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Farmers, ranchers must set the record straight

Some people have the mistaken idea that farmers and ranchers are harming our environment. You hear it everywhere: at the coffee shop, church, public forums, traveling, even in the grocery.

Children arrive home from school and tell parents about harmful practices farmers are using on the land. Everywhere you go today people are concerned about the food they eat.

John Schlageck writes for the Kansas Farm Bureau.

John Schlageck writes for the Kansas Farm Bureau.

Few businesses are as open to public scrutiny as a farm or ranch in the United States. While farming and ranching practices occur in the open, the only picture many have of agriculture is what they read in newspapers, or see on television or social media. Even fewer people have set foot on a modern farm.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to engage with our customers and tell them about what we do in agriculture.

Today’s farmer and ranchers are doing their part to protect and improve the environment. They use such agricultural practices as early planting, pest control, good soil fertility conservation tillage and many other innovations that help grow more food while protecting the environment.

Tell them about this.

Farmers adjust practices to meet individual cropping conditions. Such practices may vary from farm to farm – even from field to field.

As in any other business, farmers and ranchers must manage their operations on a timely basis and use all available technology to improve quality and productivity. If they don’t they will not stay in business for long.

Tell them.

Today’s farmer has cut chemical usage by approximately 40 percent in many cases during the last couple of decades. Many no longer apply chemicals before planting. Instead, as the crop matures, farmers gauge potential weed pressure and apply herbicides only if needed.

Because farmers and ranchers are the first to come in contact with chemicals, they use them with care and according to instructions on the label. Farmers know chemicals can be toxic or harmful to people and the environment.

Tell them.

Throughout the growing season, farmers do their best to provide nutritious healthy food. From planting through harvest, they battle weather, weeds, insects and disease. Efficiency is their best defense against unstable world markets, political barriers and fringe groups who may attack their farming methods.

Farmers and ranchers must live in the environment they create. They know all too well the importance of keeping ground water clean and free of harmful products. More often than not, farmers drink from wells on their land. They understand  their family drinks from the water they pump from the ground every day.

Farmers and ranchers can and will do more to improve their environment. They can continue to rely less on herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers. Agricultural producers can also conserve more water, plug abandoned wells, monitor grassland grazing and continue to implement environmentally sound techniques that will ensure preservation of the land.

Production agriculture works because it is flexible enough to accept and adapt to change. No agricultural system – or any other system for that matter – is perfect.  Farmers and ranchers will continue to search for better ways to farm and ranch through research and education.

In the meantime, farmers and ranchers must engage through every avenue to tell our customers what goes on in agriculture. Take every opportunity to explain to customers that you are providing them with the safest food in the world.

John Schlageck, a Hoxie native, is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.   

KSKollection
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  • Rancher

    Tell them this: If crop don’t pan out not to worry, goverment will make up the difference.

    • Caroline Yunker

      You mean the taxpayers!

  • A_citizen_patriot

    A lot of people like to complain about farmers and there are farmers out there that over use chemicals and irrigate a lot. But look at it from the other side. Say apple orchards stopped using pesticides. Would you buy apples with holes in them, or worms in them? No? How about we have all the corn growers stop irrigating. The price of corn products goes up, now you complain about how expensive it is. You cant have it both ways.

    • A_Patriot_Taxpayer

      Do you pay sales taxes on your farm equipment when purchasing? Do you write off the depreciation for this equipment when preparing you state and federal tax returns? Do you pay taxes on your farm ground for what it is worth like those that own houses or some substantially lower amount based on what it will produce? I think you would answer yes to the first two and that you pay taxes at the lower rate. If this is true than I think this would put you in the taker class.

      • A_Patriot_Taxpayer

        That should be no to the first question and yes to the second.

      • A_citizen_patriot

        There is a difference between the federal government saying I don’t have to pay tax on some farm items, and them giving tax payer money to people.

      • Joe Friday

        WOW…What a Patriot!!! Patriot, the answers to your questions is that many business’ either do not pay sales tax on equipment to run their business’ or they can deduct that tax dollar for dollar when they do their taxes. Every business is able to write off depreciation on equipment. If you were anywhere close to as smart as you try to be, you would know that ALL property taxes are based upon use. If you define “the taker class” as those who write off allowed deductions then I would expect you to NEVER itemize or take ANY of the standard deductions on your tax return. Just the facts.

  • Real Farmer

    This country was built on a cheap food policy. The farm subsidys are designed to keep your food cost down. I as a farmer would love nothing more than to not get subsidizes and get 100 percent of my income out of the market place. But, are you willing to spend 40 to 50 percent of your income on food????

    • A_citizen_patriot

      Well you could decline to take subsidizes. I raise cattle and have never taken a subsidy. Several of my neighbors don’t receive subsidies either. Honestly I don’t think subsidies should exist for any industry.

    • Caroline Yunker

      When you’re talking about subsidies you’re talking about taxpayers’ money. My money. So yes, I want to pay less taxes to subsidize GMO foods that I don’t want anyways and keep more of my HARD EARNED money for organic food that I do want.

  • Real Farmer

    You mean to tell me you have never taken any sort of gov assistance i.e. LAP or CRP emergency grazing or haying of CRP etc. I too run cattle.

    • A_citizen_patriot

      No I haven’t.

  • Rancher

    2009 $168,316,9632010$226,737,2712011$303,485,8392012$58,653,613

    Just a couple of the years, plus I heard this year in Kansas you will get additional $200 per cattle sold. Not sure if that part is true. Anyone heard this yet?

  • Rancher

    2009$168,316,963 2010$226,737,271 2011$303,485,8392012$58,653,613

  • pauser

    years ago farmers were respected and protectors of our lands. today they are no different than those individuals with their hands out expecting the government to take care of them. in other words the magic words are “i’m entitled”.

