Arizona Farm Couple Appointed to National Young Farmer & Rancher Committee

Dinsmore Family

Dinsmore Family

Arizona farmers Jonathan and Lara Dinsmore have been appointed to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Committee, a national committee of young farmers and ranchers focused on developing leadership and honing other professional skills.

“Farm Bureau’s YF&R Committee members play a vital role in advocating for agriculture while further building their leadership abilities,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “The commitment and quality of the young agriculturalists who volunteer to serve are always impressive, and this year is no different. It’s clear that the future of farming and ranching is in good hands.”

Committee members are responsible for YF&R Program planning, which includes the coordination of YF&R competitive events during AFBF’s Annual Convention each January. They also provide support in planning and implementing AFBF’s bi-annual FUSION Conference for Farm Bureau volunteer leaders involved in YF&R, Women’s Leadership, and Promotion & Education.

Regarding the appointment of Arizona’s Dinsmore family, the 1,500-acre vegetable, hay, and grain farm, Dinsmore Farms, Inc., was founded in the early 1940s and is based in Yuma, Arizona. The vegetables grown include iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, red and green mix lettuce, cauliflower, and broccoli. The hay grown on Dinsmore Farms includes Sudan and Alfalfa.

National committee members are nominated by their respective state Farm Bureaus. They study farm and food policy issues, participate in leadership training exercises and hone other professional skills during their tenure as committee members.

Additional National Appointments from Arizona

American Farm Bureau has also appointed other Arizona Farmers and ranchers to their national committees.

  • Arizona Farm Bureau First Vice President Stefanie Smallhouse (Pima County) has been appointed chair of the Environmental Regulation Committee.
  • Arizona Farm Bureau Second Vice President John Boelts (Yuma County) has been appointed to the Labor Committee
  • Arizona Farm Bureau Women’s Chair Sharla Mortimer (Yavapai County) has been appointed to the Market Structure Committee.

All committee appointees by AFBF are expected to remain informed on their issues in order to contribute to valuable discussion and generate the best outcomes, including excellent advice and recommendations on issues of greatest importance to farmers and ranchers.

Key duties of the committees include recommendation development of studies or whitepapers on emerging or critical issues, engage in policy advocacy and serve as subject experts at congressional hearings, if asked.

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Soaring Beef Prices Linked to Drought, Early Winter Storm

Sirloin Steak cubed and grilled on skewers with  fresh squash and red bell peppers. Photo credit: Arizona Legacy Beef.

Sirloin Steak cubed and grilled on skewers with
fresh squash and red bell peppers. Photo credit: Arizona Legacy Beef.

If you have gone to a restaurant lately and looked at the prices, you are probably still picking up your jaw, figuratively speaking.

That jaw dropper is the price of beef, which has gone up about 300 percent in the last few months, according to some retailers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, has a somewhat less dramatic market profile, but does admit that retail beef prices are at record highs, even adjusted for inflation.

The last time beef prices skyrocketed like this was in 1978-79, when former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton got behind the wheel of about $1,000 worth of cattle futures and drove them up to $100,000.

In 2010, beef prices jumped again, largely as a result of a 300-percent increase in demand for corn used to make ethanol. Since then, policy makers have requested – and received – revisions of the United State’s renewable fuel mandate (for ethanol, bioethanol, biodiesel, etc.), and beef prices did indeed level off. Unfortunately, so did the size of feeder lot cattle herds, because lot feeding had become inordinately expensive given the increased cost of corn.

The increased price of corn was, and is, a direct result of the three-year-long drought from the West Coast to the Great Plains, running as far north as Minnesota and the Dakotas this November and creating the inevitability that the U.S. would enter 2015 with the smallest cattle herds since the early 1950’s.

Put that back-to-back with the early winter storm that hit the Midwestern Great Plains this year, sweeping from Nebraska to Texas and accompanied by bitter cold that made it not only difficult to transport cattle, but difficult to sort them once they got to the packing plants.

