Advertisements

Posts Tagged With: social studies

Politics and Farming

In the fall many states hold election primaries to decide who will be running for elected office in the BIG election this November.  Primaries are where all the candidates are listed on the ballot and the people choose one from each party.  The November election is where those parties run against each other.

In Missouri we held our primary elections in the beginning of August.  Just after that Farm Bureau met for FARM-PAC, or Political Action Committees.  Farm Bureau looks at the candidates from each party to choose who to support, or endorse.  We spent all day last Friday in Jefferson City listening to the candidates and making our choices we think will be best for the farmers of Missouri.

Do you know who is running for office in your state?  A simple internet search will help you figure out who is running for office in your district.  Now search again.  What do those candidates stand for?  What will they fight for?  Who do you agree with?

Advertisements
Categories: Science | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Law of Supply and Demand Lesson Plan

harvesting wheat

Despite the wind and rain that kept us out of the wheat field in June, we have finished harvesting our crop!

harvesting wheat

But what happens after the combine cuts the wheat?  Great question  😉

The picture above show the combine unloading onto the cart.  We use the tractor and cart because of those huge wheels you see.  A semi drives on roads, but wheels on the tractor and cart can drive through fields  much better.  After the cart is full the tractor pulls it out to the road and unloads on the semi.  Then the semi drives back to the grain bins and unloads the grain into the bins.

And then what?

So glad you ask!  Then we sell the grain.  Have you ever clipped coupons or watched for sales on your favorite foods?  Have you ever purchased lots of something because it was a good price?  Well, grain prices change almost EVERY day and farmers are always watching for a good price!  Is it too cold in the states where wheat is growing?  Prices might go up because buyers believe the wheat will not grow well.  There will be less wheat and they want to be sure to get some!  If they really, REALLY want that wheat they will pay more to make sure they have it.

Is it sunny, warm, and just perfect in the states where wheat is growing?  Prices might go down.  People believe there will be lots of wheat.  Everyone will have wheat to sell and you can get wheat whenever you want it.  There is no need to pay a lot.

We call this the Law of Supply and Demand.  The amount of wheat we have is our “supply” of wheat.  “Demand” means how many people want it.  Lots of supply can mean low prices and not enough demand can do the same thing.  High prices come when there is a low supply and lots of demand.  American farmers help feed the world, so right now demand is pretty high.  Wheat prices often depend on weather– how well did wheat grow?  What is the supply?

When we can, farmers like to sell grain at high prices.  But we can’t always do this.  Sometimes prices stay low for long periods of time and farmers need money.  They have to sell their wheat for whatever price they can to pay for seeds for next year, diesel for the tractor, or to buy groceries for their families!

Sometimes farmers make choices to sell, thinking prices are good, but then prices go up the next day, week, or month.  It can be very difficult to predict the future!

Try this activity to see what its like to buy and sell grain like a farmer!  This website has a simple table so you can see what corn is selling for at three hog farms.  http://www.psfarms.com/missouri_corn_bids.asp  Pretend you have corn to sell.  Choose a time frame, such as two weeks, and check the website everyday to see what prices are.  Write them down in a notebook.  At some point during the two weeks pretend to sell your corn.  Make sure to continue recording until your time frame has ended.  Now, how did you do?  Did you sell at the best price?  Was it good?  Bad?  Did the Law of Supply and Demand affect prices?  Do you think this year’s drought will make prices go up or down?

*Note: you can also try this activity using produce from your gorcery store.  Take your notebook with you and jot down prices.  Do they go up or down?  What factors affect price?

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Modern Farmer

a modern farmer

Is this what you think of when you picture a farmer?  Maybe a man wearing overalls and a baseball cap, mud boots and a trusty dog?  Does he have a straw hat and carry a pitch fork?  Is he riding a tractor or a horse?  Try drawing, painting, or sketching your own picture of what you see in your mind when you think of a “farmer.”

For many farmers mud boots will always be a fact of life, but the modern farmer might not be what you think.  This is a picture of Daddy in his tractor.

face of the modern farmer

Yes, he sometimes wears coveralls (mostly in the winter) but check out this tractor cab!  If the flashing screens and hands-free headset weren’t in your original drawing, you are not alone.  Most people don’t understand the technology involved in modern agriculture.

Did you know farmers use some of the most advanced technology on the planet?  In fact the level of research being done to help farmers feed the world is matched only by the military.  Have you ever seen a car driving without a person behind the wheel?  This technology is still a dream for the future, but today Daddy can sit in his tractor, watch his monitors, check the seed spacing, and control the planters functions and not even touch the steering wheel.

face of the modern farmer

In this picture you see the planter’s  Precision 20/20 monitor, which shows all kinds of information about how the seeds are going in the ground.  The GPS monitor shows a picture of the field, where he needs to plant, what has been planted, and how fast he is going.  You can also see the ipad, which records all of that information and allows Daddy to add in more data, like how much fertilizer was added to the field and what the yield turns out to be in the fall.  Using the apps on this ipad Daddy can see which kinds of seed did well, exactly where we need more fertilizer (preventing excess chemical use), what kind of fertilizer (making your food more nutritious), and lots more!  You can’t see it, but also in the cab is an ipod, where Daddy can listen to both music and pod casts of radio farm shows.  The smart phone hangs from the window, allowing Daddy to check the weather with a radar app or make a call to the person running the seed tender with his hands-free jaw bone.  And yes, he can also post to facebook if he wants!

So tell me– is this what you expected the modern farmer to look like?

*Painting from risingartist.com, Artshop 77

Categories: Technology | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Agvocate

Did you know there is more to farming than tractors?  More than seed science or mother nature or marketing?  Currently one of the most important parts of farming is the government.

If this surprises you, let me explain.  It is a fact of life that what is good for one person may not be good for another.  For example, iTunes was good for music lovers but bad for local music stores.   High corn prices are great for corn farmers, but bad for ranchers who feed corn to their cows.  Stealing something is good for the thief and bad for the victim.

And so we have rules.  A farmer’s problem is that the people who make these rules don’t really understand what it is we do.

Last year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and our government in DC got the idea to have farmers regulate dust.  Yep.  Dust.  To promote a cleaner environment farmers would have a limit to how much dust they could create.  If you’ve never been to a farm before I’ll just tell you.  God is the only one who can control dust.  But, you say, a cleaner environment is good.  Yes.  It is.  But good for one isn’t good for another.  Because if we must control dust, with sprinklers or less farming or whatever, YOU don’t have food.  And that is bad for pretty much everyone.

So an important part of our family farm is talking with government officials any time we can about they rules they create for our farms.  And we are not the only business which must do this.

Talk with your family and friends about the jobs they have and the rules they live by.  Do they ever call their Congressman?  Are there rules that affect you today, even as a young person?

Use the internet, phone book, or friends to help you find the contact information for the elected officials who represent you.  You may need to learn which district you live in first.  Write their e-mail address or phone number on a sticky-note and place it in a family address book to use later, or write a letter now about something that concerns you.

Agvocate

Categories: Science | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.