Archive for the 'agriculture' Category

Doug Fine, an investigative journalist by trade, has emerged as a leading voice in the effort to bring hemp back as a major American crop. 

His writing has appeared in places like Washington Post, Wired and Outside Magazine. He’s travelled all over the world, including to places like Burma, Rwanda, Laos, Guatemala and Tajikistan. He’s given TED Talks. He’s appeared on late-night talk shows. And he’s written several books, including Not Really An Alaskan Mountain Man, Farewell My Subaru, which is about his attempt to wean himself off fossil fuel, and Too High To Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution.

His latest book is Hemp Bound: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution.

And for Fine, those frontlines are found at Funky Butte Ranch, his 40-acre spread in southern New Mexico where he and his family grow hemp, tend a garden and raise a herd of mischievous goats.

Although Fine sees himself as a journalist first, he doesn’t shy away from speaking up for what he believes in. And what he believes is this: Hemp represents not just the next big money-maker in agriculture. It isn’t just about cashing in on the CBD craze. Instead, he believes it’s an opportunity to change the whole game — and maybe fight off the effects of climate change in the process.  

Fine will also be a featured speaker at Acres U.S.A.’s December Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  

Read Full Post »

Hosted by Ben Trollinger / Editor, Acres U.S.A.

Hello and welcome to Tractor Time podcast, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. I’m your host, Ben Trollinger, and as always, I want to say thank you to our sponsors, BCS America.

You’re probably heard of kamut (kah-moot), also known as khorasan wheat, also known as King Tut’s Wheat. It’s drought resistant and highly nutritious. It’s in organic breakfast cereals. It’s in pasta. People with gluten sensitivity can eat it. Artisan bakers drool over it.

It’s one of organic farming’s biggest success stories. It’s a story that’s rooted deep in history and it that might just show us the way forward.

I’m joined by Bob Quinn and Liz Carlisle, co-authors of Grain by Grain: A Quest to Revive Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs, and Healthy Food.

The book details Quinn’s journey over the last several decades to turn his dryland farm in Big Sandy, Montana into a powerhouse of organic and regenerative agriculture. Through his multi-million dollar heirloom grain company, Kamut International, Quinn has managed to create a durable network of around 200 organic farmers.

Quinn was also instrumental in shaping the country’s first organic food standards back in the late 1990s. Before that, in the 1980s, he helped establish standards for his home state. 

Liz Carlisle is a lecturer in the School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University. Her first book, Lentil Underground, prominently features Bob Quinn’s work and also won the Montana Book Award and the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature. She’s a forager of regenerative agriculture wisdom — and also a recovering country and western singer.

1 hour, 4 minutes

Read Full Post »

Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh & Ben Trollinger / Sponsored by BCS America

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. I’m your host, Ryan Slabaugh, and as always, I want to say thank you to our sponsors, BCS America. Today’s theme is all about happy pigs, and profitable pig operations, and an interesting breed called Guinea Hogs. 

First, I’ve got someone to introduce to everyone this episode. It will be the new host of Tractor Time, which I’m proud to say is Ben Trollinger, the new editor at Acres USA. I’m not going too far, but will stay involved helping Ben produce and grow the podcast, while I get to go focus on getting a few new exciting projects up and running.

Ben will join before he interviews Cathy Payne, our guest on this episode. Cathy is the author of Saving the Guinea Hogs, a new book that is on sale in the Acres U.S.A. bookstore.

First, I recently took a trip to Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, and got a chance to tour their hog operation. To make sure this episode is all pig-themed, I thought I’d share some audio I got from touring their operation. 

Thanks again to our listeners and our sponsor, BCS America. You can find this podcast at ecofarmingdaily.com, acresusa.com, or anywhere podcasts can be played. Thanks, and have a great week. 

If you want, shoot a note to Ben at btrollinger@acresusa.com. He’d love to hear from you.

Read Full Post »

Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh

Sponsored by BCS America

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. I am your host, Ryan Slabaugh, and we are humbled to bring you the 30th episode. Today’s topic is one we have to talk about, but it’s not a whole lot of fun – Monsanto.

Our guest today, Carey Gillam, is a veteran reporter who has been covering corporate America for 25 years, including Monsanto and most recently, Bayer. This year, she’s been busy covering the Monsanto trials, suing agencies under the Freedom of Information Act, and discovering an amazing array of corruption that is fueling the more than 11,000 lawsuits against the company.

