Tag Archives: Delaware Agriculture

Understanding Today’s Agriculture, AGRI130 Guest Lecture #9- Equine Industry

On November 18, 2019 Mr. Mark DAVIS gave a lecture on the Delaware equine industry.  As the Executive Director of the Delaware Harness Racing Commission, Mr. DAVIS was able the class all about the history of the industry and how it operates today.

Although Mr. DAVIS could thoroughly explain the mechanic of the industry today, that was not always the case.  In fact, before he took on his current position, he, ‘knew little about horses and noting about racing’.  But he did have good writing and management skills as well as a good work ethic.  After, ‘putting his nose to the grindstone’, he was able to pick-up the states’ horse racing industry, which he inherited in a state of disarray.

Mr. DAVIS provided a brief history of horseracing.  The practice of racing horses can be traced back to the Arabians, who held distance races over the desert.  These horses, acquired as spoils of war, were eventually bred with European horses. In 1750, the Jockey Club was created in America for the management of thoroughbreds.

There are two main types of racing- Quarter racing & distance racing.  There are two main breeds of American horses- thoroughbreds and standardbreds. Thoroughbreds typically race once a month with a galloping pace that places all a horses’ weight on one hoof at a time.  Standardbreds are typically use for the less popular, harness racing.  Harness racing has a lower point of entry and the horses race twice a week at a faster pacing/trotting pace.  Because they undergo physical exertion more frequently, these horses are usually heartier, with a slower breakdown.

Mr. DAVIS presented somewhat older data from 2005, but the statistics remain relevant.  Less people are going places.  People are able to engage in races via computer or TV, so physical attendance at horse races has gone down.  The low attendance is not however, because of a significant price barrier- 46% of horse-owners have an modest income, so the sport is not strictly reserved for the wealthy.  People are spending however, as evinced by a landmark wager on October 26, 2019 in which about $4million was bet in one day on a single horse.

The horse population has also gone down within the sport. Prices, therefore, continue going up.  This year marks the 1st time a horse sells for $1million. $100, 000 for a thoroughbred is not uncommon, but that same amount for a standardbred is quite unusual.

In 1934 the Delaware Racing Commission was established. In 1946 Harrington Raceway is built and continues operating as the oldest harness racing track in country. Other raceways include, the ‘Brandywine Raceway’, which closed because slots weren’t used to fund the establishment.  Video Lottery is a requirement on a racetrack, thanks to the, ‘Delaware Horseracing Revitalization Act.

Mr. DAVIS informed use that the harness racing industry is managed by the Fair board, which consists of 88 people, as well as the Raceway and Casino Board.  There are distinct boards for both the standardbred and thoroughbred horses. The Harrington Raceway runs April to October, with a 6 week summer break.  Ocean Downs, a racetrack in Maryland, hosts races in the period from June to August when Harrington isn’t having races.

In previous generation, modern horseracing as we know it consisted of a trainer, and owner, and a driver who divided the profits among themselves.  Today, there are owners and investors. The owners own less than 5% of a horse with a share of the profits and don’t require a license. Trainers however can earn six figures. There are also Paddock inspectors, nicknamed, ‘Pee catchers’ who analyze the urine and blood of the horses, and veterinarians, who are the only professionals in contact with the horse before races.

In Japan, regulations are more stringent, with horses brought to the track a full week before their race, the only people in contact with them are the groomer and/or trainer, and fed strictly hay and water.  In the U.S., drivers, who are still exclusively male, are tested as well- the procedure is imperative when a person is travelling 35mph behind a 2000lb aluminum chariot and horse with eight other people, no one should be under the influence.  Owners and groomers are tested once a month.  Anyone with a license to be in contact with the horse is subject to tests, ‘out of competition’.

The horses run two miles once or twice a week.  The demanding performance can tempt many of those involved in horse-racing to use the blood-building agent erythropoietin (EPO)- ‘the same drug [cyclist] Lance ARMSTRONG got in trouble for [using]’. EPO acts as a trigger to produce more red blood cells, aiding in the recovery of the animal after a race. Paddock inspectors are often checking for doping of the horses- EPO given the night after a race generates antibodies produced for recovery, which wear off before the next race, but already have an effect on the horse’s ability to recover from the previous race. Initially Bovine EPO was given to Equine animals before the switch to Synthetic EPO, of which there are now 37 types, with tests for only 2.

