Corn and soybean grower associations have been diligently working at creative ways to support animal agriculture, the big users of the crops you grow. In fact, you've probably seen print advertisements or heard clever radio spots that promote the value of the livestock industry in the U.S.
For the record, more than 60% of corn grown in the U.S. is fed to hogs, beef cattle, chickens and other animals. On the soybean front, poultry and livestock consume more than 90% of all U.S. soybean meal.
Even though it's obvious from those numbers how important livestock is to your livelihood, it's sometimes not that obvious to your neighbors and city dwellers.
In an effort to help counteract attacks on animal agriculture, the United Soybean Board (USB) launched an initiative in 2004 that focuses on the issue, backed with more than a $1.5 million annual budget. Major livestock and crop organizations are on board and are already building coalitions to support the movement, says Philip Bradshaw, USB team leader for the animal ag initiative.
For example, USB is partnering with the National Pork Board to sponsor Operation Main Street (OMS). “Operation Main Street gives soybean farmers a chance to proactively defend and promote animal agriculture,” says Mark Pietz, USB director and soybean farmer from Lakefield, MN.
OMS is a program that trains producers to talk to local civic groups about their operations and about the positive economic impact they have on the local community. It also provides educational materials and seminars on the current state of pork production.
My hat's off to a program like OMS and to states like Missouri for their innovative approach to promoting animal ag.
The Missouri Soybean Association (MSA) and Corn Growers Association have put teeth into how they support the livestock industry. They've jointly announced their opposition to building biodiesel and ethanol facilities in counties that have adopted health ordinances to restrict livestock and poultry production.
According to Dale Ludwig, MSA executive director, their farmer leaders decided that corn and soybean growers can't afford to invest millions in biodiesel and ethanol production facilities in counties that refuse to support animal agriculture.
“It's our intent to partner with progressive counties where economic development includes crop and livestock production,” Ludwig points out.
“We needed to show support for animal ag, our No. 1 customer,” says Neal Bredehoeft, American Soybean Association chairman and farmer from Alma, MO. “Local governments should not expect farmers to invest in counties with ordinances that undermine agriculture.”
If you live anywhere near a new biofuels plant, you can bet it means new jobs for the community. It also means more money being pumped into the local economy plus a new tax revenue base.
So please don't be timid about speaking up for your No. 1 customers. Without livestock, where would you be?
Congrats to Lawrence and Diane Sukalski who were named overall Conservation Legacy Award winners at the recent Commodity Classic. From Fairmont, MN, they were selected from four regional winners for their outstanding stewardship efforts. They've received a plaque and will get a yard sign in recognition of the award.
The program is sponsored by the American Soybean Association, Monsanto and The Corn And Soybean Digest.