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Sunday, March 22, 2015 ISSUE #828

Farming: old vs. new

         You may know that I grew up on a farm and I’ve been involved in agriculture ever since.  My grandparents farmed with a team of horses. They milked cows by hand (and so did I). Hens ran free during the day but were housed securely at night to protect them from raccoons and foxes.  Cattle and sheep grazed on hillside pastures about 7 months a year and the other 5 months we fed ‘em hay twice a day.

            Were my grandparents organic farmers? Pretty much. They grew hybrid corn to fatten the hogs.  Fertilizer for the corn and garden crops was mainly supplied by the cows and chickens, if you know what I mean.  The main weed killer was a boy with a hoe. Having DDT to spray flies at milking time on a hot summer evening was welcome, but there would be just as many annoying flies the next day.

            Why am I telling you this? Yesterday I saw a video put out by an organic group that slams modern farmers.  The video features innocent children singing enthusiastically to the tune of “Old MacDonald’s Farm.” But the words were changed to condemn agricultural practices developed over the last half century. Then the scene changes and a new verse sings the praises of a New MacDonald’s Farm with only organic foods.                        

           Now, anyone who desires organic, and can afford to pay double or triple for their family’s food, is encouraged to buy organic. Those farmers deserve all the money they can get. But do not misrepresent the other 95 to 98 percent of American farmers who produce the safest food supply in history. And before you insist that ONLY organic food should be available to feed the world, think about this question:  who will decide which 2 to 3 Billion people will die of starvation. Think about that before blasting herbicides, insecticides, GMO crops, climate-controlled buildings for animals, and modern farm machinery.

         If you want farmers to go back to 1950, then maybe you should consider giving up your cell phone, computers, color TV, and air conditioning.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

            “I’m just an old country boy in a big town trying to get along. I have been eating pretty regular, and the reason I have been is because I have stayed an old country boy.” WA #90, Aug. 31, 1924

            “You got to do more than just live in the country to be a farmer.” WA #196, Sept. 26, 1926

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