• Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: Squirming Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 17, 2015

    Real-world math: a bit of trig and hay for the horses: Learning by doing…it's a combination of common core math and ag classes. Reporting on quacks and pseudoscience: This is a great discussion in the L.A. Times about what happens when the press covers pseudoscience purveyors like, say, Dr. Oz and Vani Hari (the Food Babe): "The woods are full of charlatans just waiting for a chance to loose their fear-mongering theories upon a willing public, and the press shouldn't…

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    Go back to college...with your grandkids?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 15, 2015

    One of the perks of getting to this point in my life is that I get to sit on some pretty great boards of directors. Like, say, the University of Illinois College of ACES Alumni Association board. And through that board, we get to come up with some pretty great ideas and sometimes, we can even make them happen.   Case in point: The ACES Family Academies. It's a brand new program this summer, July 9-10, on campus. The idea is to invite grandparents to bring their grandchildren back to…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Confessions of a Farm Wife: Episode 17

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 13, 2015

    We have talked before about what food really means - that it's far more than just nutrients and calories. That it's emotional and it's tied to memories and family and childhood and more. That's entirely true. And yet, I've so often been a skeptic, especially of anything proclaimed to be healthier or ultra-whatever. Sort of like when the latest fad comes around (like, say, coconut oil pulled through your teeth, which I don't even know what that means but DeAnna swears…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: Dream chasers edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 10, 2015

    Are paleo diets more natural than GMOs? This piece from Scientific American raises some good (scientific) points, such as: "GMOs are scientifically sound, nutritionally valuable and morally noble in helping humanity during a period of rising population. Until then, eat, drink and be merry." The Food Babe is full of s*#&: I started following the Science Babe on Facebook some time back, and she's managed to get a piece on the Food Babe published in Gawker. It's got some…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Home economics: in your school?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 8, 2015

    About a year ago, I wrote a blog asking, in essence, whatever happened to home economics? It led to some great email conversations, including some with the instructor of a set of college curricula on home economics education – though to be modern and correct, it's now known as Family and Consumer Sciences. One thing led to another and yesterday I got to Skype with one of her classes. We talked a lot about teaching the science behind food production, and what students need to know to…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Confessions of a Farm Wife: Episode 16

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 6, 2015

    There's more to the story, friends. Always. If ever there were a moral to the story, I think that might be it. And what happens when we don't read beyond the headline? My fellow farm wives and I are back with another podcast, talking about just those things, many of which I shared last week. New this time: it's shorter! We are told that shorter is better, so if you have any preferences on this, please let me know. Our thinking is more frequent and shorter podcasts, oriented around…

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  • Holly Spangler

    When we think we know more than we know

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 2, 2015

    She approached slowly but confidently, new books in arm and tote over her shoulder. I smiled and said hello and tried to look approachable. It worked; she approached, but less with a question than a statement. "So, these GMOs that are getting sprayed on all our food, they're really killing the bees off," she said. I think I squinted and looked confused. She continued. "My husband is a beekeeper -  we're concerned about that. What GMOs are doing to the environment…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Things farmers shouldn't say out loud

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 1, 2015

    There are a couple things you shouldn't say out loud on the farm. Ever. Among them: "Calving is going really well this year!" Also, "The kids have been really healthy this winter!" Because you know what happens next: disaster and puke, though not necessarily in that order. I spoke those words last Wednesday as I visited with a farmer friend. He asked how calving was going. I said, "Great! Far better than last year!" I told him how our six-year-old had…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Confessions of a Farm Wife: Episode 15

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 30, 2015

    Friends, we took the show on the road! A year ago, Emily Webel, DeAnna Thomas and I sat at the (most excellent) Women in Agriculture conference in the Quad Cities with two trains of thought: first, Ron Hanson shared excellent and simultaneously disturbing advice for our farm families. And second, we quietly chatted at our table about the possibility that Emily could be pregnant. And I said, "Don't worry, you are not pregnant!" And now she has twins. So don't ask me for…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: Rare Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 27, 2015

    National GMO labeling standards bill resurfaces: Pompeo and Butterfield have introduced another GMO labeling bill this week (similar to one they introduced last spring) but that would create a single federal labeling standard for foods containing GMOs, through a USDA-accredited non-GMO certification process. The non-GMO label would be similar to the Certified Organic label, in that farms or companies could seek the designation and label food as such; consumers who want to avoid GMOs could seek…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Farmland for less than $10?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 26, 2015

    Remember the Farmland film, produced by USFRA? I've had the chance to see it twice now; first at the 2014 Commodity Classic and again this spring at a local college showing. I really liked it, even though I've mentioned it's not really for farmers. But I'd still like for my farmer to see it, and he hasn't yet. But now he can. Farmland is now available on DVD at Walmart and Amazon and on Amazon Instant Video. Could be the last movie you watch before planting season starts…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Do women earn less as farmers?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 24, 2015

    CBS News reported this week in their MoneyWatch section that farming is among the 11 jobs where women face the biggest pay gap. Give it a read but among the story's highlights: Women who are farmers and ranchers face the biggest pay gap out of all the professions measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, at 60.7 cents for every $1 their male counterparts earn. The U.N. says women farmers are likely to have smaller farms; women represent 1 out of 10 farmers and ranchers; and women farmers earn…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Picture yourself in Cultivating Master Farmers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 23, 2015

    Some 10 years ago or so, Peggy Kay Fish had the idea to pair up young farmers and Master Farmers for a mentor experience. Peggy was a force at Farm Credit at the time and she came to us at Prairie Farmer with the idea. We loved it. Conversations ensued, the idea evolved and the Cultivating Master Farmers Program was created: a two-year class with 10 Master Farmer couples, 10 (or so) young farmers and couples, and a program that involves 6-8 speakers and roundtable discussions over the course…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Confessions of a Farm Wife: Episode 14

