by Katie Pratt for Ask the Farmers
One of the oldest, most annoying arguments against agriculture, in general and in my opinion, could be called the “Big Ag” debate, and because we grow corn and soybeans on our farm, I hear about “Big Ag” a lot.
The faceless entities so many groups or activists label Big Ag actually have faces, and in farming communities across the country, these faces are those of our neighbors, our friends and our family; faces of the people who keep our communities running, economies strong and people at work. Down on the farm things really aren’t that big or bad.
Many Midwestern farmers raise corn and soybeans like us. Not only do we have the climate and soils to produce these crops well, we also have the infrastructure, market accessibility and workforce. There are reasons why certain things are grown in certain places. It doesn’t always have to be about a BIG conspiracy theory.
Big Ag in my county looks like 835 farmers (the number reported in the 2012 Census of Ag). I’d venture 95 percent of these farmers are the third, fourth or fifth generations of their families to farm. In our country block, a farm family made a few changes to welcome both sons and their families back to the farm.
Big Ag looks like our seed representatives who hail from many companies, not just one, and who are also neighbors or former high school classmates. The truck drivers who haul our corn are, again, neighbors or former classmates. One driver is the mayor of the village to the east of our farm. The mechanics who work on our equipment at the local John Deere and Case dealerships are our neighbors, too. In fact several of these folks join our family in at our annual post-harvest celebration dinner.
Big Ag looks like no-till farmers, minimum till farmers and those who plant cover crops. It looks like farmers who apply synthetic fertilizers and organic manure from a neighbor’s cattle farm.
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Source: Ask the Farmers