500 full-time jobs are generated by horseracing, which generate money via, ‘Purses’. Better horses race for more money- a better quality horse creates a larger, ‘purse’. Of a $100, 000 purse, a winner gets 50%, and while the owner/owner(s) get money, the driver and trainer receive just 5%. Race operators must also pay training bills, veterinarian bills, food, water, and more and somehow generate some salary.

The lottery money generated by the casinos is put into a large pool.  With the casinos and the state operating as partners, the money is distributed between Delaware’s three casinos and the state in a, ‘weekly sweep’.  Despite popular belief, Mr. DAVIS informs the class that the casino doesn’t take all the money, instead only keeping vendor fees for itself- the headline, ‘State bails out Casino’ is false. In 2015 the casino formula reapportioned the percentages each party received from the, ‘weekly sweep’, with the casino receiving 50% casino and the state receiving 30%.  In 2020, the formula was re-adjusted 2% to help casinos recover, but this was just the state re-correcting the problem they initially caused with the first formula change that gave casinos 50%.  The state largely uses their percentage for state infrastructure.  Even though casinos receive a specific amount of money, the Horse Racing Commission still receives phone calls from betters who complain about the outcome of races.

To close out the lecture, Mr. DAVIS answers the classes questions.  One question concerned the weight requirements for harness racing drivers.  Mr. DAVIS informed the class that drivers are typically in the 150-300lbs weight range, but that unlike jockeys, because of where the drivers are situated, there are no real height and weight requirements for the harness racing drivers.

 

Understanding Today’s Agriculture, AGRI130 Guest Lecture #7- Livestock Industry

On October 21, 2019 Mr. Dan SEVERSON spoke to the class on Delaware’s Livestock Industry. He covers the large-scope of the industry and the varied number of animals that are cultivated in agriculture.

Less than 2% of the U.S. population is involved in agriculture- a farm is any family that makes $1, 000 a year from agriculture. 98% of farms are family-owned and account for 87% of all agricultural value generated.  In Delaware, more than half of the farms are less than 50acres. More than half of farms have sales that generate less than $50, 000 in profit.   $3.5 million is generated in  direct-to-consumers in products and Delaware is the #1 state in the U.S. for value of products per acre. Delaware is also the #1 producer of lima beans in the U.S.

In the U.S., the livestock industry occupies .5mil acres land, with 500, 000acres in farms accounting for 40% of the gross domestic product.  With an average of 200 acres per farm, the industry generates about $8 billion in profit for agriculture.

Before going into the specifics of the Delaware livestock industry, Mr. SEVERSON gave the class a quick history overview. In 1914 WW1 takes shape & so begins the birth of agricultural extensions. In the 1930s Depression & Dust Bowl hit. And in 1939 WW2 starts, encouraging farm hands go to war. When the farmers return, they bring training & technology. No young man is willing to work for $0.50/week when they might earn $7/day at a factory.  In1950, Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer increases crop yields, aiding in a 265% increase in production and decreasing inputs by 2%

As a result of the wars ‘advancements’ the average annual per capita consumption of meat has changed over the years- beef, pork, and lamb have decreased while poultry has increased. 29% of Delaware’s land area is planted in corn & soybeans, and most of that produce goes towards the poultry industry as chicken feed. Goat & veal consumption has not been tracked ‘til recently. In the U.S. family food costs on average represent just 9.7% of a households income, that food typically consisting of what is most affordable, safe, & abundant. Compare that percentage to Russia’s average family spending 14-15% of their income, or the average Ethiopia n family spending 45%.  Much of that reduction in cost is due to the way that the meat is produced.

In Delaware there are 235 beef farms with 14, 000 cows/calves between them. Many of the cows are fed a Total Mix Ration (TMR) for more efficient and tailored nutrition. An example of a Delaware cattle farm would be Power’s Farm in Townsend, Delaware. Cattle are often the topic of Animal Welfare discussions.

Pork is soon to be vertically integrated. Swine production, Mr. SEVERSON notes, is a subject taught by UD’s Dr. Lesa GRIFFITH. Hogs may be raised farrow to finish, farrow to feeders, or feeders to finish. When keeping pigs, it is important to note white pigs are prone to sunburn, making the black breed Berkshire better for bacon. Part of the processing of hogs involves a scalding trough to skin the pigs, which Mr. SEVERSON notes is very hard to do. A popular value-added product made from pork is, ‘Artisan Scrapple.’   Mr. SEVERSON interjects the lecture to pose a question to the class on why pork shoulders are referred to as, ‘Boston Butt’.  When no one is able to provide an answer, he moves on.  Conducting a quick search after the fact define the pork shoulder is the ‘skinless, boneless upper part of a pigs front shoulder’.  A common cut, a quick Google search notes the name came from barrels the pork was shipped in and the region that made the cut popular.

