As a part of being not only a National Beef Ambassador, but also a beef producer, my parents have always told me how important it is to educate my “city cousins”. Whether at the county fair or sitting around a school lunch table, as producers working for the betterment of the beef industry, we can all do our part and take the time to talk, answer questions, and show some of the daily tasks that happen on the farm-and what better way to do that than by having our consumers visit the farm and get a “hands-on” experience around the cattle.
Allowing our friends or fair-goers to stop and pet our animals shows them that the cattle are calm and non-aggressive animals.
Consumers today are four to five generations removed from farm life and continue to move further away from farming and raising livestock because of the vast array of career opportunities one has to pursue now. The one commonality between all people, no matter their background is that we all need food to survive, and understanding where your food comes from, not that it just happens to be on a grocery store shelf, is very important. As an advocate for the beef industry and an Agricultural Communications major, I find great pride in sharing with consumers where and how they are able to consume the food they do.
This past weekend I invited a friend home to learn more about the type of life I grew up loving-farm life! Although she had been to the county fair and has heard me talk about birthing season, weaning season, and show season, I wanted to invite her to spend time on the farm to ask questions about how we raise our cattle, as well as help complete the daily tasks that all farmers and ranchers do to ensure their cattle herds are safe and healthy.
Living in the corn belt of Ohio, on my farm we feed corn to our cattle as a part of a complete total mixed rational diet. We continuously talk to our nutritionist to ensure the ratios for our steers, heifers, and cows are appropriate for their age and body weight.
Feeding the cattle is the most important part of being a farmer. Without clean fresh water and feed our cattle would not be healthy and able to produce such a safe, wholesome, and nutritious product!
At the end of the day, it is making sure we make a valuable connection to our consumers. As a beef industry we talk about being transparent and having “our barn doors open” to invite consumers in to see our farms and experience and understand what it is we do to maintain positive heard health. As a producer and consumer myself I find it very beneficial when the time is taken to invite someone over that did not grow up raising livestock and give them an education about feeding and caring for cattle. Educating others about where their food comes from and the process from birth to harvest is important, and by taking the time to invite my friend home with me to have a “hands-on” experience on the farm allowed her to see first-hand the dedication and hard work farmers and their families put in every day striving for the best cattle heard and ultimately the best product for consumers and their families to enjoy.
Being transparent as beef producers is important. We always have our barn doors open and are willing to talk with and invite our consumers to spend some time on the farm understanding where their food comes from.
I encourage you to talk with a local beef producer near you and ask to visit their farm if you have questions about the beef industry or the process of ‘farm-to-fork’.