The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Mark Watson
Panhandle No Till Educator 

No Till notes: 'Perception'


Our way of life in agriculture across the breadbasket of America is being threatened by special interest groups who disagree with how we conduct our business. These special interest groups disagree with how we produce the food which feeds the world. Our image as stewards of the land and livestock is being tainted and it’s important we start telling our side of the story.

These special interest groups are well organized and well funded. Their sole intention is to dictate policy so the food we produce conforms to their standards. These groups do not agree with modern day agriculture and are unrealistic in their expectations of how agriculture is going to feed a growing population with fewer resources such as land and water.

These groups are opposed to the way we produce livestock or are opposed to livestock production completely. They are opposed to genetically modified crops and the use of pesticides in crop production. These groups are also opposed to the use of grains to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. They feel agriculture in the United States is nothing more than corporate farming which is making huge sums of money at the expense of our food safety, our food security and our environment.

Our consumers are removed from agriculture and don’t have a good understanding of where their food comes from. Those of us who produce the food that feeds our consumers are a small portion of our population. These consumers are also much more aware of their environment and will demand that their food be produced in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

It’s important that those of us in agriculture take the time to tell our side of the story to our consumers. It is also very important that we live up to our consumers expectations. We need to improve our image as stewards of the land who use modern farming techniques to preserve and protect our natural resources. We also need to use the latest technology when we use any pesticide or fertilizer products we apply with sound science and proper application rates.

No till crop production practices which protect the soil and conserve the amount of irrigation water we pump will go a long way in telling a good story of how we produce the food for our consumers. We can show the consumer that we use modern crop production practices which are environmentally sound and protect our resources for future generations. No till crop production also reduces the amount of water running off the fields which may carry unwanted pesticides and fertilizers into our waterways.

The American consumers and our consumers abroad need to have confidence in the American farmer and rancher that we are supplying them with a safe product being produced in a humane and environmentally sound manner. Take the time to evaluate your operation to see where you may be able to upgrade your production practices. Ask yourself if there are changes you can make to your operation which will protect our natural resources. If there is room for improvement, then make the necessary changes to your operation so you can produce your livestock and grain in an environmentally sound manner.

I feel our consumers will hold us more accountable than ever when it comes to our farming and ranching practices. It is important that we stand up to these challenges and then tell our story to these consumers to enhance our image as being good stewards of the land for generations to come.


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