  • Gratefully

    In America we spend 6.8 percent of our income on food. We are the lowest of 83 countries that are tracked. I think we need to be very grateful for that and thank the American farmer. FYI the country of Pakistan it takes 48 percent of their income for food. That’s a fact!!!

    • Caroline Yunker

      Here’s another fact: the U.S. has the highest rates of cancer in the world. 1 in 3 children has allergy, asthma, ADHD or autism. Cheap, industrialized, glyphosate-drenched, insecticide-producing GMO foods are killing us, the bees, the butterflies and our environment. Besides GMOs are heavily subsidized by taxpayers (that would be me). That’s why it’s so cheap. GMOs are corporate welfare food.

  • Rancher

    Don’t think I don’t appreciate a farmer. I just don’t appreciate a government giving
    them handouts. It is no different than
    welfare. But yet all my friends
    (farmers) complain about at coffee is the welfare system.
    Subsidies = welfare in cash form instead of stamps or a
    card. You guys know as well as I that
    some farmers are getting 100k to 200k subsidies some years. Nobody bails me out when I have a bad year,
    oh wait Obamma did if me a subsidy check a couple of years ago, in fact every
    tax payer got one so we are all guilty.

  • El3737

    Uh, “fringe group” here… This article is pure fantasy! According to Thierry Vrain, reformed biotechnologist and current organic farmer, “In 2013, there were about 500 million acres of engineered crops and 90% of them were doused liberally with close to two billion pounds of glyphosate. The molecule is so ubiquitous, it is now found in our food, our drinking water, the rain and most importantly, in our bodies.” And it has wiped out the milkweed our beautiful Monarchs require, pushing them to the edge of existence. It has endangered bees and all the crops they pollinate. (Not harming the environment, huh?) And animal studies abroad continue to indicate that forcing foreign bacterial and viral genes into our food crops poses a serious threat to our health.

    You ignore all of this in “setting the record straight.” You even claim less pesticide use! Crops that produce their own internal Bt pesticides (no resemblance to organic Bt use that washes off) and are doused with two billion pounds of Roundup is your idea of “less pesticide use?!”

    Our nation’s farm soils are in danger of becoming sterile. The ubiquitous Roundup is a chelator that immobilizes essential mineral nutrients in soils, killing beneficial organisms that help increase the availability of essential metal ions, while promoting pathogenic microorganisms that kill non-GMOs and promote diseases in GMOs like sudden death syndrome. But we can always manufacture and add back synthetic versions of the minerals that our soils should themselves be producing, right? And Big Food can continue “fortifying” our nutrient-lacking junk food as well. So, no problem there!

    I have nothing but admiration for the many organic farmers who respect the land and didn’t opt for the easier chemical farming you embrace. Will you be the first in line to buy Dow’s new 2.4-D ” available technology” with supposedly less volatile, but still drifting 2,4-D to kill your neighbor’s non-GMOs …and then come back again to set the record straight about improving the environment when two billion tons of 2,4-D are being applied to our nation’s farmlands?

    I am pleased to read that everywhere you go today — at the coffee shop, church, public forums, traveling, even in the grocery — people are concerned about the food they eat — and rightly so! Perhaps my legitimate concerns about GMO chemical farming with man-made mutants designed in a lab to lap up agro-poisons aren’t so “fringe” after all!

    • passin_threw

      You lost me at your claim that glyphosate will sterilize our soils. You my friend are an uneducated fear monger

  • Real Farmer

    EI3737
    Get a clue!!!!
    If any more acres go into organic farming, we will all starve to death!!!
    I get a good chuckle when people go to these organic food stores and spend an arm and leg for a loaf of bread. Our glyphosate and such are ten times safer than the DDTs of yesteryear!!!

    • El3737

      The logic of using a poison on your food because you consider it safer than another poison escapes me, especially when food can be grown with little-to-no poison as it is in honest organic farming. A recent study found formulations of Roundup the most toxic of nine agricultural poisons tested. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955666/
      And the UN Commission on Trade and Development issued an IAASTD report (google it) by 60 experts who concluded that small scale organic farming is the ONLY way to feed the world.
      Mr. “Real Farmer,” do you read anything other than Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont ads extoling the virtues of GMO “traits” to feed a hungry world? It’s all lies and propaganda to make their toxin-tied seeds seem like things we must have – and you have fallen for it. In reality, all these chemical companies are doing is selling chelating chemicals that are sterilizing your farm soils by killing beneficial microorganisms. But hey, it’s easier than real farming, eh? – even if it does destroy our health and the health of future generations!
      YOU get a clue!!!!

      • passin_threw

        And how do you propose we feed 9 billion people using organic systems from the stone ages?

        • alexander

          There aren’t 9 billion Americans.

          • alexander

            Not even close.

          • passin_threw

            Lexi you really are an idiot. I never once said there were 9 billion Americans. There aren’t even 9 billion people in the world yet. However, at the rate of population growth in the world we will have 9 billion people by the year 2050. And without the help of GMO’s in agriculture we will never be able to feed them. I simply posed the question looking for his answer to the problem. Go be dumb somewhere else please

  • Caroline Yunker

    What poppycock. We are using MORE chemicals than ever before.

  • Real Farmer

    We are feeding more people than ever so that’s what it’s going to take. Organic farms will never keep up. Cancer rates are up for many reasons and have not factually been linked to food. Big oil gets more subsidys than farmers in the form of tax breaks. Are you going to stop buying fuel. The largest part of the bill goes to food stamps. In fact their are no more direct payments made to farmers. Things are changing rapidly so keep up with current events before you acuse the farmer of taking all your tax money. Again I would be happy to take 40 percent of your income for food instead of 6.8.