Ag industry closes a rough year
FAIRMONT, Minn. -- Agriculture has been battered in the past year. The H1N1 novel virus, through the moniker "swine flu," hurt pork producers as domestic and foreign sales of pork fell dramatically. Meanwhile, the ethanol industry has been plague...
FAIRMONT, Minn. -- Agriculture has been battered in the past year. The H1N1 novel virus, through the moniker "swine flu," hurt pork producers as domestic and foreign sales of pork fell dramatically. Meanwhile, the ethanol industry has been plagued by uncertainty. And every farmer has something to fear from possible cap-and-trade legislation that would raise costs for all producers, in ag and elsewhere.
While market factors make the future unclear for everyone involved in business, the close tie between the ag industry and government is a true menace, despite what backers of subsidies and other government benefits might argue. In addition to intricate ag programs that pay farmers who produce, or do not produce in some cases, there are other interventions, as by the Russian and Chinese governments to halt pork imports, that are nonsense. Their scientists know, just as ours do, that H1N1 has nothing to do with pigs.
Piggybacking on existing payouts, rules and regulations, the U.S. government -- led by the Environmental Protection Agency -- proposes new limits on carbon dioxide and methane. Under cap and trade, one wonders if farmers are going to get an offset for all the oxygen their crops pump into the atmosphere every summer while soaking up CO2. Farmers with animals will, of course, suffer under any methane regimen.
We think farmers need to be prepared in coming months to vociferously defend their operations against further encroachments, and they must be willing to seek freedom in doing so. Otherwise, we might as well start referring to the ag industry as "nationalized agriculture." That's what it will be.