and health, they want transparency and want to know what farmers are doing to protect the environment and how they care for their animals. They also want to know our social impact and how we engage within our communities. This has been accelerated by the pandemic.
Farmers are ready for this conversation in many ways. Reducing, reusing and recycling has always been a natural thing for us. Farmers also are some of the best volunteers in their communities but sometimes we don’t share those connections because we don’t think people need or want to know.
Present a challenge to farmers and they will find solutions. However, it is important to note that they cannot be regulated out of business before they do.
Farm Bureau helps us pull up a seat to this conversation. Don’t be afraid to sit at the table and discuss old things in a new way. Our customers want to know.
Share how you care for the environment. Show the care you give to your animals. Explain how you are involved and invested in your community. It matters.
Kevin Krentz was elected to the WFBF Board of Directors in 2012 to represent District 5, which includes Adams, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Juneau, Marquette, Waushara and Winnebago counties. In December of 2020, Kevin was elected as President of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. Kevin and his family own a dairy farm in Berlin. He started his farming career when he purchased his father’s 60 cows in 1994. He grew the farm to 600 cows and 1,300 acres of crops.