Last spring I was interviewed by an area museum wanting to talk to farmers whose experiences (and memories) go back many years for a project to record agriculture’s past and attempt to look into the future.
In the course of the interview, I was asked, “What is your job as a farmer?”
I don’t recall my specific answer, but I believe I said my job as a farmer is to produce as much as I can of a quality product, while maximizing my income and controlling expenses.
In an attempt at humor, I have said at various times, “Don’t you just love overproduction?”
Think of all the products that come from agriculture. There are fruits and vegetables, meat products, wool and cotton, and I would include forestry in that list. That is most everything we depend on for our lives.
Yes, it is even more important than your smartphone. Try eating your smartphone.
What happens to our “over production?”
First, it is used domestically. Corn and soybeans are used to create food for livestock, people and more. Renewable fuels are a recent arrival as products from corn and soybeans.
A very high percentage of what we raise ultimately ends up in a grocery store.
Or a lumber yard if you are a forester. Christmas trees and flowering plants are part of agriculture.
What we do not use domestically is exported. That is how we American farmers like to say, “We feed the world.”
But it is not just American farmers. Farming or food production is a worldwide occupation. Every farmer who grows a crop is contributing to feeding the world.
The market moves commodities from where there is a surplus to where there is a shortfall determined by price. It happens from state to state and country to country.
I also the told the interviewer I am a capitalist. This farm is a business and is run accordingly.
As a capitalist I try to get the most from using the least. What is left, if I am prudent, is my profit.
There were many swipes taken at capitalism in past months of this election year.
There are people who describe capitalism with a sneer by putting the word “greedy” in front of capitalism.
Pure capitalism is exploitative in nature. Think black market where it is every man for himself and there are no rules.
A certain amount of regulation is necessary to keep everyone honest.
I believe regulation should be minimal because when it becomes too expansive or restrictive it chokes the very concept it claims to be protecting and everyone suffers.
I see where people are in need of help and a “me first and me only” attitude does not help.
As a capitalist, I can provide for my needs and then for those who are in need of assistance.
That can be as local as giving to a food shelf or traveling to a place hundreds or thousands of miles away on a mission trip.
It is a benefit of overproduction.
I was asked “What is my job as a farmer?” six months ago. Now, six months later, I have a better and more complete answer.
I may need to be interviewed again.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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