Chipotle & Panera: Food for thought

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Fear and misinformation. That is the easiest way to describe the advertising tactics of the popular restaurant chains Chipotle and Panera Bread. Both chains have been actively pushing non-hormone, antibiotic free, ethically raised meat and poultry products. They’ve both promoted their preferred types of animal protein through artistic, animated videos meant to alter consumer perceptions of conventional agriculture products. Chipotle’s most recent YouTube slap in the face to farmers and ranchers debuted this past week. It’s a video called “The Scarecrow” that was meant to promote a free video game app where the main character serves Chipotle to consumers “on a journey... View Blog Post »

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Opening up barn doors

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Letting outsiders into your operation is a scary proposition. Will they bring along a pesky pathogen that could infect your livestock? Could they be undercover activists recording your activity, trying to expose you for mistreatment of animals? Are they scoping out your property to possibly rob you? For Fair Oaks Farms these problems are fairly non-existent. The farm tourism destination in Fair Oaks, Ind., has successfully built its brand on the principles of “fun, food and learning” while doing it sustainably. I had the opportunity to tour Fair Oaks Farms while I was in the area for the Rensselaer Swine Services’ 2013... View Blog Post »

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Protect your farm and remove the gag

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Flights are a great way to meet people. They are also excellent opportunities to share the story of agriculture. During my trip last week to Agricultural Media Summit in Buffalo, N.Y., I met a young woman and her not quite 2 year old son. He became quite fussy upon takeoff and was screaming for the first five minutes or so. Eventually, the toddler calmed down but he was still very anxious because this was his first time on a plane, it was also his mom's first trip on a plane. To help keep the little guy occupied I pulled out my latest... View Blog Post »

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Animal activists: Keep fairs fair

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It’s fair season! All across the nation youth can be found exhibiting 4-H and FFA projects at county and state fairs. Many of these young men and women will learn life lessons from showing their prized bovine, equine, swine, or maybe even a porcupine. Some will continue those lessons as they pursue careers in agriculture. All will be potential advocates for the industry. The majority of youth in America are not fortunate enough to participate in fulfilling activities like the bucket calf project or selling their blue-ribbon market lamb. However, those non-participants do get the opportunity to learn from their 4-H and FFA... View Blog Post »

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Star Wars meets agriculture

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A long time ago in a barn far, far away, farmers yearned to learn more about their crops and livestock while also saving some time and money. Photo Credit: LucasFilm.Ltd Robots like R2-D2 and C-3PO are changing farming. That moment of technological advancement has arrived, with precision agriculture delivering sensors, robots and monitors that rival those out of the science fiction classic Star Wars. It’s as if we’ve left the days of guessing and backbreaking labor for a more automated and accurate era. During the last week of June, I visited farms and learned about... View Blog Post »

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Dead on arrival

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Life and death are things you learn about at an early age growing up on a farm or ranch. Over the weekend I was reminded of the importance of those lessons. On Friday, during my trip home as I rounded the curves of the gravel road near the Bechtel Ranch cow pasture, I stopped. I stopped not just to watch the sunset and take pictures of my “girls,” but also to be sure that no calves were on the ground yet. Much to my surprise I found a calf nursing one of our cows about a quarter of a mile into the... View Blog Post »

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Wyatt Bechtel
Wyatt Bechtel | Wyatt Bechtel grew up on a ranch in the Flint Hills of Kansas where his days were spent caring for livestock and the land. The formative days of his youth instilled in him great pride and appreciation for agriculture. From the ranch, he went to Kansas State University where he majored in agricultural communications and journalism with a dual in animal science. During his final year at K-State, he served as editor of the National Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. He graduated in the spring of 2012 with honors. He spends his weekdays “writing for the brand” at Vance Publishing, but on weekends you can find him “riding for the brand” at the Bechtel Ranch.

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