Mainly, she’s uncovered the fact that Monsanto has lied to and tricked farmers, land managers, growers, ranchers and city managers for 50 years about RoundUp. That as they tell their employees to behave differently around the product than they do consumers. And that they paid for fake science, paid off reporters, and got especially cozy with politicians around the world. France’s Parliament is exploring charges that they kept a list of politicians they liked and disliked. That’s nothing new to us here in the U.S., but that level of targeted lobbying does not go over so well elsewhere in the world. But the bottom line is, it’s toxic to human and animal health, and juries around the world that have heard their defenses do not see any redemption in them – in fact, it is quite the opposite. The lying has only added to their penalties, and their liabilities now range in the trillions, and Bayer’s stock price is 40% declined from where it was at the time they purchased Monsanto.’

Here’s a clip from the Canadian Public Broadcasting Channel’s recent coverage, which summarized the issue:

To be clear, we are talking about the specific formulation Monsanto uses in its RoundUp product that includes glyphosate – that’s an important distinction. Monsanto’s spokespersons deny all this and say there is no proof their product is unhealthy or shouldn’t be used. You can still find it everywhere, and even though towns and ciiteis are starting to make it illegal to use, it’s use is still prolific.

And who is fueling this worldwide coverage? Our guest today, Carey Gillam. She wrote a book called Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer & the Corruption of Science, published by Island Press, in 2017. The way she threads her reporting in with current events paints a damning picture of Roundup, even garnering praise from Erin Brockovich.

And our guest today makes the strong point that banning RoundUp or glyphosate, or suing for billions, does not solve the real problem we are facing: an agriculture and food supply dependent on the lies that Monsanto has been giving farmers, and the safety nets are a bit too far down to feel comfortable leaping.

It’s our listeners who will really be solving this problem, but taking the information Carey gives us today to educate us on the forces at work in the herbicide world, and how we can make informed, healthy choices. You can make a difference by how you grow food, the food you buy at the store, and by the manner in which we defend eco-agriculture.

So, let’s get into the interview with our guest today: As a former senior correspondent for Reuters' international news service, and current research director for consumer group U.S. Right to Know, Carey Gillam's areas of expertise include biotech crop technology, agrichemicals and pesticide product development, and the environmental impacts of American food production. Gillam has been recognized as one of the top journalists in the country covering these issues.

A special thanks to our episode sponsor, BCS America.

Read Full Post »

Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. I’m your host Ryan Slabaugh, and today our episode is focused on soil health, and the philosophies of Glen Rabenberg. Glen has spent a lifetime journey building a system that works across climates and soil types, and in the next hour, we’re going to ask him to walk through his journey, and how he piece together the knowledge – and wisdom – he needed to eventually start his company, Soil Works, which helps so many farmers around the world.

As you will also hear, Glen will be leading a farm tour at our Healthy Soil Summit, August 21-22 in Davis, California. Registration is open at www.acresusa.com, and we are only allowing about 150-200 into the event, so sign up soon. Glen is also working with us to produce a series of podcasts we will release this summer focused on short, simple tactics you can employ on your farm to increase and improve your soil life.

One other announcement: We will also be opening registration to our annual conference, this year in Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 9-12, in May. We have a ton of great speakers — some new, including Marty Travis, the start farmer in the movie, Sustainable. We really want to see you there – we’ll be talking about biodiversity, regenerative agriculture and diversification tactics and a whole lot more. But today’s program is soil-soil-soil with Glen Rabenberg, and his life journey.

Our guest today, Glen Rabenberg is the founder and owner of Soil Works LLC. Born and raised in Bancroft, SD, he graduated from Desmet High School in 1980. He was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, General Agriculture and Agriculture Economics from South Dakota State University in 1985.  Glen then went to work for Walco International as an Animal Science Technical Advisor. He spent most of the following years with Walco working with animal pharmaceuticals, veterinarians, and farmers. Through his experience he began to notice trends in the animal science industry.  He saw that many of the diseases he was employed to treat were the result of nutritional deficiencies from poor grains and forage that the animals were consuming.

Rather than conforming to the traditional methods of soil science, Glen brings his knowledge of animal science and applies it to the soil. Glen continues to search for new ways to restore the soil and aid in the production of quality food.  He aims to “bring soil back to the way nature intended.” He still maintains his third generation farm in Bancroft, SD and travels the world solving the world’s soil problems with a little bit of simplicity and the “rite” tools.

Read Full Post »

Good day, and welcome to Tractor Time podcast brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the voice of eco-agriculture. This is a special episode, our 28th in our series, that will feature a friend and guest to Acres U.S.A., Dr. Paul Dettloff. A special thanks to our series sponsors, BCS America and Albert Lea Seed, who make this all possible.

Dr. Paul Dettloff has spent 50 years in large animal veterinary practice, working with farmers all over the world to help them think differently. He was well ahead of his time pushing grass as cattle feed, and working with holistic, proven tools that operate completely independent of the technology booms happening today.

