MN Sr Beef Ambassador
Should I eat beef? Does eating beef hurt the environment? Are cattle sustainable? What a set of loaded questions. In today’s world the media influences how we see almost everything from politics, COVID-19, fashion, nutrition, and even agriculture. When scrolling through social media answers to those three questions can be confusing depending on where you look. Who decides what is true? How are we supposed to make sense of this tangled mess of opposing views? There is no simple solution. Everyone needs to decide for themselves what they believe about beef based on tangible evidence.
You may ask yourself, should I eat beef? If I quit eating beef would it save the environment? What if I told you that may actually make it worse? In the United States, forty-one percent of the land is used as pasture or rangeland (Merrill). If there were no cows, that land, 654 million acres, would be unused. Wouldn’t that land be better used for producing crops to be grown? A majority of the land that is currently used as pasture is unsuitable for any other type of agricultural use because of climate and terrain. Land such as the hills of South Dakota that could be completely unusable because of the terrain are able to produce beef. Cattle make efficient use of the grasses in these rangelands because of their ability to digest cellulose, a main component in plants that is indigestible to humans. If cattle were eliminated from the picture, that land resource would go unused.
Would the environment be better off without cows? A major controversy that has recently come up in our society is cow farts. In actuality, the concern comes from cows burps, not farts. Cattle are ruminants and they ferment their food in order to digest it. As a result of this fermentation, methane is produced leading us to the topic of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions. This methane that is released in the form of burps is different from your typical GHG carbon dioxide because it only has a lifespan of ten years in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide has an indefinite lifespan (“Frank”). After ten years, if the number of cattle in the US remain consistent so does all the methane emissions from cattle. In fact, the amount of cattle has gone down by over two-thirds since the 1970s and in turn reduced the beef industries emissions by 2.3 billion tons (“Frank”). Regardless, cattle still do contribute 3.7 percent of GHG emissions. Without cattle would we eliminate all 3.7 percent? The short answer is no, because while we may eliminate the emissions directly from cows, we would emit just as much if not more while producing the crops needed to mitigate the nutrient deficiency that would result from the loss of beef in diets. Ultimately, from an emissions standpoint, the environment would not be better off without cows.
Lastly, are cows sustainable? That word has many different definitions but personally it means I need to utilize the resources afforded me to the best of my ability in order to benefit the land, the economy, the society, and future generations. Can I achieve this through raising cattle? Yes. Cattle use land that would otherwise go to waste. They produce minimal GHG emissions and the footprint from US cattle has gone down and continues to go down. Additionally, ninety percent of cattles’ diet is made of human inedible plants and byproducts from many industries including ethanol production, cotton, and milling grains, and more importantly, they produce nineteen percent more edible protein than they consume (Place). At the end of the day or when my time on earth is up I will leave a legacy of stewardship. Stewardship of the land, the animals that graze the land, and the future generations of cattle producers behind me. This is sustainability at its finest.
“Frank Mitloehner: Cattle, Climate Change and the Methane Myth.” Alltech, 25 June 2019, https://www.alltech.com/features-podcast-blog/frank-mitloehner-cattleclimatechangeand-methane-myth.
Merrill, Dave and Lauren Leatherby. “Here’s How America Uses Its Land.” Bloomberg, 31 Jul 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-us-land-use/.
Place, Sarah. “Latest Study Confirms an Animal-Free Food System is Not Holistically Sustainable.” Medium, 8 Mar. 2018, https://medium.com/@beefitsfordinner/latest-studyconfirms-an-animal-free-food-system-is-not-holistically-sustainable-69df19dededd.
KLGR Farm Director Scott Colombe talks with MN Cattlewoman of the Year Debbie Chute of Aitkin.
Our 2020 Minnesota CattleWoman of the Year award winner is Debbie Chute. Debbie has been a member of MN Cattlewomen for over 20 years. She has served as Membership Chair, Secretary, Vice President, President-Elect and most recently as President. She has assisted with the Beef Ambassador Competition.
Debbie took the lead with our CattleWomen’s organization when many of the members were unable to do so. Her leadership propelled MNCW to continue and to stay strong especially this past year with the COVID pandemic.
In her home town, Debbie has been involved with her local Cattlemen’s association helping with the Cattlemen’s Booth at Aitkin’s Commerce Show, with Ag in the Classroom, at their county fair Agricultural Education Building and any other place where help is needed. She was instrumental in getting the Beef Princess program started in their area in the mid 1990’s, and it is still going today. Debbie was a 4-H leader for many years and served on the Aitkin County Extension Committee. Debbie is an Alumni of the MARL Program (Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership). Debbie serves as Aitkin-Carlton County Farm Bureau Secretary/Treasurer.
