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POSTED: 12:48 PM, July 24, 2012

This summer I am doing my internship with the College of Agriculture’s Communication office and in doing so, I get to photograph The Market every Thursday.  Most students are not here to enjoy The Market or even know what it is, but I am here to tell you that it is much more than a farmer’s market and everyone should visit it at least once. 

From day one, we have come across a two-man band entertaining the crowd, a lady that makes her own bug spray for people and dogs, an array of delicious-looking fruits and vegetables and plenty of people who are more than willing to share ideas on how to cook the foods that they are selling. 

For the more exotic palates, there is goat cheese.  Now I haven’t had the courage to try it yet, but I hear it is very delicious and they offer up samples for you to enjoy while you are perusing their many other goat milk products like soaps and lotions.

If protein is more your thing, they also have fresh eggs from the poultry science department, shrimp from the fisheries and allied aquacultures department and the best beef jerky in the South.  There is something for everyone and every taste, so I am positive there is something at The Market for you. 

Since attending The Market every Thursday, I have met some wonderful people who love what they do and their positive attitudes and gracious ways are infectious.  You cannot help but smile when you stop by and talk to them because they are full of joy and laughter – and plenty of stories.    

So if you have a minute or two and want something to do, give The Market a try and you might be surprised. 

-- Submitted by Lisa. S

Posted by katiew | in Campus Life, Production Agriculture | Comments Off

POSTED: 12:46 PM, July 24, 2012

Many people say that the group that supports Auburn University (whether it is athletics or academics) is known as “Family”. We are not a nation, a crowd or a gathering. We are made up of people from all walks of life. We are a Family…a Family that is All In.

The same can be said for the vendors and patrons of The Market at Ag Heritage Park, just on a smaller scale. Vendors come from cities, neighborhoods or crossroads all throughout the state, or even from Georgia, to sell their produce and other goods at The Market each week. These farmers may not know each other, but they are Family too that is All In.

They are Family because they are all connected and working towards three common goals: to sell produce and goods to support their families, to educate the public about how food is grown and harvested and to be the voice of agriculture.

They are All In because getting their produce to the point it can be sold at The Market each week is hard work. The seeds must be bought and planted, cultivated and cared for, and the produce must be harvested at the perfect time. For farmers going to The Market, harvest time often comes early in the morning (often around sunrise) on the day of the market to ensure freshness for those looking to purchase it later that afternoon. They are All In because it is something that can’t happen overnight; it is something that takes months and months of hard work. After all, a segment of the creed that the Auburn Family lives by states, “I believe in work, hard work.”

I have had the wonderful opportunity the past three summers to get to know these vendors and patrons. My friends and I go out to The Market each week and take photos of the vendors, their produce and patrons to encourage others to come to this weekly event.

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Posted by katiew | in Campus Life, Production Agriculture | Comments Off

POSTED: 2:49 PM, July 6, 2012

To start, I’m new to blogging, so readers beware. I have never really spent that much time on the Internet reading other people’s thoughts. The way I understand it, a blog is an online journal of sorts where someone expresses their ideas, thoughts and feelings about a given subject or event.

OK, getting back on the subject: Agriculture and its Unrealized Opportunities. When I first came to Auburn, I had my mind made up that I was going to major in business and finance. After sitting through a few hours of orientation I quickly decided that day, I wanted to move out of the College of Business and home to the College of Agriculture. I declared my major to be ag business and economics.

Majoring in ag economics was something I just knew I was meant to do. Not long after enrolling in classes to begin my sophomore year of college I made a friend who offered me an opportunity that has since changed my whole perspective about the nature agriculture and its growing importance.

Just before the start of summer 2009 I was offered an undergraduate research assistant position with the United States Department of Agriculture at the Agronomy and Soils Research Lab here in Auburn. The main purpose of my job was to aid in the collection and organization of data used to conduct cash crop and biofuels research to determine if they could be used as a viable source of alternative energy.

