Sunday, December 14, 2008

This Stinks: The Case for Agriculture

I’m an Aggie. Yes, yes, I know you are fully aware that I’m a Texas Aggie (the grief I catch proves it), but more than that I’m just a good ole’ farm boy (aggie). My roots run deep in agriculture. I grew-up in a small farming community. I showed animals. I was in 4-H and FFA. My first car was a truck. I even have degrees in agriculture from TWO outstanding agricultural institutions.

Some would say I have abandoned my roots. I don’t live in a small town anymore (depending on your perspective). I don’t farm. I don’t own a single animal except a cat. I drive a VW Jetta. I don’t have a single Ag related book in my office. The diplomas on the wall have even been replaced with pictures of children from all over the world. But don’t jump to conclusions. As the saying goes, “You can take the boy out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the boy!” Don’t believe me? Take a look at my feet! Nine times out of teen you will find cowboy boots. They are my tennis shoes!

Just last week Kacee and I were in Las Vegas at the National Finals Rodeo. We rarely miss a chance for a good rodeo, especially the finals. This is our chance to visit a crazy town like Las Vegas with common, simple, good folks like us. Plus I get the chance to bust out the Wranglers and dust off the old cowboy hat. It’s just who I am. It’s in my roots.

It is for these very reasons that I was taken back a few days ago when I read an article about States charging farmers a tax for the “gas” their animals produce. And no, this is not the kind of “gas” you can put in your car. According to MSN this new law “would require farms or ranches with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs to pay an annual fee of about $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.” How crazy is that? The government wants to charge someone for growing or producing something we need; while at the same time provide a subsidy through the Farm Program. Maybe we should just start importing agricultural products like we do fuel. That has worked really well for us hasn’t it?

Now I promised early on that I was not going to take a political stance in my blog. I’m going to stand by that. Today’s blog is not about the “cow tax.” Rather it is about something I personally still believe in; agriculture. I have always felt that agriculture was too important a topic to be taught only to the small percentage of students studying agriculture. In college I took history, math, English, golf, even flower arranging (easy A!). So, why not have everyone take an agriculture class? How can you make informed decisions at the grocery store or in policies like those above if you don’t understand agriculture?

Even more important is the value agriculture has on the world. As the old saying goes, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” I personally believe Agricultural Literacy and Education could be the future for developing countries. Think of the difference that could be made by simply giving someone a small piece of land, a cow, a pig, and chickens, and then teach them how to grow crops and care for their animals. They will never be rich, but they certainly would not be hungry. They could grow all they need to survive and sell or trade the excess for other products. Just a simple thought from a simple farm boy. But don’t take my word for it; Heifer International and World Vision are just a few non-profits already striving to change the world, one “cow” at a time!

So the next time you buy a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread, think about what it took to make that product and also consider what this knowledge could do for others.

Aspire to new heights.

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