The Only Option is to Help

Antibiotic use in animals has again made headlines as another national restaurant chain announces plans to move to serving only antibiotic-free animal products.

The change was the result of pressure from outside lobbyist organizations with a mission to discontinue the use of all antibiotics in animals. What’s disappointing is the restaurant chain’s lack of attention to facts, science and the people who actually raise the animals. Fear and misinformation again won, leaving farm animals as the ultimate victims.

My husband and I raise Angus cattle on our fourth-generation family farm in Central Kansas. We believe in the humane treatment of all of our animals and therefore use antibiotics in our animals on an as-needed basis to cure an illness and help the animal return to full health.

Antibiotics are not our first line of defense against sickness in our animals but they do allow us a resource to help the animal overcome illness, fatigue and stress. Without the ability to use antibiotics, we would be forced to watch innocent animals die from basic, treatable conditions.

We keep records of all uses of antibiotics to ensure the withdraw period has passed before the animal enters the food system. However, most of our animals remain on our farm long after the antibiotics are administered.

What most consumers don’t realize is that all beef sold in grocery stores and used in restaurants is antibiotic free and tested, by the USDA, for antibiotic residue before leaving the processing plant. The standards are strict and farmers and ranchers do everything they can to ensure the beef enjoyed by consumers is healthy and safe.

Everything we do is to protect and support the health and welfare of our animals. We don’t want to have to doctor sick animals so we do everything we can to ensure their health and wellbeing. But when we do find one of our animals is not feeling well, it is our duty to return them to health. That’s part of being good stewards of our animals and your food.

Shame On You Subway


With all of the recent bad publicity, it seems the company was looking for a quick and easy PR move to regain customers and positive press (Click HERE for a look inside the rise and fall of Subway) when it announced Wednesday that it would begin serving products only from animals never treated with antibiotics. The publicity stunt is a slap in the face to the hardworking farmers and ranchers who produce safe, affordable and antibiotic-free products everyday and the reason I will now be saying no to Subway. Continue reading

America IS Great

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made headlines for dozens of reasons but one aspect of his candidacy that has caught my attention is his ill-fitting, often awkward looking baseball cap that reads “Make America Great Again.”

The message, although not alarming at first glance, plays to Trump’s message of American failure, mediocrity and his guarantee to restore America to its previous position of super power and world leader. He has created a campaign of fear that plays to those unhappy with the status quo and seeking answers and an immediate solution.

Dr. Brene Brown, speaking recently on Morning Joe, discussed her research into the culture of fear and how it plays a huge part in today’s society, our election process and individual’s daily decision making.

“It’s created this culture of scarcity,” Brown said, with people walk around questioning ‘what am I supposed to be terrorized of and whose fault is it. She credits 9/11 as the catalyst for that sense of fear and blames businesses, organizations and politicians alike for stoking the flames.

“They are using all kinds of schemes to leave you fearful,” Brown said. These organizations, she notes, not only tell you what you should fear but then come in an offer an “overly simplistic” solution to the problem. Insert Trump’s campaign strategy.

Unfortunately, that fear mongering has hit the agriculture industry, leaving consumers questioning every purchase and food decision. Anti-agriculture organizations lean on unproven statements and “potential dangers” to invoke fear into our food system.

But food shouldn’t be a scary proposition. As a member of the agriculture community, I hate seeing people terrorized by the idea of modern farming practices, reading that a single fast food cheeseburger might immediately result in a trip to the emergency room or hearing that eating modified corn will lead to cancers and unknown illnesses. The idea that food is grown to harm people or that today’s practices and crops are harming our society goes against everything farmers and ranchers stand for.

I believe agriculture is great and so too are the people who make our food affordable, plentiful and delicious. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, agriculture and agriculture-related industries contributed just under $800 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2013, which accounts for almost 5 percent of all economic output. The contribution is actually larger when you take into account all of the industries that rely on raw commodities, i.e. food, textiles, leather products etc.

Here in Kansas, agriculture is the main economic driver, bringing more than $63 billion to the state economy and serving as the lifeblood of many rural towns across the state.

Farming and ranching is older than our state – and nation – and it has survived, and thrived, in part because of it’s continued ability to adapt to changing consumer needs and demands. The industry has utilized new technology to improve plant tolerance to adverse conditions, such as heat and drought, and to create more consumer-friendly products, such as seedless watermelon or vitamin-enriched rice for developing nations.

