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April 13, 2014

Consumer, Technology & Nostalgia OH MY - Part 5

Anything new and different is constantly scrutinized and attacked by someone. There will always be those who don't like something, but choosing the way to express your opinions and beliefs can make it easier for others to listen and potentially learn.

Jonathan Sparks, a farmer in Westland, Ind., sums up how many who live day in and day out in the midst of production agriculture are feeling:

"It's amazing the things we learn about ourselves as we grow older. I made a choice at a fairly young age that I wanted to do what my father and his father did for a living. I wanted to be a farmer, something I have never regretted, but recently I have been told things about myself that have me a little concerned.

For one, I have learned I'm a greedy corporate pig, pillaging money from my own government to pad my astronomical profits. It gets worse though, not only am I pillaging from the government but I'm also responsible for the obesity 'epidemic' by producing corn that is turned into corn syrup and consumed by unsuspecting Americans.

Oh and the GMOs we use – let us not forget about how we are abusing our environment and creating some kind of 'Franken food.' And meat production, where do we start – antibiotics, growth hormones or Heaven forbid you house livestock inside, away from the elements and the predators.
How did this happen? What has changed that production agriculture has been deemed a menace to society by some? Nothing really, other than what the public asked for.
The last 100 years has seen changes like no society has ever seen in food production. Advances in technology and science have been astounding.
My grandfather, who passed away more than 20 years ago, would be in awe of the tools I have to produce food. My father would probably be impressed with the changes we've seen since he left us just a few years ago.
Agriculture has continued to do what is asked of it – produce an abundant and safe food supply for our country as inexpensively as possible.
No wait … somewhere in there we became responsible for producing for a large part of the world. Increasing the demand for what we should produce and using much of the same acreage to produce it!
What changed is that we in farming have become the most efficient food producer in the world. American farmers increased production 93.87% from 1948 to 2011, while inputs rose a slight 4.41% during that same time period. Why did this increase in productivity happen?
Simply put, in my opinion it was necessary for American farmers to keep increasing output and efficiency to survive.
In 1950, the U.S. population was roughly 150 million people. Of that 150 million people, 25 million were farmers. In 2012, the U.S. population had grown to 313 million, while the number of farmers had dropped to 2.1 million. The marketplace demanded that producers increase efficiency or they found another means to sustain their families.
So with all that said, what is the face of modern agriculture? One word comes to my mind – families. Family owned and operated farms account for 96% of all farms. But our business structures may differ – some may be sole proprietors, some have "Inc." or "LLC" behind their names. We are, for the most part, one thing: families working together to produce food, fuel, and fiber for our country and our world, hopefully scratching out a living for ourselves in the process.
The risk in agriculture is greater than ever; the costs of inputs, fuel and machinery continue to climb while prices fluctuate and yields depend greatly on Mother Nature. This makes the risk management tools which are sponsored by the government of even more important to the well-being of our families.
As for science and technology, these advancements bring benefits that are weighed heavily by producers. GMOs have been proven by science to be safe, and our families consume products produced with biotech grain, just the same as yours. The livestock sector of agriculture continues to produce more meat with fewer inputs and less impact on our environment.
Farming isn't an occupation; it's a way of life. We champion sustainable methods of production. Why? It's all about family having something to pass down to the next generation, and with 2 million farmers, that next generation is more important than ever."

Farmers are intelligent, hardworking and passionate about what they do – it has been said for years that farming isn't just a job, it is a lifestyle. When the methods of modern agriculture are attacked, it can feel like a personal jab to those living it every day.


  1. Love to read your story as always. Thanks!

  2. I meet some strange cats every now and then. It is befuddling, some of the notions they have of farming/farmers. I guess that is easy to do when so many have no involvement in agriculture (other than eating). Sadly, the involvement isn't going to increase because of fewer hands needed in food production (which should be a good thing. Makes food cheaper).