Along the Fencerow

It has been one of the most discussed Web sites by farmers and agriculture groups this winter. I didn’t want to put any bearing on it until I had some time to research some numbers to make sense out of what we see on the Web site.

The Web site was put together by the Environmental Working Group and it displays payments farmers received from government subsidies over the past five years.

We must understand as consumers that these payments may not go to one particular farmer. When a rice or cotton company in the southern United States receives millions of dollars, the dollars are spread out among the farmers who are members of that cooperative based on their yields and acres farmed.

Another example of going beyond the payment limit is partnerships within a farming operation. This money may be split between two people or fifteen people. We don’t know the whole story behind the functions of each farm operation. Some farmers I know have been very sensitive to this information made available for everyone to see.

Those consumers who believe the government should not subsidize farmers for production need to think about their food supply. We have the cheapest and safest food supply in the world (barring bio-terrorism).

As a consumer, I am glad to lend support to farmers who grow the raw product, which I enjoy three times a day at meal time.

How many consumers know how much they spent during the last five years in tax dollars to the farm program? I am pledging $77 per year to farmers to grow a quality product to have at our dinner table everyday. That is not a bad investment, in my opinion.

There is a long way to go to reach an agreement for the new farm bill. We don’t have to look very far outside our city limits to see what an impact it would be if tractors stopped operating. Parts and equipment dealers would not be a fixture in the community, grain elevators wouldn’t be as necessary, agriculture industries in each community would have fewer employees or have to close their doors, and small, rural towns would have a further reduction in population.

I am optimistic that agriculture will thrive in our area. We in town need farmers to feed us as they need us to buy their food. Instead of being at odds with each other, we should be working together to ensure our future food supply for our children and ourselves.

Bradley Goering can be reached by e-mail at, or by phone at 620-327-4941.

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