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Wyoming Farm Bureau

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cody – “The Trans-Pacific trade agreement (TPP) is a big trade agreement that’s been negotiated between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries,” stated American Farm Bureau (AFBF) Federation Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson.

Anderson was a speaker at the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) annual meeting in Cody on Nov. 13.

“This will be one of the biggest free trade agreements that’s ever been put together, and I think as we talk about this thing over the next few months, it’s going to be a fairly controversial topic,” he noted.

AFBF has not yet taken an official stance for or against TPP, but analysts are reviewing the agreement and an official position will be announced after the board meets in December.

“Agreements like this have a lot of moving parts, and we want to see what the effects are for all of our membership and all of their country before we take a formal position,” he explained.

International agreements

Historically, AFBF has typically supported similar agreements, and the United States already has a number of trade agreements with countries involved in the TPP.

“With Mexico, for instance, U.S. exports are already duty-free under NAFTA. In Chile, U.S. exports are already duty-free under existing trade agreements, and in Australia, U.S. exports are duty-free under existing trade agreements,” said Anderson.

Japan’s involvement in TPP may be one of the biggest game-changers for the United States, he added.

“It is encouraging that Japan, which is a huge market for beef, pork and poultry, will have tariffs start to come down that have been in place for a long time and are pretty substantial,” he remarked.

Timeline

Impacts from the agreement will not be realized right away though, as Congress still needs to approve the deal, and some elements of the agreement have a 20-year phase-out period.

“Several things have to be done,” Anderson noted. “The International Trade Commission is doing the formal evaluation of the deal right now. They’ll send that to Congress, and it won’t be done until May.”

Once the agreement goes into effect, he added, “A lot happens in the first five years, but everything is not fully done, in some cases, for 20 years.”

Wyoming

Concerning Wyoming, TPP negotiations with Japan could open doors for beef and veal, the state’s top exported products.

“For beef and veal going into Japan, we actually do see some improvement in access under TPP,” Anderson mentioned.

Different product lines, such as short ribs, flank steaks, loins and brisket, will be addressed separately throughout the agreement. They can all be treated differently in terms of pair schedules, quotas and other factors.

“Some of the individual product lines have as high as a 50 percent tariff,” he noted of beef and veal products going into Japan.

He added, “Pork is probably an even bigger deal. Duties will be eliminated on nearly 80 percent of the lines, and there are a lot of individual product lines on pork.”

U.S. free trade

Anderson also explained that the U.S. has historically been fairly aggressive in pursuing free trade agreements.

“Our barriers tend to be far lower than about anybody else’s. We do have tariffs on beef for instance, but they are very low. We have some quotas on dairy products, but they are fairly generous,” he said. “Typically in these deals, we’re bringing other people closer to our position.”

Natasha Wheeler is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cody – Each year, the Wyoming Farm Bureau (WyFB) Young Farmer and Rancher Committee gathers for their annual meeting to discuss the opportunities for involvement offered to young people and WyFB members. 

“Our focus this year is the power of grassroots,” said WyFB Young Farmer and Rancher Committee President Raenell Taylor. “Farm Bureau is just that – a true grassroots organization that starts at the ground and works its way up.”

Importance of grassroots

Advocating for agriculture from the grassroots level is growing in importance, commented Taylor.

“As the average age of the American farmer continues to rise, it is up to us – the young farmers and ranchers – to bridge that generational gap,” she explained. “We are so lucky to have available a great grassroots organization like Farm Bureau.”

With grassroots organizations like Farm Bureau available to Wyoming agriculturists, Taylor noted that we can promote our industry.

Marty Tatman, American Farm Bureau’s directory of program development, joined the conference, adding, “It is great to talk about the power of grassroots and how young farmers and ranchers play a role.”

Principles of Farm Bureau

To discover the power of grassroots organizations, Tatman, a Wyoming-native, noted that the organization was founded on several principles that support agriculture.

“Farm Bureau is based on, for and around farmers and agriculture,” he noted. “The other neat aspect to Farm Bureau is that we have two types of membership – for farmers and non-farmer members.”

The organizations that support agriculture are integral in Farm Bureau’s grassroots ability.

“We have right over 6 million family memberships at our last count, and it is a voluntary organization,” Tatman explained. “While we have professional lobbyists, we are not a lobbying organization.”

The organization is also non-partisan and general, representing groups and producers of more than 300 commodities.

“We have found the value and importance of having a variety of program pieces,” Tatman added. “Whether we are talking about health and safety or our Young Farmer and Rancher Program, we have lots of opportunities for our members.”

Working together

“We have a much bigger and more valuable voice by working with our community leaders to get things passed,” said Tatman. “We also feel that it is important to be a family organization, because no farm can be successful without the support of the family.”

