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2 October 2010 - Fight the Foe, Not Each Other

We have an ongoing situation in the agricultural community in this country that really bothers me. I am talking about the fighting inside the agricultural community; producers fighting with each other over the quality, the nutrition and the safety of the food produced on their farm or ranch.

We cannot afford the infighting when the attacks from outside the agricultural community continue to grow. We must respond to the radical environmental groups, the Humane Society of the United States, PETA, organizations that would totally alter the way we produce food in this country, to the point where perhaps in the future, we couldn’t produce enough and would have to import food from other countries.

Yet, e-mails and letters, headlines and stories continue to come across my desk. Organic farmers claiming their food is better than what they call conventional food; locally grown food vs. food that travels a long distance to get to our homes; family farms vs. factory farms. All of this infighting is costly; it also raises questions and lowers confidence about the safety and quality of our food supply in the minds of consumers

Every time I mention organic farming, I hear from organic farmers saying “why are you against organic farming.” I am not! As a matter of fact I tip my hat to those organic farmers who have found the niche market and consumers who will pay a great deal of money for organic food. But I get upset when organic producers make claims that their food is better, safer and more nutritious; because there are no scientific studies to support that claim and, in effect, it attacks non-organic producers.

Then there is the “buy locally” campaign, which is fine, but don’t intimate that’s better for the environment than food that travels thousands of miles. In the winter time if you live in the northern part of the country you cannot buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, they must travel long distances from California or Florida or we go without.

Then there is the term corporate farm that implies the operator is some faceless person only interested in money at the expense of the environment and animal care; even worse is the term factory farm. To me, a factory is an assembly line with workers building a product as it moves down the line; that is not what I see when I visit farms, large and small. I’ve learned over the years that every large farm started as a small farm and more than 90% are family corporate farms.

Big farm, small farm, organic, non-organic, local, long distance, we are all in the same business, feeding hungry people in a growing world, and there is room for all of us in this business. We must stop the infighting in our agricultural family and instead, use our resources, time, energy and money, to respond to those who attack us from the outside.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.