Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

It's been a while since I've written you a letter. Thank you for your loyalty over the years. I hope you enjoyed the cookies. Enough with the small talk, however. I write to you today for somewhat selfish reasons. Instead of Barbies and Legos this year, I'm hoping for some intangible things. Don't worry, I'm not expecting world peace or anything like that, but the challenges I'm posing may be just as extreme. Here's what is on my wish list:

A Deeper Appreciation for American Agriculture

Santa, let's be honest, the majority of people don't know where their food comes from. It used to be that Americans had some sort of connection to farming, whether it be through their cousins in the country or their grandparents who fed and clothed their families. These days, times are different. Because some people do not understand the importance of farming, they think our country can do without it. Activists are quick to point fingers at farmers for causing global warming, mistreating their animals, polluting the environment, and shooting the Easter bunny. They do not realize that without farming, there is no food. Even those tofu pancakes wouldn't be possible without farmers. I'm not asking for miracles, but a little appreciation from the general public would be nice. Only 2% of the American public is involved with production agriculture. It's time that they are treated fairly and with respect. Farmers do things right, because they have a moral obligation to do so.

Better Prices for the Pork and Dairy Industries

How many glasses of milk will you have on Christmas night, Santa? Quite a few, but unfortunately still not enough to lower the supply of milk in the market and increase the demand for dairy products. The dairy industry has had a rough year. On average, the price U.S. dairy producers received for milk marketed in the summer of 2009 was about half of what it cost them to produce milk. What's this mean? It means some dairy farmers are PAYING to produce milk. While farming is an enjoyable profession, it still is the sole source of income for many in production agriculture. There has to be enough money to pay the bills, and this year has been rough, not only for the dairy industry, but for the pork industry as well. I hope you got your H1N1 vaccine this year, Santa, but more than that, I hope you know that it's not called the swine flu. You cannot contract it from eating pork. Some consumers don't understand this, however. The U.S. pork industry has lost about $1.5 billion since the virus was first reported, according to the National Pork Producers Council. I'm not sure how you can put this under my Christmas tree, but if there's any way you can bring better prices in 2010 for these two industries, there are many farmers who sure would appreciate it!

Cap and Trade to Go Away

I'm not sure how energy works up there in the North Pole, but here in the United States, it's in the news quite a bit. Lately, Congress is pursuing Cap and Trade. If you have time, could you maybe send a few elves down to D.C. to make Cap and Tax, as some call it, go away? Basically, cap and trade is all about carbon credits. It’s part of the climate change bill, and it regulates how much carbon certain industries can emit. It penalizes the industries that are more energy extensive. One of the fundamental problems with such a system, however, is if countries such as India and China aren’t on board, then it’s not worth us pursuing. Additionally, it will likely raise the costs of basic ag inputs such as fuel and fertilizer, because they require energy to produce. It will even affect the local home owner by raising the cost of electricity. Basically, it's bad news. It'll be a punch in the gut to farmers across the country. We're not harming the environment; we live where we farm, why would we want to hurt the land or air?

I know you have many other people to care for, Santa, but these three things would help out many American agriculturalists. Farming is a noble profession, and farmers do it because they love it, but it's not always easy. As more and more people become removed from the farm, the challenges continue to mount. Your help would make farmers' lives a lot easier.

And, one more thing, Santa. While you're visiting, a new Case 9120 combine would be nice too. You don't even have to wrap it. Since they cost around $350,000, you don't have to get me anything next year, either.

An American Farmer