Labeling food that has GMO ingredients has become a very controversial and heated topic in todays society. Especially with more people wanting to go organic and wanting to be more careful about what they eat. GMO labeling could lead to many pros and cons so figuring out what the best choice is for both consumers and producers is very hard.
First the pros, labeling which products have GMOs will allow consumers to have knowledge and be able to choose a product they feel is best for their lifestyle and values. Today consumers are all about transparency, GMO labeling will allow for a stronger relationship between producer and consumer. A stronger relationship will allow the trust of farmers by consumers to continue to grow. Also, producers with a niche can squeeze their way into the market. Consumers are willing to pay higher prices so industry will benefit and new players will emerge.
Second the cons, the big word here is misinterpretation. Labels could become very confusing for consumers, things such as “natural” mean little to nothing but consumers start to believe its more. Consumers tend to have not enough knowledge when looking at labels. As soon as consumers sees “GMO ingredients” they’ll put it back on the shelf and reach for the organic choice which in reality may not be the better choice. Organic is another word with much misinterpretation due to nothing actually proving its better for your health or the environment. Lastly, the effects on the poor. GMO ingredients are perceived to be unsafe when in reality thats not true. The poor will become food insecure and end up spending money on food because labels scare them away.
After listening to this lecture many students may have developed a green thumb. Mrs. Tracy Wootten and Mrs. Valann Budischak spoke to the class about Delawares green industry.
The Green Industry includes producers, retailers, landscapers, land managers, golf courses and suppliers. Its incredible that horticulture product sales in 2014 were $21,774,000, with Containerized being number one in nursery production at 62.4%. We learned their are two crop groups in the industry including floriculture crops which include bedding/garden plants, cultivated greens, cut flower and potted flowering plants. Nursery crops include broadleaf evergreens, shrubs, Christmas trees and fruit and nut plans.
Delaware Nursery & Landscape Association was a nonprofit organization we learned about that works to advance the common interests of its members and to promote the use and enhance the quality of the products and skills of the green industry.
I found this lecture to be very interesting because it shows how many jobs are tied to the green industry.
Growing up with grandparents that owned racehorses I loved going to Harrington to watch them race. While its not as popular today Horse Racing used to be a huge industry in Delaware. Mark Davis spoke to the class about how the horse racing industry has changed overtime and the economic impacts on Delaware. Horse racing is actually one of the oldest sports and was brought to America by the British.
Mr. Mark Davis talked about the different types of horse racing, Thoroughbred and Harness racing. Harness racing is much more common with about 2300 races a year compared to only 600 a year for Thoroughbred.
Horse Racing has about a $182 million impact on Delawares economy. It also supports about 1540 jobs. The horse racing industry is another great example of careers in agriculture and animals. I throughly enjoyed this lecture because it was a topic I didn’t know much about except for watching the sport growing up.
While most people may be driving down the road and use the spraying irrigation as a car wash, they may not realize the importance of irrigation to agriculture. Mr. James Adkins spoke to the class about the different systems of irrigation especially in different climates and places around the world. He started by showing us how irrigation has changed overtime and how new advancements have made irrigation much more successful. He even gave us a very important tip of not parking our cars in the wheel track of irrigation unless we want a crushed car.
I found it very fascinating when Mr. Adkins explained how 1 million gallons of water is used by 100 acres of corn in one day during pollination. One day!!!! This shows how important water is to agriculture. Irrigation has a huge impact especially in Delaware since our soils do not hold as much water.
Not only was this past Saturdays weather very cool, so was our field trip around the Newark farm. Scott Hopkins, the University of Delaware farm superintendent gave us a fascinating tour of the Webb Farm.
We were fortunate enough to see the milking parlor and learn that dairy cows are the most challenging animal to care for on the farm. Growing up on my families dairy operation I was able to see and experience first hand how labor extensive taking care of dairy cows can be and understood greatly what Scott Hopkins was explaining.
Not only did we see the dairy operation but we saw the beef, sheep and equine facilities. The equine facility was rather new with a large classroom that was very versatile and could also be used a spot for more hands on learning such as artificial insemination, collecting semen or even having the option to do some horse therapy and therapeutic riding. We also learned about the extensive research projects being conducted, Mr. Hopkins favorite being forage research.
We ended our trip with a stop at UDairy creamery. This was for sure one of my favorite field trips because of all the research being done in such close proximity.
