15 February 2008 - I am a Cheerleader

Am I a cheerleader for American agriculture? You bet I am, and I am proud of it. Some responses to my recent Samuelson Sez on “sound science vs emotion” causes me to put that cap on today to cheerlead for America’s farmers and ranchers.

There were some lines in two or three e-mails that I found extremely irritating. Let me share a couple with you. One who took strong exception to what I said about sound science and my comments on the use of rBST in the dairy industry said “Well, dairy farmers are greedy. They want to produce more milk to make more money and don’t care about the health of their cows or us consumers..” This same person then went on to day “Crop farmers and all livestock farmers are greedy. They use this technology without any consideration of consumers, so they can make more money.”

I do agree on one point; in a capitalist system most of us do have a goal of putting more money in the bank and for many, including farmers and ranchers, that is a daily struggle. But greed and a lack of caring for the well-being of people and animals are two criticisms I will not accept. Let me share some of my thoughts on the people who put food on my table, clothes on my back, a roof over my head and now, fuel in my gas tank.

First of all, less than 2% of our population does just that for the rest of us in this country, so the other 98% of us are free to pursue other careers and activities because we don’t have to worry about our food supply. Secondly, when farmers make money, they spend it. All you need to do is look at that recent quarterly earnings report from Deere & Company, a 55% increase in profit because they sold more farm equipment. When farmers and ranchers make money, they put it right back into the economy, providing jobs for the people who make those machines and the many others who provide services to agriculture.

Finally, farmers are the nation’s top conservationists and environmentalists. In a profession where there is no such thing as an eight-hour work day, they work hard to preserve and improve the land, to make it productive for the generations to come, and we need to recognize them for that effort.

Greedy?...NO! Conscientious, hard working, taking pride in what they do....YES! So I will not accept that kind of criticism from people who disagree. Disagree with me on sound science if you like, but don’t level unfair criticism on the American farmer who feeds you.

Some early thoughts ahead of National Agriculture Day in March on Samuelson Sez.