Saturday, March 2, 2024
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Farming in America: ‘There’s a growing discontent’

It's not easy being a farmer in the U.S. these days and it's bound to get harder, say those who should know.

"There's a growing discontent among the farming community," said John Kempf, a fruit and vegetable farmer in northeast Ohio.

"We have a farming model now that is antagonistic to the enjoyment of watching seeds grow and seeing a new born animal," said the 26-year-old Kempf, who is chief executive of Advancing Eco Agriculture, a farming and crop nutrition consulting company.

Kempf cited issues like genetically modified organisms (GMOs), over-use of pesticides, a lack of water and soil conservation, the right way to manage livestock and climate change as key problems.

"We are in need of changes in our system and production models," he said.

The negative sentiments come at time that's meant to celebrate the American agriculture industry. National Agriculture Day on March 25 kicks off what is supposed to be week-long recognition of the American farmer. But some analysts say farming is at a major crossroads that masks any enjoyment.

Professor Milt McGiffen, who researches sustainable agriculture at the University of California, Riverside, said American agriculture has a lot of problems, but mostly stemming from government regulation.

"Farmers are scared over food and safety rules," he argued. "And there's government control over food prices. Farmers want government out of agriculture."

(Read more: Farm bill: Bring on the hemp and sushi rice!)

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