Soy Milk As A Farming Alternative

At one point in time cow’s milk was the most prevalent milk that you saw on grocery store shelves all over the United States. Farmer’s collected this milk from their cows and then it was taken to nearby stores. These days, there are a number of different milk alternatives that are being sold whether it be because of allergies or simply the choice to live a healthier lifestyle. Farmer’s are starting to look at other milk options that they can produce in order to generate a profit. This includes almond milk, soy milk hemp milk and more. Plant based milk is profitable and in many cases it is generally easy and affordable to produce. What many people don’t realize is that not all of these milks are created equally and some are not quite as nutritionally sound and others. Some recent studies are showing that cow’s milk is the most nutritious option when it comes to a milk-based beverage but the next best option is soy.

When it comes to a complete nutritional profile, soy milk is full of anti-carcinogenic properties thanks to its isoflavones. While it might seem to be relatively new it has actually been used as a substitute for cow’s milk for as many as four decades now. While it’s taste is much different than cow’s milk, it can promote lower cholesterol, less inflammation in the body, it is easier to digest and a good amount of protein. It does have a bit of a nutty or bean-like flavor but if you aren’t someone who drinks your milk straight out of the container, this might not be an issue for you. It works well as a smoothie base or protein shake base. On cereal or for baking purposes, soy milk is a great alternative.

Farmers are reacting to consumer’s needs for a lactose free, healthier option when it comes to milk. Allergies are on the rise and health concerns are legitimate. If you are unsure of your alternative milk options you may want to speak with a nutritionist or medical professional who can help you pick an option that will work for you and your lifestyle. Some of the options are not beneficial when it comes to nutrition and it is important that you are careful. Coconut milk can be high in sugar and rice milk lacks a lot of nutrients unless you get a version that is enriched with vitamins and minerals.

American Farmers Raise More Beef As Market Prices Hold Steady

Grocery shopper across the U.S. may have noticed that a pound of hamburger has been a lot easier to afford for the past year, or so. Just two years ago a pound of ground beef was hovering above the $4 range, but today one can routinely find a pound hamburger for about $2.49.

Despite lower prices, cattle ranchers are optimistic and are growing their herds. In fact, in the latest USDA update it was shown that the number of cows and calves is up 1% from a year ago. As of January 2018, there are 94.4 million head of cattle held by American farmers.

When looking specifically at beef cows, the numbers are even higher. This segment in the cattle market grew by 1.6%. This is the third year in a row that beef cattle numbers have increased.

Despite high supply and prices that have been lower than average, farmers are pushing forward with increasing herds. They feel good about a significant trend favoring strongly increasing demand for beef. Even so, industry analysts predict prices will go slightly lower for beef throughout 2018.

Why aren’t farmers too worried about downward pressure on price? Randy Blach, CEO of CattleFax, said beef producers “have everything going their way.” For example, beef exports have increased significantly while domestic demand at home has remained solid. American are just eating a lot of beef. Blach made his remarks at the recently held National Angus Convention.

Cattle industry observers agree that it is critical that exports remain strong to keep the bottom from falling out of the beef market. A recent major deal to export beef to China is a huge shot in the arm. China ended a 14-year ban on American beef six months ago. China stopped buying U.S. meat after a breakout of mad cow disease in 2003.

China imports some $2.6 billion in beef from around the world every year. Now U.S. farmers can expect to get a chunk of that lucrative market. The Asian market is critical for beef farmers. Japan and South Korea together account for two-thirds of all American beef exports. Markets are growing in other Asian nations as well – even Russia is buying more American beef today.

At These Restaurants, The “Farm-To-Table” Concept Really Holds True

It seems like everywhere you turn these days, another restaurant is introducing its ‘farm-to-table’ menu. In a current Eater article, the author spotlights a few American restaurants that are actually operating working farms that provide food for their eateries.

One of these restaurants is Blenheim restaurant located in New York City. After experiencing difficulties with finding the quality ingredients they were seeking, the restaurant’s owners purchased a 150-acre farm where they now grow and raise an assortment of products that they utilize regularly at Blenheim.

At the Blenheim restaurant farm, chickens are raised for egg production, and pigs and sheep are also raised on-premises. Cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes and herbs are grown at the farm, as are bees. The farm has even created a special blend of salad greens, that is grown from two different types of salad green seeds that are harvested together.

The Eater article mentions how New York City’s Rosemary’s restaurant has expanded from rooftop gardening to purchasing a working farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. Their farm is now producing Brussels sprouts, potatoes, arugula, broccoli rabe and eggplant.

