I sat down today to write regarding the issue of my letter to the editor and blogpost being “slimed” last week in the Chico News and Review GreenHouse Section by the author Ms. LaPado. In case you missed it.. It all started with this blogpost: http://chicolockersausage.com/2012/03/30/what-our-local-newspaper-has-to-say-about-lftb-pink-slime/
And then two weeks later, here is what resulted: http://www.newsreview.com/chico/slimetroversy-continues/content?oid=5699952
Upon reading this response to my blogpost and letter, it still leads me to seriously question some of the information brought up in the column and I am disheartened to read that misinformation is still being provided and that none of my science, based sources were used or cited. Rather a column from the Independent Green News Source, Grist, was used as a main source. But what is done is done and there’s no use to beat a dead horse. Readers of your column as well as my blog have made up their mind about Lean Finely Textured Beef and I think it’s best we lay that issue to rest.
Ms. LaPado, I am sorry if you took my response to be hostile or attacking you, all I was asking you and your paper to do is report accurate, science based facts regarding the issue. I’d like to take this time to thank you for forwarding readers to my blog as well as our business. I’d also like to thank you for being a continued customer of Chico Locker & Sausage Co. Inc., it is customers like you that help feed our family and keep us in business.
But this whole issue over LFTB brings me to an even larger issue that, though this interaction with The CN&R, has become very apparent to me. That larger issue is our local newspaper’s lack of representation and support for all facets of agriculture. After all, we live in one of the most diverse counties for agriculture in California. Take a drive around, open your eyes. Agriculture is all around us.
According to our most recent annual crop report, Butte County’s gross value of agricultural production totaled over $622,000,000 which is a 42 million dollar increase in just one year from 2009. This cannot even compare to 1939 when the first crop report was compiled and the estimated gross value of production was $9,451,293. Since 1939 when rice reigned supreme, twenty other crops have made it into the list of Butte County’s Million Dollar Crops.
The founder of our town would have been so proud of how far we have come in his passion of Agriculture in the county in which he helped form and found. He has been hailed as one of the founding fathers of modern California agriculture. In fact, it’s thanks to John Bidwell that we even produce many of the crops found in our area. Both a rancher and a farmer himself, he believed “that California’s future lay with farming”.
On an even larger scale, California has been the number one food and agricultural producer in the United States for over 50 consecutive years. More than HALF of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables come from California. Products that are EXCLUSIVELY grown in California (99% or more) include almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, kiwifruit, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, raisins, clovers, and walnuts. It is because of our state that the rest of the country gets to enjoy all of these foods. And not only the rest of the country, but also the world. So not only are we sustaining our own counties, our country, we are also providing for other parts of the world.
Did you know that only 9,000 farms concentrated in six states produce rice for our entire country? 9,000 farms harvest 3 million acres of rice. California ranks number two in total production of rice supplying 18% of the total production. And guess who are the top producing countries of rice in California? Our county, along with all of its neighbors, help make up that 18%. Ranking from highest to lowest: Colusa, Sutter, Butte, Glenn, and Yuba.
What does all of this tell you? Well, it tells us how important agriculture is to our economy and our county. Can you imagine trying to sustain Butte County without agriculture? ALL agriculture, not just specialized markets such as organic. Not only are we sustaining our own county as well as feeding our own county, but we are also helping provide for the greater good through exporting our products. Currently, twelve of the numerous commodities produced in Butte County are exported to OVER 50 different countries. Many countries included in the list of Butte County exports are countries that are in financial as well as economical hurt. Countries where people are currently starving and we are exporting goods produced in our own county to help these people!
So CN&R, agriculture is what makes it possible for us to live around here. It is the blood of our economy, it sustains us. It gives much of our community means to provide for their families, it puts food on your table as well as mine. It provides for those local sources you endorse and hail. Instead of featuring only one facet of this widespread community, why not share with the rest of us the beauty that is agriculture in California regardless of what your biased feelings on the issue may be? Isn’t that what journalism is supposed to be doing?
Since I am not a trained journalist in any form, I looked up some goals or rather ethics and standards of journalism. While various “codes” of journalism contain some differences, most all of them contain shared elements: truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability.
As one of two main newspapers in our area, this is what the public expects you to do. To withhold the ethics of journalism and provide us with a truthful, accurate, objective, impartial, and fair view of the news around here.
Not sure who to consult? If I may offer a few suggestions to get your brainstorming going…
Offer a new column. A column supporting the beauty that is agriculture in the area. Feature farmers, ranchers, etc. Interview them. Share their story. Help open the barn doors as Dr. Temple Grandin calls it. Give consumers the transparency they are asking for. You will come to find out that many stories of our local farmers are indeed very beautiful in the fact that they are continuing on a legacy of a business started by their grandfathers, great grandfathers. Some farms around here are entering into their fourth and fifth generation.
The website KnowACaliforniaFarmer.com is a great example of a campaign to help farmers tell their story. It provides people with a source to read blogs, watch movies, get to know Farmers all across California. It shows consumers that in fact, farmers are willing to tell their story and share what it is that they do with the public. Many just don’t know how. They don’t have the tools needed to open that transparency.
Don’t want to hire a new writer on staff? Hire an intern from the College of Agriculture. With the economy getting tight and businesses downsizing, internships are hard to come by for students. This would be a perfect fit for a student. Going out into the field, the farm, and interviewing the farmers in our area.
Not sure who to consult..? Use your local resources. The California Farm Bureau is a great first start and home to many members of ranchers, farmers, and supporters of agriculture in our area. We are even lucky enough to have our own chapter here in Butte County! California Women for Ag, California Beef Council, Chico State’s Department of Agriculture and the College Farm, California Cattlemens Association, Butte County Rice Growers Association, and the list goes on.
It is really my hope here, Chico News & Review, that you will really take my words and suggestions into consideration. And please do not be afraid to contact me directly regarding information I’ve presented here or in my previous blogposts. I’d much rather deal with you on a personal basis than get “slimed” in your column. I would love to be a helpful resource for information regarding how you perceive my industry rather than wage a battle regarding the issue.
With the weather being so nice this weekend, get out of the house, take a drive, enjoy the sunshine, attending the California Nut Festival, celebrate agriculture in all forms. Be thankful for the farmers and ranchers in this area that are helping to provide for you and me. I invite you to join the rest of us in helping share their story.
For more information regarding sources used to find facts and figures presented here, please check out these links: