Last week was “Ag Week” – a time to celebrate the enormous contribution that farmers, ranchers, and the whole of the ag industry bring to this country and the world. I don’t recall a time when telling this story was more important.
Last week, we were in the atrium of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Secretary Vilsack spoke to the gathering of ag supporters, including pork producers, corn growers, rice, cotton, 4-H, FFA, John Deere, ADM – ag leaders across the board.
This industry that does so much for mankind needs to recommit to work together. It does not serve our collective purpose to put food versus fuel. We don’t need small farms criticizing big farms. We don’t need a fight between organic, natural, or processed foods. All of agriculture has a role to play.
Secretary Vilsack said he wants to inform the urban people to “know your farmer, know your food.” That is a good thing, realizing that with each new generation we move another step away from the farm. Of the 535 voting Members of the U.S. Congress, only 9 have an ag background.
This is a new day. We have bigger farms and fewer farmers. The farms producing the bulk of the food are commercial farms today. They are businesses employing all the best technology available. That includes “precision farming” with GPS, hybrid seeds, genetic engineering, the best in crop protection. But although the farms are big, more than 90 percent are family farms. When I drive across my home state of Illinois, farm after farm passes by my windshield. Corn, wheat, soybeans, hogs, and cattle, but they are all family farms. We don’t have as many as we used to have. We are far more efficient than we used to be. Today’s farms are capital-intensive, not labor-intensive. That releases millions of our citizens to do other things. They can build the cars, fly the planes, truck the produce, and manufacture the computers.
I could sing the praises of agriculture all day. We are good at what we do.
Spring is here. It is time to join together and broadcast a unified message. We need to work together, and no more family fights.
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.