A shining example of a truly successful farm-to-table dining experience would have to be the Belcampo chain of restaurants with attached butcher shops. Based in California, the Belcampo Meat Company maintains several full-service restaurants in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area.

With a 24,000-acre ranch producing organic premium, grass-fed beef, Belcampo not only supplies beef to its own restaurants, but it also sells meat online and to stores.

While these restaurants are able to eliminate the middleman in acquiring needed meats, dairy and produce items, the cost of operating these farms can run quite high. The overall costs are higher than if they were sourcing products from food suppliers, but the owners can have the satisfaction of being able to source the exact ingredients that they are seeking.

These restaurant owner/farmers are helping to prove that sustainable food production can work well. Although it is hard to turn a profit with such endeavors, the restaurants’ customers are happy with the flavor and quality of the foods they eat at these establishments.

Local Detroit Couple Works Hard And Stays Bumble With Their Local Bee Farm

Beekeeping is a long standing form of agricultural that is often appreciated but overlooked. People love honey but many often think of the buzzing yellow and black bees as nothing beyond pure pests. Some people in Detroit have decided to transform some of Detroit’s empty space into honeybee farms.

Timothy Paule and Nicole Lindsey joined forces in 2017 to buy up some empty property in Detroit and remodel them to be the home of their joint nonprofit venture, Detroit Hives. Prior to beginning this organization, Paule worked as a photographer and Lindsey as a staff member at a health care provider. The two had sparked a relationship and been dating for quite some time before creating Detroit Hives, and attribute the inspiration for the venture as a cold that Paule just could not get rid of. Paule was told at a local market that he should try eating local honey because it has medicinal properties. When he started to feel better the couple began thinking about how the sad urban state of their area increased allergies due to the overgrown ragweed in these areas. They put the idea of local honey being such a helpful remedy together with the problem of overgrown vacant areas together and just like that, Detroit Hives was born.

Paule and Lindsey had to take two courses at local places to become certified beekeepers. They then went on to buy a vacant space on the east side of Detroit through Detroit Land Bank Authority, a group that offers a community partnership program for non profits in the area who are looking to purchase vacant land that will be put to very good use. While Detroit Hives still just has the one farm, they have plans to expand their business in 2018.

Detroit Hives goes beyond simply raising bees. The group also works to educate about bees and spread awareness about them and how endangered they are through public tours of their farm. They also travel to local schools to help educate students on bees. Detroit Hives also sells their honey to local business and vendors as well as to the public. It goes towards creating things like sauces and handcrafted beer in the area. The neighbors love the organization too, stating that prior to Detroit Hives, the area was always run down and people generally just dumped their trash there. Detroit Hives has given the area a sense of purpose which has lifted the neighborhood. For more information on Detroit Hives as well as pictures, visit Huffington Post.

USDA Moves Forward With Proposal To Remove Line Speeds

A new proposal that is being pushed up in the United States Department of Agriculture is one that could make workers in the hog industry a little more scary. The rule that is being proposed is one that would get rid of the speed limits placed on the lines in hog processing plants. This could endanger the workers in these plants as well as consumers.

The USDA has high hopes of modernizing the hog industry. The hog processing plants already run at a very swift place, some process up to 1.106 hogs per hour. The hope of the rule is to speed up production pace in these plants through faster lines, and the allowance of employees to become responsible for some oversight duties that currently are being handled by USDA inspectors on the kill lines. The line speeds already move fairly quickly, in fact, employees already face some health risks due to it and with faster line speeds, there could be a much higher risk of hazards like amputations, carpal tunnel syndrome, and musculoskeletal injuries. Currently, these USDA inspectors have to examine each animal that comes down the line, they check for any illness in the animal and fecal matter that is visible. The new rule would remove that inspector an allow the employees of the factor to check the hogs, federal inspectors would then get to look at them much later. This could place consumers at a much higher risk because the meat won’t be checked quite the same way which means more diseased hogs or fecal matter could slip through.

While some are less thrilled, lobbyist look as this as a gift to the hog industry. It does, after all, have the potential to increase the bottom line. This would not be the first time a change like this has occurred. Under President Obama, the USDA approved a very similar plan for poultry plants, however, they were immediately slammed with pressure from the media and activists and decided to not allow plants to speed up slaughter lines.