Sheep are typically raised for wool. He notes that ‘Hair sheep’ are a type of sheep with wool that falls out.  The upcoming Delaware Agricultural Week in January 2020, a Maryland farmer with a sheep milking operation is slated to come.

Goats are raised for three things- Angora, milk, and meat.  There is no certified meat & milk facility in Delaware. In New Holland PA, the 2nd largest goat auction in country is held- Texas hosts the biggest auction.  The U.S. cannot support it’s ethnic population’s demand for goat meat, namely Islamic, Jamaican, & Jewish where goats are used for celebration. Mr. SVERSON says that goats are browsers like deer which eat above their heads.  The reason for it’s lack of broad popularity might be because goat meat doesn’t marble. Mr. SEVERSON proudly mentions that he received $280 for small (60-80lbs) goat in New Holland, where the price is based on the amount of meat. While attending the National Goat Conference in Montgomery, AL, where ice cream and cheesecake are popular forms of value-added goat products for a niche market. Lotions & soaps are easier in Delaware without a certified dairy.

Dairy is dying in the U.S.  In Delaware there were once 80 dairies, which decreased to 50, and now just 21 dairy farms operate today with 4 creameries- Woodside, UDairy, Hopkins, & Vanderwende Creamery. Natural by Nature & Hy-Point are the remaining processors. Farm fresh, homemade ice-cream is a popular commodity. Mr. SEVERSON notes Amish youth prefer construction to milking with it’s regular hours and consistent work. Whole milk contains 3.25% milk fat, while skim milk contains just 1%, but there is no raw milk available in Delaware. To generate a profit, dairy cow numbers are increasing- it takes 1000 cows minimum to make profit. For farms that are struggling, the cows are either moved to farms or shipped to different states & countries.

Other livestock farmers may keep for commercial production include bees, bison, alpaca, llamas, rabbits, water buffalo, deer, chickens, turkey, & emu. Mr. SEVERSON informed that class that he was unwilling to raise alpaca or llamas because they look ‘strange’ to him…

Lastly, Mr. SEVERSON discussed growing agricultural trends in the livestock industry. The number of farms is increasing while overall farm size has been cut in half- total production covers 8, 000 acres in Newark. The industry is also seeing a growing number of young farmers.  Farms and CSA’s are becoming increasingly diversified and catering to niche markets.  Many of these smaller farms are selling value-added products to direct markets. 10 current GMO crops include, corn, soy beans, cotton, papaya, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, canola, alfalfa, & sugar beets

The future of the livestock industry depends on new technology like GMO’s and robotics for labor, and investment in the next generation to cater to the environment, government regulations and animal welfare. Mr. SEVERSON states he has seen an increase in young females without and agricultural background pursuing knowledge to enter the industry. It takers 3-4years to establish a farm working with grants for funding. Mr. SEVERSON often conducts experiments on his own farm first. With that, he informs us of the skills and traits needed to work for the Extension agency. The following soft skills are preferable- listening, compassion, working with others and reading them. Other skills include agricultural skills, professional skills, & education.

Guest Lecture: The horse Racing Industry in DE

Mr. Mark Davis came to our Agriculture class lecturing us about the Horse industry in Delaware. He is the Delaware’s Executive director of Harness Racing Commission. The horse racing in one of the oldest of all sports. It began in 12th century, invent by British, then introduce to America in 1665 in Long Island. There are 9.2 million horses in the United States.  The horse industry has massive and direct economic impact on the U.S.  economy. It creates $39 billion annually. Tremendous people in U.S. own horses and love horse racing. Compared to Harness racing and Standardbred racing, Thoroughbred racing has less race game per year but produce more money to the industry. A big industry always supports a lot of job opportunities. In 2014, the horse racing industry created 1500 jobs. In Delaware, there are about 100 farms housing 775 thoroughbreds and 300 farms housing 3000 standardbreds, 1000 of them are one-year-old racing horse and breeding stock. And the annual thoroughbred cost is also high than the standardbred.