Debbie may be done with her term as president of MNCW, but she will stay busy as ANCW Region III Director. We are proud to have Debbie represent us at the national level!
Minnesota CattleWomen appreciates the time and dedication this amazing cattlewoman, Debbie Chute, has given to our organization. Congratulations!
Congratulations to Karin Schaefer for receiving the 2020 “Friend of the Minnesota CattleWomen “ award. While Karin was the executive director of the Minnesota Beef Council, she worked hard to rebuild the relationship with the Minnesota CattleWomen. There had been some challenging times between the two before and she worked to bring them back together. One way she worked to improve that relationship was to partner with the CattleWomen at events for booths so the two organizations could work together to cover them, and no one had to spend all day in the booth. She helped make this happen for the summer tour, cattle industry convention and at the MN Beef Expo. At the MN Beef Expo, she had the cattlemen, the beef council and the cattlewomen combine all their booths to present a united beef industry. This was a great idea for all!!
Karin made sure to help in any way for the MN Beef Ambassador contest and to make sure to give the opportunity to the beef ambassadors to help with any events the MN Beef Council had that they could participate in. She also allowed the cattlewomen to meet at the office once a year. These are just a few things she did to help rebuild the relationship.
Karin also helped to rebuild that relationship with the CattleWomen by treating them with respect and dignity. She enjoyed visiting with the different members and hearing the history of the cattlewomen. Thanks to Karin, the Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota CattleWomen have a great relationship now.
Our, 2020 Minnesota CattleWomen Lifetime Achievement Award Winner is Juanita Reed-Boniface.
This cattlewoman has made many contributions to the MN CattleWomen. She was president of the MN CattleWomen from 2003-2005 and the 1998 CattleWomen of the Year recipient. She is always positive and brings so much energy to the meetings and events.
Juanita brings many years of expertise to us from all the different activities and work experiences she has been involved in throughout her life. She has always been very active in the beef industry, the Minnesota CattleWomen, American National CattleWomen, 4-H, Extension and industry leadership events she attends. Education has always been important to her and to make sure to share the beef story with as many young people as she can. She was the Beef Education Chairperson from 1997- 2019. She has built different games, activities, and materials for other cattlewomen to take into the classroom. She has spent years dressing in her red cowboy boots, vest and cowboy hat and going into schools sharing how beef is raised with many different school age children. In 2004 while she was beef education chairperson she helped the CattleWomen initiate Kids Ag-Land at the MN BEEF EXPO featuring the MOOvie theater; corn/oats play box, educational games and stories about the beef industry. It proved to be a popular learning center for youth too young to participate in the show.
At the National level, she was a member of American National CattleWomen Beef Education committee from 2003-07, and chair 2005-07, the ANCW Future Focus Advisory Team from 2005-06, NCBA Joint Industry Information Committee and Joint Youth Education and Information Subcommittee, 2005-07. As you can tell, youth are her passion.
Juanita is always welcoming to all new members and loves to learn about each member. She makes connections wherever she goes, and many have recognized her talents and asked her to be a part of different organizations, committees, and events. She brings her Nebraska roots with her to Minnesota and yes, she is a Husker fan. Go Big Red!! For a lifetime of devotion to the beef industry and the Minnesota CattleWomen we want to recognize her lifetime achievements with this award.
After 39 years in the cattle business with her husband, John, Deb Chute got a pleasant surprise Aug. 13.
Chute was named the Region III director for the American National CattleWomen, for a two-year term that begins February 2021.
She found out in July that she had been nominated for the position – which includes advocating for Region III on the national level, as well as serving on the executive board.
“I was very pleasantly surprised,” said Deb on earning the position. “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years.”
The ANCW’s mission is, according to its website, to provide a voice for women who share a passion for the beef farming community, with a focus on beef promotion, education and legislation. Its vision is to inspire dedication and responsibility in the community.
Deb Chute and her husband run Chute Family Farm – a 400-acre cow-calf operation – north of Aitkin in Morrison Township. Fifty “mama cows” are impregnated by bulls each year, hopefully to produce a calf apiece.
Those calves are then raised on the farm and fed in a feed pen to produce farm-fresh beef. Deb estimated that between 30-40 head of beef are sold direct-market each year as quarters, halves and whole cows.
“Our best advertising is word of mouth,” she said, with customers providing reviews that send new customers their way.
A life-long Minnesotan, Deb said that her children have all helped out on the farm.
