Monday, October 20, 2014

Let’s Make It Easier To Farm
March 13, 2014 by John Parker | No Comments

Widespread publicity from information published by the national census of agriculture showed that from 2007 through 2012, there are fewer, but larger farms in the…

Widespread publicity from information published by the national census of agriculture showed that from 2007 through 2012, there are fewer, but larger farms in the United States. The country had also lost some farmland during those years and farmers are getting older.

Americans all like to eat. So one needs to give some serious thought to these trends because the plentiful supply of food on the dinner table is involved. From farms locally and nationally come the raw materials that get processed into the food supply.

Fewer farms mean fewer sources for that food and possibly higher prices. On the other hand, larger farms have brought about greater efficiencies, higher yields and have helped keep prices at reasonable levels.

To maintain the farms the United States has and continue their wonderful productivity, Americans need to make it easier for farmers to farm and for more young people to want to go into the business. But, it seems like they are doing just the opposite.

More and more government regulations, harassment by animal rights activists, law suits by environmental groups and media publicity that tends to be anti-farming all are part of the problem.

Taking a look at government regulations, here in Ohio, one can expect more regulations on fertilizer application. A bill has already passed the Senate and is being considered by the House. It would require any farm operator applying fertilizer on 50 acres or more of land to take training and be certified. Records would be required and kept for at least two years documenting how much was applied, what kind and where.

Farmers are already required to take training and get an applicators license to apply restricted pesticides.

EPA is proposing more Agricultural Protection Standards regulations. The EPA would require workers to be trained every year instead of every five and records kept about the training. It proposes about a dozen changes under the pesticide application section of the regulations.

Out in the state of Washington, there is a court case that has big implications for dairy farmers across the country. An issue involving the Safe Drinking Water Act against four dairy farmers was filed by EPA. The situation was resolved about a year ago, but then a group of environmental attorneys filed suit under the Federal Resource Conservation Act (RCRA).

These laws typically regulate dumps, landfills and materials that would be discarded, according to Jay Gordon, executive director of the Washington Dairy Federation. Environmentalists are asking courts to rule that farmers are dumping when nitrates are used to grow crops, using fertilizer or have any drugs in manure that show up in ground water.

According to Gordon, this ruling would set a precedent across the county. If farmers apply fertilizer to their cornfields or manure on their land and get a rain storm that washes nutrients below the root zone, these environmentalists say they are dumping.

This is just one example of actions tried by environmental groups without regard to the implications to the food supply.

Animal rights activist groups also use several tactics that restrict farming and can endanger the food supply. They promote farm practices in the guise of more humane treatment of animals that are contrary to commonly accepted and approved practices. And, they propose and support legislation that discourages animal agriculture and would cause food prices to go up.

There are media food experts that promote farm practices that they know nothing about. Most of them have never set foot on a farm.

So, if Americans want to make it easier for farmers to farm and younger ones to get into the business, they need to wake up and start using more common sense when it comes to governmental regulations and actions by these anti-agriculture (or anti-food) groups.

Parker is an independent agricultural writer.

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