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26 Dec 2010 - Ag challenges ahead in 2011

No one ever said farming and ranching would be easy. Producers of food, fiber and energy face challenges everyday caused by uncertain weather and volatile prices. I, for one, am grateful that so many of you out there are willing to do what you do to put an abundance of safe, nutritious food on my plate.

But I’m sure that many times you wonder why there seem to be more challenges every year and I’m afraid that will be the case in 2011. As I look ahead, I see an increase in attacks on producers and the methods you use to increase production. Radical environmental and animal rights groups will continue their campaigns to eliminate animal agriculture and stop the use of biotechnology on farms and ranches.

Then there is Washington. D.C. with members of Congress and government agencies who will attempt to pass legislation and write new regulations that will change the way you farm, complicate your life and require completing stacks of new forms. In most cases, the rules and legislation will be written by people who have never set foot on a farm or ranch, much less had to make a living producing food.

It will require more time on your part to keep abreast of the threats, and work as individuals and through your organizations to make sure agriculture is well represented and heard. Here are some of the issues that concern me…

  • Global climate change policy that in its current form will put U.S. producers at a major competitive disadvantage in the world market.
  • Environmental Protection Agency rules dealing with wetlands, clean water and air and regulating dust control on your property.
  • Food safety rules that would make it difficult for farmer’s markets, roadside produce stands, county and state fair food vendors and small meat processors to do business.
  • And of course, work throughout the year writing a new farm bill due in 2012. Rest assured, a lot of groups not directly involved in production agriculture will want to help write that legislation.

Add to all this, lawsuits filed by food processor and retailer organizations, as well as auto makers, to stop the increased use of ethanol and alternative fuels; court rulings against agricultural technology and oh yes, the “unwanted horse” problem and we, indeed, have a plate full for 2011. Let’s be alert, involved and united and make sure the world’s most productive agriculture continues to grow.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.