After listening to the Mark Lynas lecture about his change of thought on GMOs I strongly believe everyone involved in the GMO controversy should listen to his explanation and new thoughts on GMOs. I am in full support of the use of GMOs and agree with Mark Lynas change in approach. I respected how Mr. Lynas first took the time to explain why he was against GMOs in the first place and I believe many people have the same thinking processes as he did when he first heard of the use of GMOs. He explained how he thought GMOs were just being used by a big American corporation with not much thought and that it would go horribly wrong in the long run. He then explained how he had actually never done research in the field till later and then discovered that GMOs were a necessity for humankind and the growing population. Mark Lynas makes a very strong case for his change of heart by evaluating how he first approached the situation and then how he learned more about all the benefits of GMOs. Throughout his lecture he explains all of the reasons he now supports the use of GMOs including that GMO crops actually need less chemicals, it was benefiting farmers instead of big companies and finally he explained how it is actually a safer and more precise way of growing crops. I believe many people who are against the use of GMOs have not done research in the field and assume right away its bad like Mark Lynas did at the beginning of his career. I want to spread the knowledge of GMOs being safe and a necessity to farming with the growing population. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Mark Lynas lecture and am happy to see someone who was against GMOs spreading his new-found knowledge and supporting them.
This past Saturday I was able to take a fascinating field trip to Hoobers with my Agricultural Class. It started with learning a little history about Hoobers and what precision ag really entails. We learned that the sprayer is one of their most promote and popular precision ag pieces sold. Speaking of the sprayer many of students were lucky enough to operate the piece of equipment including myself. While precision ag is a part of agriculture that will only get larger it does bring challenging aspects to the table such as data management and keeping up with all the new advancements in technology.
My favorite part of the trip was actually getting to see drones in action and learning about all the new advancements and ways to use drones in agriculture. It was interesting to hear that a license is actually required to operate these drones.
I believe precision ag will continue to get larger and advance. I also believe it will create many available careers in the future. Hoobers was overall a great experience and showed me a part of agricultural I did not realize was getting so large and in demand for the increasing population.
I was recently fortunate enough to hear two guest lectures from Mr. Ed Kee. His first lecture taught us students about Delaware Ag and its importance to the food shed. Mr. Kee spoke about many things including that Delaware is located within 8 hours of 1/3 of the population, which puts Delaware at a high advantage even with its small size. Delaware also has 115,000 of land being preserved so it will stay farmland forever; this will allow many businesses to stay in business for many years to come. The agriculture industry has $6-$7 billion dollars of economic activity in Delaware which makes it a large commodity for Delaware as well as the Eastern United States. Mr. Kees second lecture explained Iowa and California Agriculture. I found this lecture very interesting because it put more into perspective about farming in the United States and helped me compare Delawares agriculture practices to those in other states. Iowa has great soil because of the moisture it can hold and its fertility. California agriculture is all about water and farmers grow crops to gain the most profit relative to what they pay for water. After listening to both lectures from Mr. Kee I feel I’ve gained an abundance of knowledge about not only Delaware agriculture but Iowa and California agriculture and thank him very much for sharing his wealth of knowledge with us students.
Fifer Orchards is a local farm and country store located in Camden-Wyoming, DE. Tilling over 2800 acres Fifers produces a diverse amount of crops along with their biggest profit sweet corn. This past summer I was fortunate enough to work at Fifer Orchards and after the field trip I gained even more respect for the farm and the things they do to benefit the community and the agriculture industry. Throughout the field trip we were taken to several fields and shown many different crops, one of the most interesting was kale which is hand harvested. We were then given a tour of the packing house and cooler and shown the behind the scenes that goes into getting Fifer Orchards produce out to the public. We were lucky enough to visit on the first day of the fall fest so it was a busy Saturday for the Fifer Orchards staff. The farm puts on many events for the community throughout the year such as the strawberry festival, customer appreciation day and the fall fest. Apple cider slushes couldn’t be handed out fast enough to the customers. After working at Fifers over the summer and the field trip I have really seen the hard work that goes into the family business and how hard the family strives to serve the community.
Georgie Cartanza is a great example of a dedicated poultry farmer who is willing to go beyond expectations in her field. I admire her work ethic and thoroughly enjoyed touring her farm. Georgie is now an organic chicken farmer and her operation can house 148,000 chickens. Before she switched to organic chickens she grew roasters. The chickens on Georgie’s farm produce about 80 tons of manure each year, which is then sold as fertilizer. I found it very interesting that Georgie would have never expected herself to have her own poultry operation. While she was always involved in the poultry industry she didn’t start running her own chicken houses until 11 years ago. Her hardworking attitude lead her to be very successful. However, she does see some challenges coming her way such as organic consumers changing requirements based on how the chickens are raised. I believe Georgie to be a great role model for anyone going into the poultry industry or any branch of the agriculture industry. Poultry is a huge part of a Delaware and Georgie has stood herself out from the rest.