Agriculture continues to lose producers. No one will argue that point, but larger, more efficient producers are replacing those lost in this highly competitive industry.
While this is not necessarily a desirable trend, it is one that has continued for decades?maybe since the beginning of this profession. That said, it is also a trend that is not confined to agriculture, but has affected nearly every sector of the U.S. and world economies.
Regardless of this ongoing change, care for the land and this critical resource continues to improve. Today?s farmers are increasing the amount of organic matter in their soil. With no-till and reduced tillage farming, farmers continue to build organic matter and improve the soil tilth. There is no reason to believe this practice will be discontinued.
Today?s modern farmer is not exhausting the land. Just the opposite is true.
Without question, scarce water is always a concern, especially in Midwestern states where rainfall is limited and people use plenty of it. Farmers constantly chart rainfall amounts and monitor weather conditions. In Kansas, agricultural producers are aware of changes in the Ogallala Aquifer.
Farmers are very much tuned into water and the conservation of this vital resource. Some are concerned about the potential of a long-term climate change.
If such a phenomenon does occur, there is the possibility that Kansas could become more arid?more like New Mexico, for example. But if this is a concern, no one has been predicting such an event to date.
Barring a major shift in our climate, crops will continue to be planted in western Kansas. Production could be less than now, but this land will be farmed and farmed wisely.
At the same time, the world?s population is exploding. Some say the greatest growth in the history of our world is underway.
It?s estimated that 3 billion more people will be born during the next 40 years. This would increase the world?s population to 9 billion people. Most of these people will be born in the hungry parts of the world.
As a result, pressure on the world?s economic and natural resources for food will become intense. Such demand for food will mean opportunity for farming and ranching. It will also become critical for public/private enterprise to ramp up food production.
There is nothing to suggest yields will not keep up with population growth. Even countries with marginal soil and more severe climates than our own are growing crops today. We have better yield potential and better food value today and with new genetics and technologies coming on line, there is no reason to believe the world won?t be able to feed itself in the future.
American agriculture is up to the task. This country has the ability to continue producing for the world.
The United States farmer and rancher can compete with other nations, if they aren?t shackled by government regulations that cause production costs to soar.
Even the most efficient farmers in America can?t make it with regulatory restrictions. Any regulations must be science-based and uniform across the board for producers around the world. An example that could really hurt agriculture is the current debate over climate change.
If there is a level playing field, where all producers have the same health and safety restrictions, U.S. agriculture will compete. Give farmers and ranchers the same opportunity as others around the world and bountiful, wholesome food will continue.
Winston Churchill said many years ago, ?Give us the tools and we will get the job done.? The same can be said for agriculture in this country.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.