Where will we get our food?
By Joyce Morrison (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reprinted with permission
OPINION -- We take for granted that all we have to do is go to the grocery store or restaurant for food. We are spoiled. Anything we want to eat at any time is available and we tend to forget where the food actually comes from.
Our bread and cereal comes from wheat, corn or grains. We eat fresh, frozen or canned fruits, vegetables and juices. Even pizza is a combination of grains, meats, vegetables. Some form of soybean is in many of our food items. Of course all dairy and meat items are produced on the land where the animals are fed grain and hay.
The American public should understand that before conservation easements, wetlands, open space, green space, heritage preservation areas, parks, refuges, floodplains and all the other land preservation programs take over, we need to ask, "What will I eat when this land is no longer producing food?"
The extensive environmental propaganda machine has turned public opinion to favor the preservation of every inch of land and take it out of private ownership. This conversion could cost the taxpayer well into the trillions of dollars, but people are so afraid we are going to run out of land and that builders will develop it all, they are willing to pay the cost.
It is important to understand that no one takes care of property like the man or woman who has worked and paid for their property with sweat equity. Millions of acres the government owned property now stands in neglect, and yet they want to take property from private ownership and preserve even more land.
Ranchers in western states are being thrown into jail over accusations they are grazing cattle on government land without permits. It has been reported that government agents are actually cutting the fences letting cattle onto government ground and then the ranchers are charged with the trespassing violation. Ranchers are being hit hard but we don't hear it on our local news. Why?
They are not only fighting government agents but they are subject to having their herds ravaged by wolves and now cougars that have been listed as endangered. The rancher is the one who will be "endangered" if he dares to kill one of these wild animals as it preys upon his livestock and domestic animals.
Government officials cutting fences and letting the rancher's cattle meander onto government ground is much like the fiction novel written by William Jud entitled Greenwar Chronicles which will soon be released for sale. Jud's intriguing novel appears to parallel true stories happening to real people.
In California and other states, there have been major conflicts as to whether the farmers will have access to water to irrigate their vegetable and fruit crops. It has become increasingly difficult for these farmers and some will sooner or later be forced to quit farming.
Farmland in Florida is now being turned back into swamps on behalf of the Everglade restoration project, part of the Wildlands Project.
Hundreds of people are losing their homes and farms. Florida panthers (reportedly shipped from Texas) are becoming an increasing menace but no one can touch them as they are protected. Alligators have been overly protected and now they are coming into people's yards.
Will we become as dependent on third world countries for food as we are for our oil? This land taken or regulated will most likely never be returned to the farmers who farmed the land. Will farmers become the next endangered species?
When land goes out of production and grazing is no longer permitted, food costs will sky rocket. If we have to import our food, will we have control of the safety standards that we have in America? Will our choice of food always be readily available? What will be the cost?
What happens when we continue to take land off the tax roles to be owned by environmental groups and the government? The answer is simple - the burden of the property tax will fall on the people who still own property and their taxes will become more than many can afford to pay.
We hear about "urban sprawl" using up all the farm ground. Granted it is taking some but only a small portion compared to the land purchased and taken under control through government and environmental programs.
Millions of acres have found their way into the hands of not-for-profit non-governmental organizations and land trusts who have used government grants to purchase the land for "preservation" - and they pay no taxes.
Farmers are fighting to barely make a living while paying high input costs on machinery, fuel, fertilizer and seed, farm payments, taxes, insurances, labor and a long list of hidden costs. Every piece of equipment takes simple items such as batteries, tires, and regular maintenance. Major repair bills can run into the thousands of dollars each year.
At the same time they are being controlled by farm programs, wetlands, easements, endangered and invasive species, EPA and a whole list of other regulations. Can anyone blame a farmer for throwing up his hands and caving in when the right price is offered for his land?
Forced to go to town and get a job, he will now receive health and retirement benefits along with a guaranteed weekly paycheck and a lot fewer worries about too much rain or not enough and where the money is coming from to pay the bills. But a link to the continuing chain of the family farm has been broken. His children will never have the opportunity to learn the arts and skills of being a farmer.
Mary Myers, President of the Adopt a Farm Family/Rural Restoration organization located out of Sikeston, Missouri, has made bumper stickers available to the public saying "No Farmers - No Food." Can we afford to lose our family farmers who have trained for their vocation since they were toddlers following in the footsteps of their daddy?
Food and water are critical for man to survive. Will groups like The Nature Conservancy and the Federal Government always "preserve" the land they have taken and will food ever be grown on that land again?
According to a May 15, 2003 Washington Post article, "The Nature Conservancy is hiring outside lawyers and one of the nation's largest public relations companies to help head off a congressional investigation following disclosure that the nonprofit has sold scenic properties to its own trustees, internal Conservancy memos show."
Although allegations have been made and investigations are ongoing, they just keep taking more land along with the help of the federal government.
Before falling into the trap of "total preservation of our creation," it is important to know the Creator and His parables on farming. It is His design that we must labor to grow our food and He has given us the land from which to grow the food.
Our earth is extremely resilient but we are meant to be good stewards and to conserve and care for our land. We need to ask - "what is the real purpose behind all of this 'preservation?'" God has provided the resources He knew we would need but we have the responsibility of being wise in their use.
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Joyce Morrison lives in southern Illinois. She is a chapter leader for Concerned Women for America and she and her husband, Gary, represent the local Citizens for Private Property Rights. Joyce is Secretary to the Board of Directors of Rural Restoration/ADOPT Mission, a national farm ministry located in Sikeston.
She has become a nationally-recognized advocate for property rights.