13 April 2014 - Stop Attacking or Stop Eating

I am beginning to wonder if Americans really want to eat anymore, because of the ongoing attacks against American agriculture by individuals and their organizations. They are attacking what farmers and ranchers do to the air, the water, the soil, their livestock, and on and on and on, with criticism and proposed legislation that would make it difficult or even impossible to farm or ranch..

Let me say at the outset... we cannot put food on your table, put clothes on your back, put a roof over your head, or put energy in your tank without raising dust, without creating unusual noises at various times of the day, and without creating unpleasant odors or without moving slow-moving farm equipment on rural roads and highways. Yet, the attacks continue, often from groups that have no idea what it takes to produce these products.

In Illinois, a ‘livestock siting’ law was passed several years ago by the State Legislature that lays out parameters for large livestock operations. Now a group of organizations including Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water, Prairies & Rivers Network, Socially Responsible Agricultural Projects and Illinois Environmental Council are calling for a complete revision of the law.

In their press release they said “The environment and the quality of life and health of hundreds of family farmers and rural residents from across the state have been sacrificed by an unfit law favoring polluting factory farms and agribusiness interests far too long. The current law has given government agencies and big corporations all the power, and communities no rights at all.” It’s always the “factory farms” and the large “agribusiness corporations” that are blamed and yet, more than 90% of our 2.1-million farms are owned and operated by families, many of them incorporated for financial reasons. And while they are much larger than the farm on which I was raised, I do not accept the term “factory farm” because there are no assembly lines with thousands of workers.

How about this press release that came across my desk a few days ago . . . Headline - “ U.S. Taxpayers Pay Twice for the U. S. Food System.” That’s followed by this sub-headline - “Preventable cardiovascular diseases cost taxpayers $172-billion annually. This tax day, April 15, Americans will pay twice, for wasteful, unhealthy food and for our agriculture system.” This group blames farmers and our farming system for all the cardiovascular cases in this country, ignoring the fact that what and how much we eat is the responsibility of the individual. They also overlook the fact that the total budget for agriculture is less than 2% of the Federal budget, and much of that goes to urban residents.

Stop demanding laws that make it impossible to farm in America, or stop eating. You can’t have it both ways! You are LITERALLY biting the hands that feed you!