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31 Jan 2016 - A Familiar Refrain

It has become a familiar refrain that I’m hearing more and more. It really started at the Farm Bureau Convention in early January.Then in the last week of the month, I heard it in Minot, ND when I addressed the Northern Pulse Growers Convention, in San Diego when I covered the annual convention of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and finally at the Lake of the Ozarks where I spoke at a meeting of DeKalb Seed dealers and their farm customers.

At every event, the concern over the government’s over-regulation of property rights, particularly WOTUS (Waters of the United States), and the lack of knowledge by non-farm consumers over what it takes to produce safe, nutritious, affordable food came front and center. Producers are especially upset by the false information and outright lies about their environmental activities and their treatment of animals and poultry by bloggers with no scientific proof and who probably have never visited a farm or ranch.

The new President of the NCBA Tracy Brunner, a Kansas cattleman, said WOTUS is an attack on property rights at its worst, and said it’s not new to cattlemen who have had to deal with rule-making by other government entities like the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for decades. Add to that the Endangered Species Act, OSHA and the FDA and Tracy said “We just can’t afford the cost of compliance to meet all the new government rules and stay in business.”

At the DeKalb meeting, seed dealers and farmers said without technology such as GMO’s how can we possibly feed an additional 2-billion people on the planet by 2050 if we have to use the technology that produced 50 bushels of corn to the acre just a half-century ago. And I often get angry phone calls from my non-farm listeners in the Chicago area wanting me to stop promoting biotechnology, particularly GMO’s. When they finish their tirade, my first question is “What is a GMO?” After 20-30 seconds of silence, 90% of them respond “Well, I don’t know but I know it’s not good for me.” I know the answer is based on an anonymous blog rather than science.

We have a never-ending challenge to educate, educate, educate. We must continue to do that if we are going to change this refrain.

My thought on Samuelson Sez.