Wednesday, July 21, 2010

American Farming--Something to Appreciate

Yet another great blog from FBlog, written by fellow pork producer Chris Chinn.

Farming in America
by Chris Chinn

I spent the last two weeks in Europe with my ALOT (Agriculture Leaders of Tomorrow) Class learning about agriculture in France, Belgium and England. It was a great learning experience and one that opened my eyes to how fortunate I am to farm and live in America.

We learned a great deal about the EU farm policy known as CAP and we had great conversations with farmers from the EU. The one thing that stood out to me was hearing that the EU Common Ag Policy (CAP) was focused on feeding the EU, not feeding the world. As American farmers, our concern is not only feeding the people in our country, but to feed people in other countries as well who don't have the resources (land) we do in the United States to produce food.

We learned that approximately 50% of a farmer’s net income in the EU comes from government direct payments. The government sets the price which farmers receive for the goods they produce. They also do not want the farmers to over produce so there are incentives or penalties in place to prohibit farmers from producing too much. As a result, the cost of food in the EU is higher than what we pay in America because the farmers are not allowed to run their farms efficiently and the increased regulations add to their cost of production.

Each farmer we spoke with told us they didn’t want to be farming for a direct payment check. Each farmer wanted less government involvement in their farms but they knew that wasn’t a possibility. The farmers told us groups outside of agriculture were influencing how policy was set in the EU.

After visiting with the EU farmers and representatives of the EU Commission on Agriculture, I realized how great it is to farm in America. I also realized if American Farmers don’t stand up and speak out about how we farm, we could find ourselves in a similar situation to the EU farmers with more regulations that run up our cost of production. If this happens, the cost of food in America will be much higher than what it is today, and every American will be challenged with how to put food on their dinner table.

This article really puts things in perspective and helps farmers and ranchers appreciate what we have here in the U.S. It's easy to loose sight of how lucky we Americans are especially when we hear more negatives than positives about our industry. As Americans, we tend to live by the "out of sight, out of mind" rule but that is really hurting agriculture in this country, among other things. Chris Chinn had an amazing opportunity to see what agriculture is like outside of our U.S. bubble. Hopefully, this article will encourage other farmers and ranchers to tell their story and correct the misconceptions.

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