Farmers have had a rough row to hoe for a while now, and unfortunately the economic downturn is not helping them. Another 90,000 farmers are expected to sell the farm during the next decade at a time when we need to be producing more food than ever. Many are promoting new genetically altered and engineered crops and larger industrialized farm conglomerates as the answer to step up the world’s food supplies. Pardon my lack of French, but this seems like a dumbass solution to me. Past attempts to step up industrialized farming without appropriate wisdom and sense has lead to such smash hits as “Welcome to the Dust Bowl.”As a partial libertarian the waters can get dicy for me when talking about economic forces, but in this instance I think it is a matter of leveling the playing field to not be against the small farmer. Corporate greed has the bull by the horns and Congress is all too ready to cut off it’s nuts. We have established for decades now that large faceless entities care less for the land than small, local farmers do. In a time of such carbon awareness, small farms are even more critical. Citizens of our major urban areas need to know the faces behind the fruit (and vegetables and meat and milk).
The future of farming must rely on a growing army of morally conscious, small, specialized farmers if we are to seek agriculture sustainability in the U.S. To succeed these farmers will have to charge more for their product. For consumers to afford this, middle men must be cut. Community Supported Agriculture is growing all around the nation, and this is a good start.
For our cities to survive farming communities need to be encouraged and supported by property zoning changes in order to prevent urban fringe lands from being used entirely for residential suburbs. These lands need to be zoned for small 5 to 10 acre farms with cooperative farmers markets and processing facilities built in. Current farming land needs to be preserved. Water use needs to be regulated by preventing growth of inappropriate crops (say corn or alfalfa in a near desert). Or at the very least incentives need to be offered for growing water miserly crops in water starved areas.
What about my recent rants about hemp? Well, thanks for asking. This is where crops like hemp can make a difference. If the U.S. government were to step aside (as it sorta’ is in a few areas) and allow farmers to grow hemp these farmers would have one more tool in the arsenal that would help them survive. Hemp is a great rotational crop which helps the soil recover from intensive crops like corn and cotton. Even if the hemp was to be tilled under and used for no other purpose the farmer would increase his profits through the benefit to his other crops.
Hemp can be grown with less water than most other crops in the U.S. Hemp has multiple uses for differing qualities of crop. Facilities are open across the border in Canada for processing hemp for feed and fiberboard and other rough uses. Hemp could also contribute to the growing agricultural tourism industry (vineyards, wineries, educational farms, etc.) by allowing the sale of home made hemp products on the farm. Besides, every Simpson’s fan knows that a little tamacco never hurt business. Maybe it is time for farmers to be allowed to grow some Hemato too.