The Trumbull County Farm Bureau is having an art contest at a local school. The students are being asked to create their art based on "What does agriculture mean to you?"
The winning artwork will be used to create book covers that will be used next fall.
As I was deciding what to write for this week's article, I thought it would be a good question to pose to you - but you don't have to draw a picture.
What does agriculture mean to me? Everything. It is hard to narrow it down to one sentence or paragraph.
The dictionary defines agriculture as the science and art of farming, work of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock. That is a loaded statement.
A common response to the question is the food we eat.
Do we consciously think about where our food comes from before we go pick it up at the grocery store? It is my hope that we Americans appreciate what we have - an abundant and diverse food supply of high quality.
On top of that, it is affordable. The U.S. spends 10 percent of its disposable income on food. That may seem too high, but not when you consider what the percentages are in other countries: Italy, 14 percent; China, 33 percent; Philippines, 37 percent; Indonesia, 43 percent; Pakistan, 46 percent.
I need the reminder at times, too. It is good to get perspective.
At a 4-H meeting last weekend, one of the members reported on an article describing milk quality problems in India. The Food Safety Standards Authority of India recently took 1,791 random samples from 33 states. Just 31.5 percent of the samples tested conformed to the FSSAI standards while the remaining 68.4 percent failed.
Repeated test results showed that the milk had been adulterated with detergent, fat and even urea, and diluted with water. The likely cause of the detergent was the improper washing of milk tanks. The most common adulteration was caused by adding water to the milk to increase volume. The second-highest parameter of nonconformity was skim milk powder being added to the milk.
Another interesting fact learned from the article was that the majority of the women in India boil milk for extended periods of time before it is consumed in their homes.
Being involved in the dairy industry most of my life, this article was appalling. Be assured that the milk produced in this country is the most highly tested food in the U.S. Every load leaving the farm is tested as well as the whole load when it reaches the milk plant. Milking facilities on the farm and processing plants are inspected on a regular basis. Quality is not sacrificed in this country.
Mary Smallsreed is a member of Trumbull County Farm Bureau and grew up on a family dairy farm in northeast Ohio.