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Does agriculture have a rosy future?

The McLeod County Corn & Soybean Growers always have interesting speakers at their annual banquet, and Saturday night’s speaker, Mike Pearson, was no exception. Like the farmers and guests in the audience, Pearson has a passion for agriculture, one of the backbones of our state and national economy.
Pearson was adroit in painting a picture of the future that shows a resurgence of the growth in agriculture that the industry experienced in the 1950s. Along with local demand, especially for meat, along with a growing global expansion in livestock, U.S. grain will again become a premium product. After a few years of low grain prices that have cause a glut in grain, that is good news for farmers. Pearson noted that crop prices, which have fallen steadily the past couple of years, seem to have hit a plateau and, hopefully, will start climbing back up.
That’s good news not just for farmers, but for our economy has a whole. The agricultural community has a huge impact on our national and global economy.
That’s assuming, of course, that government keeps its tentacles out of trade. Although it’s been 30 years, most will remember the impact of President Jimmy Carter’s grain embargo in the late 1980s. Farmers were driven from their chosen careers in droves, land prices bottomed out and foreclosures on farms were as common then as they were on houses in 2008 and 2009.
Pearson also was cautionary in noting that there always seems to pushback on agriculture, especially from animal rights and environmental groups. He predicted water quality will continue to be a big issue. We already know, from the passage of the buffer strip law, that this is true.
Those of us who live out here in the heart of farmland know that agricultural producers, for the major part, are dedicated to preserving both their land and the water that grows their crops. As Pearson said, those who are incorporating conservation farm practices — whether for their land, animals or water — need to get their story out there. Those in the urban area have no idea what is really happening in agriculture.
We truly hope that farming’s future is as rosy as Pearson predicted, but be prepared: politics and extreme do-goodism can throw an unpredictable monkey wrench into progress.