Peggy Sanders
Oral, S.D.

Many in agricultural production believe in the idea that each producer should be able to choose the method of work, the seeds and the crops used; others are adamant that it is their way or the highway, insisting organic is the only acceptable way and anyone who does not adhere is out to poison the world. Like any viewpoint that is one size fits all, it is wrong. A primary truth regarding the latter pronouncement is these growers and their families eat their products and they would not hurt themselves.

I keep wondering who started the frenzy of being so worried about our food supply. In many years past most everyone had small or large gardens. Canning and freezing, “putting up,” were common activities. That was followed by was a lull in family gardening, then all of a sudden we have all of these “experts” who had never gotten a finger into the dirt, telling agricultural producers with hundreds of acres of crops, how to farm and how to feed their livestock. They are actually, demanding certain practices be used.

What or who was the impetus behind these divisive demands? They like to tout that they are concerned about the health of the planet but the truth is, they are against agriculture, especially livestock production and they run wild with rumors.

The world is big enough for traditional or organic farming, GMO or non-GMO, large farms or hobby farms, acres of garden produce or a patio pot with two tomato plants, whatever suits the grower, his needs and capabilities.

There are blogs devoted to disrespecting traditional farming practices (no, I’m not going to give the name or the website). These bloggers are people who do not realize there is room for various practices.

They have no clue a new combine costs over $380,000 to $480,000 (you can pick up a good used one for just $200,000 or so) and a traditional farmer cannot change from one crop to another on a whim. For instance a cotton farmer has machinery for that crop. If she decides she wants to change to raising a different crop, her line of machinery has to be replaced. She also has a learning curve if that is a new crop to her. Before she plants one seed, she will have to find a place to market her crop, how far it is to the market and the cost of hauling. If the market is 200 miles away, would she gain anything in return for her investment? There is so much more to it than just planting an alternative crop.

While you are thinking of farmers, toss out the old notion that farmers and ranchers are provincial, uneducated bumpkins. I’d venture to say that in our county at least a vast majority of those in production agriculture have college degrees, many have masters and there are a few with doctorates, living and working on their own places. ❖

Peggy Sanders