As the summer drew to a close and my help was no longer needed, I began to reflect on what it was I spent the summer doing. I finally realized why agricultural research has become such a critical point of emphasis for not just American farmers and researchers, but the world! I believe plant and animal research is a key factor in being able to sustain our rapidly growing population, and that is something I wanted to be a part of.

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Posted by katiew | in Academics | Comments Off

POSTED: 2:46 PM, July 6, 2012

Agriculture was never a big interest of mine. I grew up in a small town, some of my family farmed, some of my friends farmed, but that was never for me. Ag was something I would have never thought about majoring in until three years ago. During the summer of 2009 I had the privilege of spending five days between an Irish dairy farm and a Scottish sheep farm.

It’s true that sometimes we overlook the problems in our backyard for problems far away. It was not until I spent time overseas that I learned about issues facing agriculture. These issues not only affect my friends, but ultimately, they impact me. Agriculture, nowadays, is looked at as a job for only a certain group of people. Many people believe they’re too good for agriculture jobs, but as the people whose entire lives have been rooted in agriculture know, that’s not the case.

Throughout the latter portion of my high school career, I was inspired to pick a college major that would lay the ground work for a career that would empower me to make a difference. After talking to people associated with the College of Agriculture here, at Auburn, I had chosen my major. Seeing my parent’s confused look when I told them it would be agricultural communications was priceless. Like many people, their first question was “What is that?” I answered their questions and explained to them that, along with a minor in political science and a law degree, I would essentially have the tools to leave my mark on the world: Bringing people back to what helps make this nation great in the first place and combating future problems that will be solved by people in the ag industry.

A strong agriculture means a strong economy and a strong economy means a strong country. In the words of Zack Wamp, “Agriculture was the first manufacturing industry in America and represents the best of all of us.” I want to use my agricultural degree to bring out the best in all of us.

-- Submitted by: Taylor B.

Posted by katiew | in Academics | Comments Off

POSTED: 8:58 AM, April 11, 2012

I am not your typical agriculture student. Up until my senior year in high school, the closest I had been to a farm or livestock was a petting zoo. My dad grew up in rural Alabama, where he spent every day after school working cattle with my grandpa. Before sending me into my senior year and the scary world of college applications, my parents had the wild idea to have me spend that summer working outside with my hands, and learning the value of a dollar.

So that’s how I wound up in Folsom, La., in the middle of May, in 100 degree weather. Through a friend of a friend I had landed a job at the Global Wildlife Center, which has animals from all over the world, free range, on a large piece of land. They offered a safari-style tour, for which I was an assistant tour guide. The first few days were fun. I felt just like David Attenborough, but after two weeks of talking about the impressive procreation rates of Indian Blackbuck, I was bored out of my mind. My boss, Christina, sensed this and gave me the opportunity to work with a local vet at a cattle sale. She warned me that the hours would be long and that I would take a pay cut, but assured me it would be worth the experience.

At 6 a.m. the following morning, the vet, affectionately known as “Doc,” picked me up in his beat-up work truck. We made our way to the little town of Amite, exchanging few words. When we arrived at the Amite stockyards, I soon realized that I stuck out like a sore thumb. Aside from being one of the few women, I was also one of the only people who was not a local farmer. We quickly made our way into “the pit,” which had a hydraulic cattle chute, a workbench and some suspiciously long gloves. I spent the day assisting Doc as he checked each cow to see if they were pregnant by palpating (look it up if you are unfamiliar with the term; it’s too gory for me to put into words), drawing blood and checking the teeth of each animal to determine its age. It was like being on an episode of “Dirty Jobs”.

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Posted by katiew | in Environment, Production Agriculture, Travel | Comments Off

POSTED: 8:56 AM, April 11, 2012

Where would our world be without farming and agriculture? In my opinion, our world would not be so great. Farmers are important. To me, there is one farmer who is a major part of my world—my dad. When I was younger, I didn’t think that he did much on our farm, but boy was I wrong. He does so much more than I ever imagined.

