Farm Horizons, May 2004

Be an agricultural producer

By Myron Oftedahl
CCA Hutchinson Co-op, Lester Prairie

How do you answer the question of “What do you do for a living?” Do you say “I am just a farmer?” How about, “I am a farmer” or “I am an agriculture producer.”

All of us in the agriculture sector need to stand up with our heads held high and proclaim our role in production agriculture.

We need to explain to our neighbors and city cousins how we make our living off the land.

We need to explain the costs and margins that we work with. We need to explain how conservation tillage helps control erosion.

We need to help them understand that we use chemicals only as needed. We need to explain to others how we use soil samples to determine how much fertilizer to use.

Why am I urging you to do this? Because I read an article in a trade magazine how an environmental group coerced a county board in California to ban any and all GMO (genetically modified) crops.

I would guess it happened because there were no GMO crops grown in that county, so that the few farmers who were there didn’t think it would matter.

What will be next? Another county, the state of California, other bans concerning agriculture?

We do a good job raising crops and livestock to feed the U.S. and the world, but when is the last time you told anyone?

If a ban was proposed in your county, what would you do? Would you shake your head and stay home or would you explain the benefits of having the Bt gene in your corn for protection from E. coli or corn root worm, and the safety of landing Bt seed versus corn insecticide.

I would urge you to think about these questions and have some answers ready so the next time someone comments about farmers you can hold your head high and tell them “I am a farmer and these are the things that farmers are doing to protect the soil and the environment.” Be a spokesman.

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