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Be Proud Of Agriculture

Be Proud Of Agriculture
We can debate production systems, says Walt Bones, South Dakota secretary of agriculture, but "at the table of opportunity, there is room for everyone."

The following is the latest "Ear to the Ground" column written by Walt Bones, SD Secretary of Agriculture and a Parker, S.D., farmer:

It wasn't that long ago that I read an article about a young man that was circulating a petition to outlaw the chemical DHMO, or dihydrogen monoxide.  He cited a number of reasons why:  DHMO is a major component of acid rain, may cause severe burns, is fatal if inhaled, contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape, may cause electrical failures and decreases the effectiveness of automobile brakes.

Walt Bones, SD Secretary of Agriculture, says he puts ag critics' claims to a science-based test.

This sounds like pretty nasty stuff. You can bet that someone picked up the media campaign on the internet and continued the movement to ban...water! If I remember my chemistry correctly, dihydrogen (2 hydrogen molecules) monoxide (one oxygen) is H2O or water.

It seems that every day we can hear someone's claims about the evils all around us.  Some of them cite "science." The science-based decisions I acknowledge have three components:

  1. The process must be repeatable - was this claim a one time (anecdotal) occurrence, or if you repeated this claim 20 times, would you get the same result?
  2. The process must be peer reviewed.  How was the experiment, process or procedure carried out and did it meet the standards set by academia?
  3. The results must be published in scientific journals for all to see, examine, and challenge.

If the claim has gone through this process, then I will believe the science.

Will Rogers said, "It ain't what you don't know that is a problem – it is what you know that just ain't so, that is the problem."

A problem (and opportunity) for us in agriculture is that a vast majority of our population is at least three generations removed from the farm and they don't know how their food is being produced. That lack of knowledge makes attacking our abundant and diversified food supply here in the U.S. an easy target.

I understand that this can be a very personal issue and one that some folks are very passionate about. But every time I go shopping, I just marvel at the selection, quality and the quantity of food in our super markets. 

We are also blessed that our farmers, ranchers, processors, distributors, and retailers can deliver all this food to us for the smallest percentage of our disposable income when compared to anywhere else in the world - leaving each of us with more money to spend on discretionary items.

The next time you hear someone attacking our food supply, please keep in mind that the world loses thousands of people each day to starvation. An available, affordable and safe food supply is a must. We can debate production systems (organic vs. conventional, grass fed vs. corn fed) but at the table of opportunity, there is room for everyone. How you market and how you buy is a personal choice.

Our consumers need us more today than at any time in our history. We have a great story to tell and need to keep sharing the story and the science of what we do every day.

Source: South Dakota Department of Agriculture
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