This past fall semester I had to start this blog for my public relations in agriculture class at Missouri State University. I had never participated in blogging up until that point. It has been an overwhelming and inspiring experience. I have learned more about social media and the multiple outlets than I ever thought imaginable. Although sometimes frustrating I worked through the assignments and have learned a great deal about social media that will help me in the future. I really liked having the opportunity to listen to Dairy Carrie talk about her life and how she has used social media. It captured why we should all share our own stories and how telling our stories can show other people what really goes on in the agriculture industry. I also thought the point that all the agriculture people should not comment on all the negative things that get shared is also important. It just gets it available/easier accessible/easily seen for more people to see when it is the wrong message anyway. Blogging can be a very useful tool to tell our stories and make it where everybody can see. It allows us to market our products and show the true sides of our lifestyles. As Dairy Carrie mentioned, you do not just show all the good sides of farming… when you tell your story, you have to show all parts, even the bad. Social media tends to block stuff and shows what they think people want to see. I think blogging can help solve this problem and through Dairy Carrie it has obviously been proven to work. I also liked learning about the other media outlets that I did not really know much about, like twitter. I hear about other people having a twitter account, but have never ventured to try it. It helps when you learn about something that you had not known about. I thought it was challenging to keep having a blogging assignment due every week when there would be a ton of other stuff due. It definitely kept me on my toes to get it done. I also found it difficult at times to come up with a topic that I wanted to blog about. Another thing, having to comment on another blog every week gets challenging in itself… but I liked learning about other things that was happening in the agricultural industry. I appreciate the people that have chosen to follow my blog and liked or commented on my posts. Although I may be slower at blogging my next posts, I plan to continue blogging at a more relaxed pace.
This fall I have heard the worst stories about FFA livestock being vandalized. On October 15, 2013 the Chickasha, Oklahoma high school’s FFA chapter’s animals and barn were vandalized. Everything had been spray painted and the walls were painted with offensive messages and symbols. The Ag teacher spoke out and said that on the pigs the members had got most of the paint off of the hair, but that it had also soaked into the skin. So, the members would just have to keep washing the pigs as the paint slowly faded away. The sheep had been exposed to the hog feed and were basically poisoned due to the high copper levels. All the animals were let out of their pens, causing a dangerous situation. This story got shared across the country. So many former FFA members knew the care and expense that had been put into these animals. The sorrow for both the animals and the members who owned the animals had been felt not only by themselves but by many. What is unique about the FFA organization is that the members bond and form together. Everyone knows how it feels and how much work goes into a project and so when we hear news, such as this it makes our hearts heavy. Not only did this happen but later on between Friday night October 25 and Saturday Morning October 26, at the Paso Robles high school’s FFA livestock barn, a steer had been set on fire. In order to do this they had to break into school property. The owner of the steer had seen what happened when he went to feed the animal on Saturday morning. The steer was the only thing on the property to be hurt and had significant burns on his face. However, he was expected to live. It is just awful how anybody could do such things to helpless animals. There is no reason to break onto a piece of property and vandalize animals. If someone has a problem they need to man up and talk about it to the person like civilized human being. There does not need to be this much hurt involved. It is shameful and heart wrenching for all involved.
As most have already heard, South Dakota took a big hit last week. Around four foot of snow covered western South Dakota. The state reports its producer’s total loss to be around 10,000 to 20,000 head of livestock. There was also a report that two human deaths had also been caused by the blizzard. Most of the ranchers did not have insurance covering storm damage, simply because they cannot afford it. Many sold down last year due to droughts and now have experienced around 96% herd loss of their remaining herd. Another hit during this time is the fact that our government is also currently shut down. At the same time as the shutdown, the farm bill also expired. As many ranchers are self-reliant and usually depend on their own, but due to all the losses that they have faced in the past two years they could really use the help from the Livestock Indemnity Program. However, the shutdown allowed the farm bill to run out causing there to be no Livestock Indemnity Program. It was said that even if the government would open and Congress reached a compromise on a new farm bill that it could still take months before the program would be put back in place. For now producers are being told to take pictures and document their losses and keep good records, as the unburied livestock can start being hauled to ditches. These ditches were made available due to a county willing to help their producers (http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2013/10/14/south-dakota-ranchers-reeling-from-cattle-losses/2980793/).
For any producer this type of loss is just devastating. I saw a story about a calf that had been buried in the snow for five days and was found still alive. They could not understand how such a miracle could happen. Many producers were barely making it due to the economy and now many are wondering how they are even going to make it without that income and the loss of livestock which they had socked a lot of money in. Several associations are asking for donations, whether it be money or livestock for the victims affected by the storm. If anybody is able to help these producers, I strongly encourage it.