UD farm

In November 2nd, 2019, my class took a field trip in webb farm and dairy farm of university of Delaware. I have been there several time in last semester, and the bad smell are so familiar. UD farm grows crops and vegetables in the field, but they didn’t serve for dining halls in main campus. The yield is not enough to satisfies the needs. But they do sell to the star campus. We saw several herds of sheep, dairy cattle and horses. UD farm even grows rice and raise bees for research. There are over 100 cows in dairy farm. They can produce 800 gallons of milk per day. Staffs use automatic milker machine to milk cows. Because of biosecurity and efficiency. And I noticed that some cows have weird “windows” in their side of body. It allows the researchers to reach inside the animal’s stomach and analyze the contents. If the cow was sick, researcher will take other healthy cow’s stomach contents and put into the sick cow’s stomach to see if it cures the cow. In the webb farm, we luckily saw 4 cute lambs. What a wonderful trip!

Our Last Field Trip: The Newark Farm

This was definitely my favorite trip of them all and between seeing all the animals, the research they were doing throughout the farm, getting to hear about everything they do on the farm, oh and I can’t forget about that ice cream. I got a pint of cinnamon crunch ice cream and it was just about the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Maybe seeing all the behind the scenes of the milking process and the cows themselves made it better. But, I’ve had the tour of Hopkins Dairy farm and there ice cream didn’t get any better so I’ll have to take another trip up to Newark and get some more to experiment. My favorite thing about this field trip was the feeding process they had for the cows. It just amazed me and I almost didn’t believe him till 3 or 4 cows came up and scanned their necklace and started eating. I also thought it was cool that they were experimenting with rice patties on campus I never thought that we would be in the right climate for that but it definitely makes sense. Another, bonus was getting to see all the different bee hives scattered around the farm.

Guest lecture: Livestock industry in DE

In oct 21, 2019, Mr. Dan Severson, a new castle county extension agent, came to my class and lectured my class about the livestock industry in DE. He told us many features that something we know and something we don’t know of Delaware farms. To be consider as a farm, this land should produce and sell $1,000 or more of agricultural products annually, or those products normally would have been sold annually. There are 2500 farms in Delaware, and economic contribution of agriculture to Delaware’s economy is about $8 billion. Farmers’ age average are 5-60 years old. Most of farms are family farms. It is about 98%. The biggest two war in the history, WWI and WWII, affect the livestock production heavily. Over time, all type of meat, like beef, pork, lamb or goat, consumption is decreased except poultry. Sheep and goat industries play a low role in the livestock industry in the US and Delaware. They are most likely to be raise in smaller herd size and backyard.

Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak’s Lecture class

On October 16, 2019, Tracy Wooten and Valann Budischak came to my class lecture us about the Green Industry in Delaware. When I hear green, I thought it is just about the plants. But I was wrong. It is more interesting than I though. Green industry includes that nursery business, landscape design and maintenance, land management and so on. It is similar with other industries that many people play different roles. It has producers, landscapers, land managers, golf courses suppliers and others. Horticultural Product Sales is a big part of green industry in Delaware. It creates over 21.7 million dollars sales. When Ms. Wootten and Ms. Budischak showed us a picture of railroad landscape, professor Issacs raised a question that why weed is not allowed to grow on the railroad. It is because the train will pass through with high speed and produce elevated temperature in the surface of rail which will cause fire hazard when weed is growing in there. To sum up, I learned some interesting information about green industry.

Mr. James ADKINS on, ‘The Importance of Irrigation & Water Management in Delaware’

On October 2, 2019 Mr. James ADKINS spoke to us on irrigation practices across the state of Delaware and how they’ve evolved over time.  Mr. ADKINS has a Bachelors degree from the University of Maryland and works at the UD Carvel Research Center and is an Extension Specialist with fruits and vegetables.  He also worked with Mr. KEE- the man who brought PictSweet to Delaware along with mechanized pickling.  Additionally, Mr. ADKINS works with equipment, technology, and irrigation nationally and internally, as well as handling irrigation on Warrington Farm.

The talk began with a brief history on irrigation in relation to the systems used today.  Only 20% of the world’s farmland is irrigated but 40% of the world’s food supply is produced with irrigation.  Mr. ADKINS traces irrigations humble beginnings to the Towers of Babylon in Machu Picchu, originally pumped by slaves.  Irrigation systems requiring man-power could be found in other ancient civilization throughout the world, as well as animal, wind, and water power.