After waking up and getting ready, he goes to check on everyone. Now, when I say “everyone,” I mean the bulls at the bull test and the cows on our land. When he is checking the bulls, he also checks their feeders that are in their pen. If the bulls’ feeder is low, then he has to make some feed for them and put it in the feeder. On the farm, we have a feed wagon that mixes the feed, which consists of corn, soy hull pellets, corn gluten pellets, wheat midds, dried distillers grain, mineral, cottonseed hulls and molasses. After feeding the bulls, he checks the different pastures that the cows are in to see if they need hay and puts hay out where it is needed. Currently, he has a sore-footed cow, so he gets her up and treats her after feeding.

Not only does my dad deal with the mayhem taking place on our farm, he also has to deal with installation and the repair of equipment at our sow farm. He talks to the manager on the sow farm daily to deal with everything taking place there. Some chores such as repairing fences, cleaning up trees from storm damage and repairing and maintaining tractors do or do not take place on a daily basis. Those chores depend on the weather and how many other things are going on, like taking bulls or cows to the stockyard or helping a cow calve. At the end of the day the bulls and cows have to be checked again, and mineral supplement has to be given out to the cows that need it.

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Posted by katiew | in Production Agriculture | Comments Off

POSTED: 8:11 AM, March 27, 2012

It only takes one mouthful of soap for a 5 year old to learn not to use “that word.”  It only takes one sting to know that you will never play with that bug again. It only takes one taste of that soup to know you’ll never like the taste for as long as you live.  It takes 12 years to earn a high school diploma, four years to obtain a bachelor’s degree, four to six years to become a general physician and seven years to become a lawyer.  But it takes a farmer a lifetime of learning to keep up with the constantly changing technologies and to continue to prosper in a world that is rapidly urbanizing.  A farmer’s education never ends.

After spending hours behind a desk and in the field, I was surprised to discover many of the things that happen during a typical day on the farm.  Although I’ve lived on our family’s farm my entire life, I have overlooked some of the most important aspects of managing a successful farm operation. 

I have always said that firsthand experience would better educate me than classroom time.  This summer, my work experience proved me right.  Throughout the course of my summer, I was fortunate to have many firsthand opportunities to expand my knowledge about beef cattle and row crop farming.  More than anything, I learned that a farmer’s work is never done and that the education never really ends.  

My favorite summer job is baling straw.  I like to consider myself the best on the farm, even though it probably isn’t true.  I love the smell of straw being baled and the sound of my New Holland 575 square baler slowly turning out one bale at a time.  I was the queen of shearing pins, but I eventually learned how to fix them by myself.  Even though I left the field looking like a dirt monster, I wouldn’t trade it!  

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Posted by katiew | in Environment, Production Agriculture | Comments Off

POSTED: 8:08 AM, March 27, 2012

With second semester of my freshmen year in full swing, I feel like an expert compared to first semester. Like many other freshmen, I had no clue where any of my classes were, what kind of work to expect and who my real friends were. Although I am sure I still have much to learn about being away from home, I also have a lot to offer to incoming freshmen. 

Most importantly, college is what you make it. “You will get out what you put in”— this rule I have found to be extremely true in my experience. Those who have bad experiences often times don’t give it enough of a chance or don’t get involved with things they are passionate about. This is true for many aspects, including academics, social scene and extracurricular activities. The more you get involved, the more connections you make, and, therefore, the more friendly faces you see on campus.  

Skipping class seems to be an apparent trend around big schools, especially the classes with professors who don’t take attendance. My advice is to not get in the habit of skipping class. Tests often have a lot to do with lectures and certain information you can only attain from going to class. 