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 17, 2015

    Well, friends, we took a little break. Our last podcast was yonder back in September, which was two whole babies ago for my fellow farm wife, Emily Webel. The babies were born in early October, spent a few days in the NICU and came home to settle into Webel family life. They are as adorable, intelligent, funny and successful as you might imagine them to be. And so we're back with a podcast: updating on babies, on DeAnna's career change (that's Mrs. Thomas to you…that's…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: Antibiotics Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 13, 2015

    Proof he's the Science Guy: Bill Nye the Science Guy has reversed his stand on GMOs, and is updating a chapter in his latest book, Undeniable. FDA tests turn up dairy farmers breaking the law on antibiotics: The veterinarian at the end of the story is right in that this is a small minority, proving the rules are actually working. But that's a tough case to make to the average non-farming consumer. Dear County Market: Judging by my friend, Emily's, latest blog, it appears County…

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  • Holly Spangler

    90 years of Prairie Farmer Master Farmers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 12, 2015

    If I have a favorite day of my work year, it is the day of our annual Master Farmer luncheon. It's the culmination of months of work: nomination forms completed, support letters written, judging finished, cover photos shot, farms visited, interviews done, stories written, announcements made and finally, the luncheon itself, held yesterday in Springfield, Ill. (It may have also been my birthday and what better way to spend it than with a bunch of the best farmers in Illinois? They even sang…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: Food and Dogs Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 6, 2015

    Girl Scout Cookies Baked with Science Literacy: Woohoo! The Girl Scouts are back on board with science! Eat your cookies without non-GMO guilt, knowing the Girl Scouts not only didn't cave to non-GMO pressure but even came out with a statement in support of GMOs: “It is important to note that there is worldwide scientific support for the safety of currently commercialized ingredients derived from genetically modified crops…. "In addition, in the future, GMOs may offer a…

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  • Holly Spangler

    On poultry farmers and poultry killers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 5, 2015

    Over the past two weeks, 300,000 chickens have been killed on 16 South Carolina farms, stretching across several counties. On at least one farm, which belongs to W.L. Coker, 200,000 birds were roasted to death. Someone broke into the facilities, disabled the temperature alarms, shut off ventilation and allowed temperatures to reach 115 degrees. Mature birds need temperatures in the chicken house to be 65 to 70 degrees. Chicks live at 95 to 100 degrees. The details are simultaneously gory and…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Can a video change your life?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 3, 2015

    In my travels this winter, I was fortunate to meet Heather Dineen, the Waxahachie, Texas, farmer who was chosen as Monsanto's 2014 Farm Mom of the Year. She is lovely and I could listen to her Texas accent all day long. She struck me most immediately as being of incredibly deep character, and well spoken. It was only when I asked about her children that she hesitated in her conversation. She and her husband, John Paul, are parents to four children but lost their son, Johnny, in a farm…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Mark Your March Calendar

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 26, 2015

    Farm meeting season is notoriously busy but I am here to tell you: March is set to out-do itself this year. It's all good though. Good people, good information, good experiences. Take a look: Women Changing the Face of Agriculture | March 6: it's a long name but a great purpose, in connecting high school and college women with careers in agriculture. If you are that young woman or are the parent of that young woman, it's worth a look and a trip to Bloomington. And for the rest of…

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  • Holly Spangler

    When a College Becomes a Family

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 24, 2015

    Once upon a time, I was a wayward freshman at the University of Illinois, enrolled in pre-med in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I have written before, how it took me not so long at all (approximately October of my freshman year) to decide that eight years of chemistry was simply not in the cards for me. How my roommate at 4-H House talked me through what I might be interested in, listened and explained there was a major called agricultural communications which fit exactly what I…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: It's-not-what-you-think edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 20, 2015

    The truth about coke, milk and fairlife:  What's so weird is that I just noticed the Fairlife milk product in our local grocery store this week. And then I come home and see that Dairy Carrie has written about it. So in case you, too, have seen it and wondered about it, read this and wonder no more. Confession of a liberal, organic food consumer-scientist: So here's a scientist – who eats organic – who supports GMOs. That means that you really can be all of those…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: New York Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 13, 2015

    Kids and Cattle Caught in the Crossfire: This editorial from the Register-Star, an upstate New York newspaper, eloquently lays out the discussion involving the National School Lunch program, and its caloric and nutrition deficiencies. Plus, they interviewed Dr. Jude Capper, which is always a win in my book. American Farmers As Peasants? Really? Missouri farmer Blake Hurst penned this commentary following the New York Times Food for Tomorrow event. "Hundreds of people gathered to plan the…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Good Farmer Interviews, Part 2

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 11, 2015

    Earlier this week, I shared my tale of woe as a TV interviewee with too many words, revealing that I did exactly what NCGA's Mark Lambert says farmers shouldn't do when talking to the non-ag press. Sigh. The more you know. Today, however, the topic is decidedly friendlier. Today, we're talking about what to do when the farm media calls. Or more specifically, an agricultural editor, perhaps at your favorite farm publication. Like Prairie Farmer! Wink, wink. The odds are good when…

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  • Holly Spangler

    What Makes a Good Farmer Interview?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 9, 2015

    Note: This is the first of a two-part series. Today is a look at how to handle calls from non-ag media. In the second part, we'll look at what to do when one of us from the agricultural media calls. Back in the very early days of my career and marriage, John and I attended the Illinois Farm Bureau young farmers conference, held in Peoria that year. One of the local TV stations showed up – it being a slow Saturday night in Peoria and all – and I wound up getting interviewed on…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: Fake Juice Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 6, 2015

