“BURN DOWN YOUR CITIES AND LEAVE OUR FARMS,
AND YOUR CITIES WILL SPRING UP AGAIN AS IF BY MAGIC;
BUT DESTROY OUR FARMS AND THE GRASS WILL GROW
IN THE STREETS OF EVERY CITY IN THE COUNTRY.”
William Jennings Bryan
With less than two percent of the population involved with agriculture there is a real tendency for for people who know absolutely nothing about it to try have a major voice in it. It would be just as smart for a mechanic to consult with a physician before a surgery. Just because you have an acquaintance with a subject does not mean you know enough about the subject to have a say in it.
Yet there are people who have no connection to how food is raised that wants a place at the table to determine how farming and ranching is done. They ‘know’ so much about it they believe that they should have a say in regulating it.
As a consumer there is a right to demand safe and nutritious food. And if a food product does not live up to their standards the refusal to purchase the product is what every persons right is.
The great advances of production in agriculture has allowed so many to go from the farm to other pursuits. Some had no choice but to go on from the farm because of economics, tragedies, and natural events. So many of the farm kids that left the farm went to industries where the work ethic and ingenuity was valued. A quote that has been heard so often in the area around Wichita has been, that when NASA came up with a problem and were having trouble crafting a solution they would say “send it up to Wichita and let those farmers figure it out.” And the did, and they do.
Right now there is extreme difficulty for farmers to stay on the land. Each year more families are force to give up and the surviving farms get bigger. We have gone from a lifestyle to a factory when it comes to production. Now there are bureaucrats, politicians, elitists, academics, industrialists, and radicals that want to dictate how we raise our food.
Who is to blame? It would take a whole book on the subject and there are many. Lets start close to home. For years the farmer has told his son and daughters to go get an education and get away from the farm, there is no life here. Associations that represent the farmer and rancher have under pressure allowed outside interest groups to become a part of the dialogue. Allowing representatives on boards of organizations that are supposed to be advocates for the farmer. Yet these members who are allowed to dominate the dialogue are from organizations that are against production agriculture. Kind of like hiring the fox to guard the chickens.
Producers who object to allowing enemy groups from participating in organizations that they pay for voluntarily and involuntarily, are diminished, ignored, and ridiculed. The voice of the producer that objects to the subversion of their money to help those who are against them are stifled.
But there is also the government at all stages, who put interests other than the producer in the forefront. Agencies who regulate with no authority who abuse the intent of law and refuse to be reigned in. Many agencies run over local authority and go as far as putting ranchers and farmers in jail and doing so by lying and refusing to present facts that are in favor of defendants. Getting so bad in Nevada that the judge of several cases thru out the cases, and did so with prejudice so the out of control prosecutors and agents cannot come back and try again. Even when the judge started out allowing the lying to go on. And this is nothing to opening fire on a pickup truck with a man, woman, and 14 year old in it. And then shooting the man in front of several cameras.
Then there is the federal agencies that are supposed to regulate and prevent companies from becoming so large that it disrupts the market place by allowing super size corporations from merging and becoming even bigger. Also where was the FTC when China purchased food processing companies? China used to be against GMO’s until they purchased Syngenta and now are the worlds largest producer of GMO seed.
What has happened to the family farm? Well at least in Kansas the mega farms are family corporations. We have been one of the few states that do not allow unseen mega corp farms. With the exception of some hog farms in Southwest Kansas.
While we are placing blame how about the banks? Or the Dodd-Frank legislation that has hamstrung the availability of credit on the local level? Experienced bankers are in frustration mode because the Fed’s and huge banks have changed how local banks operate. Credit is probably the most critical issue in rural America right now.
I have talked to good farmers who are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Very little that is planted or grown is making money right now. Surpluses have glutted the markets. Yet there is constant interference in the markets by numerous Alphabetical agencies and just plain unscrupulous practices.
Then there are the individuals and organizations that use the courts to stymy practices with frivolous court cases. Using the courts and the laws that allow the suers to make money from the taxpayer. Anyone with a lawyer can sue federal, state, and local agencies and make money in the process to force the use of unsound and unscientific practices. The Bar has done a terrible job in controlling members that spend their careers filing frivolous lawsuits and forcing their beliefs on the public. But then the Bar is not very active on the ethics that is today’s standards in the law profession.
Is there an answer? Maybe. But until all in agriculture will take time to listen to each other and then use what little leverage they have on the government and institutions, the answer is not likely. And in the meantime more producers will be gone. How do you recover from that?