While it is clear that not everyone is looking forward to this change, some people in the hog industry are because it will raise their profits. Prior to the rule coming into full effect, the USDA accepts comments from the public and will hear any concerns for sixty days, which will end sometime in mid March. For the full story on this rule and all the benefits and risks associated with it, head to the Huffington Post.

Northern Irish Farmers Hit Hard By Floods

According to a charity based in Northern Ireland, the farmers in the northwestern region have been experiencing “trying times” as a result of prolonged bad weather and the resultant flooding. On August 22, the northwest part of Northern Ireland received two-thirds of the average monthly rainfall in just 8 hours. Over 100 people had to be rescued from the flooding that resulted. Homes, roads, and fields alike were flooded out, devastating crops and destroying livelihoods. It was so bad that many roads and bridges simply crumbled from the sheer destructive force of the floodwaters. Over 1,000 hectares of farmland was submerged. In the end, repairs are estimated to cost over 10 million pounds.

Even now, five months later, some families are unable to return to their homes. The worst part is that the rebuilding effort has not even begun yet due to a dispute between the two ruling parties, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party. The dispute stems from an incentive program designed to encourage the use of renewable energy for heating. Loopholes in the scheme allowed some people to profit greatly by abusing the program, and DUP minister Arlene Foster has come under fire, as she was in charge of the department of enterpprise, trade, and investment when the incentive program was adopted. Because of the ongoing inquiry relating to this, there is currently no minister of agriculture in place at Stormont. The government has stated that no financial support scheme for the rebuilding effort can be approved until a new minister is in place. More information on this can be found here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-foyle-west-42691587

A charity organization called Rural Support has been doing what it can to help the farmers in this region, but they say their ability to help is limited by lack of funds, and that the area truly needs a minister in place who can release the funds that are needed. Senior Irish government figure Joe McHugh has called for emergency funding to be utilized for the people here, and the government has confirmed that some of those affected have received emergency financial assistance.

With over 200 farms affected by this disaster, one can hardly blame the people of this area for feeling a little angry, as the current government deadlock has made a natural disaster even worse than it already had been.

Farmers Worried Trump’s Positions on NAFTA and TPP Will Hurt Their Bottom Line

Farmer across the United States, especially those in America’s midsection, or “Breadbasket,” voted in large numbers for Donald Trump. But now many are extremely worried that Trump’s unfavorable view of major trade pacts such as NAFTA and the TTP will cost them dearly.

Prices for farm commodities are struggling as massive surpluses of corn, soybeans, wheat, sunflowers and more are busting grain bins across the U.S. It’s the old law of supply and demand. When there is a big surplus, prices stay low. When commodities are scarce, prices shoot higher.

But one of the best ways for farmers to unload their products is to sell them overseas. One of the biggest trading partners for U.S. agriculture goods is Mexico. If the Trump Administrations decided to get rid of NAFTA – as it has threatened to do – the impact could be devastating to U.S. farmers.

The same goes for the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was to be a major trade deal with the countries of the far east as well as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Farmers in the United States were already counting their profits as massive deals for U.S. grain and meat were likely to result – but now the TPP is dead in the water. The Trump Administration withdrew from the agreement before it could be finalized.

An official with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association summed up the situation succinctly in one quote: “Americans are not going to eat more beef at the same price.”

Prices for beef are already riding at their lowest in years while the supply of beef remains more than adequate to meet U.S. demand. If farmers can’t find new hungry markets overseas, the chances that prices will improve are small.

It remains to be seen if President Trump is going to get the blame for slumping farm prices. One thing is certain: Farmers are hurting. Just about all sectors of agriculture are operating “underwater” with costs to produce food outstripping the return on selling food on the world market.

If farm prices don’t improve, many think farmers across the Midwest will abandon Trump and the Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections and may opt for new leadership at the presidential level in 2020.

Consumers Are Showing Farmers They Want Changes In The Way Farming Is Done

Farmers are facing increasing pressure to change the way they produce food. That pressure is coming from a new class of grocery shoppers who are increasingly concerned about what modern farming methods are doing to the environment.

In just the past few years, awareness about the use and overuse of environmentally dangerous pesticides and herbicides has grown among the average shopper. More and more, people are choosing to bypass traditional grocery stores to shop at farmers markets, or big outlets, such as Whole Foods, that deal in organically grown products guaranteed to have minimal impact on the environment.

Another huge factor driving changes in shoppers is concern for the welfare of animals. Millions of people no longer want to eat meat if it means that a cow, pig or chicken was not raised with as little suffering as possible.

