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Historically cold weather puts farmers’ commitment to animal care and water quality on display

Jon McClure and his son (Herry) of Dallas Center care for their cattle in negative 17-degree weather on January 30, 2019.
Jon McClure and his son (Herry) of Dallas Center care for their cattle in negative 17-degree weather on January 30, 2019.

In the past 24 hours, it seems like every outside-the-home activity in Iowa has been cancelled – classes, businesses, and even the U.S. Mail. (That’s totally understandable; it’s dangerously cold out there!)

Everything – except for a cover crop workshop in Ankeny last night and the round-the-clock livestock care I’m seeing all over social media.

I’ve known for years that farmers mean what they say when they tell us that they truly care about their animals and protecting water quality. I grew up on a farm, and I work for the largest farm organization in the state – so I have the benefit of firsthand experience, working with farmers from the Missouri River to the Mississippi.

Not everyone has that direct connection with farmers, so it’s understandable for people to wonder how much farmers care. After all, we hear lots of people say they care about lots of things.

But every once in a while we encounter a situation that shows us just how much someone cares.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve witnessed two.

Braving the cold for conservation 

Last night a group of roughly 40 farmers and conservation partners gathered at the Mistress Brewing Company in Ankeny for a workshop on cover crops – one of the many emerging conservation practices that farmers are using to protect water quality. No one had to be there; in fact, you had to really want to be there in order to make the journey through wind chills approaching negative 30 degrees.

If you have time, I’d encourage you to watch the video below to see what’s driving farmers’ excitement about cover crops and other practices proven to protect water quality.

 

 

Round-the-clock animal care

The second example I’m witnessing (as I write this blog post) is the outpouring of photos and videos from livestock farmers on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve included a couple of examples in this blog post; you can check out others at Facebook.com/IowaFarmBureau, Twitter.com/IowaFarmBureau and Instagram.com/IowaFarmBureau.

Colin Johnson, Wapello County, caring for cattle in frigid weather

(Pictured Above: Colin Johnson of Wapello County brings feed and bedding to his cattle on January 29, 2019.)

Lynn Bolin and her family

(Pictured Above: Butler County farmer Lynn Bolin and her family "double feed" their dairy cows to keep them comfortable on January 29, 2019.)

Linn County farmer Jason Russell braves the cold to care for his pigs and other livestock.

(Pictured Above: Linn County farmer Jason Russell braves the cold to care for his pigs and other livestock.)

Today is one of those rare instances when we can all agree on something – it’s wicked cold out there.

And if plowing miles of roads to feed your pigs, building windbreaks out of round bales, and checking on livestock every hour of the day and night doesn’t prove that farmers care for their animals, I don’t know what will. (However, if you do still have questions about livestock care, you can always contact Iowa Farm Animal Care at 1-800-252-0577.) 

I’m not asking anyone to heap praise upon farmers – if you feel moved to thank them, please do so! But I do think that it’s important for all of us to at least recognize that what we’ve seen in the past day or so proves the care that farmers have been trying to help us see for years.

By Zach Bader. Zach is Iowa Farm Bureau's Digital Marketing Manager.



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