do a lot of things , like piping water so that cattle can move to different places in their pastures and utilize those grasslands even more than they normally would .
And then , we ’ re very conscious of the wildlife that live here , and so , understanding that we ’ re providing a home for these wildlife — and on a given day , we can see anything from hawks to fish to bumble bees and everything in between . It truly is a beautiful thing to see . And like I said , the production practices that ranchers already employ on their farms are really worth celebrating and taking a closer look at .
You know , it seems as though we can ’ t talk about anything these days without COVID-19 coming up somehow . And I ’ m wondering : What are some important ways that the pandemic has impacted ranching and beef production ?
You know , 2020 was pretty difficult for animal agriculture . I had friends in the pork industry that had to euthanize their animals because the processing plants had slowed down their lines or shut down entirely . Folks had nowhere to go with their animals . This was a true tragedy , not only from the producers ’ standpoint and the financial loss and the loss of life without , you know , being able to respectfully utilize these animals , but on the other side , it also just was a waste to ( not be able to ) provide that meat for consumers .
We also saw shortages in the grocery store , you know , whether it was toilet paper or meat and dairy products . All of a sudden , consumers were seeing — maybe for the first time — that their favorite products or brands weren ’ t always available , because of , you know , COVID supply chain disruptions .
And so , I truly think , while it was a difficult time and has been and continues to be challenging in a lot of ways , ( it is ) also a unique opportunity for ranchers and farmers to connect with consumers in brand new ways . For example , I ’ ve seen a lot of producers find great success selling their beef direct to consumers and educating them for the first time , you know , ( or people buying ) a quarter or half of beef and buying bulk and filling their freezers to stockpile , you know , for the year so that they ’ re good during an emergency , when the grocery stores might be short .
And so — not only that , but consumers are suddenly wanting to ask more questions , and they ’ re wanting to go directly to the producer to ask those questions . And so , I think , in agriculture , we can continue to be a transparent and authentic resource that ’ s readily available to answer their questions . We can not only grow those relationships , but we can also start earning a premium for our products and start taking control of
WINTER ISSUE – DECEMBER 2021 our markets and our ability to make money , even during difficult times .
( This question is ) not related to the panel discussion that we ’ ve been talking about , but I know that this subject is important to you , Amanda , and that is ag literacy , especially among future generations of producers . Tell us about this concern .
Yeah . You know , ten years ago , I started noticing that there weren ’ t a lot of agriculturally accurate books on the shelves . And what I mean by that is there ’ s plenty of farm books out there , and there ’ s plenty of movies , too , for kids , but they usually characterize the animal and give them the full range of motion and , you know , maybe the farmer or the rancher is the bad guy or the side character . And I really wanted to flip the narrative on that and highlight the farmer and the rancher and the animal caretaker and show their role in , you know , providing the essentials for these animals and taking care of the land and getting food to the table .
And so , ten years ago , I wrote my first children ’ s book , titled “ Levi ’ s Lost Calf ,” and since then , I ’ ve had three more released , and I have two more in the works that will come out in 2021 . And truly , the focus of these books is to counter the misconceptions that are out there and teach kids about where their food comes from and , ultimately , help to empower the next generation of consumers so that they truly understand and know about agriculture when they go to the grocery store to make purchasing decisions .
How can farm moms and dads out there find these books ?
They can visit Amazon ; all my titles are ( available ) there . And they can also check out AmandaRadke . com
— and I ’ d be delighted to work with farm groups or schools to also get books purchased in bulk to try to get to as many young people as we can in elementary schools as well .
So , feel free to reach out to me , and I ’ ll help you connect the right book to the right classroom . One story at a time , we will teach kids about where their food comes from
And Amanda , I have to ask you this . I took a look at your itinerary . I know you ’ re the mother of three kids , I believe , right ?
Yes . Well , more , as foster parents , so , yeah , we have extras all the time on the farm .
And a rancher and a blogger . Do you ever get any sleep ?
[ laughs ] Not much sleep — just a lot of coffee .