OPINION: SD farmers work to feed the world, take care of environmentIt was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who said, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from a corn field.”
By: Mark Gross, Guest columnist
As a husband and a father of four, I have the responsibility to feed my family. As a farmer and caretaker of the land, I have a responsibility to help feed a world that is growing by 200,000 people each day. While that last sentence may sound like an unachievable feat, my fellow farmers and I have an obligation to do so, which is why farmers take land management practices very seriously, as the conditions of our soil are the life of our farms.
So it’s disheartening when extremists out of Washington, D.C., attempt tell South Dakotans how to farm and care for the land. Who would you trust to provide you with a safe, abundant and affordable supply of food, fuel and fiber year after year?
It was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who said, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from a corn field.”
This quote is a perfect example of a recent column, “Take responsibility for destruction of pheasant habitat,” by the D.C.-based Environmental Working Group’s Don Carr.
South Dakota just experienced the worst drought in the last 50 years, yet because of modern farming practices, we did not experience a dust bowl. In fact, we were able to produce the seventh largest crop in state history.
Yes, corn acres were up this year in South Dakota due to current market conditions. But so were pheasant numbers, an increase of 18 percent according to the state’s Game, Fish and Parks Department.
There are currently a large number of acres coming out of the CRP program, but some of those acres were once quality farmland that was never meant to be out of production.
These renewed acres are allowing a number of young people to find their rural roots back on the farm.
In my home county of Hutchinson, CRP and CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) acres have actually been on the rise, with an increase of 24 percent in only two years’ time (2010-2012), according to FSA. It goes to show that conservation is still being practiced where our farmers see it necessary.
If you want to check the farmers’ soil quality report card, look no further than the recent 25-year study from South Dakota State University showing huge increases in the organic matter of South Dakota soils. Because of lesser-tillage practices and higher-yielding crops, our soils are now holding more carbon, benefitting production and the environment as a whole.
While agriculture and the state’s wildlife are both very important in South Dakota, the two can and will continue to coexist in a healthy and sustainable manner.
Sure, folks may continue to criticize, but I for one can assure you that a strong majority of South Dakota farmers are making the best agronomical decisions not only for the next crop season, but for the next generation of our nation’s food producers.