Ken McCauley Our Town, Our Food

(Sam) So, Ken kind of tell me about your speech today. (Ken) Well, it was really interesting, the group we had together, I really wanted to make a point that you talk about the local food movement, and we were talking about food and safety and I really wanted to relate my farm to the people out there and so, one of the big pet peeves I have is just because I have a large farm, I don’t take as good a care of it, and local is better than a commodity corn producer. And it’s really important that we take as good a care as anybody of our crops and so I brought that out and just because I’m a large farmer doesn’t mean I’m not a local producer because I can get my crops and I can trace where my corn goes. And I can do it in a better way if it’s economical and feasible for me to do that. (Sam) Well certainly, kind of tell us a little bit about how you trace your crops back. (Ken) Well, we don’t do enough of it yet today, but I know if there’s a reason to do it and if there’s actually incentive to do it, we can do it. It’s done in a different manner than each individual head of livestock would be, but there’s ways to do it. We’ve got a lot of technology on the farm today that we could keep track of it easily. We’ve got large bins, but we used to have a 10 thousand bushel bin, now we have 50 thousand bushel bins, but you can isolate within those big bins, just like you used to do in a smaller one. (Sam) Now you were talking a lot about technology in your speech, so tell me, do you think that in the coming years, that we’re gonna be able to trace everything back or what do you see for the trends? (Ken) Well, it’s probably going to be different than I think, but looking at the big picture and that’s me, I always look at 30 thousand feet, and this could happen and I don’t worry about how it happens. But looking at it, I don’t see it happening by my individual corn went here. I look at it as a grain company could know this whole time frame of crop of corn came in to that…in that time frame, and there’s a lot more ways to do this than just say, this bushel came from this person. This group of bushels came from this area and that was these people, and they can do that. But there’s a lot of issues that will have to be worked through down the road. (Sam) Yea, down the road I think we’ll see more with that happening. So, how do you kind of communicate with the consumers about your products, and tell them that you’re not just a factory farm, kind of what they’re labeling it these days or a corporation to emphasize that you guys are local? (Ken) Yea, you really have to work at that. And a lot of farmers just plain don’t worry about it. But I try to use Twitter and Facebook and anytime I can get time like this to talk, even in the non ag media, I try to get those messages out. But really I’ve spent a lot of time telling individual farmers that they’ve got to speak up for themselves and for our industry and that’s really hard for some guys to do thinking that somebody else will do it. But you can’t trust somebody else to tell your story. (Sam) Yea the issue is here and now we need to face it. So, finally a little bit on sustainability. Tell me about the importance of that. (Ken) Well, right now sustainability is the buzz word. I was in a meeting, it was a very diverse crowd. A lot of organic producers. I got up probably four years ago now and said, I’ve been farming sustainable for the past 30 years, and they wanted to know how I did it. Well, I said, I’m still alive. I’m still a farmer, my farm’s still intact and everything is better than it was when I started. And that’s how I see it. You’ve got improved sustainability over time. And your farm is in better condition than it was yesterday. Now, granted you many now have the same thing that they look at but I really think we’ve got a great story to tell on how we’ve improved things, what it is today versus 20 years ago. And I’m really proud of the fact that our farm’s much better. And I think my Great Grandfather would be happy with the things we’ve done on his farm. (Sam) Certainly it’s important to keep up with the times and your speech was certainly informative and we want to thank you for joining us. (Ken) Thank you. Appreciate it. (Sam) You’re welcome.

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