We’ve all seen the news reports and the major tv media outlets all taking their turns bashing the midwest farmer and what “they” think is irresponsible farming technics and a so-called disregard for those downstream from us. The american farmer…… particularly in the midwest can sometimes be villanized for their farming practices. They all think that the midwest farmer is only interested in yields and how much fertilizers and other chemicals they can apply to their fields in order to get even better yields and not worry about the after effects.
This is far from the truth and what the midwest farmer of today is about. Yes, its true that they try and get better yields each year out of their ground but look at the burden that is placed on them! Each year….. the need to feed the world gets increasingly harder to keep up with. Human beings that need to be fed on our planet have increased from 1.5 billion to 7 billion in just the last 120 years. It is estimated that that will increase to 9 billion people in the next 40 years. And thats even factoring in a decrease in the present global birth rate!
The american farmer bares the brunt of this demand for more food. And he is ever up to the challenge and always looking for ways to increase food production for the masses. And yet….. the american farmer is expected to keep up with this demand and keep the prices down as his/hers expenses keep rising on the needed fuel, herbicides, fertilizers and seed that are soaring in costs. Then, toss in the enviornmental issues he must keep in mind as to not deplete the soil that sustains us and also not to pollute our waters that eventually flow into the Gulf of Mexico. This is a lot to expect from our farmers and a heavy burden to have. How many of you reading this post can say that when you wake up and go to work tomorrow that……..” the world depends on you today to feed them and at the same time protect our enviornment?” A big responsibility wouldn’t you say?
Todays American farmer is more pro-active in protecting are resources far more than they are given credit for. In 1997, the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Task Force was established to reduce the size of the hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2008, a task force asked 12 states along the Mississippi River to come up with a Nutrient Reduction Policy to help decrease the amount of contaminants that flow from the midwest waters downstream to the Gulf. A lot of this reduction has been asked for from the American farmer. Sure, there is some funding for the watershed programs and such but not nearly enough to cover what truly needs to be done to clean our smaller tributaries that eventually flow to the might Mississippi. Countless farmers have reached into their own pockets and paid for buffers, bio-reactors, cover crops, and even taking fields out of production to reduce the amount of sediment and pollutants that can escape from farm fields during storm water runoff. Again, we ask a lot from our farmers with not much if any fanfare. And they don’t ask for it. They are workers and keepers of our land and they enjoy it. Its a thankless job from the masses as it requires long hours, endless days, dependence on our ever increasing crazy weather conditions. Not many would do this job. They do it because they love the land and the self-satisfaction of a job well done at the end of the day. Billions of people depend on the farmer.
So when you see another article in a magazine or on a tv news report on how all our problems with erosion and pollution and “dead zones” are because of our farmers, don’t just accept what your reading/watching is the whole story. See the other side of what the american farmer faces today and how much he is trying to keep up with the demand and at the same time helping to protect our enviornment for our future generations.