    Made in the USA All the Way Down to the Farm: I happened to catch this on ABC News last night, as they shared the story of how an American clothing company lets you track your jeans – or t-shirt – all the way back to the American cotton farm. Loved the shout-out to one particular cotton family. Jimmy Kimmel – Fake Cold Pressed Juice: I just never get tired of these. "It's like a sigh of relief." "It's as if you just squeezed it out of the fruit."…

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  • Holly Spangler

    What Farmers Want From Consumers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 2, 2015

    I spent a lot of time on the road last week, driving and thinking. Thinking and driving. And I got to thinking how I feel so irritated sometimes at the accusations thrown at farmers. Either that we're (obviously) mistreating our animals or (obviously) polluting the environment or (obviously) poisoning everyone or (obviously) not smart enough to make good choices. It kinda wears me out sometimes. It's kinda made me step back from social media lately, where the cacophony of yelling…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: Oh, Facts Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 30, 2015

    How California's New Egg Rules Are Scrambling the Egg Industry: Ok, so you need to brace yourself for the rash of headlines about this story that use the word, "scramble." Because it's just too easy, and apparently, very popular. Maybe because the whole thing is a little scrambled. You may recall that California passed Proposition 2 back in 2008, which required egg laying farms to give hens more space. Agriculture (outside of California) gave that situation the side-eye…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Farm Kids, Artificial Insemination and Church

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 28, 2015

    You know, we do a lot of talking with Chicago moms and groups like Illinois Farm Families, about how our families really aren't that different from theirs. We're all trying to make a living, raise our kids right, guide them through school, get the baby to sleep at night, cook good food. The stuff of life. But as the old saying goes that the devil is in the details, so, too, are the differences. Things like a pot of colostrum on the stove, next to the chili. A calf in the basement. A…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: Hot Button Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 23, 2015

    U.S. Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit: This is a long investigative piece published by The New York Times this week, looking at the Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska and alleging vast and unmitigated abuse of animals. "At a remote research center on the Nebraska plains, scientists are using surgery and breeding techniques to re-engineer the farm animal to fit the needs of the 21st-century meat industry. The potential benefits are huge: animals that produce more…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Should You Incorporate Your Farm?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 22, 2015

    Year end. It's a good time on the farm. (Please read with sarcasm.) Always followed, in terms of popularity of course, with tax season. Which is almost where we're at now. For our 2014 year-end, the rush and flurry of Christmas preparations met the rush and flurry of number crunching, of cash flows and balance sheets and meeting with the accountant. This year, our accountant tacked on an extra meeting: legal advice regarding incorporation. Over the years, we've batted around the…

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  • Holly Spangler

    'Practical Things' from Temple Grandin

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 20, 2015

    Temple Grandin. I feel like I've known her name for as long as I can remember. Cattle expert. Autistic. Lover of livestock. Reformer of packing plants. Respected in and out of agriculture. They even made a movie about her, which I watched, marveling at what she must confront daily, just to get through the day – and not simply surviving but making a difference in the world around her. Grandin is best known for her scientific work on cattle handling and for initiating reforms in the…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: Questions Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 16, 2015

    Why Chipotle's Pork Problem is a Bad Sign for its Future: Perhaps you heard earlier this week that Chipotle says it can't find enough "humanely raised pork" and has cut the item from its menu? This piece bears reading, if only for the catching up. It appears the supplier couldn't provide enough pork from hogs raised in open stalls (no gestation crates). Rather than source meat from conventionally-raised pigs, Chipotle took pork off the menu. The question of course is…

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  • Holly Spangler

    New Director, New Day for Illinois Ag

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 12, 2015

    Back in November, I wrote somewhat passionately about our former Illinois Directors of Agriculture who were also farmers. They brought passion and excitement to the office. They were champions and defenders, crusaders and coalition builders. They were influencers. They did well.   Over the weekend, we learned that Governor-elect Rauner has chosen Philip Nelson as the next Director of Agriculture for the State of Illinois. Philip is a Seneca farmer, a Prairie Farmer Master Farmer, a…

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  • Holly Spangler

    The Friday Five: Walk in Their Shoes Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 9, 2015

    After a bit of a hiatus with 30 Days and then a few Christmas blogs, it's a new year and a new Friday Five! Wishing you all the best in the New Year, and some good reads to kick it off.  Sometimes a theme emerges as I sort through these stories. This week, it appears to be about walking in someone else's shoes. From veggie deliverers to daughters-in-law to vegans, may this be the year we all learn to consider where someone else is coming from. May we all learn to get along a…

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  • Holly Spangler

    A Good Day to Be in the Cattle Business

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on January 5, 2015

    Remember last winter? The mere phrase "polar vortex" still makes me a little twitchy. Endless days of kids home from school, calves born in sub-zero temps and colostrum thawing on the stove. It was the calving season we thought might never actually end and the one where we lost more calves in that single season than in the previous three years combined. A calf could be born inside a barn and still freeze to death in minutes. It was heartbreaking. And disheartening. Fast forward…

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  • Holly Spangler

    12 Days of Christmas: Cattle Remix

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on December 24, 2014

    There is not a whole lot to say about this except please watch the video. I beg of you. A couple of creative Illinois cattle kids, Emerson Tarr, 11, and her brother Jasper, 8, put this together. Please note their notebook paper notes, and their real and measurable enthusiasm at the end. And my personal favorite that the farm gave to me? Five hours of rest! Wishing you all that much and more this Christmas…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Christmas Gifts for Farmwives