His new hardcover book, A Guide to Raising Animals Organically, has captured his work in a fascinating, comprehensive way. We were very proud to be Dr. Paul’s publisher of the book, which is available now.

We are also very proud that Dr. Paul will be talking at our conference in December in Minneapolis. He will be leading a full day Eco-Ag conference session on soil preparation for cattle, cattle feed systems and will allow folks to peek inside his vet bag. He'll add on a workshop too about A2A2 milk markets that should be very helpful for today's dairy farmer looking for diversification techniques.

The last time he talked was 2007, and we wanted to share that talk with our audience today. It’s a fascinating story Dr. Paul weaves around his career as a veterinarian, and how he discovered organic along the way, and helped champion the growth and rebirth of old veterinary tools so important to sustainable and organic farmers.

So, here’s Dr. Paul’s talk from 2007, titled “Enhancing Vet Tools.” It’s more than just a story about livestock. It’s a story about how we treat animals, and how those animals can feed our farming ecosystems.

Read Full Post »

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. I’m your host Ryan Slabaugh, and I’m happy to bring you the 26th episode of our podcast. Thanks again to Albert Lea seeds for making this episode possible.

A few announcements — Minnesota is the theme of today’s show. Acres USA will be in Minnesota in December for our annual conference, and one of the reasons — other than the great December weather there — is the amount of trailblazing agriculture that is going on in that region. You can learn more about our event at www.acresusa.com — tickets will go on sale later this spring. But before that, we’ll get into some of that agriculture, and talk to some of the country’s original grassfed beef farmers. 

Today, we’re going to have two cattlemen on the show to discuss their operations and some current topics, a few of which are creating quite a debate: Matt Maier, with Thousand Hills Cattle in Minnesota, and Will Winter, a teacher of holistic animal medicine and founder of the American Holistic Livestock Association. I met Will at our annual conference a couple years ago, and recognized his trademark cowboy hat and beard. He’s written for our magazine and spoken to our audiences before, and we’re excited to have him on the show today.

I met Matt’s team at our conference last year and learned that they had pursued Savory Institute Hub certification, and are — and have been —leading the way with regenerative agriculture. Their cattle were grazing 365 days a year in Minnesota, which is not an easy thing to accomplish, and takes a disciplined system. Will and Matt worked together in Minnesota at Thousand Hills.

During our talk, they walked me through the Polar Vortex experience, where temperatures reached -30 on their farm, and their reactions to the Green New Deal, as well as sharing some ideas and inspiration for new cattle farmers. 

Here’s a video that shows off the environment at Thousand Hills:

https://youtu.be/5ZezvrKOxS4

Read Full Post »

Welcome to Tractor Time, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco_Agriculture. I’m your host Ryan Slabaugh, and lucky enough to be the GM/Publisher of Acres U.S.A., and very lucky enough to sit down and produce our 25th episode of Tractor Time. And thanks again to BCS America for being the sponsors of today’s program.

Today’s guest – I met Fred Provenza, professor emeritus in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University, at our annual conference last December. We talked a bit about farming and soil, but in all honesty, we talked more about our common hobby of skiing and winter sports. When it came time to scheduling guests, I knew I needed Fred on the show so we could actually talk about our day jobs, and his lifetime of research into animal and human health.

So, today’s guest – Renowned animal behaviorist Fred Provenza has spent his academic career researching how animals respond to an intricately tuned system of flavor-feedback relationships. In other words, animals somehow instinctively seem to know what foods they need to stay alive and healthy. But what about us humans? Do we possess that same wisdom? He wrote about that in a new book from Chelsea Green called Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us About Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom.

We’re going to get into that book, but more importantly, we’re going to use that book to talk about the larger health issues, and how our own bodies and own biology often can defy us – but they can also tell us exactly what we need to know. We’re doing to cover that and a lot more in this episode of Tractor Time, brought to you by Acres U.S.A. We recorded this interview on Wednesday, Jan. 23, via phone.

Read Full Post »

Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh. Sponsored by Albert Lea Seed.

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. We are happy to be bringing you another episode, our 1st of season 3 starting this year, and 24th overall.

On today’s program, we’re going to honor our 2018 Eco-Ag Award winner, who we celebrated in December at our 43rd annual conference. Jeff Moyer, is a longtime organic farmer, author, lecturer. His work with Rodale Institute, both in hands-on farming and as executive director, is advancing the state of the art of organic agriculture and building bridges to bring these methods to mainstream, conventional farmers.

His talk at our conference was aimed at helping farmers see the future of the organic certification industry, and how words like “regenerative” and “sustainable” are already being fought about in the advertising board rooms across the world.

