• An open letter to America

    Posted on September 20, 2011 by in #AgChat, Agvocate, Environment, family, Farm, livestock care

    I’m not sure who may read this and knowing some of you may not know me, I want to start this off by introducing myself. I am a fifth generation grain and beef farmer from Ohio. My daily responsibilities on our family’s farm vary immensely from day to day, but in the end, each day I am striving to ensure that we are treating our land and livestock in a respectable and sustainable manner to ensure future generations will have the chance to continue farming our family’s farm if they choose to.

    I have been paying attention to celebrities, special interest groups, and even several media sources talk about how our food is produced in America. I’m sure you have seen some of it too. In most cases I am disappointed at how farms like mine are portrayed. In fact several times I was frustrated or even quite mad at the information that was spewed. My family invests our hearts and souls in our farm and to hear people speak about farms broadly, I have felt personally attacked. That has colored how I’ve viewed questions from regular people like you. Unfortunately, several times I would act inappropriately after hearing misinformation and immediately started throwing stones back at my accusers. I realize now that this was inappropriate and instead of worrying about what the naysayers were saying about farmers like me, I should have made myself available more to listen and answer your questions about my family’s farm.

    Honestly, I have several concerns about how some special interest groups are communicating about “the correct way to farm.” Farming is a very diverse career, with varying types of soil and climate across the world every farmer must decide what is best for their family, on their farm, for their customers. Many times if I were to follow the instructions these stone throwers tell me how I should farm, it would mean total devastation to my farm both economically and environmentally.

    Please understand that I am three generations removed from you and the rest of America. The things that are everyday experiences for those of you in the city are far from my day-to-day. Those experiences have shaped the opinions we have, the perspective from which we see things and so much more. When I have an question, I turn to the best available science and research to help aid me in my decision on how to move forward. I have now come to realize that you may not be interested in all the research that backs my farming practices. I would like to discuss your concerns more, but please be patient with me as I try to understand them.

    I am not alone in my feelings here, I talk to farmers everyday that are curious at how we can better communicate with people outside if agriculture. Personally though, I feel like we are fifty years late to the conversation. I am asking you to forgive our shortcomings in the past and let’s start a new conversation about how we would like to do things in the future, about what really matters to us, about how we’d like our food to be grown. My hopes are that this will be a two-way conversation, and while it will be impossible to please everyone I think it’s possible that we develop a mutual understanding and respect towards each other while we address issues that truly need changing in order to move forward.

    Sincerely,
    Mike Haley

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    On Thursday September 22nd I will be attending the food dialogues town hall in Washington D.C. Please feel free to follow along via the live webcast or on twitter by searching for the #FoodD hashtag.

     

     

     

     

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  • http://twitter.com/klpqueen Loc’d in Love

    Boy do I love that you wrote this and that you are inviting discussion from the non ag community. Im just gonna share some things that are going on with food that I really dislike and am truly concerned about. First let me just say fruit without seeds is a bad and downright offensive idea. I want my grapes and watermelons to have seeds. That’s natures way. Some things should just be left alone and that’s one of them. I believe that animals should only be feed their natural diet. Cows eat grass they are pure vegetarians by nature. Bad things happen when we change what (in my opinion) God established. Animals should be able to move about freely. I have some chicken legs in my freezer that I’m actually afraid to serve my family because they are massive. What mutant chickens did these parts come from? Capitalism has infected farming and it seems that money is the only motive. Farmers and livestock producers (most not all) seem to care more about the bottom line over the quality of what is produced. You can’t deny some of the footage that is shown by PETA ( I do not belong to this group and would totally wear a fur coat) of animals being abused. I have purchased chicken (my family does not eat much red meat) and the amount of broken bones and parts that looked bruised was disturbing. I think there are some real issues with the food producers in this country that need to be addressed that does not however mean that all are unscrupulous or engage in dangerous or cruel practices. Keep the lines of communication open and we can solve our problems. Best of luck. @klpqueen:twitter 

    • http://www.facebook.com/vet.talat Talat Qureshi

      I agreed that comments Capitalism has infected. I wish america should change it think about farmers.

      Regards,

      Dr.Talat Qureshi

      regional extension officer

      Pakistan Dairy Development Company

      email/ talat.qureshi@gmail.com 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3QXIUGR7Z2WIZCQWE5ZZ2JZUJY J

        For both of you – capitalism – making a living – is needed in order to continue providing food alternatives though. I don’t know about what’s in your freezer but food choices mean everyone has a market and ideally every consumer has a choice in what they buy. Conversation is good!

    • http://haley-farms.com Mike Haley

      First I want to say thank you very much for your well thought out comment, my apologies for not getting back to you right away.  

      I can only speak as a consumer for fruits that do not contain seeds, I do not mind spitting watermelon seeds out while eating but I do understand why others may think its a pain.  Hopefully a farmer or somebody more knowledgeable about seedless fruits will find your question here and respond.

      Cows are pure vegetarians by nature, I totally agree with you and this is one reason why they do enjoy eating corn in their diet.  To back up a little though and explain how our farm works.  Just like 99.9% (guess) of beef farmers we raise our cows on grass and hay with some free choice mineral.  The pastures is where they spend eating, and caring for their calves.  After calves reach a certain point, about four to six months, they become a burden on their mothers (ex: drinking more milk than mothers can produce) we wean them and move them to our feedlot.  This is not normal, as most other beef farmers take their calves to another pasture where they continue to graze on grass until they are ready to go to a feedlot for the last 60 to 90 days before they “finished”.  We choose to place them on grain sooner on our farm simply because we can not afford the land resources it takes to graze the calves during this period, as it would require twice as much pasture to do so.

      I will not disagree with you, farming is not nor has ever been a perfect industry.  I do believe that we are constantly looking for better ways to improve.  In the past I think the industry only looked at science as advancements in technology increased, but I see a huge trend occurring where social expectations are looked at just as much. 

      As I said in the blog post, farmers have historically done a poor job communicating.  I hope and think this is changing.  

      Thanks so much for your comment!
      Mike