Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jefferson Journal Article 9-11-09

I didn't post last weeks since it was another blog re-run....but this week is hot off the press!

This is the time of year on the farm that I love the most. This is harvest season. All spring-long, the men on the farm plant seeds in the ground without any promise of a return on their labor. They work late into the night turning the dirt over peanuts, soybeans, corn, cotton, and grain sorghum. The countless hours of work, however, don’t amount to anything until now.
The months that pass between spring and fall are crucial to a farmer’s livelihood and also to the people who depend on the commodities they grow. Was there enough rain? Did the fertilizer work properly? Was there too much rain in one particular field? Did the stink bugs destroy the crop? There is very little that the farmer actually has control of. Even the timing of planting/spraying/harvesting is determined by favorable weather conditions. Talk about stressful job conditions!
Nonetheless, harvest time is still my favorite season. From my dining room, I can often see the men folk pulling up to 3 wagons at a time with their trucks, full of the crop they have just picked, ready for storage. It is exciting to see something come out of the ground in such large amounts. It is even more satisfying to know that the commodities grown here in Jefferson County are part of what keep the world going around. I have realized over the years of being married to the farmer, that although this job is one of the most necessary jobs in the world, it is often one of the most criticized and therefore misunderstood professions as well. Most of the time it is criticized by people who have no direct involvement in the production aspect of agriculture. But yet, everyone is involved in the consumption aspect of agriculture! (The phrase, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” comes to mind here…)
Most people do not realize the ever increasing demand on farmers to produce more food and fiber through better yields and more efficient practices. This is simply due to the ever increasing population of the world. Will the farmers do this with more land? No, farm land is constantly decreasing with population growth. Will farmers do this with more workers? No, less than 1% of America’s population is involved in production agriculture.
How will this be accomplished?
There was a great article in a recent Wall Street Journal by Norman Borlaug, a professor at Texas A&M University who won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the world food supply. He estimates that over the next four decades, the world’s population will include three billion new mouths to feed. This means the world’s farmers will have to double their current production. Again, they will need to do this with less land, less workers and increased environmental demands.
Although our farm has but a small role in the grand scheme of feeding the world, we are proud to be among the less than 1% of our country’s population that is most certainly part of the solution. And as harvest season continues here, I am grateful for what God has provided for us- the ability to farm the same land for almost 70 years and still going strong.

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