Ruminations from behind #ThePile

If you’ll recall, last year I began affectionately referring to my stack of work related to graduate school as #ThePile. It is a never-ending list of things to do, papers to digest, and imitating statistics to encounter. I don’t have the time I would like to share my thoughts on everything, but I have been ruminating on a few concepts that are worth sharing. They’re not enough for full blog posts, but I figured they’d make a list. Here’s what I’m ruminating on from behind #ThePile this week…

  1. A lack of perspective for the bigger picture is hampering our ability to truly make progress. Sure, when we are in our environment, we may know quite a bit about our current situation, but don’t take that as a sign that you’re an expert outstanding in the field. Survey the landscape outside your bubble and realize that every situation is different. A lack of perspective is so very evident in so many people I interact with, myself included. The more you are open to the opinions of others and take time to experience new things, the more you will realize and learn about your own foundation.
  2. “Your constant barrage of statistics and articles have completely changed my mind on the subject.” Pretty sure I’ll never actually say that in response to the flood of links and numbers that sometimes fill my inbox, Twitter mentions, and Facebook messenger from anti-GMO folks. I imagine the same would pertain to folks on the receiving end of a constant stream of statistics and articles about how farmers are the best people in the world and improving our production ___% each year.
    Those numbers and pieces of information are great. I don’t want to discount the value of hard data, but the flood of sound bites does nothing if you’re not practicing what you preach. Share the story of HOW conservation practices are improving your farm along with WHY you do employ them. Share what the improvements LOOK like when you are applying new technologies on the farm. Share how it impacts YOU when you utilize these resources. Then, use those pieces of hard information as a part of your message, not the entire tale. Then when you are involved in conversations on the topics, refer back to number 1 on this list of thoughts.
  3. Many folks would rather blame the unknown or foreign than be accountable for their actions.
  4. And on a brighter note, I love the Kansas Flint Hills. Spending 2 days there last week was the best and worst thing I’ve done in a while. Best because it was great to clear my mind and get away for a few days. Worst because… well… How can I stay away from scenes like these?
Kansas Flint hills Horseback There's something about the outside of a horse that is good  for the inside of a man
There’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.

Kansas Flint hills

Kansas Pork K-State Beef
My desk has some new Beef and Pork swag thanks to Kansas Pork Association and the Kansas State Beef Stocker Cattle farm.

A big thanks to Kelly Rivard for inviting me out to Kansas City for a few days and to Brandon and Jodi Oleen for hosting us and showing me around Manhattan, Kansas.

Kansas State University
And yeah… While I was on campus, I had to give a shout out to my Oklahoma State Cowboys. Go Pokes!


  1. I agree, Ryan. I get so much negative ‘stuff’ here from people who think theirs is the only way to do things and those who espouse negativity for everything ag does – i.e. organic, non-organic, without GMOs, free-range, sow crates, etc. – and the worst part is I can’t, or don’t always know how, to respond because 1. I don’t have proper or enough info (backed up by the science); 2. I don’t have the time: and worst of all, 3. I know that no matter what I say, it won’t change their thinking because their mind is made up. That isn’t to say I don’t try. My biggest frustration is the producers who insist theirs is the only way. We need to support each other and tell folks there are valid reasons for our diversity and the many ways we do things. And often we are so busy we don’t take the time. As I often say, being an ag reporter, I am usually preaching to the choir, but I still try to answer questions from those who don’t belong to the choir. There is such a deep divide between ag and the consumer I don’t know what the answer is. And living where I do on the east coast, trying to bridge the gap between the great, innovative farmers we have here and a large non-rural population, I get very frustrated. Just keep plugging away I guess and maybe our messages will get thru.
    Keep doing what you do. It’s important and vital work.

    1. I am in the same boat. I have learned that the antiGMO follks I talk to will generally use the same talking point myths over and over, so I created a list of responses to the myths. Here is a good brief list from NPR:

      When they quiz you on the source you can quote a source they might trust. In this case it’s NPR. They will growl, but a good response back is “so you are saying NPR is wrong?” This backs many of them into a corner fast since many antiGMO urban people trust NPR.

      If that doesn’t work, there is also a good GMO resource here from scientists:
      It has a list of 600 research studies on GMOs. You can say 126 are independent research studies when they say the inevitable “but they are all funded by Monsanto”

      A response can then be “so you think all these scientists with PhD’s are wrong about science? how?” They might throw up their arms at this point and change the topic.

      Later, they are much more humble. I have seen it happen.

  2. It was a BLAST and an HONOR to have you visit, Ryan. Come back any time. I wish I could have given my extra stirrup length to you, then we both would have been better off! 😉

    This blog post is fantastic, bee-tee-dub. But, all of yours are, so it’s no surprise.

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