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on December 22, 2014

    In my book, the time for the shopping of the Christmas gifts is over. But I am not a man. And from the looks of my Twitter feed, there are, ahem, a couple of them still shopping. Some may have tweeted me for a list of gift ideas for farmwives, as a follow-up to last week's gift ideas. I obliged, and enlisted the help of several farmwife friends. Because clearly, we are not all the same. So, assuming you're still shopping and live reasonably close to any of these resources, this may…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Christmas Gifts for Farm Employees

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on December 17, 2014

    There is nothing quite so valuable on the farm as a solid farm employee. Amen? So with the clock winding down and with gifts for farmers secured and gifts for landowners figured out, here are a few ideas for showing your appreciation for a year's work well done. These ideas, gathered from farmers and ranchers across the country, will hopefully give you some inspiration. And a note: I love the practical nature here. You can find all sorts of random ideas online – like an actual…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Christmas Gifts for Landowners

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on December 11, 2014

    Yesterday: gift ideas for the farmer in your life. Today: gift ideas for the landowners in your life. Do you take a little something to your land owners for Christmas? I suspect this is a tradition that varies widely from region to region, and even county to county. Where we live, the gifts aren't extravagant but a little something is common. Maybe some baked goods, some homemade apple butter, and a little something for the kitchen. I'd add that it feels as though this post should…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Christmas Gifts for Farmers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on December 10, 2014

    There's a certain irony in that I've been trying to write this post for a week – Christmas gifts for farmers – and I haven't the foggiest idea of what I'm getting my own farmer for Christmas. So let it be known, I am digging up inspiration for all of us. And please forward any ideas you might have, please and thank you. With that, a few ideas I've found. And a note: this is part one of a series of three blogs. Christmas gift ideas for farmers…for…

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  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days...of Encouragement?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on December 1, 2014

    Over the past month, in the course of writing about 30 lives that have shaped American agriculture, I've observed a couple things. First, we are a blessed and fortunate industry. To have people like these working every day to raise food, to lead and to shape our communities is incredible and explains a lot about why American agriculture is phenomenally successful. Second, if ever you have the chance to say something nice about someone, take it. "Everybody is under-encouraged,"…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Linnea Kooistra

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 30, 2014

    When Linnea Kooistra became the first woman named an Illinois Master Farmer in 2011, our editorial mantra was simple: recognize it and move on. Linnea didn't win because she's a woman; she won because she's an excellent farmer. Those are the praises which must be shouted from the rooftops. The Woodstock, Ill., dairy farm she and her husband, Joel, operate is the picture of efficiency, production, outreach and partnership, with a lot of hard work thrown in on the side. They come…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Gregg Sauder

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 29, 2014

    Very early in my career, I made a stop at the Tremont, Illinois-based Precision Planting facility. I toured, I met, I wrote a story, probably about Gregg Sauder's latest brilliant corn planting idea. And so it's been for him, since 1993 or so. That's when Gregg, who can only be described as a relentless farmer-entrepreneur, founded Precision Planting with his wife, Cindy. The goal back then was to get better corn stands, through improving planter meters. They sold Keeton seed…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Agriculturalists Who Influence: John Block

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 28, 2014

    "The phone rang and it was Ronald Reagan:  'Jack, I want you to be my Secretary of Agriculture.' "You can't plan these things. But when the door opens? You have to walk on through." John Block shared that story and more – including his trip to California to meet with the President – last summer at the Wyffels Corn Strategies event. You know, not everyone has a story like that. But John Block does. A farm boy from Knox County, Illinois, John…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Philip Nelson

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 27, 2014

    Every year at Prairie Farmer, we have a little tradition surrounding our Master Farmer issue. We like to gather the four or five new Master Farmers together in a single location, take them to lunch, then take them somewhere for a photo shoot. This being Illinois, the weather can be lovely or it can be downright miserable. Regardless, we ask them to smile and stand uncomfortably close together, and then we take lots of photos of them. For people who are generally unaccustomed to having their…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Sara Wyant

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 26, 2014

    When I first joined Farm Progress in 1997, Sara Wyant was editorial vice president. I came to understand a few things in short order: First, Sara was tough as nails; I was slightly intimidated. Second, she always had time for a conversation; that made me less intimidated. Third, she knew agriculture, period; that gave me something to strive for. Fourth, she loved ag policy and she had a knack for looking ahead; that inspired me. Today, she's president of Agri-Pulse Communications, a…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Mike and Lynn Martz

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 25, 2014

    Sometimes, influence can come in the least likely scenarios. Or to those who seem least likely to seek it. Mike and Lynn Martz are farmers. Doing their jobs and doing it well. Inviting a few people out to their farm on the fringes of Chicago now and then. Talking about beef, farming, animal welfare, antibiotics, hormones, steak, CAFOs and more. Larson Farms is located near Maple Park, Ill., just west of the Chicago suburbs. Mike, Lynn, their son Justin and Lynn's brother Norm Larson run…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Bob Easter

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 24, 2014

    There are certain things in this world I hold dear. God. Family. The Illini. Agriculture. And when two of them align in an entirely unprecedented and influential way? Nirvana. So it is with Bob Easter. Dr. Easter is an animal scientist who became department head, who became dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, who became chancellor of the University of Illinois, who became president of the University of Illinois. To clarify and re-state: one of our own is…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Scott and Shantel Beck

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 23, 2014

    Over the years, we have come to know many families who have adopted children. Some through foster care, some overseas, some domestic. Naomi and Maleah and Josie. Charlie, J'Aunna, Kate, Jake and Chloe. Little lives changed in a big way. Ways that nearly defy description. Our country church has even begun an orphan care ministry, focusing on prayer, funds and support for families seeing to adopt. Some years ago, as friends were starting their adoption process, my husband learned Beck's…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Sharon Spangler

