What was, what could be, and what should be?

14 01 2011

In agriculture there is a constant tension between what was, what could be and what should be. It exists in farming practices, where new developments are questioned by consumers who look on past generations with nostalgia.While I see the incredible value of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticide applications, I also look back on old farming practices with nostalgia for the sense of community it reinforced and nurtured. There was a time when harvest was a community effort. Ears were harvested with a corn picker (which is where the term picking corn derived from). The ears of corn would then be stored in a corn crib until the neighbors would get together and shell it. Baling hay was also a community effort. In this way I feel I can relate to the feelings of many consumers.

The tension between what was, what could be and what should be exists for farmers across the United States who struggle to maintain dilapidated outbuildings. My own farm has a cattle barn with a hole in the roof big enough for an elephant to fit through. Due to the fact we do not have any animals sheltered there, it is put on the back burner when there are costly machinery repairs, ever rising costs of farming inputs, etc to attend to. The original barn the cattle barn is attached to has been in existence since 1855 or so with other parts being built in the 1870s, which is about as nostalgic as a barn can get. Ultimately, the barn serves no purpose today (as our machinery is housed in a Morton building and our livestock in a remodeled chicken coop) and each year its disrepair becomes more and more striking. However, for now it is here to stay as a warm, but depressing, reminder of another era.

As more and more barns are replaced with Morton buildings, I believe many farmers can relate to the feeling of valuing what was, seeing the worth of what is and looking forward to what could be. With further education and discusssion I hope doubtful consumers may also come to value what was, see the worth of farming practices today as a safe means to feed the word, and look forward to what could be with members of the farming community. Hopefully this blog post can give us all a little insight to the mutual, or somewhat related feelings, we all have.

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