“Like it or not, we’re in a food fight,” he says. “Right now, organic is in the middle of that fight. So is the word regenerative. And sustainable. And sustainability.”

Other past winners who have showed up on the Tractor Time podcast have included Dr. Vandana Shiva, who won in 2017, Gary Zimmer in 2011, Ronnie Cummins in 2009, Joel Salatin in 2006, and Neal Kinsey in 2003.

Learn more about Rodale Institute here.  

Read Full Post »

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. We are happy to be bringing you another episode, our 11th this year and 23rd overall, and I think we’re going to get in at least one more before the end of the year, so stay tuned.

It’s about that time. In a couple days, Acres U.S.A. is hitting the road — or getting on a plane, actually — and heading to Louisville, Kentucky, for our 43rd annual Eco-Ag Conference & Trade show. In the office, we’re at that hybrid stage of nervousness, confidence, anxiety and adrenaline, and our days are filled with all the little odd jobs – cutting badges, ordering bags, shipping off our bookstore – and we know a lot of our listeners who will be attending are doing the same. Getting ready for the week away. 

So we though it’d be appropriate to preview a few of our upcoming speakers on the show today, and include some of our sponsors. We don’t do a lot of advertising or sponsored stuff on this, so forgive us this one time. Plus, these aren’t your normal sponsorship messages. These are folks just like you – passionate about eco-agriculture and making a difference. And paying the bills, of course.

To start, here’s a quick thank you list to the companies and organizations that make our conference, and Acres U.S.A., possible. We don’t thank them enough for their support, so here is a big, giant, thank you to our advertisers, sponsors who make this all possible. Including, those who sponsor this podcast, some of whom we interviewed especially for this episode on all things eco-agriculture:

  • The Savory Institute and their co-founder and CEO Daniela Ibarra-Howell. You can hear an entire interview with Daniela on episode 21. She’s fascinating and her story is inspiring of how we can all see a problem – overgrazing and unsustainable agriculture – and develop a solution that can be applied anywhere in the world.
  • Midwest BioSystems and Edwin Blosser & Company. Edwin is a master at explaining how to use compost on large-scale farms, and we’ll hear from him on that on this episode. He’ll be speaking next week as well, and is just an efficient, patient teacher.
  • Eden Blue Gold. They are passionate about what they do, and the time and effort they’ve put into researching their products. You’ll hear about their process for creating organic inputs for large-scale production.

We also want to thank the following folks:

  • Brandt. They have a whole line of sturdy, well-built farm equipment, and we are kind of in love with their slogan: Powerful Value, Delivered. Yep. That about says it all. They stand by their work. Search for Brandt agriculture tools and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
  • Verde Agritech. Verde’s products are derived from an ancient 570 million years old rock named “glauconitic siltstone”, rich in a mineral called glauconite. The production process is 100% natural.
  • Terreplenish is another great supporter of Acres USA. If you are farming corn, or anything that you need help in retaining your nitrogen in your fields, then I’d encourage you to look up Terreplenish. This is what they do. They have a number of biological, sustainable solutions.

But we are going to lead off our show with a bit from Wil Spencer at Environotics, who will talk about a subject we don’t discuss often on this show – soil life and biodynamics. We talked in late October on the phone about what the licensed holistic naturopath has learned on the subject

Next up, we interviewed James Arpin in late October of 2019 about Eden Blue Gold. The interview may not be what you expect. James wanted to teach us about what he sees as the true differences between plants, animals and humans, and what our similarities, and differences, can teach us about how to interact. How we can heal each other. Here’s James Arden with Eden Blue Gold --   

Our third guest today is Edwin Blosser. His company, Midwest BioSystems, lives the word. When we talked about a year ago, he was looking out his office window at harvesters picking black beans that were going off to Chipotle. We talked about large-scale biological inputs, and what he’s learned from a lifetime of farming. If you’re attending our show, Edwin is a must-see, and find him at his booth, too. I started the conversation by asking him to tell us how he got into farming.

I couldn’t let this completely be finished though without a soundbite from one of our keynote speakers next week – Daniela with the Savory Institute and legendary grower and author Eliot Coleman are two of them, and our third is Joel Salatin with Polyface Farms. I asked him what he liked better, speaking or farming, and this was his answer. He’ll be leading our conference with a resounding presentation on Thursday night.

Now, that’s our show. Thanks for tuning into another episode of Tractor Time podcast, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. Find us at www.acresusa.com, at ecofarmingdaily.com, or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Better yet, come find us in Louisville next week and say hello.

Thanks for listening, and have a great week.

Read Full Post »