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 22, 2014

    I suspect there will be some who see this and think, "Sharon Spangler. Huh. I don't think I know her." Still others – likely those within this county or even state – will read her name and nod. And think warm thoughts. Sharon Spangler is a farm wife, in every good sense that phrase was ever conceived to convey. She is warm, inviting, engaging, generous with time and talent, consummate in her love of family and producing good food – in all the ways. She gardens…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Steve Foglesong

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 21, 2014

    Drive a little ways south of where I live and the corn fields give way to "prime" strip mine ground. To clarify, the quotation marks are there to show sarcasm because nobody calls that land prime. Except, perhaps, Steve Foglesong. Steve has carved out a ranch in the middle of Illinois cornfields. A true cowboy on a horse with a hat, calving a herd of cows, raising stockers, feeding cattle and developing replacement heifers. Since 1994, he's worked to convert 5,000 acres of…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Max Armstrong

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 20, 2014

    This is another of those days when I could just say, Max Armstrong. Obviously. He's an agriculturalist who influences. Done. And everyone would nod and that could be the beginning, middle and end of the story because the reasons are all so apparent. But that's no fun. The truth is, though we have a strangely intertwined agricultural background, I never dreamed Max Armstrong would ever even know who I am. I can't quite recall when I first met Max, but I feel like it must've…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Matt Lloyd

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 19, 2014

    Some years ago, a photo came across my social media feed. It was of a college friend escorting his boss onto the set of "Meet The Press." On a Sunday morning. As you do. I had two thoughts in that moment. One, my University of Illinois classmates were rapidly rising to the top of their various agricultural posts. And two, my friend has a really cool job. That friend is Matt Lloyd. Matt was a fellow ag communications student at the University of Illinois. He was a year or two ahead…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Russ and Marilyn Rosenboom

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 18, 2014

    Many years ago, Russ Rosenboom was named a Prairie Farmer Master Farmer. We got to know him and his wife, Marilyn. We learned they were lovely. Shortly after that, we started up the Cultivating Master Farmers program, with Illinois Farm Bureau, Growmark, Monsanto, First Farm Credit and Farm Credit of Illinois. The idea is to get young farmers together with Master Farmers, share ideas, experience and advice over the course of a couple years. A mentoring program, chock-full of opportunities to…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Tom Carr

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 17, 2014

    We love our Christmas cards in this house. It's the best mail of the year. Bar none. But among the photos and updates, friends and family and love, there's one that stands out: the Tom Carr Christmas Letter. It's almost frivolous to call it a letter. In truth, it's a volume. Each December, as he has for the past 40 years, Tom Carr gathers up the notes and papers he's jotted over the past year, details that he's picked up about any of his former meats judging team…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Al Somers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 16, 2014

    When my husband and I began seeing each other and I started venturing west for the occasional weekend, Sunday morning meant Checkrow Community Church. We married and it became our church, as it's been for (now) four generations of Spanglers. It was my first experience as a member of a country church. My first look at how a community can be shaped by its worship, and what a country pastor can mean to that community. How he can influence them. Al Somers came to Checkrow in the fall of…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Erin Ehnle

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 15, 2014

    You know how sometimes you meet someone and you just know they have a gift? That's the way it is with Erin Ehnle. I first became aware of her work nearly three years ago. Beautiful farm images began showing up on social media, each designed with a quote or nugget of farm fact. Worded well. Designed well. Shot well. Just done well. Before long, people began flocking to her Facebook page, Keeping It Real: Through the Lens of a Farm Girl, to the tune of 27,600 fans today. It was not uncommon…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Jim Esworthy

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 14, 2014

    Life is hard. Sometimes things happen that are so tragic, it's difficult to believe anything else in the world can go on the same. That the sun could rise, the wind could blow. That anything happy could be. Ever again. I had a sweet friend in college and her name was Jen. We lived together at 4-H House. We loved peeps – I blame her for my sugary marshmallow addiction – and she was a mentor and roommate and friend in every sense of the words. I loved her. Three weeks after she…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Pam Smith

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 13, 2014

    When I was in college and a member of the Illini Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Pam Smith came and spoke to our group. I was in awe. She worked for Farm Journal. That was a real magazine. She was a real writer. A real editor. She was living the dream. She started her career at Prairie Farmer, spent a long time with Farm Journal, and today she's at DTN/Progressive Farmer. That evening at our ACT meeting, Pam shared what she did and in the course of the explanation, she told a…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Martin Barbre

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 12, 2014

    I am about to show my bias: I really love working with southern Illinois farmers. It's true. Maybe because it's home. Or maybe because they have this network going where they just get things done. Or maybe because when they farm it's against just about every odd: soil, weather, soil. Weather. When I first met Martin Barbre, it was in the late '90s or early 2000s, when I visited him for a story on the nicotine-free tobacco he and his son Brandon were growing on their Carmi…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Neil and Debbie Fearn

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 11, 2014

    Twenty years ago, I was a high school kid. I showed cows at the fair. I participated in 4-H. I have fabulous memories of it all. Those memories were made possible by people who worked to make those events happen. I'm talking about fair board members. 4-H leaders. People like Neil and Debbie Fearn. My earliest memory of Neil Fearn is of him leaning on the tailgate of his truck on Monday morning of the Edwards County Fair, as the beef superintendent of the open show: "OK boys…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Colleen Callahan

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 10, 2014

    I became an ag communications major on October 17, 1994. I learned of Colleen Callahan on October 18, 1994. Give or take. Honestly, I can only plead actual ignorance for not knowing of her prior to that, because I didn't grow up in central Illinois and therefore, couldn't have heard her on the radio. Otherwise, she's virtually a legend in her own time and she's obviously influenced a lot of people and I could pretty much end the story there. But that would be cutting short the…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: John and Kendra Smiley

