This Week’s Headlines
The war on farmers continues (Editorial)
(Sept. 6, 2016) Is there no end to this 21st century war on farmers?
The headline in the news release read: If everyone ate less meat we could save the Bay in a jiff.
The release was from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
It reported that a study by the foundation and the University of Virginia was undertaken to estimate the collective impact of specific lifestyle and household choices on nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.
Among its conclusions: If everyone in the Chesapeake Bay drainage area consumed only the recommended amount of protein, the associated reductions in nitrogen pollution would be equivalent to what is needed to save the Chesapeake Bay.
“Food production, particularly of meat products, is responsible for more nitrogen emissions than any other footprint component,” said Dr. James Galloway, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. “What’s more, the typical U.S. citizen consumes roughly 30 percent more protein than he or she needs. If everyone in the watershed consumed only the recommended amount of protein, reductions in nitrogen emissions would be substantial.”
OK, so we all decide to eat less meat. That not only means less protein, it means fewer chickens. Fewer chickens means less litter.
You know where all of this goes.
Consider, too, these skirmishes.
EPA issued a draft Ecological Assessment of the herbicide atrazine.
That action is a preliminary step in judging whether the chemical will continue to be available for agricultural producers.
The Humane Farming Association announced the filing of a petition with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to “cease Livestock Indemnity Program payments to producers who fail to protect their livestock from adverse weather.”
A California investment firm has reintroduced a resolution to Monsanto asking for a study in response to what it labels as “the growing public outcry over the dangers of glyphosate.”
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
There is little doubt that in the cultural climate of the early years of the 21st century, agriculture, in all of its diversity, is on the hit list.
In a Facebook post, a farmer’s wife admitted she sometimes lost her temper during stressful times on the farm.
She wrote that she was tired of how much he worked; she was tired of managing the household by herself and had sent a text to her husband in the field saying as much.
“I have to have these little moments once (OK, several times) throughout planting and harvest season,” she explained.
But, as she describes, her demeanor changed as she watched her exhausted husband return to the house that night after a long day, apologize, fix his plate of dinner, and try to eat in peace.
“Do I wish that we saw him more than an hour or so a day?” she wrote. “Yes. But the love he has for his craft is something to envy.... This is a man who is working to uphold 4 generations of blood, sweat, and tears and showing his children the value of hard work and discipline.”
This is a scene from the life of an American farm family. These are the conversations. These are the worries and frustrations.
Raising families while also raising crops and livestock that consumers enjoy without ever stopping to think about the work involved.
These farm families are growing our national food and fiber supply as 97 percent of all farms in the United States are family-owned operations and managing somehow to overcome the challenges of natural disasters, sour markets, foreign subsidies, regulatory burdens, and goodness knows, the weather.
As Vilsack told a congressional panel earlier this year, “Everyone of us who is not a farmer is not a farmer because we have farmers.”
Our farm wife and mother despite it all, asked: “Where would we be without our farmers?”
Let’s hope and pray we never have to find out.