Question: did you eat today? Put clothes on your back? Get in your car? Every aspect of our lives is touched by agriculture, yet it’s something to which we probably don’t give enough thought. In celebration of Ag Week, I’m honored to feature Crystal Klug, a rancher and farmer in Nebraska. A glimpse into her life, here.
Confession: going through school to become a dietitian, I didn’t think too much about agriculture. Living in New York City, it wasn’t exactly at the forefront of my mind. Some work with the department of health on their farmers market program opened my eyes just a teensy bit, but it wasn’t until I serendipitously became involved with the New York Beef Council that I truly grew to appreciate the role of the farmer in my day-to-day life.
Crystal and I met on a ranch tour in Nebraska a couple of years ago, and within minutes, she felt like an old friend. While our lives and geographical locations may be very different, what’s important to us is the same. We’re just a couple of moms trying to feed our families the best we can, working in our own ways to encourage other moms to do the same: feed with love, feed with confidence, and feed without fear. Here, Crystal in her own words.
Tell us about your farm!
My husband, Beau, and I are fourth generation farmers raising cattle, crops, and kids. We are the third generation to live in our farmhouse that my husband’s grandparents built and feel fortunate to be raising our three children in the thick of agriculture. My kids see first-hand the everyday beauty and hardships of this crazy adventure called farm life.
What’s the biggest misconception you here about beef?
Right now, I feel like the biggest misconception when it comes to beef production is the myths surrounding our use of antibiotics. As caretakers of livestock, it’s our job to feed, care for and provide an environment for our animals to thrive. If they are sick and need medical attention, we move them from their pen, identify the issue and if needed, give them the medicine they need to get better. Sick cattle are kept in a separate pen so they can receive more attention. Furthermore, any medicine they receive is carefully documented. On every bottle of medicine is what’s called a “withdrawal period”. That means farmers do no transport cattle to harvest until the antibiotic is 100 percent out of their system. Our local veterinarian is an important part of our farm.
As a mom, I make the same choice for my child. If they are sick and are in need of medical attention, I will take them to the doctor and give them antibiotics if needed. It’s the right thing to do. There is no such thing as a health insurance program for livestock and antibiotics are EXPENSIVE. Just like in humans, preventive care is imperative to keeping cattle healthy. Little to no antibiotic use is always the goal.
What are some challenges facing women in agriculture?
I can only speak for myself as a woman in agriculture. Farms come in all different shapes and sizes and every woman has a unique challenge depending on their situation. My challenge would have to be knowing that if my kids and I are safe, then my husband’s first priority is always the farm and livestock. Mother nature shapes our daily schedule, cattle eat twice a day and need constant care durning extreme weather conditions.
Enjoy your food. Enjoy your life. And thank a farmer!