Why 3 kansas producers advocate for agriculture ag news hpj.com university of kansas international students

Debbie lyons-blythe talks passionately about her family’s ranching roots amid the tallgrass prairie near white city, kansas, where cattle have grazed since the blythe family first homesteaded here in 1890.

A realization hit lyons-blythe as she spoke to an out-of-state cousin in her kitchen a decade ago while she was fixing dinner. It doesn’t take long for even deep-rooted agriculture families to become disconnected, said lyons-blythe, who shared why she became an agricultural advocate during a session at the kansas cattle drive last month.

“one day I was cooking dinner for our kids…we had at the time a whole grill filled with hamburgers for everybody. And shannon sneaks up beside me and says, ‘debbie, we can’t eat that much beef.’ and I said, ‘what, why?’ and she said because of the antibiotics in beef.”

burgess said

It was that experience that led lyons-blythe to begin telling her daily ranch story through blogs, facebook, twitter and other social media platforms.

Lyons-blythe, along with rice county farmer jenny burgess and marion county farmer derek klingenberg spoke about “branding your ranch” at the third annual event in downtown buhler, kansas.

Outreach is more important than ever because the average american is now at least three generations removed from the family farm. But the growing disconnect by even close relatives is alarming, said lyons-blythe. Shannon, who had a parent grow up on the same operation as lyons-blythe’s husband, is just one generation removed.

“and she spends time on the farm and she is going to be a part owner in our farm—and she doesn’t know the answers to the concerns about hormones, antibiotics and animal welfare and those questions that constantly pop up on social media,” lyons-blythe said.Social media

Burgess and her husband, geoff, are first-generation farmers in rice county. But even in a rural kansas county, burgess said she realized quickly that residents wanted to know where their food was coming from.

When her children started attending school, “I was absolutely flabbergasted with the amount of mothers, sitting in a corner, discussing ‘what am I going to feed my kids?’” said burgess, adding the conversation included gmos, antibiotics and chemical applications on crops.

There are many ways to tell the story, said klingenberg, who is known as “farmer derek” on youtube. His pop-music video parodies with a farm focus generates millions of views. He said he puts a green screen in his shop, going in at night and filming scenes after a day working on the farm.

Burgess said she writes a blog, but also notices the young generation wants instant gratification.Social media she tries to connect with them through snapchat and instagram.

She also makes herself accessible to the media, she said, adding an interview with the local television station recently took just five minutes.

Burgess said social media isn’t for everyone. Face to face is good, too, whether it is at a school or grocery store. Sometimes, she said, much to her children’s dismay, she stops customers to see what meat they have in their cart and asks what they are having for dinner.

Lyons-blythe admitted the answer she gave her relative a decade ago, wasn’t the best one. She told her that the family’s beef was “home raised” and threw every other rancher “under the bus.”

Quoting temple grandin, a renowned colorado state university animal science professor who spoke at the event, lyons-blythe said, “if you are doing it on your farm and ranch and you can’t show your out-of-town wedding guests, then why are you doing it?”

social media

About five years ago, lyons-blythe hosted a woman from new york city who had asked a question on anderson cooper’s show, “anderson live,” about antibiotics and hormones in beef.

Lyons-blythe fielded questions about how she raises beef. She told her everything that grows has hormones and put a small hormone implant in her hand.

“I said ‘this a hormone implant, and we put it under the skin in their ear, and it boosts the animal’s natural hormones so we can create more lean beef.’ I saw the light bulb go on.”

The woman went back on “anderson live” the next week and told him she felt confident buying whatever beef was in the grocery store because it was people like lyons-blythe who are making those decisions and raising that beef.

“I try to remember consumers—all they really want is to feel good about what they are feeding their family.…I think they just want to know their food is safe and nutritious.”