As a mother and wife, I am the primary food decision maker in my family and well aware of the daily attempts by anti-agriculture organizations to use fear mongering and distorted truths to create a culture of terror for myself and all grocery shoppers.

My husband and farmers and ranchers across this great country work hard to raise food to be enjoyed and embraced, not feared and misunderstood. The idea that farmers and ranchers work 365 days a year to produce food that is harmful or raise animals in conditions detrimental to their health and wellbeing is down right untrue and should be considered as off-base as the idea of Kayne West running for president.

Don’t let fear drive your food decisions. It’s all too delicious, too enjoyable and too wonderful not to savor and enjoy. Farmers and ranchers across the country are ready and willing to show you their farm, answer your questions and lift the veil of fear so that you can walk the grocery store aisles and navigate the restaurant menu without fear of the unknown.

I believe America is already great and so too is the agriculture industry, just must continue working to make both even better.

It’s Not All Local

When I tell people my husband farms I am rarely met with disdain or insults. Most people are supportive and appreciative of the long hours and hard work my hubby and others work to put food on their plates. But then they follow with what they assume to be a supportive comment, “Oh, I always try to buy local.”

Buying local is great! There are thousands of farmers who rely on the local farmers’ markets or food cooperatives to move their goods. But we aren’t one of them. You won’t find us at the town square on Saturday mornings and we aren’t marketing our beef at the local grocery store. Yes, we do occassionally sell beef to family and friends and donate beef to use for non-profit events. But all of our income is a result of national and international markets.

We make your $40 steaks and toasted rolls at your white tablecloth, date night restaurant possible. It’s our soybeans that go into hog feed for your Saturday morning family bacon and eggs breakfast tradition at McDonalds and the milo that has allowed for the expansion of gluten-free products. We are proud international farmers that grow crops used around the globe and beef that is coveted by beef lovers on all continents. We aren’t a big, corporate farmers. Just a fourth-generation farming family hoping to see the fifth generation return to the land and follow in our footsteps.

It takes farms and farmers of all shapes and sizes to meet the always changing desires, demands and dishes found around the globe. Some chose to keep their products local. Others, like us, ship our products across the globe. It doesn’t mean we put any less time, energy or effort into raising those crops. It simply means our customers live a little farther away. That’s ok, as long as someone is enjoying the fruits of our labor.

So the next time you meet a farmer, remember, it’s not all local. Simply enjoying your next meal and understanding the time and energy it takes to get it from the pasture to your plate is support enough for this farm family.

Remembering Grandpa

Four generations came together last Christmas. My grandpa, Home, my dad, Gregg, myself and my son, Evan.

Four generations came together last Christmas. My grandpa, Home, my dad, Gregg, myself and my son, Evan.

Today we say goodbye to my grandpa. A once strong, independent man, dementia and old age took its toll. He passed peacefully and is now reunited in heaven with his love, my grandma Mary.

My grandpa, John “Homer” Stockstill, was not a boastful or arrogant man. He never sought to be rich or famous, but to simply earn an honest living, raise a family and care for those around him. He never owned a computer, could make anything new again with a little time in his shop and kept the greenest lawn in Geneseo.

He was a WWII veteran and served in the Pacific Islands. At the same age most of us pack our bags for college, my grandpa was aboard a ship, headed to war. He earned the Purple Heart and several other honors for injuries sustained during fierce and deadly fighting. He returned home with stories and memories he rarely shared. When he did talk about his time overseas, it was enough to make you realize just how much he and others sacrificed for our great country. He never expected special treatment for his service and kept the mementos and artifacts quietly tucked away.

My father took after my grandpa is many ways. They shared physical characteristics and unique habits, noticeable only to those around them. They both had a passion for OU football that my dad continues to this day and a careful, tempered demeanor that isn’t quick to anger.

When my sister and I were young, we would visit our grandparents and enjoy dinner at the Geneseo café and time at the park. As we got older, my grandpa was a regular at our track meets, dance recitals and high school graduations. He took pride in his family and was always there to support us. He was not a man of many words, but he always expressed his love and support.

My grandpa was a quiet man, never one to share too much or pry too deep. But his love for all of his family was always evident and always appreciated. We will miss you greatly grandpa, but we know now you are in a better place.

Link to complete obituary: