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Do Farmers Really Believe Farm Reports?

By Alice Pfeifer
Analysis | March 9, 2010

HAYS, Kan. - I admit I am asking a somewhat provocative question. And I will not name any particular farm reporters because perhaps the most prominent one in Kansas has family roots in Ellis County, which means I am probably related to him. However, I will say that he has given quite a bit of air time recently to Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

About two weeks ago, said Kansas reporter was gloating over a tiff between Stallman and the Union of Concerned Scientists, who wanted to meet with Stallman over the subject of climate change. Said reporter was positively gleeful that no such meeting had taken place. He began sharing his glee by saying something along the lines of, "Now, I don't know who or what the Union of Concerned Scientists is, but it's probably some radical fringe group."

Time for a reality check. Mr. Farm President and Mr. Farm Reporter, the next time someone from the Union of Concerned Scientists calls, writes, or hollers from across the south forty, I suggest that you respond. The organization started at one of America's premiere institutions of higher learning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It has been in existence for forty years. Its membership consists of more than 250,000 scientists and concerned citizens across the nation. They are not a radical fringe group.

Furthermore, I suggest for your perusal a UCS document on global warming's potential financial impact on America's heartland if nothing is done about it. You can download the assessment at ucsusa.org.

Or, if you prefer getting your information from a video rather than a print source, I recommend for your viewing an episode of PBS's American Experience series called "Surviving the Dustbowl." You can see it here. The Dustbowl happened because farmers abused the land. It hasn't happened again because farmers learned their lesson and changed their agricultural methods. However, if American grain growers had acted sooner, the Dust Bowl would never have happened.

By the way, doesn't it seem strange--yet apt--that the current Farm Bureau president is named "Stallman"?


1 Comment

Alice, there are at least a couple of writers here in KFP who don't agree with Farm Bureau policy all the way. And, the reporter you are referring to doesn't speak for all farmers.

Farmers know that they have to cooperate with nature, even though some of us have defied nature and apply fertilizers, herbicides, and water to grow crops that are not natural for our areas. The crops we grow actually offset the environmental damages that fossil fuels cause in the environment. Our farming practices are using energy saving methods that require less fossil fuel per commodity unit. However, we are still dependent upon inputs, transportation, and processing that is heavily dependent on traditional energy from fossil fuels. That is why the agricultural industry is wary of the economics associated with restrictions. Those proposed restrictions will mean we must have more return for the product. Is the consumer willing to pay more for their food in order to protect the environment?


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