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 9, 2014

    Once upon a time, I went to a parenting conference. I listened to a session on parenting strong-willed children. I bought the book. We started applying the ideas. It worked. I emailed the speakers – those famous people who write books and are on the radio and speak at conferences, and who I thought I might never hear back from but wanted them to know how they helped us. They emailed back. We corresponded. We talked on the phone. They became Prairie Farmer columnists. They became…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Carolyn Olson

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 8, 2014

    What if your sphere of influence wasn't just the people in your physical proximity? Say, for example, you're both an organic and conventional farmer with a blog, an ability to communicate and a gift for bridging ideologies – and you're willing to put it all to work? Because if you are, you'd be Carolyn Olson. Carolyn and her husband, Jonathon, farm near Cottonwood, Minnesota. They raise 1,100 acres of organic corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and peas, and they conventionally…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Noreen Frye

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 7, 2014

    Do you ever meet someone and the more you get to know about them, the more deeply impressed you become? That's me with Noreen Frye. We first met two years ago at a Nabor House event at the University of Illinois. Noreen was there because her husband is an alumni and all three of her sons were living in the House. I was there because my husband is an alum and helped build the new house. We visited that night and I remarked to John on the way home what it must be to raise three sons like…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Joe Hampton

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 6, 2014

    Joe Hampton was named Illinois Director of Agriculture during the early days of our farming career, which don't seem that long ago until you start sifting through the issues of the day. Those were the days when corn was worth something around $2 a bushel, and when we were all well-versed in LDPs and county prices. When California was still angling for MTBE instead of ethanol, right up until everyone found out MTBE contaminated groundwater. When farm groups and politicians were wrangling…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Katie Pinke

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 5, 2014

    Five years ago, I would've said if you hadn't met a person in real life, you couldn't call them a friend. You need to shake hands. Or hug. Or something. Then Katie Pinke became my Facebook friend. I came to know her as a strong voice, always eager to share about agriculture, to share about her family and her parents' farm, and to offer an encouraging word. Last winter, we finally got to meet in real life during my speaking trip to South Dakota and everything I suspected was…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: David and Nancy Erickson

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 4, 2014

    As young farmers, I believe most of us have farmers we look up to. Someone in the neighborhood – and by neighborhood, I mean anywhere within a generous three-county radius – who we turn to for advice or who we just quietly watch. For us, that couple has often been David and Nancy Erickson. They farm on the northern end of Knox County, near Altona. We knew them through Farm Bureau in our early days, then at one point they bought a steer from us for their son, Adam. I've done…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Becky Doyle

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 3, 2014

    Childhood is funny. There are a lot of things I don't remember clearly. Yet there are other moments that remain crystalized in my mind as if they happened yesterday. Showing cattle, for one. Particular moments in particular barns. The Illinois State Fair. 1993. My family showed Shorthorns at the state fair for decades, and we liked to watch the draft horse shows on Sunday evening before we showed on Monday. I so clearly remember standing in the old coliseum with my mother during the draft…

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    Agriculturalists Who Influence: Jim Evans

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 2, 2014

    When I left for the University of Illinois in the fall of 1994, I had plans to be a doctor. That lasted until October and accompanied a deepening doubt that I could do Chem101 for eight years. A series of conversations wound me from Bob Hays' basement office in Mumford Hall, into Jim Evans's office. We sat down together and he asked me questions. He listened. Then he asked more questions. I asked some, too, such as, "what kind of a job do I get with an ag communications…

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    30 Days of Agriculturalists Who Influence

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 1, 2014

    Like a lot of people, my life has been shaped by the people around me. And like anyone in agriculture, my life has been shaped by the agriculturalists around me. Farmers, professors, farm wives, college friends, colleagues, friends, writers, broadcasters. Big names and small names. Good people, all. People who have done good things for agriculture but even more, good things for the people around them. Every day this month, I want to share them with you. I want to honor the influence…

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    The Friday Five: Lists Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 31, 2014

    Happy Halloween! This will be the last Friday Five until December; November 1 kicks off my 30 Days series. Check back here tomorrow for the series introduction! Peterson Farm Bros Parody 5 Songs in New Video: New video from the Kansas Peterson Farm Brothers…need I say more? If you haven't seen it, check it out here. Catchy lyrics: "I'm all about that beef, no kale," and my favorite, "talk farmer to me." I spoke to a group of Swedish farmers last week here in…

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    Faces of Farming & Ranching: Vote Now!

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 29, 2014

    Have you voted for USFRA's newest Faces of Farming & Ranching yet? Voting ends Sunday, November 2 – just a few days left! USFRA started their Faces of Farming and Ranching contest two years ago, when Katie Pratt, Chris Chinn, Will Gilmer and Bo Stone were named as official spokespeople for agriculture. They each received training, a travel stipend and were called upon to attend events, sit on panels, lead discussions and more, all across the country. This year, there are eight…

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    30 Days: Starts This Week

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 27, 2014

    Inexplicably, October has sailed by in a flurry of bean dust and corn chaff. This is the last week of the month, which means November 1 is Saturday, which means the 2014 edition of 30 Days of Agriculture is about to begin. I've already heard from so many of you who plan to blog your own 30 Days series, and let me just say: you all are a creative bunch. There are some great ideas out there, and I can't wait to start sharing them. I'll be announcing my series on Saturday, November…

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    The Friday Five: Scientific Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 24, 2014

    Can Genetic Engineering Save the Florida Orange? This National Geographic piece says it all in its deck: "Genetically modified oranges might save Florida's blighted groves – if Americans will drink the juice. If you haven't heard of citrus greening, this piece is a great place to start. S505 Rant: I'm sticking this smack in the middle of a lot of serious stuff because this video made our week. My kids have had it on repeat, and I'm pretty sure the phrase…

