Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cardoza wants flag on American products

California Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, wants U.S.-grown ag products to bear an image of the American flag. He introduced a resolution this week urging domestic producers and packagers to print the flag on all labels.

“Given our ongoing work to pull back from the recession, I believe it is extremely important that we raise awareness and consciousness about products produced in the greatest country in the world," Cardoza said in a statement. "I believe this to be especially true in the San Joaquin Valley, where we grow some of America’s finest fruits, vegetables and nuts."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

California State Fair video

Hey again — one of the projects I've gotten to work on this summer has been editing video footage that reporters take while they're in the field conducting interviews. As a new media communications major at Oregon State University, part of my curriculum for my major has required that I take pre-, post-, studio and field production classes to learn about shooting and editing video in the studio and in the field, so getting to edit reporters' videos has been a fun way to experiment with what I've learned from my classes, as well as test my editing skills.

I recently edited a video that Wes Sander shot at the California State Fair that centered around the fact that, since fair officials decided to start the fair a month earlier this year, they've seen a significant increase in the amount of livestock exhibitors, largely due to the fact that kids are usually in school when the fair starts in mid-August, but are still on vacation in mid-July. In case anyone is interested, I'll post the video here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The ongoing debate over milk labeling

What does a label provide for a product? Should a label, in some cases, be treated like a brand?

First of all, I should introduce myself since this is the first time I've blogged for the CP. My name is Candice, I'm one of two interns at the Capital Press in Salem this summer. I've been spending most of my time working on the copy desk, laying out pages and editing videos, but I've also been given the opportunity to work on some stories when I have the time.
One of my longer, ongoing projects concerns the debate over soy or protein products like Silk and Muscle Milk — on April 28, 2010, the National Milk Producers Federation filed a complaint with the FDA demanding that it tighten its enforcement policies on labeling because they don't think that soy, almond and rice milk should be labeled as milk (it's someone else's job to figure out what they should be called).
In an ongoing battle against these products for the last decade, the NMPF claims that producers of soy products that masquerade as milk are getting to ride on the coattails of the positive associations that Americans have when they think of the word "milk." In their complaint, the NMPF also alleges that these products don't share the same health benefits as milk, and have no business being labeled the same way.
Through my research, I've found many examples of similar labeling woes in the ag world across the last few decades. Obviously, marketing and labeling can be vital to the success of a product, but this issue seems to be something on which the nation is very divided.
In trying to figure out how split the issue is, I've recently made a poll on that asks participants whether they think it's OK for soy (and others — coconut, almond, rice, etc.) products to label themselves as milk. I'll post the poll here. Please vote, and post comments if you have any ideas or tips for the article.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Follow the Ag Media Summit online

I wish I was attending the Ag Media Summit this weekend in St. Paul, Minn. I've only been once, back in 2006, when the event was held in Portland, Ore.

Fortunately, technology will make it easier for those of us that couldn't make the trip to follow along from wherever we happen to be.

Look for the Twitter hashtag of #agms to see what people at the event are sharing, or follow @AgMediaSummit to find out more about the event.

The coolest thing though, is the planned video feed from some of the sessions on UStream. Also look for blog posts on the Ag Media Summit blog. You can also check in on the Facebook page.

It may not be quite the same as being there, but it's a lot better than waiting for a colleague to come back from the event who says, "Oh, man, the Ag Media Summit was great. There was so much great information there. You should have been there."

Now, we can be there, if not literally, at least we can virtually.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where has the last half decade gone?

I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into back in June 2005, when I reported to work for the first time in the Capital Press main office in Salem, Ore. Frankly, I wasn't sure if I would fit in here. These people were pretty serious about their agriculture here, and I was not, by training or experience, an agriculture journalist. I had worked in the mainstream media for my whole career before coming here.

But, looking back, I had a few things going for me. I grew up in an agriculture business (the aerial spraying business); I went to an ag school (Oregon State, where the journalism department that I got my degree from was based in the ag building); and I'd spent 10 years in California, which was one of the states we cover and was part of the operation I was tasked to oversee at the time.

I certainly did not know if I would still be here 5-years hence. I'd only held one journalism job for at least 5 years up to that time, so the odds were probably against it. But I passed the 5-year mark last month. So, I've spent a little time looking back, in self reflection, this summer. I admit I am disappointed that I've let my contributions to this blog languish. While farmers and other agribusiness professionals and people just plain interested in topics related to their food have grown more active in their blogging, I've been nearly inactive here. Much of my attention for the last year has been on our main website, with some time devoted to our other social media efforts, like Twitter, Facebook and editing videos from our staff that we post on YouTube.

It seems I keep relearning the lesson that you can't do everything. I know I certainly can't, at least not without a whole lot of help. I appreciate all of those who have helped the Capital Press report news about agriculture here, on our website, on Twitter, on Facebook, on our other blogs, and in print. Part of what makes working for the Capital Press so exciting is that we are continuing to look for the best, most innovative ways to help the people in Western agriculture do their important work of growing, or contributing to the growth of, food and fiber. There are lots of good stories out there.

We've changed a lot of things in the 5 years I've been here. We changes our logo, or printed page design, or website design, we went from zero blogs to three (the newest one devoted to helping ag business with digital marketing) and changed the way we we zone our print editions.

I can't say for sure what the next 5 years will bring. But I can safely predict that the ways we continue to cover agriculture will continue to evolve, just as agriculture itself continues to evolve.

Thanks to you, for checking out those stories in our various venues. And thanks to my Capital Press bosses and colleagues for making this such a great place to work for the last 5 years and allowing me to play with your digital and print toys.

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