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Posted by katiew | in Academics, Campus Life | Comments Off

POSTED: 8:22 AM, December 8, 2011

The days are getting a little bit shorter and the nights a little cooler (or maybe even cold). And even though the 2011 season has officially ended (aside from the bowl game), I am still an Auburn University fan 365.

Tens of thousands of fans flock to campus each fall, all wearing the Auburn orange and navy blue. The concourses turn into streams of moving people as they all trek to the stadium. I often wonder what the aerial view of this looks like.

And while college football fans are showing school spirit all across the U.S., there’s just something different about Auburn.

Perhaps it’s because Auburn fans aren’t regional, seasonal or supportive only when things are going well athletic-wise. We are supportive of all athletics and also take pride in our strong academic programs. We wear the orange and blue proudly and keep wearing it even if the football season is less than perfect or we lose key rivalry games.

The best part of Auburn, however, is that we truly are family. You can travel halfway around the world and still find someone with Auburn ties or have those heart fluttering “War Eagle” moments. It just amazes me how far-reaching that interlocking AU can be and how powerful those two simple words are.

The 2010 and 2011 football seasons’ theme was “Family: All In.”

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Posted by katiew | in Campus Life | Comments Off

POSTED: 4:07 PM, October 13, 2011

Note: This is a revised version of a blog entry that was posted on Sept. 28. The original version mistakenly stated that the breakeven cost for wheat in 2011 was $9.16 a bushel.  The $9.16 is actually the breakeven cost for soybeans, not wheat (Usset). We apologize for the error, and thanks to the AGazine reader who caught it.

Politics has dominated the news and public interest lately. This is to be expected as we approach another presidential election year. The main focus of both media and constituents is the economy.  In a recent Republican primary, practically every question related to economic policy and domestic job growth. There were a few questions about social issues thrown in there, but the nation’s financial standing took center stage.  One issue that was surprisingly absent was agriculture. Approximately a fifth of the U.S. economy is in agriculture, and yet manufacturing still received more attention. There’s no question this is frustrating American agriculturalists because there is a case to be made that many of the country’s economic woes could be treated (admittedly not healed completely, but treated) by focusing on agriculture.

It’s true that agriculture has a dramatic effect on energy with fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel and thus affects the economy, but that’s a debate for another day. I’d like to focus on what would be the easiest way to bolster the status of the economy. Food prices have been on the rise at a much higher rate than normal since the economic crash. To be fair, it is due in part to inflation, but inflation increases the price of everything equally. By comparison, food prices have gone up far more than other goods. According to the USDA, the price of a metric ton of wheat was $185 in June 2007. In August 2011, a metric ton of wheat sold for $278. That is approximately a 50 percent increase since the crash. By comparison, Australia’s wheat was under $202 per metric ton in June 2007. In July 2011 (closest available statistics), wheat was $247 per metric ton, an increase of about 22 percent (USDA).

Where is all this money we’re paying at the check-out counter going? There are tons of expenses from the planter to your plate. Some include fertilizer, labor, farm equipment, seeds, pesticides and harvesting. After that, there’s processing, inspection, storage, transportation, marketing and finally retail. While all these processes are indeed costly, there’s one thing that affects every single step along the way: Regulation.

Regulation not only affects every business in the agricultural industry, but every single step in each industry. The cost of compliance isn’t cheap. Like all businesses, food and fiber producers can’t simply eat all of the cost of regulation compliance or they would quickly go under. Thus, they are left with one option: Pass off some or all of the cost to the consumer.

A study conducted by the Center for Agricultural Business at California State University Fresno stated that the compliance for a California orange farmer was about $400 per acre in 2008. They estimated his cost of production and calculated that his profit would increase by as much as 57 percent from 2008-2012 without regulation (Jay E. Noel). Admittedly, this is an extreme example because orchards are notorious for having more regulation than most production agriculture businesses, and California typically has more regulation than most states.  However it goes to show how regulation can have a massive impact on farmers and their bottom line.

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Posted by katiew | in Environment, Production Agriculture | Comments Off