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    'Rural America at Its Best'

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 23, 2014

    I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about what happened this week, and how a hundred farmers can set aside an entire day of harvest to go help a neighboring family. How farmers are such independent-minded people that you could argue they really couldn't work for anyone else, and how they sometimes disagree with each other. After all, if you do something a certain way, it's because you think it's the best way. Anyone else is, well, wrong. Take a family in need, though, and all…

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    One Day: One Thousand Acres

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 22, 2014

    Farmers in the greater Avon, Ill., area could not have asked for a more beautiful harvest day yesterday. Crisp, clear air, the bluest sky, not a cloud in sight. Dry. Virtually ideal for harvest. And that they did, to the tune of 1,000 acres and more than 100 people. Plus: 12 combines, 10 auger wagons and 20 semis. Spread across 13 miles. Give or take. This harvest crew descended for the day as farm communities often do when someone needs a hand. Keith and Gary Rohrer were brothers who'd…

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    The Friday Five: Truthiness Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 17, 2014

    Farm Confessional: What Butchering Your Animals Really Feels Like: This op-ed appeared in Modern Farmer magazine as part of their ongoing series with workers in ag or animal production. Modern Farmer is a relatively new magazine, geared toward consumers, and this is a raw and grateful look at the butchering process. Family Farms Produce 80% of the World's Food: This Reuter's piece is packed full of worldwide farm data, agribusiness trends and land distribution. The upshot: family farms…

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    The Friday Five: Exposure Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 10, 2014

    Harvest is rolling, rolling, rolling, across much of the Midwest. Rains fell, spotty in some locations and downpours in others but for everyone, a chance to catch up and be ready to go again. Wishing you all a safe harvest…and some good reads. Could This Be Your Landlord? My colleague, Lon Tonneson, published a piece last month in the Dakota Farmer that said, without mincing words, "Landlords, you need to lower the cash rent for 2015." In bold. Lon blogs here about the call he…

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    The Friday Five: Solutions Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 3, 2014

    Small vs. Large: Which Size Farm is Better for the Planet? This Washington Post op-ed came out early last month, and it's one of the most solid bits of common sense I've read in a long time. Written by a small Cape Cod oyster farmer who did real research on both sizes of farms and came up with conclusions that won't surprise farmers, but are surprisingly hard to find among those making the biggest arguments and the most noise about the U.S. food system. For instance, did you know…

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    Confessions of a Farm Wife, Vol. 13

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 2, 2014

    The Farm Wives took a bit of a hiatus this summer, in part to deal with some big life changes. Actually, capital-letter BIG LIFE CHANGES. Blogger extraordinaire Emily Webel has been gestating twins, which is kind of a big deal. She shared her big news in our last podcast. She was but a few months into the pregnancy then; today, she's days/weeks from giving birth. It's all pretty exciting. Twins. You guys. DeAnna Thomas pulled out some big changes herself this summer, as well, taking a…

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    30 Days of Agriculture: Who's In?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 1, 2014

    Five years ago, I was reading a blog called The Nester. It's sort of a decorating blog, but it's more about being happy where you are and with what you have. Anyway. She started a daily blogging challenge that October: she blogged every day throughout the month of October. It was a writing challenge but it was also a personal challenge. I'm always up for a challenge, so I gave it a shot in November. That was 2010. I did it again in 2011, and then I invited farm friends to join me…

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    Affecting Change: Dr. Oz and the Cult of Ignorance

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on September 26, 2014

    I'm thinking this morning about how to affect change. Specifically, how to get Dr. Oz off the air. Or, to at least get him to stop airing false, inflammatory shows that reveal how little he and his production staff know about production agriculture. Which has, to date, not stopped them from telling outright lies and half-truths to 3 million people on a regular basis. We know Oz is against GMOs. He's invited anti-GMO activist Jeffrey Smith on his show and identified him as a…

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    The Friday Five: Finish with Pie Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on September 19, 2014

    I took a bit of a hiatus from The Friday Fives, with our trip to the International Federation of Ag Journalists Congress in Scotland last week. And like much of the world, I'm waiting with baited breath to see how those Scots voted in their race for independence. In the meantime, here are five links to catch you up on the week in food and ag, from cheese to apple pie. Domino's Pizza Targeted After Abuse at Dairy Farm: You may have heard that Mercy for Animals released a video this week…

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    Illinois to Aberdeen: Sale Barns Smell the Same

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on September 17, 2014

    One of our first stops after we arrived in Scotland was the ANM Group's Thainstone Market. I've described it to my farm friends as a cross between a sale barn and a mall for farmers, with lots of sheep thrown in for good measure. I'm sure that makes perfect sense. When you first walk in, it's a sort of courtyard area, surrounded by small farm shops, a lender and the settlement office. Off to one side are two sale rings – one for cattle and one for sheep. Beyond that…

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    10 Things We Learned About Scotland

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on September 14, 2014

    Well. We have returned from the 2014 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress. It was a whirlwind. We learned, we toured, we talked, we asked questions. Now we're home and we feel like we've been hit by a truck. I feel like I should apologize for the lack of blogging last week, but here's the thing: blogging would've required taking time to write, which would've required slowing down for any amount of time whatsoever, and we absolutely didn't do…

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    A Taste of Scottish Agriculture

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on September 2, 2014

    When I was first hired as a field editor at Prairie Farmer, my then-editor, Mike Wilson, was on fire about a group called IFAJ. He talked about the International Federation of Ag Journalists, or IFAJ, a lot. He received international calls, which was especially impressive. He went around the world to their meetings, and he talked and wrote about what he learned: global markets, European acceptance (or lack thereof) of biotechnology, international farm policy.   At the time, I thought it…

