As we approach the New Year, we all tend to look ahead wondering just what the year will bring. Local farmers are no different. In fact, they may have more questions and concerns than most of us.
What kind of weather will we have to get crops in the ground? With higher fertilizer and seed prices, will we get enough for our crops to make a reasonable profit? What price will we get for our milk, improved like it was in 2010 or disastrous prices like '09? What kind of unnecessary governmental regulations will be imposed on us that cost money and make farming more difficult?
Individual farms will have more questions that relate to their operation but these are just a few I have heard them mention.
Recently, I gave a talk to a group about the future of agriculture. My lead comment, was "If agriculture doesn't have a good future, then none of us do. Without productive, efficient family farms our very food supply is at risk. None of us wants to think about widespread hunger or famine in this country."
So many of us don't realize, when we go to the grocery store with all the shelves lined with food, where that food initially comes from. And it would be hard to envision going to the store and finding the shelves empty. We don't realize the essential job that our farmers do in producing basic food. Without the hard work and productivity of today's modern, conventional farms our national security is at risk.
About a year ago, the World Food and Agriculture Organization said that by 2050 we would need double the global agricultural output in order to feed the world. To do this in a sustainable way, we have got to improve our agricultural productivity.
Recently, a report from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology said that farmers can provide the food we eat, feed for our livestock and our pets, fiber for clothes, "flowers" for our environment and the fuel we need - if countries develop the needed information, knowledge and technology.
Concern is expressed in the report about the lack of commitment by our government and those of other countries to support the research and education needed to solve the problems affecting our survival on this earth.
If we are going to avoid hunger and famine down the road, we need to urge our governmental leaders at all levels to support agricultural research and education. So far new research and technology used by farmers locally and across the nation have helped to provide the abundance we enjoy.
Several governmental agencies have encouraged use of new technology such as no-till of crops and bioengineered crops and much more. They include the University Extension Services such as OSU Extension in Ohio, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, such as OSU Extension and the Soil and Water Conservation Service.
Opposition to change has always been with us. There are some voices out there that oppose use of genetically engineered crops. Others such as animal rights activists want to change our very lifestyle by eliminating animal products from our diets. And the organic movement tends to oppose today's conventional, productive, safe food production. While organically produced food is good, there is no research that says it is safer or better than conventionally produced foods.
So through education we all need to be made aware of the danger down the road of a food shortage and famine if we aren't careful. Since most people are one or more generations removed from the farm, they don't understand the way today's farmers produce food so much more efficiently than grandpa did. To think we can go back to those days puts our very food supply in danger.
Parker is an independent agricultural writer and works with the local Farm Bureau Board.