One of the first methods of irrigation Mr. ADKINS discussed was flood irrigation.  Also called gravity/furrow irrigation, it is used when a weir controls the water flow.  This type of irrigations works best on heavy (capable of holding a lot of water), mostly level soil where 3-4inches of water is applied per application- Delaware is not level enough to employ this method.  In California, however, each farm receives this type of water delivery method 4 times per year with a 4 inch application each time.  Siphon tubes are used to run water across a ditch with grated pipe, a system used by 30% of U.S. farms.  A canal manager/operator oversees the transfer of water between farms as farmers upstream receive the water, then that tailwater is re-used on the next farm down. Mr. ADKINS tells us that there are stockholders in canal water- reiterating the points made by Mr. KEE about the complicated water rights in California.  The Homestead Act and combined with the controversy around who owns what means farmers may not even own the water underneath their property.

After WW2 came the advent of the pressurized sprinkler system. With this system came the second method of irrigation, using hand-moved pipe.  This pipe was made from aluminum, originally sourced from scrapyards in Washington and Oregon where airplane manufacture had been done.  This system was often used in the western U.S.  A variation of this system, side-roll wheeled-pipe, could be hooked to 150-200ft risers underground and can be seen in use in Idaho.  This system doesn’t work well with corn.

Another pressurized system, the traveling gun, can be used for corn, soybeans, wheat, and other agronomic crops.  This device has the spraying power of 10-20 fire hose in pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure.  This force is not evenly applied, however, and the machine itself requires lots of power and fuel, meaning it has negative energy efficiency.  This device is often used on sports fields, running 6hours at a time to cover 10acres.  It is a poor choice to give water to newly plant, fragile, and shallow rooted crops.

Frank ZYBACH’s center pivot irrigation, uses an anemometer powered by water.  The crops it is used on are often planted in circles.  Mr. ADKINS showed us examples of it’s use in Nebraska, but it is broadly used, even in largely desert countries like Saudi Arabia.  The system is used in Delaware and works well with furrow planted crops.

The greatest percentage of irrigated land exists in Asia, where 68% of the farmland receives water via surface water irrigation like dams and hydroelectric.  Half of the 60 million acres of U.S. farmland that are irrigated use flood (surface water) irrigation. Mr. ADKINS informed the class that the first source of irrigation is often surface water before acquirers are sourced for water instead- aquifers require more pressure to pump water and therefore more money.  Most of the irrigated farms in Asia are small, encompassing less than 5acres.  90% of India’s freshwater is used for agricultural irrigation compared to 65% of China’s freshwater.

After Asia, America comes in at a mere 17% with it’s irrigated farmland, followed by Europe at 9%, Africa at 5%m and Oceana at 1%.  The U.S.’s irrigated farm area expanded rapidly from 1950 to 2000, going from 250 acres to 700 acres, or 280% in 50years.  This is staggering, compared to the 10% increase from 2000 to 2010.  Despite the more modern methods of irrigation utilized in the U.S., many aquifers are struggling.  An example would be the large Oklahoma state high plains aquifer that is being depleted faster than it can naturally recharge- the rivers going through aren’t given the chance to percolate. Globally 15-35% of irrigation withdrawals are projected to be unsustainable. In California, irrigation withdrawals were a mere 19% in 2005, with almond trees allowed to die as irrigation water is diverted to the city for people to drink instead.

In Delaware, 30% of the farmland, or 15, 000 acres is irrigated.  In Sussex County Delaware, 50% of the farmland is irrigated.  In the older properties of the county, many wells are hand-dug and only go as deep as 40ft, when modern wells are often much deeper.  Controversy often arises from citizens believing the neighboring farms center-pivot system is pumping out their drinking water, however this is often incorrect as domestic-use wells are deeper than irrigation wells and often tap into different aquifers because the aquifers are ‘stacked’ underground.  Companies like Tidewater and Artesian can capitalize on these water disputes by promising new residents in their brand new developments, ‘fresh, uncontaminated drinking water’.  When consumers buy a property they purchase water allocation rights, meaning the cone of influence to off-set their neighbor can’t exceed a foot of their well water.

