Guest blog by Kristeena Patsche:
I would first like to start by saying thank you. Thank you for working in agriculture. Thank you for your dedication, passion and commitment to this progressive, ever-changing industry. From the farmers that work directly with the land, to seed dealers, to those that market the products, and everyone in between, thank you. It is because of people like you and I that we have the variety of food choices in the grocery store, giving families and consumers a peace of mind that food will always be on the shelves.
Farmers are the minority
We all know it. With roughly 2 percent of the entire population in agriculture, and only growing smaller, we are the minority. Let’s not forget to throw on top of that the constant battle with anti-agriculture activists, like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), PETA, and anti-GMO groups that use fear over science. The continual strain of defending our job is just plain exhausting somedays.
While the outside world continues to question our actions and why we do what we do, we need to remember we are in this together. We have a job to do. We all want to see our family, our neighbor’s family, and families overseas with an ample supply of safe, affordable food on the table, without mistreating our air, water or land. It is a common bond we all share – even if we go a different way in getting there.
If you look at where agriculture first started to where we are now, the choices we have are never-ending. From the diverse seed selection, to weed and pest management strategies, to the way we house our animals, there is an approved option to fit your needs.
We are all different with the same goal
But let’s face it. What works for you may not work for me. Or what works for farmers in Minnesota may not work for someone in the southern states. We make our decisions based on what resources are available, along with our current knowledge and expertise, or what the market calls for.
We are given choices, but the ultimate thing to remember is we are on one team, working toward the same goal, but just on a different path. It is critical that we stick together, be supportive and not tear each other down. Our community is too small to be working against each other, especially when there are so many in this world already doing so.
Whether you are organic, conventional, non-GMO, free range, or use indoor housing, it is important to respect every decision, and remember there is a place and need for us all, and we all contribute to the end goal. And it’s okay to talk about how you farm and why you farm the way you do. No decision is superior to another, as long as our resources are being protected and animals are being raised in a safe, healthy manner.
Let’s celebrate agriculture
Agriculture is such a rewarding community to be a part of, and will only continue to grow if we work together. Let’s focus our efforts on being one team, the full 2 percent, instead of broken into fractions. Let’s work to be more efficient, use less resources and raise safe, affordable food, together.
A Fellow Farmer
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Greg Gunthorp says
When all the hog farmers we disappearing we were all just told it was market forces and we needed to adapt or exit the industry quietly. Ironically one the biggest sharers of that message we were forced to fund with our checkoff dollars. Now, market forces are wanting changes in agriculture and the message is we all need to get along. Why not adapt or exit quietly?
The real issue here is market concentration and farmers share of the retail dollar. Farmers are the largest risk takers in the food chain and the share of the retail dollar going to farmers is perpetually falling. That is not sustainable. Farmers answer has just been massive increases in production and resulting massive consolidation. The problem is we as US producers eventually will not be the lowest cost producers of the globe. And that debt treadmill can only be spun for so long. Commodity hog prices are worse in real dollars compared to costs than 1998. Fortunately (tongue in cheek) there aren’t many farmers that still own the hogs they raise. The Chinese and Brazilians are more like to own a hog than the farmer that has the building.
Please consider before bashing me that I’m 100% convinced that the marketplace rather than Washington DC should decide the production activities of livestock and poultry in the US. Regulations will put confinement production at a severe economic disadvantage. And honestly, would anyone argue for confinement production if it wasn’t cheaper? Regulations will put niche processing out of business. So, without uniting we are all arguing for a foreign meat and poultry supply. The big players want that game. They can pit farmers of the world against each other like they did in the US with broilers, eggs, pigs and milk. The farmers and our rural communities are the real losers.