Monday, December 29, 2014

Essay Contest Asks “What Are The Benefits of Indiana Agriculture?”

Hoosier students have the chance to give their thoughts on how agriculture helps the state in an essay contest sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers.

“What are the benefits of Indiana agriculture?” is the essay theme. Students are encouraged to look at how farming plays a positive role in the environment and economy of the state.

The contest is open to any Indiana student in grades 4-12. Entrants are divided into groups by grade, 4th-6th, 7th-9th and 10th-12th. The word limit for 4th-6th graders is 250; 7th-9th graders are limited to 450 words and 10th-12th graders may write up to 600 words. Entries are evaluated against the Indiana Department of Education’s ISTEP writing rubric.

All entries must be made electronically through a link on the IFoF website, The deadline is Feb. 6.

One student per grade group will be recognized as the winner and receive $250. IFoF will recognize winners at the Statehouse during the organization’s Ag Day Celebration, March 18, 2015.

For more information and a complete list of rules, visit the IFoF website,

We Are Indiana Agriculture: The Fosters

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Meggie Foster and her husband, Dallas, live in Greenfield along with their two daughters, Reagan, 4, and Ruby, 1.  Dallas and Meggie are proud to be raising their daughters on their family farm.  Meggie works full-time off-farm for Indiana Farm Bureau where she works with young farmers and women’s program leaders.  She explains that, in their free time, they love to spend time with their family, travel and attend cow shows.  Meggie grew up on a registered Jersey farm in central Ohio and still owns a small herd of registered Jersey cows.

The Fosters farm in Hancock County and Rush County as well as Meggie’s family farm in Marion County, Ohio.  “Dallas is the fifth generation to farm in Indiana, and I am the sixth generation farmer in my family.  Dallas’ family raised purebred hogs and sheep for many years before transitioning to commercial hogs in the mid-1990s.  Beginning in the 1920s, the Foster family traveled the country showing purebred sheep and swine, hosting hog sales at the home farm in the 1980s, inviting special guests such as Vice President Dan Quayle and Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz.  Dallas’ father liquidated the hog herd in 2005, and Dallas and I began our farming operation the following year.  We have grown our farm from a 50-sow, single-site farm to a 600-sow multi-site operation today.”

Meggie looks back on her childhood and feels blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up on a farm.  “While my classmates played video games, I was outside playing with the pony, the dogs or my pet goat.  I have always loved animals and exploring outside.  I absolutely loved feeding the baby calves and working alongside my dad, milking the cows.  I feel blessed that I grew up on the farm learning the meaning of responsibility--caring for the land and the animals.  I hope to instill the same sense of responsibility in my girls.”

When asked what she feels is one of the biggest challenges farmers face today, Meggie has a hard time narrowing it down to just one.  “Farmers face challenges every day, wondering if we will get too much rain or not enough to grow our crops.  The considerable over-regulation of livestock farms by government agencies and volatility in the grain and hog markets are additional challenges.  In addition, the growing distrust by consumers has many farmers concerned about the future, but I’m confident that farmers will make mindful and sustainable adjustments in production to continue to provide enough healthy food to feed the world.”

With many consumers being about three generations removed from the farm, Meggie wishes that they could all have the opportunity to meet the farmers behind their food.  She wants consumers to know that food is not raised in a factory; food is grown by family farmers across the country.  “Animals are raised with caring hands and hearts.  I want the consumers to know the generations of family farmers who have inspired improvements in how we farm and that those improvements created the efficiencies that allow farmers to provide the best care possible to their livestock and to spend just a little more time with their families.  I want them to know how many farmers woke up earlier than usual to milk the cows before their kids woke up on Christmas morning to unwrap Christmas presents.  I want them to know that farmers are just like you and want a healthy and safe food supply more than anyone.”

When four-year-old Reagan was asked what is her favorite part of living on a farm, her reply was, “Riding in the tractor with my daddy, especially when he lets me drive!”  Meggie echoes that sentiment by saying, “I feel very blessed to raise our girls on the family farm.  I want our girls to grow up with a good work ethic as demonstrated by their dad; and learn responsibility through caring for their own animals in the 4-H program.  I want our girls to discover the joy in farming and also understand how to learn and grow from challenges along the way.”

You can read more about Meggie and their farm by visiting Meggie’s blog:

Monday, December 22, 2014

Caring for Cows in the Winter

By Jackie Barber of Winners Drink Milk

 I love winter and I love snow, but as anyone who has ever driven on bad winter roads knows, snow and ice can make simple tasks much more difficult.
snow cows 2
Dairy farming is not ever a simple task, but harsh winter weather certainly makes it more difficult. Farms get their milk picked up every day or every other day, so impassable, snowy, icy country roads can have a big impact on when the milk truck comes. If the milk truck isn't able to make it to the farm, state law mandates that the milk is discarded. This makes sure that the milk in your stores is very fresh.

Farms are always in danger of power outages in the winter time--if the power is out, the cows can't be milked. (And the cows definitely want to be milked!) In really cold weather, the milk lines or the water pipes in the milking parlor may freeze. Milk, of course, freezes at a lower temperature than water, but the water is necessary to keep the parlor squeaky clean. Thawing out the pipes can add a lot of hours to farmer's day.

The cows themselves are generally not too bothered by cold weather. They grow shaggy coats in the winter and generally have a nice warm barn to relax in. Cows also generate a lot of body heat by their normal digestion. A group of cows together in a building is way better than a space heater!