The next important piece of Farm Bureau is its decentralized structure, said Tatman.

“I like to rally around the decentralized structure and grassroots portion of our organization,” he comments. “Everything comes from the bottom up.”

Working from the ground up

Every Farm Bureau member has the ability to directly impact American Farm Bureau policies, said Tatman, adding that everything from the national organization comes from individuals throughout the country.

“Each county Farm Bureau belongs to the state organization, which belongs to the American Farm Bureau organization, and that is where we see the value of grassroots,” he noted. “It all starts from the individual members, the counties and the states.”

“That is the value and what makes us unique,” Tatman continued. “That is where we have the most power and bang for our buck – in our decentralized structure.”

To amend the policy or add policy, Tatman said, “It starts with the conversations our members have at their county level, who rally support and feed it to the state level.”

After passing at the state level, Tatman added that policy continues to American Farm Bureau, where members vote on those policies that they agree on.

“No matter what we do, no matter what we push for, it is because of our members,” he commented. “It is important that we take advantage of being part of organizations and being heard. We must make sure our voice is heard.”

Legislative opinion

Senator John Barrasso also visted with WyFB Young Farmer and Rancher members during the event, commenting, “As Mike Enzi says, we get our best ideas at home in Wyoming. I think we are much better as a state delegation if we are walking around listening to folks at home.”

To get involved in the political realm, Barrasso encouraged young people to contact his staff, or the staff of Senator Mike Enzi or Representative Cynthia Lummis, about the important issues.

“We want to stay involved and stay active,” Barrasso continued. “If we look at this country, 100 years ago, one-third of all workers were agriculture related. Today, that number is at about two percent. We are more productive today.”

In today’s current political climate with huge debt and land concerns and rights, Barrasso noted that multiple solutions exist to issues as long as we continue to work together. 

“We don’t do this because it’s easy,” Taylor commented. “We do it because we love it. I encourage each of you to take what we learn and share it with our friends, neighbors and local leaders to have a big impact.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thermopolis – In the world today, most people have a smart phone and can look up anything, but people still don’t know where their food comes from, said Gary Sides.

At the 2018 “Spring Outward and Upward” Wyoming Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference on Jan. 19, Zoetis Managing Nutritionist Gary Sides, discussed a few challenges the agriculture industry faces in the modern world and gave producers some information to use when defending the cattle industry.

“Looking at the kids who are three or five generations removed from the farm or ranch, they have no clue where their food comes from,” stated Sides. “As an industry, agriculturalists have done a horrible job explaining to our consuming public what we do for a living.”

Culture and agriculture

Sides mentioned when it comes to modern civilization, there are medical systems, planes, cars and all types of technology that wouldn’t function without the one percent of the population who feeds everyone else.

“Producers have freed people like Bill Gates from farming and ranching, allowing them to explore their talents for everyone’s benefit,” added Sides. “There is no culture without agriculture.”

He explained, in third-world countries where modern technology isn’t available, people lead harder lives.

“Women are beasts of burden in third-world countries,” Sides said. “Modern agriculture frees wives, daughters and mothers so they don’t have to work so hard.”

Sides pointed out, in Peru, people live in grass huts, farm steep fields by hand, share pastures and face much harsher conditions, all without modern agriculture.

“On the west coast of Peru, it is extremely dry and rarely rains, and people still have to haul water by hand,” he noted. “The women have to wear hats everyday because the sun is so hot, and mechanized machinery is rarely seen.”

Foods and diet

When it comes to food, Sides said for the past 60 years people have been told to eat a low fat, high carbohydrate diet, which implies reducing or removing meat.

“In the last 60 years, Americans eat more grains, fruits and vegetables while eating less meat, eggs and milk,” Sides said. “We have been encouraged to eat more carbs and fewer animal products.”

“Ancel Keys was a physiologist at the University of Minnesota who surveyed seven countries on what they ate and their death rates after World War II,” Sides explained. “His results showed countries that ate high levels of saturated fat from animal meat had higher rates of heart disease.”

Sides mentioned Keys convinced past-Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) to recommend a low fat, high carbohydrate diet, which led to new dietary guidelines every five years, which haven’t changed for 30 years.

“The problem with Keys’ results is he actually surveyed 16 countries but only included the seven that fit his bias, so the science behind the recommendation is biased,” he stated.

Sides continued, today, as the result of the low fat, high carb recommendations, obesity has increased from 15 percent to 30 percent, and two-thirds of adults are overweight. Type II diabetes has increased from less than one percent of the population to 14 percent, and heart disease is still high, as well.

“This is an epidemic by anyone’s standard, yet a low fat, high carb diet is still recommended, even in schools,” Sides said.