Irrigation can also give locales on brink of disaster a second chance.  In Ken BURNS’ documentary, ‘The Dust Bowl’ an Oklahoma city is irrigated after a lack of rainfall due to climactic change and the farmland is able to be recovered.  In Saudi Arabia, 16, 000ft. well are dug to pump acquirers in the desert and increase the countries food security in times of conflict.  Water desalinating technology is another expensive method used to bring water to the desert.

Lastly, Mr. ADKINS discussed ways in which aquifers are made more effective and efficient.  1 million gallons of water usage equals 10 households per year, 1.5 Olympic swimming pools, and 100 acres of corn in 1 day during the pollination stage. Much of the water applied to crops can be lost to the soil and air in a process referred to as evapotranspiration,or ET. Mr. ADKINS showed us an image of an old dike system where the aquifer was lined with concrete to prevent water loss from water seeping through the salt rock.  He shared an interesting anecdote in which, through his travels, he learned that Idaho kids can ride a raft down the river for 20miles to an overpass for recreation.  Certain cultivars, like corn, can use copious amounts of water- anywhere from 20-25inches, or an average of 22 in per year.  Crop coefficients can be measured and estimated based on crop and growth stage charts and taking variables like humidity, rainfall, and wind into consideration.  Increasingly high temperatures can make irrigation even less effective, as water is lost when plants are under heat stress.  In Delaware, the sprinkler, drip, and sub-surface irrigation may require more water usage in sandy soil, but still used less water overall that alternative methods.  In New Castle County, specific methods like drip irrigation can be better for the general soil type.

New irrigation technology was shown briefly at the end of the lecture. The Warrington Pivot works via SmartPhone and can be turned on remotely, creating added convenience and reducing the need for travel for farmers.  When using the corner system and center pivot, zone control can be employed to adjust the water distribution rates for varying soil types on different plots of land- also known as Variable rate irrigation, or VRI, a small system for an area f low variability can cost $25, 000 as opposed to upwards of $30-$40, 000 for a larger, more complex system.  To justify the expense, farmers use a free AGIS soil survey with records dating back to the 1940s to determine the needs of their property.  For additional support, farmers can seek the help of a Natural Resource Conservation Specialist.  Major soil variability will often occur near rivers and swamps, but any equipment for slight variability is usually used as a research tool, instead of a practical farming expense.

As the lecture lasted right up to the end of class, there was little in the way of closing statements or remarks.

Field trip in Fifer Orchard

September 28, we visited Fifer Orchard in Wyoming, DE. It is a farm, a country store and in CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. It took about one-hour drive. Bobby Fifer told us that Strawberries, tomatoes, sweet corn, peaches and pumpkins are the major crops grown in the field. It is a family farm for 100 years since 1919. And everyone in the family has a different job with others which they love to do. Our UD bus took us with Bobby visiting several fields. The most impressive one is the strawberries field. They used the white plastic to cover the soil which can extend the harvest season which is good for harvesting decent quality of strawberries. It was new to me and it helps me to understand that innovative technology does benefit farmers. There is one thing surprised me that they don’t grow organic crop in this farm. Because the climate in the east coast is not suitable for growing organic crop and it costs more.

Poultry Farm

This field trip in the poultry farm was fascinating. I am glad to learn many new things about that not only the agriculture, but also the future career and life. It is a rare chance to engage this kind of activities. Mrs. Georgie Cortanza run this organic poultry farm well. And she explained what organic chicken mean is. The chicken has to had players, an opportunity to access to the outdoors and enjoy the natural light which means that install windows in the chicken house, a big chicken house, be fed organic food, and not be fed any growth hormones or antibiotics. Consumers claimed those factors that can make chicken become a “happy” and “healthy” chicken and it is humanity. But the thing is that when chicken can enjoy outdoor time and no antibiotics, the chance to get sick may increase, when they enjoy natural light, they will be more active, then they will have more movement, then they will lose weight. We don’t know if chicken is happy or not. Like the Mrs. Cortanza said, when you focus on a side, you gonna lose other side. It depends. That is what I learn in today.

 

Building a Sustainable Agriculture

On Tuesday November 13th 2018 I attended the “Building a Sustainable Agriculture” speaker series. This speaker series was held on south campus in the Star Health Sciences complex. the guest speakers that spoke at this session included Bill Northey and Bill Couser. Bill Northey has a long history with agriculture, Bill was the secretary of Agriculture for the state of Iowa. He was also the president of the National Corn Growers Association. Today he is the Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for farm production and conservation. Bill Couser an Iowa farmer who tills thousands and thousands acres of land, raises beef cattle, and is a leader in adopting conservation practices that mitigate nutrient loading in streams and other waterways in Iowa. I thoroughly enjoyed this speaker session. I learned many interesting things about current agriculture methods used by farmers today. I also learned how far the agriculture industry has come in the United States. I also enjoyed the free Ice cream that was given out after the session.

