Monday, February 8, 2010

The Power of Words

By now, if you're up on current events in agriculture or even animal rights, you already know about the massive uproar that Yellow Tail Wines has created with its decision to donate $100,000 to the Humane $ociety of the United $tates.  Over the course of the last week and continuing on into this week, the front lines of the battle have been waged over the internet on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.  Scanning the social media beat on Thursday, I caught wind of the brewing storm YellowTail had created and I decided to weigh in. I promptly asked "I wonder if YellowTail realizes that out of $100,000, only $4,000 will actually help animals".  Who knew that a couple lines on twitter could stumble me on to a new project?

If you're not in the loop about the recent YellowTail news, here are some helpful links for you to catch up on all of the hoopla concerning this issue. [Tails] for Tails, Google News Results. Possibly you're an urban resident like myself and your daily routine operates well outside the battle lines between livestock agriculture and animal rights groups. In fact, you may ask yourself what the big deal is, especially after taking in all the cute and cuddly animals adorning the front page of the H$U$ website, all their cute and cuddly celebrity spokespeople or their widely publicized political campaigns.  Well, the problem is that they simply don't do much to help animals, they continually push their extreme vegetarian views on the American public and basically want to see animal agriculture cease to exist.  The bottom line is that they want you out of business if you're a livestock producer. Furthermore,  they tout their great efforts to stop suffering of animals, yet only contribute a very small portion of their multi-million dollar budget to actually funding shelters or helping in any way.  You can read here to find out more of their deceptive front as an animal welfare organization.

As fate would have it, another fellow agricultural "tweep", Jenny Gambill, caught my comment and called me out on the floor.  Immediately, we started generating ideas about how a simple grass roots idea could make an "equal" contribution to help animals in a meaningful way.  So,  here's our pitch: we simply want you to join our Facebook group called "Going Local" and help us raise an initial $4,000 (hopefully more!) to help local animal charities with a direct donation to your favorite one.  The best part is, we don't want to complicate the issue by processing donations or making some extra bureaucracy, we simply want to make a totally transparent effort to help. To do so, we'd like you to pledge a dollar amount on the Facebook page and provide an accompanying validation picture of you completing an online donation, personally delivering or mailing a check to your animal charity of choice.

By raising $4,000, we can make a simple statement to YellowTail and H$U$ that a couple of everyday people can create the same or even greater direct impact in the lives of local animals without the need of a corporate marketing and publicity stunt like [Tails] for Tails.

Now, how 'bout a little inspiration to get 'er kicked off...

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Power of the Family Farm on an Impressionable Youngster.

Below is a guest post for the Colorado Farm Bureau Blog that can be found here

Howdy there.  I was asked to put up a guest post here on the Colorado Farm Bureau blog and I'd like to introduce myself as Caleb Schultz - the suburbanite city boy extrodinaire who wants to be a rancher.  Yep, you heard me right, a suburban city boy who rather calve out a 2 year old heifer at 2 am than sit at my desk all day watching the time pass on a computer screen.  We'll get back to that later though.

In my post today, I'd like to comment on what a profound impact agriculture and its stories have had on my outlook as an impressionable young man.  I'd also like to paint a picture of why what you and your family do in agriculture is such a worthwhile.  I grew up in Loveland, CO where I passed the days as most kids did, sheltered from the life of agriculture, even while my yard backed on to a wheat field. Then I went to Ft. Collins to attend CSU and boy did my outlook change...for good.

Imagine freshman year rooming with my close friend, whom I'd known since kindergarten, when out of nowhere some small town farm kid appeared in the door to say hello and introduce himself.  My roomate nor I had ever known someone with this background and it seemed as though we hit it off from the get-go, two kids with one common goal: enjoying college life.  Needless to say, our friendship grew steadily and we became very close friends.  Then came Thanksgiving break freshman year, a couple days down on the farm that would change my life path forever.

In retrospect, this one trip changed my outlook forever and opened me to a view of true country and agricultural life that I had never experienced, only driven past on my way to Lincoln, NE.  There we were, surrounded by nothing.  The emptiness, winter wheat and CRP forming the perfect backdrop for getting to know a farm family whose generosity poured out with an unassuming ease. As the excursion began to unfold, so did their family's easily apparent bond and their deep history in the area.  This first introduction to the farm left me smitten for the country, open space and agriculture. After returning to Fort Collins and Loveland, I knew I was hooked.

Fast forward one more year to find me having gained sophomore status in Landscape Architecture at Colorado State. It just so happened that the young lady sitting right across the isle from me in our design studio classes was a rancher's daughter.  She was pretty and reserved, but once she got around to spilling the beans about her upbringing, she was amazed at my interest in what her family did in agriculture.  After becoming close friends, the chemistry began to work, and over 6 years later, we are now engaged to be married.  These past six years have been a whirlwind of exposure and education about farming, cattle and life in general.  Here again, I found the stoic timelessness of a farm family and their friendly values. Unfortunately, I didn't hear the call quite soon enough before graduation and I went out into the world to tackle corporate America. In truth, now comes the hard part of finding the opportunity to move us home and get involved in agriculture, cattle and the family that we long to be involved with. 

So, why does this matter to you and your family in Colorado Agriculture?  Well, quite frankly, my story is evidence that your unique history and agricultural journey has tremendous weight to an urban youngster such as myself.  Your character, values and family strength are a precedent that cannot be ignored.  I have always considered myself a pretty "normal All-American kid" with a strong family background and good leadership in my life.  However, the profound effect that the agricultural ethos has had on me is remarkable.  It is possibly your greatest commodity, your best genetics at the social sale barn. You and your family have generations of substance that people want to know about. Your story needs to be told because it absolutely matters.

As luck would have it, it just so happens that your chance to tell your story is bright on the horizon. Coming up on March 20, 2010 is National Agriculture Day, a spotlight for you and your family's legacy to shine.  If you need some ideas of how you can get involved visit here, there or somewhere that will grow some thoughtful ideas about sharing your unique heritage.