Friday, December 19, 2014

Farmers Help Reduce Hunger
December 5, 2013 by John Parker | No Comments

Everyone knows there is hunger or malnutrition in this country and in other parts of the world. In some cases there is more malnutrition than…

Everyone knows there is hunger or malnutrition in this country and in other parts of the world. In some cases there is more malnutrition than hunger, but either way, good food is essential in peoples lives.

One fact that is often not recognized is that the amazing productivity of American farmers has kept the cost of food lower than it would be otherwise. As a nation, Americans pay the lowest percent of take-home pay for food of any country in the world.

Even with this fact in mind, if a family doesnt have the money to buy food regardless of the cost, then there is hunger and malnutrition. This is where important programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) get involved. Others include the various food banks and groups that provide food to those with incomes below the poverty level.

What the ability of the American farmer to produce an abundance of food does is keep food prices lower than would otherwise be the case if there were food shortages. So, any money available through an assistance program goes further and buys more food.

If one looks around the local area, one can see examples of the ability of farmers to grow food. One sees larger fields using newer practices, such as no-till cultivation. Larger fields are generally more efficient to plant and harvest and they allow the use of more efficient equipment.

While one may not actually see another important practice, the use of genetically modified seeds has greatly improved production. This is a practice used by farms of all sizes because they realize the benefits.

Looking at the dairy business, which is still the most important source of agricultural income in the county, one sees amazing increases in the ability of cows to produce milk. This has brought about a big change in dairy farming in the area with fewer, but larger farms.

Dairy barns have changed to the more open free-stall barns where the cows can move around freely and have access to feed and water at all times. These barns are more efficient than the older stanchion type buildings.

Along with the free stall barns have come milking parlors that make it somewhat easier and faster to milk the cows. Cows come to the milking parlor in groups of various sizes depending on the kind of parlor. Those doing the milking are in a recessed area and dont have to bend over to put the milking machine on the animal.

Locally there are a large number of small farms, with the average size around 150 acres. Many of these are part time or have someone working off the farm. They have also adopted much of the new technology, increased their ability to produce and are important to the food supply.

Improvements in the ability of farmers to grow food have been the result of several things. First comes the hard work of farmers and their ability to adapt to new practices that help increase productivity.

New technology that resulted from agricultural research is an important factor. Then, programs such as The Ohio State Extension Service that take the new technology out to the local farmer are essential.

So, it helps to understand the role of farmers in helping to reduce hunger in the United States and worldwide.

Parker is an independent agricultural writer.

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