Are we inefficient or more conscientious?



In reference to the article titled “Obama: Cut direct farm payments” published in the March 5 issue of Farm and Dairy, I know a lot of family farmers in our area of Western Pennsylvania and just a handful make over $250,000 in annual products sold.

Does that mean we are inefficient, as the article implies? Or does it mean we are more conscientious about the products we sell?

American food products have enjoyed a well-deserved vote of confidence in the past, but lately consumers have heard horror stories, not only about products themselves (e-coli in fresh vegetables); but about the manner in which those products are raised and harvested (dairy cows that spend their entire post-natal life in a neck harness, injected with hormones and stripped of their milk three to four times every day until the milk supply slows, at which time their heads are released and they are shipped to market as “shells” to become ground meat).

That is what the agri-business dairy farmers do in California, the “Land of the Happy Cow.”

I am not anti-business. My husband and I run a beef operation and have made enough profit to allow us to live a good life.

We have raised our animals without hormones and chemicals, a move that has increased our sales, I might add.

What I am against is the idea that bigger is better. The article suggests just that with a statement that compares farms with sales over $250,000.

Within that group, the larger farms, those producing over $500,000 in sales (9 percent of the farms) produced 63 percent of the products sold.

I am not an economist, but it looks to me as if our government has spent the past two decades handing out tax breaks and cash incentives for business growth.

Banks, insurance companies, the manufacturing industry, all have benefited from our largess. And they have grown and grown until they are “too big to let them fail.”

Well, I think allowing them to fail is not the problem — helping them get too big to fail is where we goofed.

I’m banking on the fact that the 91 percent of large farmers and the 100 percent of the rest of us are smart enough not to let that happen in our industry and if that means supporting an agriculture bill that cuts payments to the 9 percent who would gobble up the rest of us, all the better.

Nancy Hutchinson

Saegertown, Pa.


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