Meat benefits

Beef is a great source for iron and animals products are a major source for B vitamins, according to Sides, who added, “Meat is an incredibly nutrient-dense product, but fat has been difficult to defend.”

He explained fatty acids are required in the diet, and if children don’t get enough fat in their diets, the brain and nervous system doesn’t develop very well.

“When it comes to fat, people think they can live without it, but the fat in beef is actually heart healthy,” noted Sides.

According to a Harvard study, there is not an association between saturated fats and heart disease, and Sides said the link to heart disease is through refined carbs like white flour, sugar, rice and potatoes.

“A diet high in protein and fats with low carbohydrates gives the best blood profiles for cholesterol and heart disease,” he stated. “Sugar and refined carbohydrates are the enemy, not meat.”

Defense

Overall, Sides provided information people can use to defend the beef industry, but the best way he has found to defend beef is through God.

“Currently, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is telling people the Bible says not to eat meat, which isn’t true,” Sides stated. “In Genesis, Abraham was visited by God and two angels, to whom he fed a choice calf, curds and milk.”

He mentioned God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins when he kicked them out of the garden.

“God killed animals, took their skins and clothed Adam and Eve. So when HSUS says the Bible doesn’t condone eating meat, the opposite is true,” Sides stated.

Also, when people are trying to defend the agriculture industry they need the facts and an emotional hook to help people understand, according to Sides.

“My challenge is for people to go out and do something other than just farming and ranching because that’s what it will take to keep our industry alive for future generations,” Sides concluded.

Heather Loraas is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sheridan – The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) 99th annual meeting was capped by recognition of a set of outstanding members and leaders who were recognized for their service and dedication to the organization. 

The annual meeting, held Nov. 7-9 in Sheridan, brought together WyFB members from across the state to learn about the latest issues facing the agriculture industry and allowed members to revisit their policy book, renew expiring policies and pass new policies. 

In recognizing their membership, WyFB first recognized Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton with the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award during the awards ceremony, which was held Nov. 8. The award is given to those who have gone above and beyond in their service to agriculture. 

“We are proud to recognize Ken for his dedication to agriculture and Farm Bureau in Wyoming,” said Todd Fornstrom, WyFB president.  “Ken is a dedicated leader who is passionate about ensuring agriculture’s voice is heard through Farm Bureau.”

Hamilton joined the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation staff 35 years ago as field staff and research assistant. He then served as the director of field services and later became the administrative assistant.  

In 2004, he was named the executive vice president of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation.

Growing up on a ranch and talking with family about politics and their impact on agriculture has led Hamilton to a lifetime of WyFB leadership for Wyoming farmers and ranchers. Advocating for and leading discussions on agriculture policy issues is how Hamilton makes a difference for Wyoming farmers and ranchers. He believes strongly in Farm Bureau’s policy development process because it allows for input from a diverse group of agriculture folks. 

“Farm Bureau is a really good organization. I may be a bit biased since I’ve been working for the organization for 35 years,” Hamilton said.  “The whole process we go through to develop policies to represent our members is a very good process in my opinion.”

“Being a general agriculture organization is important, as well, because there will be times when policies would be beneficial to one segment of agriculture yet hurt another segment, and our process seeks to address those concerns,” he continued. “And, the process itself helps develop leadership that can be useful and translated across to other organizations.” 

Ken and his wife Kathy just celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary. Kathy is a Certified Public Accountant.  They have one son, Ian.

Hamilton stated he was surprised to hear his name called.  

“I’ve never felt I was in the same league as a lot of the folks we have recognized with this award,” he concluded.  “I cannot deny that I was really pleased when I received this award. To have this recognition is something that is pretty special.”

“The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is proud to honor Ken Hamilton with the Distinguished Service Award,” Fornstrom concluded.  “Making a difference for Wyoming farmers and ranchers by representing Farm Bureau members on agriculture policy issues is what Ken is all about.  We thank him for his distinguished leadership and service to agriculture and Wyoming.”

Numerous other awards were presented to WyFB members, including the Leadership Award, which was presented to Tim and Dawn Pexton. 

United States Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Congresswoman Liz Cheney (all R-Wyo.) were each named a “Friend of Farm Bureau” for the 115th Congress for their support of America’s farmers and ranchers and food security for consumers. This award, presented by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), is given to members of Congress who have supported Farm Bureau’s position on policy issues as demonstrated by their voting records. Sen. Enzi, Sen. Barrasso and Rep. Cheney were nominated by the Wyoming Farm Bureau and approved by the AFBF Board of Directors. 

The Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general agriculture organization. Members work together from the grassroots to develop agricultural policy, programs and services to enhance the rural lifestyle of Wyoming.

Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, compiled this article from press releases written by Kerin Clark of WyFB. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..