The baby calves have a little harder time with the cold--just like human babies. Young calves don't have a lot of body fat and aren't ruminating (that's the digestive process to break down grasses and grains that older cows do). Just drinking milk doesn't generate the body heat for a baby that chewing her cud does for a older cow. So, farmers adapt. Baby calves get lots of deep straw bedding in a protected area--either in a draft-free barn or a little house called a "hutch"--to keep them warm. For newborns or on especially cold days, baby calves can wear "calf jackets" which basically look like a tiny horse blanket (or an oversized Paris Hilton-style dog costume).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Bill Temple Farms

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

In 1974, Valerie Duttlinger’s parents, Bill and Angie, started Bill Temple Farms, located in Spencer County.  In 1980, the operation entered into the purebred pork genetics business.  “We serve as one of the genetic nucleus farms for PureTek Genetics, LLC,” Valerie explains.  Valerie and her husband, Ben, also farm about 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans.  They have two sons, Blake, 10, and Jace, 8.

“We supply animals to packers in both Indiana and Illinois.  We also sell some freezer pork into the community as well.  From the genetics side, we touch people from all over the Midwest and the world.”

Pork genetics suppliers are farmers who raise the mother sows to sell to other farmers. Those sows are specifically cross-bred to have the best genetic characteristics that make them good mothers of large litter and produce fast-growing, lean offspring that are well-adapted to environments.

Valerie, like many other farmers, is very passionate about her job.  “Although we are in the swine genetics business, we are also in the business of feeding the world.  It is very rewarding to know that we are doing our part, not only to provide a healthy meal for people, but also through the genetics business. We are able to have an impact on more of the food that feeds the world than what we produce ourselves.”

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Baking Season is Here!

By Danielle Sovinski of Winners Drink Milk

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…holiday baking season is here! I always look forward to the holiday season when I can indulge in preparing festive holiday cookies or crowd-pleasing desserts. Knowing that I love to bake, my family always requests that I bring the dessert for our big holiday meal. Sometimes I’ll stick to an old favorite like pumpkin pie, other times I’ll pick out the most intricate cake from my favorite cooking magazine.

Cooking for a crowd can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if guests have special dietary concerns. Entertaining guests with lactose intolerance? No problem, those that are lactose intolerant may still be able enjoy many dairy products, including lactose-free milk, hard cheeses, and yogurt. Consider incorporating these naturally lactose-free cheeses in your recipes or setting them out as an appetizer with your favorite crackers.
  • Asiago
  • Parmesan
  • Mozzarella
  • Gouda
  • Hard Cheddar
  • Blue Cheese
  • Swiss
Looking for dessert ideas? Serve your favorite holiday cookies with lactose-free milk or add cocoa mix and heat it up for delicious hot chocolate. Or try this lactose intolerant-friendly Cottage Cheesecake. Packed 9 grams of protein per slice, this delicious and nutritious dessert is sure to impress!  Check out for more recipe ideas and information about Lactose Intolerance.


Cottage Cheesecake
  • 8 oz graham crackers, crushed
  • 8 oz almond meal
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 32 oz lactose-free, low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 c Greek yogurt, reduced fat
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1 lemon, juiced (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. For crust, combine graham crackers, almond meal, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and melted butter in food processor. Press desired thickness into bottom of cheesecake pan; bake for 10–15 minutes until set. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
  4. Combine cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour in food processor; purée until very smooth. If desired, lemon juice can then be added to the mixture.
  5. Bake approximately 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours, then remove from pan and serve.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: The Schwoeppes

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Schwoeppe Dairy LLC is a small family-owned dairy farm in Southwestern Indiana, near the town of Saint Henry. Currently, the family milks 95 Holsteins with a few Brown Swiss mixed in for added color and interest.   “Our sons, Wyatt and Ethan, are the fifth generation to work and farm on this land,” Sam Schwoeppe says.  “It is my opinion that we do not own our farm, but we in fact borrow the farm from our children.  A farm is a legacy, and it is our responsibility to love and care for our land and nurture our animals so that we are able to pass our farming business on to the next generation in both a sustained and improved farm."

Sam is very excited that their son Wyatt is entering into the business operation. With an added person, they have new opportunities and challenges to face.  “Our cows are our partners in the dairy business.  We have to respect and take very good care of each other.  We provide a very comfortable and relaxing environment for our ’girls‘ living space.  I often joke and tell people we do not manage a dairy farm, we have a bovine spa for pampered ladies.  In addition to the perfectly balanced meals that are formulated by a nutritionist, we also have regular scheduled visits from our ’Bovine Manicurist,’ who comes to the farm three times a year to give each cow a pedicure.  The veterinarian makes house calls and gives well-cow exams, check-ups, vaccinations and the occasional prescription medication when one is sick, Sam says.

“We have loose, deep sand beds in our free stalls, so when our cows lay down to rest, it is like lying on a fresh beach.  For animal comfort, we believe in exercise and space.  During mild weather our girls are out on the pasture as much as possible.  They always have free access to fresh water and hay and are fed at regular meal times.  In the summer, we have fans blowing on the cows all the time they are inside the barns. We have sprinklers and fans for them to stand under when they are eating.  In the winter, we use fluffy sawdust and deep straw bedding to keep them warm and provide a comfortable place to rest.”

The Schwoeppes are proud member owners of Prairie Farms Dairy.  The milk from their cows is processed in Holland, Indiana which is only eight miles from the dairy farm.  “Within 48 hours of leaving our farm, our delicious, nutritious, fresh milk is on store shelves locally for your family to enjoy!”

Sam’s greatest enjoyment in farming is working with her sons.  “When I see my sons working as fifth generation farmers on our family farm, I am very proud to be a part of agriculture.  And what a great story of sustainability we are!”

She adds, “American farmers produce the safest, most abundant and affordable food supply on the earth.  Much of this food is being produced on farms that have been passed from generation to generation for over 100 years!”