Packers, who had until then been buying in small lots to recover their losses, anticipating a windfall when ranchers sent in their cattle, found themselves paying more for less yet again. On November 14, packer prices of $172 per hundredweight in parts of Kansas and Nebraska were up as much as $5 from the first week of November.

As hard as it has been for ranchers and packers, the sudden, sticker-shock prices are even more of a blow to consumers, especially in Arizona and other cattle-raising areas, where beef lovers relish nothing more than digging into a ranch-raised cut of sirloin or prime rib. In Arizona, this prime beef can come from a number of local ranches like Tomerlins Arizona Legacy Beef in Prescott, for example (find them and the Arizona Farm Bureau, or AFB, on Pinterest).

Are drought and reduced herds the sole cause of this unparalleled rise in cost for beef? Some ranchers, like third-generation cattleman Stayton Weldon of Texas, say yes.

“We’ve got tremendous drought problems. It cuts your herd size down because people have to sell off to provide for the cattle that are left.”

The USDA has also analyzed the problem and noted that the 2013-2014 calf crop was the smallest since 1949. Moreover, young heifers aren’t being shipped for slaughter at anywhere near the rate they were in 2012 as ranchers begin to rebuild herds. This will leave commercial beef output at its lowest since 1994 for at least several years.

Some point to cattle rustling as the cause. Given the per-pound price of good beef, few would be surprised if this were true. One of them, Brad Higgins, a rancher in northern Idaho, admits he has never seen cattle prices this high “in the history of the cattle market.”

Higgins, who also sits on the board of the Idaho Cattle Association, admits concern about theft. Other cattle industry officials agree, noting that record high beef prices are also due to an increased demand for beef in the wake of the Great Recession (2007-2009), as consumers spend an increasing amount of discretionary income on the things they love – and who doesn’t love a good cut of beef?

Finally, note experts, human populations worldwide have continued to increase at the same time that cattle herds have been shrinking.

According to Julie Murphree at the Arizona Farm Bureau, meat prices are expected to ease a bit in late 2015, the easing almost entirely due to ranchers increasing the size of their herds. The real easing will come in 2016 or even later, though, since it takes two years to bring a market-bound steer to maturity.

Murphree suspects that the cattle rustling, while troubling to individual ranchers, is probably not having that great an impact on beef supplies. In addition, while individuals and families can shift their protein-focus to poultry, fish, pork, or even lamb, restaurants are not as flexible. Customers have been driven away by as little as a single favorite item removed from the menu, so restaurateurs will likely find themselves between the rock of raising prices and the hard place of substituting poultry, fish or pork without seeming to downgrade.

In the interim, Murphree notes, pointing to an article in Beef Producer, cattle prices may not have reached their peak for the current cycle, but they will more than likely fall in the spring as chicken, turkey, and pork producers ramp up their production cycle.

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Four Ways to Celebrate the Holidays Affordably

Holiday Gift Swap

Mind your budget and follow these tips for an affordable holiday gift exchange. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

The economy may be improving but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a ton of money to spend celebrating the season. If it seems like your gift list is longer than ever and it feels like you may need a magic lamp to make everyone’s holiday dreams come true, these strategies will help you find an affordable way to get to New Year’s Day.

 

  1. Pick Names

If you have a large family or a big group of friends, picking names can make gift giving more affordable. Instead of buying 10 or 15 small gifts for everyone in your family or circle, each person draws the name of someone else and gets a gift only for them. Instead of spending $100 to get each person a $10 gift, you can save money and spend $50 to get the person you picked a gift they really want. Everyone saves money and gets a better gift.   To ensure this goes as smoothly as possible, set a dollar limit that everyone feels comfortable following.

 

  1. Do a Gift Swap

There are several different ways you can do this and it works well for the workplace and for a large group at a party of gathering. You can do a Secret Santa/Snowman gift swap where each person who wants to participate draws the name of another participant and then gets that person a gift.

You can do a Yankee Swap where each person brings a wrapped gift and then people take turns picking a wrapped gift. The rules for a Yankee Swap are simple. Each person who brings a gift gets to pick a number from the hat. The number they get is the order in which they get to pick which gift they want to open. Once they choose their gift, they can “swap” gifts with anyone who came before them. Once everyone has opened their gifts, the person with number 1 gets to choose from all the gifts. You can choose whether or not people open their gift before or after they swap.

You can also do an Abundance Swap, which is the most affordable option of all. It works the same as a Yankee Swap except no one buys a new gift. Instead, they choose something they already own but no longer want and wrap that up for the swap.

 

  1. DIY

There is something special about handmade gifts and one of the easiest ways to have an affordable holiday season is to make the gifts for those you love yourself. Some easy ideas are jars of jam, paintings, soap, candles, or framed pictures of your favorite scenery.

 

  1. Host a Potluck Party

The cost of gift giving isn’t the only expensive aspect of the holiday season, entertaining can also come with a costly price tag. You can cut back on how much you spend without sacrificing time with those your love by asking everyone to bring something to share. This lets you bring everyone together without breaking the bank. You can select your dish from our delicious recipe options on Fill Your Plate.

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How to Get Through the Holidays Without Gaining Weight

holiday weight gain

Follow these tips to avoid holiday weight gain (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

If there is anything as certain as death and taxes it is that getting through the holidays without gaining weight is always a challenge. Between cookies and parties and stockings full of tasty treats, this month is packed with opportunities to eat a lot of the wrong things. But with some simple tips and tricks, you can get through the holiday season without putting on any extra pounds.

 

  1. Downsize

If you make a bunch of cookies, you can freeze half, keep a few for yourself, and give the rest away. If someone gives you one of those fancy boxes of chocolates, take out to or three pieces you really want and then pass the box around the office to share the holiday spirit.

 

  1. Eat, Don’t Snack

One of the easiest ways to eat more calories than we plan to is to eat a little of this and a little of that while standing around and schmoozing at a party or event. Instead of snacking your way to a wider waistline, grab a plate and a seat. Filling a small plate with food and sitting down to eat it will let you partake in the party fare without running the risk of overeating.

 

  1. Eat Before You Go

Experts agree you should never go grocery shopping when you are hungry and adopting the same rule for holiday parties can help you get through season without gaining weight. Have a light, healthy meal before you head out and you will be less tempted to eat everything on the table. Then you can be very selective about which treats you really want to eat so you won’t feel like you are depriving yourself.

 

  1. Set a Two Drink Max

Another way we put on weight during the holiday season is by overindulging in alcohol. It’s easy to forget how many calories we are drinking them, especially if we are drinking a lot. Limiting the number of drinks will also help you keep from overeating as alcohol lowers inhibitions and makes it more likely that you won’t stick to your plan for eating healthy this season.

 

  1. Shift the Focus

If you generally spend your time hanging around the buffet table, make it a point to shift your focus to something else at the party. Spend your time socializing, dancing, singing, or doing whatever else there is to do at the party besides stand next to the buffet table and eat.

 

  1. Stop Snitching!

Many of us do more baking during the holidays than we do during the rest of the year and snitching a little dough here and a little batter there can add up to a lot of extra calories. Instead of snitching while you are cooking, wait until the treats are done and savor the results of your hard work.

With these tips and tricks, you can easily get through the holiday season without adding any extra weight and without feeling like you are missing out on the tastiest treats of the season.

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Holiday Gift Ideas for the Health Conscious

There is bound to be someone on your list who is a fitness fanatic or who follows a specialty diet or who is working really hard to establish a healthier lifestyle. You can show them how much you care by choosing a gift that is tailor-made for their healthy lifestyle. These gift ideas are sure to be a hit with the health conscious folks on your list.

Cookbook gift give gift of lessons Gift of CSA share Fitness Tracker Kitchen Gadgets juicer Gift Card
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