Tuesday, May 4, 2010
As a teacher, I've occasionally been put in the position of trying to defend teachers and their reasons for going into the profession. Too many people want to moan and complain, claiming that teachers just wanted an 'easy job' and that they don't really 'earn their pay.' ANYONE in the field of education knows how ridiculous that statement is and it becomes tiresome trying to convince parents and the public that teachers really DO go into the field to HELP kids, to make a difference, to impact their world, to give to kids.....
Ironically, as a rancher/farmer's wife, I even more often feel this same kind of distressing frustration! How many people feel qualified in their hearty tongue-lashings against those in agriculture. LITTLE do they realize, for the most part, that ranchers/farmers ALSO consider themselves 'givers' and 'doers.' They BELIEVE in the goodness of their innate desire to cultivate the land and raise animals. Far more than anyone outside the world of agriculture will ever appreciate, farmers and ranchers make FAR less than teachers for the hours/time/energy/overhead they POUR into their crops, livestock, land, etc.
And yet, people feel more than qualified to denounce what they do and to condemn them. Sadly, they do not look past the 12-14 hour days spent in icy winds or rain-soaked conditions, working to birth a calf or rescue a lamb or protect an orchard or crop from devastation or disaster. Instead, the mythology that is perpetuated has placed agriculturalists at the bottom rung of a very long ladder, with every kind of malicious intent. Most of the criticisms are based on little but regergetated hogwash that's been batted around freely by people who know little to nothing about agriculture. Like the people who feel qualified to bash teachers, many people think they're qualified to bash farmers and ranchers.
It's pretty disheartening. NO, it's HORRIBLY disheartening. My husband has often said, "But we are feeding the WORLD. American farmers are FEEDING the world." Indeed, we are not only feeding people world wide, we are one of the FEW industries in this country that are fully invested IN THIS country. Yet the average agriculturalist is making far less than he did several years ago.....with little to no appreciation being expressed by the consumer. Perhaps, as my husband has also said, Americans are just not "hungry enough" these days....Isn't it time people realize that farming without a financial motive is merely gardening? And no one is asking for a HUGE return; more often, farmers and ranchers are simply asking for some respect.
American consumers want quantity and quality without spending more, although they are quite willing to spend ridiculous sums of money on shoes, entertainment, technology, cars, vacations and recreation -- all considered "necessities" to many these days! At the same time, they don't seem to want a farmer/rancher to NEED to make a profit! Like those who criticize teachers, they want to dish out every level of criticism without considering the consequences of their demands.
IF Americans resent farmers and ranchers, they may well face the day when there will be far fewer of them. Fewer and fewer young people are going into agriculture; why should they, when the work is long, exhausting, and the return is so low (maybe 3% in some cases!???). If the "greenies" have their way, the ranchers in this country might well find themselves UNABLE to ranch. Where issues are complicated, there seems to be little sympathy for agriculturalists, only criticism and condescension.
If this seems 'over the top,' then think again: ask some farmers or ranchers (if you can find some in your neighborhood) about the REAL ISSUES they're facing -- the obstacles, the level of animosity, suspicion, condemnation, regulation and taxation, rising fees -- then look at what is in store for the FUTURE of agriculture in this nation.
Agriculture is a business and it's facing issues that could break it. People may find this a frightening thought, but it is beginning to surface: FOOD IN THE 21ST MAY BECOME A LUXURY.......