Lately it seems as though everyone outside of the farming community is giving commercial farming a bad name. I however, believe that this is due simply to misinformation and/or a lack of knowledge on the subject. So let me share a few things with you all. First, if we aren’t farming commercially, then what are we doing? Subsistence farming. This can be defined as low-productivity, subsistence level farming that produces a small yield meant only to be consumed by the family on the farm. This often tends to be labor intensive and a full time occupation for the subsistence farmer. As many know, not everyone has the time to be a full time farmer…
So what do we do? We add technological innovation, increase the size of the farm, and then, we have commercial farming. Now this type of farming is one that is producing at incredibly high levels, is most efficient and provides for more than just the farmer’s family; all relatively positive things. So why do so many people seem opposed to this? Everyone advocates home-grown (subsistence) farming, but why?
The most common argument against commercial production is one based upon “organic” or “inorganic”. Organic farming differs from commercial farming as artificial fertilizers are banned and farmers instead use compost, manure and clover. When practicing this type of farming though, yields are not as high, the farm itself is not as efficient nor is the food produced any better than that of a commercial farm. I believe some people become blinded by the “organic” way of life, when in reality, it has not been proven to be any better or healthier.
Not only this, but organic farming cannot support the same size of population that commercial farming can. And until we can make organic/subsistence farming as efficient as commercial farming, it does not seem like the most logical or reasonable route for American agricultural to go down.
During the Super Bowl this year Dodge put out a commercial titled simply “Farmer” (Dodge commercial). For the next two minutes or so I found myself completely captivated by the sequence of pictures being displayed on my television screen, with familiar voice of Paul Harvey ringing in my ears. It made me wonder how many people seeing this commercial really know what commercial farming really is?
Commercial farming is the large-scale production of crops for sale, intended for widespread distribution to wholesalers or retail outlets. Farmers and ranchers only make up two percent of the American population. It is through commercial farming that this two percent of farmers are able to produce 262 percent more food with two percent fewer inputs (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.), compared with 1950. It is through the hard work of scientist such as Norman Borlaug, the inventor of the dwarf wheat and considered to be the savior of a billion lives. People like him pushing the boundaries of science in order to insure a better life for those to come after them. Companies like Monsanto have developed a “Round-up” resistant seed, to assist the commercial farmer in his day-to-day operations. Commercial farmers are constantly dealing with government intervention, and activist groups building up a defense against them. It makes me wonder do they really know what farming is?
Farming is hard. Farming is getting up before the sun and walking out the door behind your father. It’s the sound of the tractor cranking up and feeling of a cool mid April breeze. It’s the smell of freshly tilled soil and sound of water drops hitting the cornstalks. It’s a sweat that only comes from the summer sun at high noon. It’s the sound of baby pigs looking for their mother. Farming is that feeling of satisfaction looking out across your land knowing that your hard work today will feed your family tomorrow. Farming is that feeling you get when a new born calf takes its first few steps and every time you are reminded of the first steps you took when you started this thing called a farm. Farming, it is a lifestyle chosen by few but affects us all. Farming is hard.
Comments are closed.