She has been involved with the Minnesota CattleWomen for more than 20 years, serving as membership chair, secretary, vice president, president-elect and president, as well as on a number of committees.
In addition to her duties on the executive board, Chute will be responsible for the Region III annual meeting, where positions are elected and committees set. Email Chute at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or concerns, or would like more information on American National CattleWomen or Minnesota CattleWomen.
Article courtesy of: Aitkenage.com rb.gy/nrf8ew
Haley Mouser - MN State Jr Beef Ambassador
Do the things that make you happy make a cow happy? If you like what you see and it makes you feel good, does that make a cow feel good? We all understand that farm animals live differently than we do. We like the idea of a big red barn. It’s nostalgic and stirs up emotions of times gone by, simpler times. Even the Animal Welfare Institute likes the idea of “straw-bedded barns.” We want our city houses to look like farm houses. We want our dogs to live like people. We want to feel good. We want to believe that if the situation an animal is in would not make us happy, it must not make them happy either. However, cows are different. What makes us happy is not going to make them happy.
Cows eat grass. People don’t. Cows defecate no matter where they are nor do they care about timing. People don’t. Cows have hooves. People don’t. Cows live outside. People live inside. Cows don’t speak. People do. Cows can be content, secure, and satisfied, happy, when all their needs, having food, water, and a dry place to lay down, are met. How do you know a cow is content? It’s simple, when they are chewing their cud or laying down they are typically content. Content cows are happy cows.
How can we ensure content cows when they live outside? Could we ever build enough barns to house every cow during inclement weather? No. My family and I have a small herd of thirty cows, specifically Hereford cows, in northern Minnesota. We face difficult weather on a regular basis and experience temperature extremes of -40 below zero to 90 degrees above zero in just a matter of months. To bed our barn with straw, house all 30 animals, provide water, food, and ventilation would be difficult. What do we do during inclement weather? We provide for their needs. They have access to food, which is hay or pasture. They have plenty of water during the heat and the water stays unthawed in the cold. They have access to shelter or a wind-break. And lastly they have access to a dry place to lay down. I cannot tell you how much I love seeing content cows. When I can walk by my cattle and see them chewing their cud in all types of weather and situations, I know that they are content and fully satisfied.
The same goes for cattle in feedyards. Even though they may not have access to pasture, they have a personal nutritionist who develops their daily rations. They have people who ride pens daily to make sure they are healthy. They have everything they need: food, water, and a dry place to lay down. When driving by a feedyard, instead of seeing sickly, depressed cattle we actually see cattle who are content, chewing their cud and laying down. Even though we might not feel good when looking at cattle in a feedyard or seeing cattle outside in inclement weather, those cattle can still feel good, and as long as they have their needs met and are chewing their cud, they are content, happy cows.
Theresa Gustafson - MN State Jr Beef Ambassador
Hello again! For those of you that are new here my name is Theresa Gustafson, I am a farmer/rancher in northern Minnesota where I am the fourth-generation living on our family farm. We have 230 cow-calf pairs as well as two hundred head of market steers and heifers. We also farm over a thousand acres of crops. My goals for this blog include: informing the public about issues regarding farming and ranching, teaching about everyday experiences on a farm, and debunking myths surrounding agriculture and the cattle industry. Today, I will be talking about factory farms.
I would like to start off with the definition of factory farming: "a large industrialized farm - especially a farm on which large numbers of livestock are raised indoors or in conditions intended to maximize production at a minimal cost". A large misconception is that factory farms are taking over the agricultural market. However, there are more than 570 million farms in the world. Greater than 90% of them are run by a family and rely on family labor. Family farms produce approximately 80% of the world's food. In Minnesota alone there are 74,542 farms on 26 million acres of land, and about one thousand additional agricultural and food companies. In Minnesota alone, agriculture accounts for three hundred and forty thousand jobs.
Another common misconception is that if you use new technology on your farm, it is a factory farm. We are a family farm and we use technology ranging from tile drainage systems to self-driving tractors. We use the best technology so we can get the best outcome. It doesn't matter if you are a farmer, an office worker, etc. you want to use the best technology available. Technology doesn't determine if you are a family farm or not. Size also does not determine if a farm is a factory farm or family farm. Family farms can be very small or very large.
That's all for today, I hope that I have cleared up some of your questions. Remember I post a blog every Wednesday and Friday, so come back and check them out! The fun fact of the week is: Did you know that Minnesota beef contributes $4.9 billion to the economy? Minnesota beef is amazing! That's all for this week and remember, money can't buy happiness but it can buy cows, which is pretty much the same thing!