The move toward animal-friendly and environmentally sound food is not a passing fad. Industry experts are calling it a sea change that will almost certainly grow more important in coming years.

For example, major brands such as Wheaties, cake mixes by Betty Crocker and pre-packaged meat products are suffering from flat sales. The simple fact is that people are buying less of these heavily processed foods made in an industrial agriculture regime. Shoppers are aware modern farming means a high degree of environmental degradation, such as water pollution, soil erosion, and meats that are tainted with unwanted substances, such as antibiotics.

What it all means is that agriculture must change the way it produces food. It must move away from petro-chemical dominated methods that use artificial fertilizers and gas-guzzling machinery to process crops. Farmers must adopt organic, small-footprint methods of planting, harvesting and fertilizing — favoring a less mechanized approach from seed to shelf.

Another significant outcome of the new food awareness will be a closer link to where food is grown and where it is sold. Today, people want to know where their food is coming from. They strongly prefer to buy local. It suggests that the way food is distributed must transition away from long-range shipping to localized options for buying food, such as farmer’s markets and small stores that buy directly from the farmers who operate close by.

How Young Farmers Are Helping To Shape The Future

As America grows in population there has been a rising concern that has become the forefront of action for many Americans, food. Food is one resource that we cannot go without, we must eat to live and that means we have to find ways of producing the food we need at a rate that not only meets consumer demands but can also be sustainable as well as having a positive impact on the environment in the process.

In recent years the number of young people in America that decide to take up farming has increased by 2.2%, in the age range of 25-34, according to the 2014 USDA Census. Many of these young people are leaving their cushy office jobs and their city apartments to find a rural sprawl to raise crops.

There are some huge benefits that come with such an influx of young people coming into the agriculture industry. Many of these young farmers acquire parcels of land that are smaller than 50 acres, though as they become more experienced farmers many end up growing their farms.

This new wave of agriculture enthusiasts is bringing with it a whole new focus on a more organic and holistic approach to growing crops. Limited use of pesticides is a common practice among these new farmers as well as utilizing the power of mother nature to make their crops better.

Many of these farmers are able to provide not only a selection of produce but at a very competitive rate to local grocery stores and restaurants, allowing for a mutual growth of local businesses while still being able to provide high quality and affordable foods.
This time in America marks just the second time in the last one hundred years that agriculture has seen a rise instead of a decline in the number of people actively farming in America. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sixty-nine percent of farmers today have college degrees.

There is no doubt that now is one of the best times to step into the agricultural world, technology and nature working together to create a more sustainable food future for us in America. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/a-growing-number-of-young-americans-are-leaving-desk-jobs-to-farm/2017/11/23/e3c018ae-c64e-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html?utm_term=.e10bf2dce1f4 displays an article that goes way more in-depth on just now much of an impact this is having on America today.

Pesticides vs Farmers

Deciding if you want to eat foods grown on farms and pastures, some may recommend doing a fair share of research. In that case, according to recent research, an article from New York Times stated there is a pair of lists organizing the cleanest and dirtiest fruits and vegetables based on their levels of pesticides. Along with this, they mention the natural differences between them based on the outer layer of the food itself. How does this affect agriculture? The use of pesticides helps aid in the upkeep and growing of those crops on the farmlands.
When buyers hear the term, “Pesticide” they usually run for the hills due to the controversial reputation surrounding it. The main purposes for these chemicals are to maintain the fruits and vegetables grown on the fields and ensure they are grown to their ripest states. With many insects thriving on farmlands, it is difficult to keep the number of crops high enough to make a profit. Therefore, pesticides are used to fight off those bugs that feed off the fruits being grown, keeping the total number of crops high enough to profit. Caterpillars, for instance, maintain life by consuming these fruits, without those insecticides, there would not be enough foods to send off to the buyers. Meaning, the less they sell to consumers, the less money these farmers make.
Continuing, with the facts and opinions swirling around the use of pesticides, do they actually get into our fruits and vegetables? According to the article titled, “Do Pesticides Get Into the Flesh of Fruits and Vegetables?” from New York Times, they could! On the contrary, the thicker the fruit may be, the less likely it will be more contaminated than other fruits, such as a cantaloupe (cleaner fruits list)! Thin skinned fruits (strawberries and apples) tend to be on the dirtier fruits due to the amount of pesticide entering the flesh of the fruits. While these farmers grow and maintain the life of your foods, smart buying and thorough washing of the fruits begin your own journey!