Saturday, July 24, 2010

Agriculture's Big Business, by Sharon Powell

The growth of today’s agricultural markets and years of research have helped farmers overcome the burdens of climate change, irrgational needs and harvesting tools. These resources are all a part of how growth has affected society, creating what is now a billion dollar agricultural industry.

Farming began thousands of years ago, and has changed considerably over time. Early settlers noticed that certain grasses grew and produced edible seeds. When planted, the seeds would later produce many different kinds of crops benefiting the townspeople. Farmers also noticed how livestock grazed the hills and valleys, consuming much of the vegetation and plant life. Daily lifestyles and the discovery of nutritional resources were rarely kept a secret among early farmers. Hundreds of years ago, farmers would have never considered planting a crop without the use of soil. Today though, some modern farms create artificial climates using greenhouses, tunnels, and hydroponics by which plants are grown without soil. Their roots stand in a liquid solution that contains the nutrients they need to grow. The benefits found within these advanced growing techniques have helped to offset financial losses for the more moderate of crop producers affected by climate conditions, erosion, and drought concerns.

Other Agricultural Products
It is not a surprise that every living thing needs nutrition, including seeds, animals, and humans. Researched technology has made it possible to assure that feed for livestock is made available, while assuring members of societies nutritional needs are being met. Advanced research technology has also provided biodegradable products made from crops such as corn, rice, soybeans,
cotton, wheat grains, peanuts, and barley. These commodities help to produce Pharmaceuticals for health industries, Bio-fuels, Cooking Oils, Insecticides, Batteries, Alcohol, and Industrial and Chemical Solvents. Perhaps the lawn bag you sent to the refuse was made from one of the products listed above, or maybe the cleaner used to remove the tough stain from fabric was made from agricultural products. Most importantly, the shoes, or clothes you might be wearing today would not have been made possible without the production of cotton and other agriculture products produced by skilled technicians and manufacturing industry.

Government Subsidies
Many farms in operation today depend heavily on the help of government subsidies, and date as far back as 1862 when the Morrill Act established land grant colleges for farming communities. The Morrill Act sparked the establishment of other significant acts which are still in operation today and support various farming programs such as research, education and pest infestation, price supports and production control, in addition to crop insurance.

Subsidies are a very important part of farming, and help relieve the high cost of farm equipment used throughout much of the United States. The price of one combine or tractor can cost as much as a new three bedroom home built today. These facts make it difficult for some farmers to thrive. Subsidies are government supplied financial supports meeting a variety of functions such as direct payments to farmers for disaster aid, loans, insurance, and export advertising. Ninety percent of all subsidies are forwarded to famers with at least five-crop production yields including wheat, corn, soy-beans, rice, and cotton. It is estimated that nearly one-million farmers and landowners receive some type of government subsidies reaching figures of 15 to 35 billion dollars annually. Some farmers complain government interventions force price control and create monopolists who increasingly dominate the food system.

The great depression is a prime example of how important farming needs are to society, and was partly responsible for the actions taken by congress in 1932. In order to assure food supplies were readily available, and the nutritional needs of society were being met, Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted what he called the New Deal. In response to measures established within the existing Farm Bill, Roosevelt’s New Deal responded to Rock bottom crop prices due to overproduction, widespread hunger and social inequalities, soil erosion and drought, water and electricity, in addition to unfair export policies.

Giving Thanks
Cooperation from farmers taking the necessary steps to reduce social stressor's have remained a part of farming for many years; some laws are ratified from year to year in order to assure the needs of a changing society are being met, and public revolts are not an issue.

After reading some of the details of farming, you might just consider agriculture is an excellent career choice and one you might want to attend at college. The next time you are driving across America enjoying a family vacation and happen to spot a farmer, you might recall this story and how very important farming is to a community. You might even want to thank them for all their hard work and dedication for supporting the cries of hunger…...S. Powell, 2010

3.) Agricultural Subsidies; Greenhaven Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, Farmington Hills, MI.
4.) Halley, Ned B; Farm, Eyewitness Books, Dorling Kindersley Limited, London
7.) The Self Reliant Homestead; Charles A. Sanders; Burford Books, 2003.

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