Editorial by Brian Sprague
I was speaking with my wife the other day and she was telling me a story about her drive back to our house with her parents. She told me that as she was enjoying the view of the endless wheat fields, and the soy bean fields, the ever grazing fields of cattle, her father was in a panic that I had moved his daughter to an area with nothing in it. It got me to thinking this: What do city people really think we do out here in the plains and farming communities of the world? Do they really think all of the space out here is covered in nothing?
If there are people out there who drive by and see nothing, I would suggest to them this: The fields of flowing prairie grass that cover thousands of acres have just barely enough protein to feed a large heard of cattle, that large heard of cattle is what puts beef in your freezer, many of those ranchers only have the option of grazing on large plains fields because hay prices are through the roof — due to drought — and corn prices are through the roof– due to the use of ethanol.
The crops you see as you drive by: the Corn, Soy Beans, Sugar Beets, and so on do much more than put food on your table. Corn is used for feeding livestock, making alcoholic drinks, and making fuel for your car. The Soy Beans make milk, and fibers for clothing. Sugar beets are a natural sweetener that is used for much, including making hundreds of jobs throughout the Midwest.
When you drive by, instead of seeing nothing, see it as many farmers’ life investment; see it as a farmer’s way of putting their children through college; see it as their contribution to make your life better.
In Colorado, many farming communities are being taken advantage of by schemes run by larger metropolitan cities using umbrella companies to do their dirty work. It is called a “buy and dry.” Recently, people around the little town of Ault, Colorado, experienced this exact thing. A company approached the local farmers — hit hard by the recession and high seed prices. The company offered them an extremely good offer for their water rights, and many farmers took it to put food on their table. The company told them they could keep using the land as they were and nothing will change. What the farmers didn’t know then was that they sold their water rights to a large metro city!
It was being purchased by the City of Thornton, Colorado, a large city 50 miles south of them. The farmers didn’t know that this city was going to build a pipeline and take all the water they bought and move it to the south. This city doesn’t care that they will be damaging a vital part of the state’s farming community.
They don’t care because they don’t know. I would venture to say that the average school, in the majority of American schools, does not understand farming, why it’s done, how it’s done, how it helps. I would venture to say that the majority of schools do not have an agriculture education program, and that most schools do not have nor promote a local FFA (Future Farmers of America) or 4H program. It isn’t important to them; but, they do not question where the groceries are grown, nor where the fibers are made for the clothes they wear. They do not question why someone would spend their last dollar to grow a crop to feed others. But they question the open space that has nothing!
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