Thursday, February 6, 2020

"Change Through Biotechnology" by State Vice President Trevor Touchet

February Blog

What is biotechnology? Biotechnology—an area of agricultural science involving the use of scientific tools and techniques, including genetic engineering, molecular markers, molecular diagnostics, vaccines, and tissue culture, to modify living organisms: plants, animals, and microorganisms. It’s obvious that without biotechnology, agriculture wouldn’t be what it is today. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to a time before biotechnology. We have grown a lot since the beginning of farming. For example, we have developed GMOs, various vaccines for animals, and pest resistant crops to aid in producing enough food to feed our growing world. With the world’s population expecting to reach 9.7 billion by the year 2050, biotechnology plays a huge role in accomplishing this goal by helping to increase crop yield.

Biotechnology is vital to agriculture. It allows farmers to grow more food on less land while using farming practices that are more environmentally sustainable. With the use of biotechnology, farmers yield more per acre, plants resist specific insects and pests, and farming techniques can be used to improve soil conservation. Farmers and ranchers can help plants and animals fight diseases and adapt to environmental stress and climate change. We can enhance the nutritional content of foods and improve human health through plant and animal produced therapies. There are so many more benefits of biotechnology and it will play a huge role in farming for years to come.

Biotechnology provides farmers with tools that can make production cheaper and more manageable. For example, some biotechnology crops can be engineered to tolerate specific herbicides, which makes weed control simpler and more efficient. Other crops have been engineered to be resistant to specific plant diseases and pests, which can make pest control more reliable and effective which could also help decrease the use of synthetic pesticides. In addition to genetically engineered crops, biotechnology has helped make other improvements in agriculture not involving plants. Examples of such advances include improvements in antibiotic production  and producing new animal vaccines, such as foot & mouth disease and rabies. As you can see biotechnology not only plays a major role in the future of our crops, but it also has huge importance in strengthening our animals as well.

All in all, biotechnology is of grave importance for the future of our nation and the world. Without it, feeding the world in the future might not be possible, but biotechnology can only do so much.  World population is expected to double within the next few decades, meaning that food and crop production must be able to meet the rising demand. With new advancements everyday, biotechnology has already done so much to change how we currently feed the world. Imagine what it will be in 20 years! However, these advancements would not be possible without aspiring agriculturalists like yourself.  So, I challenge YOU all to be those that we need to make the change you want to see in the world!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

"What Makes Me Who I Am" by State Sentinel Lindsey Detraz

January Blog

It is the most underestimated time of the year again, calving season. When passing a cattle pasture most may think “look at all the cute little babies” or “that poor cow must be taking a nap”. For cattle farmers and livestock showers this is a much different ball game. Those calves are a brand new bag of ear tags, and that momma cow taking a nap turns into a dreaded 2am distress call. It may sound like a hassle, but for us, the party is just getting started. The next few months consist of pasture checks, vaccinating, weaning, culling, and--my favorite part--shopping for the next grand champion show project. 

We always hear the basic things that livestock projects give to youth showmen; like responsibility, work ethic, showmanship, etc. Although these are all amazingly true, we never talk about the aspects that make a showman. Growing up surrounded by cattle, it seemed like every weekend we were working them, fixing fence, or moving them to more level ground for a storm coming. Those weekends soon turned into every day and night spent in the barn working with my animals prepping for the upcoming show. To my classmates this was a silly, stinky hobby, but to me it was not only a lifestyle but my future.  

After 7 years of showing, my parish’s cattlewomen’s president Ms. Tweety Trahan approached me with what seemed like the most ridiculous question. She asked me to be Vermilion Parish’s Cattlemen’s Queen. My head spun for weeks thinking about how could a little country bumpkin like me be a beauty queen. After a lot of thinking, I finally gave in to her request and every day I am beyond grateful I did. At first, it was completely terrifying going through interviews, talking in front of people, and being the face of our parish’s cattle industry. I soon realized having this crown on my head may have made me look different, but even without it on I was the same person. I soon became a role model for the kids at the show barn, and the one they came to for advice inside and outside the show ring. It was not long that I realized what my cows have given me, it was not a crown or local fame, they gave me so much more than I ever could recognize. 

Even though my reign of being Vermilion Cattlemen’s Queen had ended, I knew I was not finished advocating for the industry that has changed my life and many others. Of course, FFA was a big part of my life through all of this, but I now recognized this as a chance to bring recognition to the cattle industry and those alike that go unnoticed. As a result, I made it a point to compete in the public speaking LDEs, not to win, but to learn more about and acknowledge these industries and what they have done for people like me. I never thought that crown and that blue jacket would have taken me so far. Check out how this little country cow-loving bumpkin has achieved the impossible feat of talking in front of thousands of members and making a difference, and now you are reading her blog! So the next time you see that momma cow “taking a nap” in your buddy’s pasture, make sure to give them a call, that could be the start to their future.