Albany County brings producers, urbanites together to look at agriculture issues
Laramie – On Feb. 21, Albany County Farm Bureau and Albany County CattleWomen hosted their Seventh Annual Today’s Ag dinner.
The event is supported by the Albany County Stock Growers, Albany County ranchers, the University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and other local supporters of agriculture, who purchase tickets annually.
“This event has definitely increased our ability and opportunity to share our stories and help put a face on farming and ranching,” said Albany County Farm Bureau’s Sharleen Castle. “We have also been able to use this forum to help develop our young people as leaders and true advocates.”
At this years dinner, attendees enjoyed a steak dinner, provided by The Butcher Block and the Iron Skillet, while listening to a panel discussion focused on food labeling and what to look for when picking out meat in the grocery store.
Behind the label
With the help of Albany County supporters, the program invited special guest Warrie Means, associate professor of meat science and food technology at the University of Wyoming. Means offered a slide show presentation focusing on what’s “behind the label” of the food people are eating.
During his presentation Means told the audience, “People don’t want chemicals in their food, but what they don’t understand is that food is a chemical – an edible chemical.”
Means’ message was to help show the audience that peoples understanding of agriculture is not always true.
During his presentation, he explained, “People are scared of food because of what they don’t know about food.”
Kitchen table discussion
Stacy Berger, Today’s Ag committee member, set up a panel modeled around a casual talk at the kitchen table.
“The kitchen table discussion was something that I thought would be an effective way to get our points across,” said Berger.
Speakers at the kitchen table supporting agriculture included Warrie Means, Rancher and Certified Pesticide Applicator Cole Coxbill, Veterinarian Dave Evertson and University of Wyoming Extension Beef Specialist Steven Paisley.
Berger asked the panel a number of questions that centered around pesticide use on crops, antibiotic and hormone use in animals and the public’s perception of animal handling.
When bringing up the subject of hormone use on cattle, Paisley helped the audience understand the challenges association with the issue, by saying, “If we removed the use of hormones from the beef industry, it would impact the industry, drastically.”
A topic that continues to challenge the agricultural industry is the misconception of animal handling, according to panelists. People think that ranchers and farmers do not handle their animals in a humane way.
Evertson explained that many people in the public are concerned about animal handling, as well.
“Every animal needs to be treated humanely. I agree,” Evertson told the audience, “but people do not see that we are selling our products. We also want the animals to be treated well and to look good.”
Culture of agriculture
“Attending the Today’s Ag dinner and listening to the panel speakers was interesting and a good experience,” Wyatt Hageman, an ag business student at the University of Wyoming, said.
Hageman, who attended the event, added, “Having been raised on a ranch, it was nice to hear positive facts and opinions about my agricultural livelihood.”
The event showed great success with the crowd it brought and the support that was shown for the Albany County Today’s Ag Program, Castle described.
“I loved the event,” said Castle. “We strive to get as many people there as possible to hear the message, and I thought it was a nice-sized crowd.”
Sarah Herold is a student at the University of Wyoming in the agricultural communications program. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.