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    The Friday Five: Farm Progress Show Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on August 29, 2014

    GMOs: A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down: I just love this opinion piece from Forbes. And I'm a big fan of the imagined cro-magnon tweets. Because 2014 Twitter can be just about as ridiculous. This piece takes a hard look at how the Internet and social media has allowed those who are against technology to shape public opinion. It's a good one to share, too. This Will Be the Top Business Skill of the Next 5 Years: I'm going to kill the suspense and tell you: it's…

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    Dear World: Please Stop Casting 'Family Farmers vs. Everyone Else'

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on August 27, 2014

    I like a good cattle show. I like what it teaches my kids. I like working with an animal until it understands what you want it to do. I like the history of it all. I like that the vast majority of my childhood memories - with friends or family - involve a barn, a wash rack, a tie out or a hay rack. And I love the people.  So I was intrigued by a Washington Post piece on show pigs. I could get on board with the headline, "Swine for Sale: How Kids' Livestock Shows Became a…

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    ALS, Ice and an Illinois Farmer

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on August 24, 2014

    I met Lamar Fesser back in 2004. He'd been named a Master Farmer by our magazine, one of the highest honors for an individual in production agriculture. My colleague, Cherry Stout, visited Lamar at his farm in Morrisonville and wrote the story about him, and he was fascinating. Lamar loved to support young farmers and went on to join our first class of Cultivating Master Farmers – a mentorship program for young farmers and Master Farmers – in 2005. It was there that I got to…

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    The Friday Five: Stages of Food Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on August 22, 2014

    The Empty Halter: My friend Christy Lee wrote this earlier this month and I share it today because our kids showed and sold their steers this week. There's no empty halter yet; our sale pays the difference in market price and you deliver the animal to the sale barn later on. They'll go in another couple weeks, and hopefully the distractions of school and new responsibilities, and their heifers out in the pasture, will help ease the pain. But I can't lie; it was a rough week when my…

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    PETA: Wrong Again (Surprise!)

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on August 19, 2014

    Here's the thing with PETA: they just keep getting it wrong. And still, they get attention. And they exist. It's all so wrong. In their latest stunt, they've distributed a video that they say shows a herd of North Carolina dairy cows wallowing in hock-high manure. They describe "emaciated" cows and overgrown hooves. Actually, not hooves; just one hoof. Apparently, that's all they could find in the whole herd. They claimed the milk goes to regional grocer Harris…

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    The Friday Five: Down-the-Road Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on August 15, 2014

    This week's links all have a bit of long-range flavor to them. What happens when you face inaccuracies on every front? When you look at the Midwest from up high? When small farms aren't sustainable and when a country can't grow enough of its own food? And when PETA keeps on lying? Here's a look at all those topics and the what ifs. 1.  When Did Canned Food Drives Become Controversial? Confessions of a Farm Wife blogger Emily Webel found herself in yet another…

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    Wading into the Muck: Was it Worth it?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on August 14, 2014

    Aside from a couple links in the last Friday Five, I have been purposefully silent on last week's Muck Boots fiasco. Partly because I thought there was more to the story and I wanted to get that information. Partly because it is my inclination to examine and then react. Blame it on 16 years in the farm magazine business. If you're not into social media and have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the quick synopsis: On August 1, Muck Boots bragged via their Facebook page…

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    The Friday Five: Boots Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on August 8, 2014

    Just when I think there's no theme to the random stories that have caught my eye this week, it turns right up: they're all about wading through…stuff. Political appointees, election year promises, boot companies and fundraising, HSUS and their lies, biotechnology and the folks who oppose it, Russia and its sad policies. And of course, harvest, where we'll hopefully be wading through a 14-billion-bushel corn crop. We can only hope. Without further ado, here are five links to…

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    Finding Money for Ag

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on August 5, 2014

    One of the greater surprises as I have settled into western Illinois life over the past 15 years or so is that Macomb High School doesn't offer an agriculture program. No ag classes. No FFA. They have, however, co-oped with a neighboring school, bussing students to ag classes throughout the day. For a town of nearly 20,000 that boasts multiple grain elevators and rail lines, two large equipment dealerships, several farm management and agronomy businesses, a major seed cleaning warehouse…

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    The Friday Five: Ag Media Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on August 1, 2014

    It's been a whirlwind month here at the Spangler homestead. Earlier in July, we launched into a week-plus at the Simmental junior national cattle show. Then we came home, washed some jeans and dove straight into county fair week. Then we came home, did some more laundry and I left for the Ag Media Summit in Indianapolis. It's a joint conference between the American Agricultural Editors Association and the Livestock Publications Council, where we partake in much professional improvement…

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    Thank a Fair Board Member

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on July 21, 2014

    It's fair week in my county, which means precious little time outside a barn, which is fine by me. With that, I'm re-posting this piece from July 2013. Thank a fair board member. Really. They're tired. You'll make their day. It's county fair season. Amen. I could just end with that, but that would be cutting short the tale of a rural event near and dear to my heart. I grew up at the county fairs in southern Illinois, showing Shorthorns at a dozen different fairgrounds…

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    The Friday Five: Cattle Show Edition

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on July 18, 2014

    I'm writing this live from our cattle stalls at the American Junior Simmental Association National Classic, also known as junior nationals. We're having fun, meeting friends and showing cows. Donuts have been consumed, speeches given, tests taken, cattle showed and sleep missed. All in all, a good time. Nonetheless, the news goes on. Here are five link to catch you up on some pretty great stuff in food and agriculture this week. Steer Sells at Special Auction for $31,000: This is…

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