Author Archive

David v. Goliath?

August 28th, 2010

I recently submitted the following comments as a response to the dialog surrounding this post:

Please feel free to read and weigh in via comments.

I read this article the other day and enjoyed it immensely.  It is fun to come back a few days later and see the discussion that has started in the comments!  This is one of the reasons I love the Internet and social media, it allows us easy access to information and to have discussions with people we might have never met.

Having just watched the trailer, I would be interested in watching the entire documentary and looking into the source information used for the documentary.  Kim you mentioned that:

The other side of the story isn’t presented here in all cases, so why should a documentary, with seemingly nice backing from the German government (HIGHLY anti-GMO), be required to show all sides of the story? That’s the beauty of documentaries, to give a more focused picture into an unexplored subject matter of interest that conventional media outlets cannot.

I think that it is the responsibility of the person creating the documentary to discuss both sides of the issue so the viewer can have an informed reaction to the material presented.  If only one side is presented, I think the intent of the material switches from documentary to propaganda, and can become downright deceptive.

That being said, I want to say my perspective comes from growing up on a family farm in North Dakota.  I have lived overseas where GMO crops aren’t widely used.  One of my current occupations is operating a seed dealership for our family farm here in ND.  We sell seed that comes from both Dow and Monsanto’s genetics.  Our family is also a proud supporter of a local CSA farm.

The “David v. Goliath” theme that is presented here also manifests itself when looking at organic versus GMO.  There is a growing number of people who tend to view organic as good and GMO as bad without fully investigating the issues at stake in making that decision.  People tend to think that GMO or non-organic crops are worse for you because of pesticides.  Organic foods, however, tend to have a high level of toxins due to the defense mechanisms they need to produce to grow.  The point I’m trying to make is that people on both sides of the fence tend to, in my opinion, oversimplify the matter and ignore the complexities and unanswered questions that exist.

I am a fan of GMO crops.  I think that the advances in research brought about by companies like Monsanto are making agriculture a better place and industry.  We are seeing yield potential in crops that would have not been dreamed of before.  Using GMOs allows for less pesticide, and consequently fewer trips across the field which saves on fuel emissions, etc.  The innovations in GMO allow for a stable product to come to market in a shorter time which allows for more innovation and focused research. 

I’m a firm believer that organic/natural production can co-exist with GMO produced crops.  But I think it’s unfair for one side to ostracize the other when we’re really after the same goal:  feeding the world with healthy, sustainable agriculture.  The moment we stop throwing stones at each other and start working together to achieve these goals we will have made progress.  Discussions like this are just the start of that process.


Drive safely during farming season – 5 things you must do.

May 18th, 2010

I read the following article from a fellow ag blogger, Andy Kleinschmidt.  Andy is an extension educator for Ohio State University that writes about various farm and ag issues.

It is common to see tractors and other machinery on both paved and gravel roads during the farming season.  I have memories of driving all shapes and sizes of tractors pulling everything imaginable down the road at a blazing 11 mph.  Those memories also include automobile drivers will a wide range of abilities (or lack thereof) to maneuver around farm equipment.  I can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining a high degree of caution and patience with farm vehicles during the farming season.  With the two or three hills we have in North Dakota, visibility can be an issue.  Please don’t assume that the tractor driver sees you!  Also, the equipment driver’s age might range from 10-90+.  Please exercise caution when approaching or passing.

Without further adieu, here are the driving tips from Mr. Kleinschmidt:

Spring and early summer are extremely busy times of the year for farmers.  Activities are many, and include moving large equipment from farm-to-farm.  Oftentimes moving farm equipment requires travel on roads.  Farm equipment is large, slow moving and does not stop quickly.  As such, it is very important that motorists take caution when approaching farm equipment.  Below are a few tips that should be followed when driving during the busy farming season:

  • Slow down immediately when you first see farm equipment ahead of you on the roadway. Farm equipment usually travels less than 25 miles per hour. It takes less than seven seconds for a car traveling at 55 mph to crash into the back of a tractor 400 feet away.
  • Be patient and wait for a safe opportunity to pass farm equipment. The tractor or combine operator will probably be aware of your presence and will pull over when possible as traffic begins to back-up.
  • Drive defensively when approaching on-coming farm equipment. Impatient motorists may pull out suddenly to pass the farm equipment and enter your lane.
  • Be on the alert when you see amber flashing lights ahead in either lane.
  • Be prepared to stop at railroad crossings when following a vehicle towing an anhydrous ammonia tank. Anhydrous ammonia tanks look like the large propane gas tanks used by rural homeowners.

farm safety

Exactly what is a “family farm?”

March 20th, 2010

From my limited perspective, it appears that farming is going through a perception crisis.  What I mean when I say “perception crisis” is that the perception others have of farming, agriculture, and family farming is misunderstood and oftentimes inaccurate.  The urbanization brought on by  the Industrial Revolution resulted in a growing number of people moving away from the farm into cities.  Consequently, mankind created a divide in the connection between the population and the source of its food.  This divide has continued to grow exponentially. 

Recently there has been an increased desire among people to close this gap and understand where food comes from.  

Having grown up on a family farm, I always assumed that everyone knew.  For as long as I can remember, I have walked through fields of wheat and barley.  I have watched the predominant crops in our area shift from flax, sunflowers, wheat and barley to a greater number of corn and soybean acres.

Farming at it’s core is a simple process – put a seed in the ground, let it grow and harvest.  The complexities that surround these steps – crop marketing, global fertilizer supply, soil formulation…the list goes on.  On top of that, everything can be planned perfectly but one bad day (or hour) of weather can ruin an entire season.  I remember watching a hail storm destroy nearly our entire crop in one hour of “weather”.

This blog is my attempt to put a face to family farming.  I’m hoping to draw as many people to the conversation via articles and comments.  Let’s have a meaningful discussion on agriculture, and educate others on what farming is really about.

Please feel free to post a comment sharing your thoughts on the question: What is a family farm?


Schott Testifies before House Ag Committee

March 16th, 2010

Bart Schott, First VP for National Corn Grower’s Association, recently testified before the U.S. House of Representative’s Agriculture Committee regarding H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act.

The main article can be viewed here:

A written copy of Bart’s oral testimony can be read here:

Bart was also interviewed for a national radio story on 3/12.  We are fortunate to have a copy of that interview to share with you!

Bart Schott 03-12-10 Interview

NCGA , , ,

Welcome to Schott Farms!

March 16th, 2010

I am very excited to announce this blog, and let you know about some of the ideas that I have been kicking around in my head for this site.  Those of you that know me well know that I am passionate about building community.  It is my hope that this blog is a site does exactly that.  I’m hoping that this blog is a resource for people in the ag community to share, learn from each other, and is the starting point for discussions on ag-related issues.

Aside from building community and sharing ideas, this blog will be host to another purpose – raising awareness about ag-related issues, and putting a human face to the farm.  Those of us who grew up on family farms may not be aware of this, but not everyone fully understands what goes on around a farm, especially considering the care and stewardship that farmers so diligently strive to maintain when maintaining the land.  It’s my hope that this blog is a site that will generate discussions to that end as well, and allow farmers and ag professionals a place to tell their story.

Comments are welcome and appreciated.