NGIA NEWS

Kathy's Commentary

Kathy's Commentary: Entering 2014 with a spirit of gratitude

Message from Kathy

As we say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in a new year, we are grateful for so many things.  We live in a country that allows us to speak our minds, we are free to worship where we want, we are able to live a clean life in a fresh environment that promotes healthy eating and living.  In Nebraska we truly do live “The Good Life” and I believe it is because of the attitudes and the people who are our neighbors and friends.  In Nebraska, our Unicameral works together to find solutions, our State Officials look for ways to constantly improve our great quality of life.  Our educational system is of very high quality and is available to all.

We hope the New Year continues to bring prosperity and good health to all of our readers, members, and the citizens of this Great State!

Sincerely,

Kathy Siefken
Executive Director
Nebraska Grocery Industry Association

Kathy's Commentary: Why We're Feeling Thankful this Holiday

Message from Kathy

According to history, Thanksgiving Day has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863. There are claims that the first Thanksgiving Day was held in the city of El Paso, Texas, in 1598. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Mass., in 1621. However, their first true thanksgiving was in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought. These early thanksgivings took the form of a special church service, rather than a feast.

In the second half of the 1600s, thanksgivings after the harvest were more common and became annual events. However, it was celebrated on different days in different communities, and in some locations there was more than one thanksgiving celebration each year. George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789. Thanksgiving is now celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November of each year.

Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie and vegetables. Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have. We give thanks for the veterans who protect our country, for the farmers who grow food in abundance, for the food that is available to all, and to the grocers who sell food to families across this nation.  We wish an enjoyable, food filled Thanksgiving to all of our readers!

Sincerely,

Kathy Siefken
Executive Director
Nebraska Grocery Industry Association

Kathy's Commentary: Annual Conference a Huge Success

Message from Kathy

The NGIA Annual Conference was held on June 11 and 12 at Tiburon Golf Club in Omaha.  Comments received following the conference included:

  • “Had I known how good this speaker is, I would have brought more of my people.”
  • “Great Speakers!  This was one of the best events I’ve attended recently!”

We’ve scheduled the 2014 Annual Conference at Henry Doorly Zoo on June 24, with golf on June 25.  We’ve lined up some great speakers on topics that are relevant to all businesses.

Please mark your calendar and plan to attend!

On another matter, CommonGround farm women are hosting a picnic on Thursday, July 11, in Omaha. The event includes a lively conversation about food, how it is raised and where it comes from. CommonGround is a great organization which is helping consumers make wise food choices. This event will allow our members to ask questions about farming and food production from the women who work hard to put food on our tables every day.

Reservations are required and must be submitted via e-mail be end of day Wednesday, July 10.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Sincerely,
Kathy Siefken
Executive Director
Nebraska Grocery Industry Association

Kathy's Commentary: Is this COOL Part Two?

Message from Kathy

One important goal of our Farmer Goes to Market program is to bring you farm-related news you're not getting from the other mainstream media outlets. Here's this month's breaking news: You may have read the news reports about the "landmark" agreement between the nation's top animal-rights organization and the egg-farmer's association. But there's an important aspect you probably haven't heard about, as this month's Farmer Goes to Market feature story points out here. The agreed upon legislation, if it passes next year as advocates hope, will give egg farmers up to 18 years to change their barns to accommodate the new requirements. However, we have learned that it's only within three years that every egg sold in the country will have to be labeled as to how those hens lived.

As the Country of Origin Labeling experience taught us, three years is a tight window in which to impose what will likely be burdensome labeling and merchandising changes, especially when the required information keeps changing as you go along.

But the point that ought to have grocers more concerned is the impact it will have on consumers, both before and after the labeling restrictions go into effect. Do you know what's "humane" and "inhumane" when it comes to housing hens? What does "enriched housing" mean? Why is it important that hens be able to  "scratch?" Is 144 square inches of cage space more humane than 67 square inches? Why? How many perches should hens be allowed per cage? Should they be elevated, or not? How big should their dust-bathing area be?

