Folks, I try to keep this column out of politics as much as I can, but sometimes a line is crossed and I feel the need to speak my mind.
This past week I was putting hay up and listening to my local AM radio station, the station I listen to for the ag markets and sports. I really prefer it to listening to music most of the time. But that day a public service announcement made me sit up and take notice.
The public service announcement was about climate change and things you could do to change it. There were tips like making your teens walk instead of driving them around, turning down the lights on a romantic evening, buying “vintage” clothing instead of a hideous new bridesmaid dress. Fairly harmless tips, unless you are the bride being told to allow your bridesmaids to wear used dresses.
One of the final tips was to tell your dad-bod dad to eat more plants. While it may be good advice from a health standpoint, I take real issue with the idea that eating less meat is an answer to climate change.
Then I got home and turned the news on only to find out that Climate Czar John Kerry blames agriculture for 33% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Folks, I nearly stroked out. He went on to say that we need to drastically change agriculture to get to zero emissions. An article I was reading also noted that American agriculture accounted for 10% of all emissions.
First of all, I find this hard to believe. With all of the cars and other modes of transportation, I would not target agriculture first. Kerry did just that when he singled agriculture out. I would like to note that transportation definitely includes the private jet he flies around the world on. An amusing sidenote is that old John got upset when questioned about the private jet and said it belonged to his wife. I guess that makes it better.
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Second, part of what he was calling ag emissions are related to food waste and poor distribution of food. That is not a problem caused by agriculture. I am wholeheartedly for managing food waste, and it all starts at home. Jennifer and I make a very conscious effort not to waste food. We do a decent job, but there is always room for improvement. All of us need to do a better job – not for the climate, but because food is a precious commodity and should not be wasted.
Mr. Kerry is very out of touch with the world of agriculture in the United States and what we do to preserve our environment. I would contend that what we are doing each day actually counteracts climate change, and with new technology we get better every day. We are leaving more cover on the ground, producing more green and growing plants, and more efficiently utilizing herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers.
Let’s not forget that we need agriculture to produce more food to feed our growing population. If we are hamstrung by regulations and the effort to get to zero emissions and that cannot be done, quite simply, people will starve.
You know how I feel about climate change. I am not sure how much we have to do with it. I know one thing with total certainty: people will starve if we limit the productivity of the American farmer and rancher.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for new innovation and technology that will allow us to do a better job. No one is perfect, and we should all strive to get better each day. Having said that, the American farmer and rancher is already the best and until the rest of the world catches up. Cutting us back will do nothing but limit a food supply that should not be limited.
Enough is enough. We all need to stand up and say it.
I know I am on a soapbox, but agriculture is my passion. I am proud of how we produce the food and fiber in the United States. We are the best in the world, and we have a moral obligation to help feed the rest of the world. We cannot do that if we are regulated into zero emissions. Again, I am all for finding better ways to farm and ranch, as long as it does not limit our food production now.
I am all for talking through a problem, but there are lines that should not be crossed. Once in a while you have to stand up when you know what is right. We cannot let agriculture be highjacked by the climate change extremists or worse yet, the anti-animal agriculture movement. The consequences of allowing this to go forward are horrendous and should be stopped. The people pushing the changes are not the ones who will go hungry.
Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension educator for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.