This past year I have been extremely blessed to get to travel to work some really big horse shows. While working these shows I stayed in hotels that were in big cities such as Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Pueblo, Huston and several others. Some of these shows were multiple weeks long and I got the taste of what living in town is like.
I learned how to use and got addicted to grub hub. I loved being able to go out and shop or eat at any kind of place I could imagine. Did you know that they have a place that specializes just in iced tea!
I became extremely grateful for the people that choose to live in the city because I certainly couldn’t do it every day. It’s constantly noisy, constantly busy, crowded and frankly dirty.
The thing that stuck out to me most however was the double standard. Those of us in agriculture are constantly working hard to use our resources as efficiently and conservative as possible, while being attacked about how we are ruining the planet and using up too much resources and killing the environment.
One morning I had breakfast with a farmer from Illinois, he was watching one of his horses show. He raises alfalfa and corn and was telling me about how they were having a hard time with more and more restrictions being put on farmers on which and how much fertilizer and weed killer they can put down because of the worry that it washes down the Mississippi and goes into the ocean. He was explaining to me how he didn’t believe that the residue was coming from farmers and ranchers it was coming from the towns. Farmers and ranchers are working on such thin margins and with the cost of things like fertilizer and weed killer being extremely high, they pencil out the number that will be needed to the exact ounce per acre. He then pointed out that those in town use round-up, miracle-grow and whatever it takes to get their grass and flowers to looking their best with no worry about the cost or therefore the correct amount that is needed for the job. That overflow can travel just as well if not easier from all of the pavement to the Mississippi and on to the ocean. Just because they aren’t buying as much as a farmer or rancher individually, their are a lot of people in towns and it adds up.
While living in town I saw many perfectly manicured lawns that couldn’t have gotten that way without some help from fertilizers and chemicals. I saw gardens that were filled with imported and genetically modified plants. Those plants spread seeds thousands of thousands miles and get into food producing ground competing for the resources of those crops whether it be grass, corn, wheat, etc… (Also why is no one scared of their genetically modified rose bush but are terrified of the GMO’s that help us be more efficient with food production?) Many days I saw the sprinkler watering the pavement or running while it was raining. No one seemed worried about that while I know I have friends that are wondering if they will be allowed enough water from the Colorado River to irrigate their fields to put up hay this year for their cattle.
I believe that those of us in agriculture need to keep pushing to get better at using our resources wisely and limiting the amount of chemicals we use and I am confident that we will do this! We are ranchers and farmers because we love the lifestyle and land and are working hard to pass the profession to generations to come.
I also think that those in the cities that are pointing fingers at agriculture need to take a look at the four pointing back at themselves. I know I was extremely surprised at the waste of resources that takes place in town and while the agriculture industry is always working hard to improve itself I don’t think the same can be said for towns because I’m pretty sure they don’t see how it’s the same thing.