All these questions and many more will be raised when shoppers come face to face with new federally required egg labels. And when the consumer asks those questions, they won't be asking them of HSUS or UEP. If you don't have answers to those questions, and more, you'd better get them, and fast. The United Egg Producers relieved some of the nearly unbearable pressure being put on them through lawsuits and state ballot initiatives by agreeing to make some longterm changes. But in the process, they dropped a whole lot of explaining onto you, which you're going to have to be able to do in a relatively short term.

The HSUS/UEP agreement shows that others in the food chain are now more than willing to leave it in our hands, regardless of how well prepared we are to answer for them. So I encourage you to do more than just read the Farmer Goes to Market newsletter. Send me questions you have about this issue. Let me know what kind of support material you need from your partners in the food chain to help come up with answers to questions you can't even form yet. Let me know if you're willing to invest a day out of the office to tour an egg farm, and put your questions directly to the farmer.

Sincerely,
Kathy Siefken
Executive Director
Nebraska Grocery Industry Association

Get in on the dialog...

If You Do Nothing Else Today, Listen to This

Message from Kathy

I am angry. I just viewed the latest "undercover" video by an activist group created to gin up public outrage against farmers and grocers in our neighboring state. You can see it here.

But I'm not angry at the farmers, as the activists hoped I would be. I am outraged at the sick minds that must have gone into creating a video like this. Growing up on a farm and understanding agriculture as I do, I know that little if anything in this video is as it appears.

As Kevin Murphy says in his excellent essay on this video, when you take something out of context, it becomes a pretext. Exactly! It is appalling the way the video maker carefully selects scenes of normal, routine work or regrettable but realistic instances of animal injuries found on any normal farm (injuries that I would bet were probably treated immediately upon discovery by the farmer), and then edits them together with a frightening soundtrack to insinuate intentional, widespread cruelty. I find it disgusting.

So if you have time for nothing else today, I would strongly urge you to take a few minutes to listen to Kevin's explanation of what's really going on with this video. Innoculate yourself against falling for a twisted mind playing with your emotions like this; better still, be prepared to help do the same with your customers. Videos like this just prove to me once again that we are all in this together, grocers and farmers, and we need to understand what really goes on at modern farms, so that we can explain it to customers who are the end target of the kind of lies displayed in this video.

I'd really like to hear your perspective on this. Drop me a personal e-mail, or use the link below to leave a comment. Better yet, leave a question for one of the Nebraska farmers participating in the Farmer Goes to Market project. I'll make sure you get an answer.

Sincerely,
Kathy Siefken
Executive Director
Nebraska Grocery Industry Association

Get in on the dialog...

Partners

Supported by the Nebraska Farm Bureau

The farm and ranch families represented by Nebraska Farm Bureau are proud sponsors of the Farmer Goes to Market program. We take great pride in supporting Nebraska's agricultural foundation. A key part of that effort is to make sure we produce safe and affordable food. This newsletter is an important part of our effort to connect the two most important parts of the food chain -- the farmer and the grocer -- with the goal of increasing consumer awareness and information about how their food is raised in Nebraska.


Supported by the Nebraska Corn Board

The Nebraska Corn Board, on behalf of 23,000 corn farmers in Nebraska, invests in market development, research, promotion and education of corn and value-added products. The board aims to work closely with the farmer-to-consumer food chain, to educate everyone about the role corn has in our everyday healthy lives. The Nebraska Corn Board is proud to sponsor the Farmer Goes to Market program to help bring its mission of expanding demand and value of Nebraska corn to the consumer, through the strongest touch point in that chain: the Nebraska retail grocer.


In patnership with the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association

The Nebraska Grocery Industry Association was formed in 1903 by a group of Omaha grocery store owners, wholesalers and vendors to allow them to promote independent food merchants and members of the food industry, and to promote education and cooperation among its membership. NGIA continues to represent grocery store owners and operators, along with wholesalers and vendors located throughout Nebraska, by promoting their success through proactive government relations, innovative solutions and quality services. NGIA offers efficient and economical programs. NGIA also lobbies on both a state and national level, ensuring that the voice of the food industry in Nebraska is heard by our representatives.