Livestock industry in Delaware

On October 22 our AGRI130  had Dan Severson come in and give a lecture on the livestock industry of Delaware. And how important livestock is to the state of Delaware. Dan talked about cows, sheep, pigs, goats and dairy with brief discussion on each animals info and what they are used for and what the income per year they are averaging.  From this the most surprising thing that I took away from the lecture was when he began to talk about how the dairy industry is just plummeting. And giving my fellow class mates the idea what dairy farmers are dealing with an what they have to do to over come there  circumstances. Also what I took away from his lecture was how many other livestock animals there are in Delaware.

Dan Severson and The Livestock Industry

Dan Severson’s guest lecture on the livestock industry covered all species of livestock used for production in Delaware. Growing up on a dairy farm and being very active in 4-H showing my dairy cattle I knew a little bit about the livestock industry. However Dan taught me some pretty interesting facts such as there’s a water buffalo farm in Delaware and that people raise rabbits for food production. I found these facts very eye-opening to how diverse the livestock industry in Delaware is and how many different opportunities there are for young people to get into the industry. I also learned that to be considered a farmer all you have to do is make a profit of $1,000 off your production. This surprises me because virtually anybody could be considered a farmer if they have a garden or a pasture because $1,000 is not really that much when you think about it. While Dan’s lecture was very informational it was also sad because when he talked about the dairy industry it really hit home. Coming from a farm that had milked cows for 150 years and sold out just 5 years ago I understand the sadness these dairy farmers are feeling. Luckily my family had diversified in agriculture and had expanded our grain operation but for many of these farmers their source of income is gone and their left helpless once the cows are sold. Overall I found Dan’s lecture to be very informative and I hope it helped some of the students in the class realize how hard farmers have it in the livestock industry.

Delaware’s Green Industry

I’m really interested when our guest speakers decide to tell us about their experience through college and what has led them to where they are today. Valann Budischak’s past experiences have definitely stuck out to me as I was reflecting back on their presentation. She majored in business while in college, which led her to work her way towards being a regional account manager for Dewalt Black & Decker. Her career path changed once she had two kids and didn’t want to live on a train or a plane anymore commuting for long hours. She took a chance and was accepted to be an executive director for the Delaware Nursery & Landscape Association. I am definitely starting to believe that you just need to pick a path and life will lead you where you are meant to go. In regard to their speech about Delaware’s Green Industry, I never realized how big of a market it is. It makes a lot of sense as many homeowners, restaurants, golf courses, all want to look presentable and plants have always been a great option. This creates so many possibilities within this market. Some of these jobs include producers, retailers, landscapers, land managers, suppliers, etc. I am glad I was exposed to an industry that I previously didn’t give much thought or attention to.

Livestock Industry – Dan Severson

Dan Severson came and guest lectured in class on Monday about the livestock industry in Delaware. He started out by giving a brief overview of general trends in farming, and then meat consumption trends over the years. I was not very surprised when he said the consumption of beef and veal have been decreasing while pork and chicken have been increasing. This is probably due to many recent trends that red meat is harmful to your health, so consumers are choosing cuts of pork and chicken to eat versus beef. After that he discussed a lot about the differing operation methods for many species of livestock including cattle, hogs, sheeps, goats, dairy cows and a couple other specialty species. I was surprised to learn how much of a market their is for goat products. Dan said a lot of international folks seeks out goat meat for religious purposes and holidays, but also products like goat milk cheesecake and ice cream are made. He also talked about the dairy industry and how farmers are struggling to make ends meet due to the milk market. People don’t drink cow’s milk like they used to and it is affecting dairy farmers.

At the end of his lecture Dan spoke about the future of the livestock industry. He touched on how genetics and technology has already and will continue to impact how we raise our animals. But he also spoke about how farmers are running into the problem of the next generation not wanting to continue to farm, and how all these different factors is going to affect the ability to feed the ever growing population. Overall, Dan gave a great overview of the livestock industry touching on past, current, and future trends.