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History & Future

August 9, 2012

Sometimes the present is a difficult place to be. We see where we’ve been for all the bad and good that is there. We see the future of what we hope it holds. Then there’s the present – doing things to get to that future. Trying to keep bills paid and desperately trying to not lose ground on where we’ve been.

Added to that the impending trip to the AgChat Conference and needing sponsors/sales to make that fly, some improvements needed and a host of other things and it’s been a week of worry. Of course, most don’t see that. They don’t see the farmers of all sizes groaning in frustration at being told we’re poisoning the environment and how we just don’t get it. We’re wasting resources and need to do things like it used to be done.

And here at SlowMoneyFarm that’s a mantra for us – combining tradition with technology. History and future. So when it was mentioned today that the USDA is 150 years it was worth a few minutes to look at what has been accomplished and, of course, the status now.

Abraham Lincoln signed a bill in 1862 to create the Department of Agriculture. It has eliminated screwworm from cattle, it’s created (then abandoned) the Beltsville White turkey (ideal for small farms with small families), tillage in the fields, nutrition and the fabrics we use for clothing all have been heavily influenced by the USDA.

According to their historical site “Today, ARS maintains a national system of seed storage banks, the National Plant Germplasm System. The system’s 20 genebanks and support units hold germplasm for scientists, breeders, farmers, and others to use. “Germplasm” refers to the parts of plants and animals that are needed for reproduction, like seeds or semen.”

Hog cholera, Marek’s disease in poultry and other issues have been controlled or eliminated. “Other research has led to vaccines for H1N1 influenza virus, foot and mouth disease, mastitis, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, avian leukosis virus, and brucellosis.”

There is still research going on, as shown recently. Organic or not, crops or livestock, there is an interest in always improving. There’s an interest in providing what consumers want – and we’re all consumers.

Today it seems the USDA is noted more for regulation and food stamps than nutrition and research. And under the cloud are small farmers trying to find not only a means of shelter from those regulations but finding markets from people who will actually buy what we have, or sponsor it for those who can’t afford it. Many want free things, and we’ve given plants and food to those in need without minding in any way. Many have helped us and we try to help others.

Sometimes the road seems mighty dark, and it’s easy to think if we push we’re bad and if we don’t we’re buried. Yet other industries don’t feel badly for asking for your business. From car lots to fast food to lawyers and a wide range of things we’re bombarded with buy this or get that.

We just want to grow and sell food. Pay our bills. Have enough to get by and help others. That’s perched on looking back and forward…give and take. Right now we don’t have any to give…so if you can do some gifts or sponsors or spread the word, it all comes around.

And thanks to those celebrating food choices. We’re not the only ones sometimes struggling. We see it often in comment sections about Monsanto and/or USDA or “big ag” putting small places out of business. The sad thing is none of them could do it if there was enough demand. Consumer demand will trump that. If we and other farms don’t make it, it’s not because of “competitors.” It’s because not enough people want what we have. Not enough people want food choices.

And, bottom line, we treasure those who do.

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