The modern American turkey is the epitome of “get big or get out”

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In the 1960s, my tiny, rural farming community in Washington State raised 100,000 Thanksgiving turkeys a year. This year, we raised less than a few dozen at most. I personally raised nine.

The turkey once supported thousands of family farms and rural, agrarian economies across the United States. But as the food and farming system focused on producing cheap food so U.S. consumers could spend their money (and build the economy) elsewhere, turkey production shifted from small family farms and regional production systems to just a few, massive producers.

Nixon’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) secretary Earl Butz, famously known for telling U.S. farmers to “get big or get out,” would likely herald today’s turkey production as a grand success. …


Livestock with gene-edited testicles can help humans survive an increasingly food-insecure world

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Goat #1962, a “Super Daddy” goat. Photos: Jon Oatley

In a Pullman, Washington, laboratory barn, goat #1962 has one purpose: Go forth and multiply.

#1962 is in the world’s first-ever generation of a gene-edited “Super Daddy” or “Surrogate Sire” goat. This means he has the balls (literally) to pass on not his but another, more elite buck’s DNA.

Project leader and reproductive biologist Jon Oatley, PhD, has been working on the concept for 20 years. He believes surrogate sires will be key to breeding livestock that produce more meat, dairy, and fiber while withstanding the effects of climate change.

“As the climate changes and populations grow, we’re asking animals to do more for less,” Oatley tells Future Human. “If you can change the genetics, that is an intrinsic variable in an animal that can influence how easily they convert inputs to outputs.” …


Woody Harrelson Says So.

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Original Art by Maggie Eileen

I watched the Kiss the Ground film on a creepy, smoky September morning. The West Coast is on fire again. My Covid mask supply has been doing double-duty, warding off a pandemic and smoke inhalation.

2020 sucks.

Enter Kiss the Ground. A film claiming that we can reverse climate change, fix our health, ease global tensions, and save farmers’ livelihoods by managing dirt — aka regenerative agriculture.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, regenerative agriculture is catching all the buzz these days. Kiss the Ground is the latest, greatest, most star-studded act yet produced to spread the word. What has got folks so stoked about the concept of regenerative agriculture is the benefits that come out of rebuilding and healing the soil. …


Cows could be a climate change solution — if we take the science seriously

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Photo: Peter Cade/Getty Images

Farts are funny. Burger King thinks yodeling about cow farts is even funnier. In mid-July, the fast food chain released on Twitter an ad campaign starring boot-stomping kids, led by Mason Ramsey of Walmart Yodeling Kid fame, singing about cow farts contributing to global warming and claiming that lemongrass can reduce methane in those farts by a third.

The ad, part of the company’s #CowsMenu campaign, generated a backlash of social media criticism. Pissed-off ranchers and a concerned science community pointed out that the ad perpetuated a long-standing misconception about cow farts and the hotly debated narrative that cows are a major climate change problem. Plus, it promoted an unproven solution as its big greenhouse gas win. …


This swarm of robots may herald a chemical-free food revolution

A row of the robots lined up in front of a shed.
A row of the robots lined up in front of a shed.
The fleet of Greenfield Robotics weedbots ready and waiting for beta test trials. Photos courtesy of Greenfield Robotics.

Clint Brauer’s farm outside of Cheney, Kansas, could be described as Old MacDonald’s Farm plus robots. Along with 5,500 square feet of vegetable-growing greenhouses, classes teaching local families to grow their food, a herd of 105 sheep, and Warren G—a banana-eating llama named after the rapper—is a fleet of ten, 140-pound, battery-operated robots.

Brauer, the co-founder of Greenfield Robotics, grew up a farm kid. He left for the big city tech and digital world, but eventually made his way back to the family farm. Now, it’s the R&D headquarters for the Greenfield Robotics team, plus a working farm.

When Brauer returned to his agricultural roots, he did so with a purpose: to prove that food could be grown without harmful chemicals and by embracing soil- and planet-friendly practices. He did just that, becoming one of the premier farmers growing vegetables in Kansas without pesticides, selling to local markets, grocery store chains, and chefs. …


Stop Blaming the Media for Basic Human Nature

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Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🍌 on Unsplash

“Media hype” has long been a favored whipping post when the human species loses their ever-loving minds.

With the coronavirus panic hitting the U.S. hard it’s sure a lot easier to point fingers than take a hard look at ourselves.

It’s the media’s fault, we scream, as California declares a state of emergency and the Dow Jones tanks.

I’d wish I could blame it all on Trump. I’ll still blame a lot of it on Trump.

But honestly, I see the same accusation lobbied from all sides of the political fence. It just depends on whether you agree with the headlines of the day. …


I’m writing about it until the ‘cows come home’

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Image by By fotoluk1983

What are the silly things that writers — who are also farmers — think about? At least this one?

Farm-inspired idioms. And what they really mean.

I know, I know. I’m a dork and this is mind-blowing stuff. But what can I say? These are the sort of things that — to use a not farm-inspired idiom — ‘tickle my fancy.’

Here’s four of my favorite ‘farm-inspired’ idioms.

Get or have “all your ducks in a row.”

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Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay

Modern day meaning?

To be organized and prepared. Frequently about a financial matter or a significant change or large proposal.

Where did it come from? There are a few different theories.

One theory is from the days when lawn bowling was popular and bowlers lined up all their pins, aka ‘ducks,’ in a row. Or perhaps from the carnival days when shooting galleries featured tin ‘ducks’ lined up ‘in a…


Is your food or farm brand positioned to take advantage of trends with ‘staying power?’

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Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Hello fellow food and farm marketers, brands, start-ups and influencers. Welcome to a new decade!

We keep talking about ‘what’s big for 2020' but when we look back in history at the real powerful movements in food and farm, they have lasted a heck of a lot longer than just a year. So what better time to ‘take stock’ of what’s coming in the January of not just a new year, but a new decade?

You might wonder why I include ‘food AND farm’ in these predictions. Well that’s because I think you don’t get one without the other! …


Funny Farmer Tales

A cautionary story for those who assume

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Photo by By maryhathaway

Country Bumpkin. Yokel. Hick. Redneck. Hayseed.

All stereotypes long associated with farmers. The ‘hayseed’ one is particularly interesting to me.

“a person from the country, especially a simple, unsophisticated one.”

Farmers are dumb. Or, that’s the ‘stereotype,’ handed down over generations.

Apply this at your own risk. Trust me on this one.

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Every summer, thousands of tourists visit the scenic, ocean-side state park adjoining our island farm. It attracts hundreds of visitors daily who walk a bluff-side trail overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

It also has attracted for years a fair amount of hang gliders, and more recently para gliders. The 200-ft high bluff, subject to a constant ocean breeze, is a popular spot for the sport. …


Call me the ‘Encino (wo)Man’ of writing

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Image by By Igor Igorevich

Back in the ‘Stone-Age’ of writing

While I was in college learning how to be a writer they opened up the first ‘computer lab’ to much fanfare.

In my sophomore year, I was typing out all my papers in the ‘electrical type-writer’ lab. By my junior year, the typewriters had been replaced by computers — Macintosh of course. It was the tech revolution in action, but that was barely the beginning.

At times I’ve been so astounded by how different the writing world is today — compared to when I left it — that I have found myself sympathizing with a witless Brendan Fraser and his ‘cave man come back to life’ character from Encino Man. …

About

Farmer Georgie

Farmer. Writer. Journalist. Farm life, food & ag. Email at farmergeorgiewrites@gmail.com. Follow at farmergeorgiewrites.substack.com. Open for assignments.

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