Saturday, November 22, 2014

SCHLAGECK: Fast food? Not so fast

By JOHN SCHLAGECK, Kansas Farm Bureau | 6/13/2013

Pre-packaged, vacuum-packed, just add water ...

Many of us in Kansas live in a world where food comes fast — so fast we forget how it arrives at our table. We also forget it comes from the hard labor and calloused hands of Kansas farmers. Our food also comes from Kansas ranchers who work miles of rangeland in rain, snow and blazing heat.

Fast food?

Not really.

Our lives wouldn’t be the same without the farmers and ranchers who put food on our tables. Just as meat, eggs and milk have always been part of our mealtime routine, caring and providing for the animals that give us these staples are part of a farmer’s daily activities.

These activities continue, often for long hours, throughout the day. Farmer/stockmen look after their animals the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. In that sense, livestock producers often place greater emphasis on their animals than themselves.

There’s no doubt agriculture has changed throughout the years. Today’s farm animals live in carefully supervised environments. No longer do they need to struggle for survival in a driving snowstorm or search for nourishment on parched rangelands. Instead they have heat in the winter, cool ventilation in the summer and clean dry living areas with food and water all year long.

All of this is provided with hands-on care, education and a long tradition of animal husbandry. Farmers and ranchers go far beyond their role of humane guardians and demonstrate devoted concern for their animals’ health and safety.

They routinely stay up all night to help sows deliver piglets or to tend to newborn calves. When it’s 15 degrees below zero on a frigid Kansas winter morning, farmers and ranchers are feeding, watering and caring for their livestock.

They’re God’s creatures and a farmer and rancher’s responsibility. Proper care of animals is a time-honored ethic that also makes economic sense. In order for animals to increase efficiencies in meat, milk, wool and egg production, farmers must take all possible steps to ensure their animals live stress free.

The farmer’s creed has always been to nurture the land, improving it while coaxing forth a bountiful harvest. Farmers hold enduring respect for the land that sustains them and consumers in this country and around the world. Their reward is an abundance of the safest, most wholesome food on the planet.

Today’s American and world consumers enjoy ample yields from this nation’s farms. Success lies with the farmer’s ingenuity and stewardship ethic.

Advances in crop production enhance the farmer’s natural commitment to providing us all with food. These innovations allow farmers to harvest larger yields with fewer acres, in harmony with the environment.

Yes, it takes plenty of hard work and honest sweat to raise the grain, vegetables, fruits and livestock that provide this country’s food. Farm and ranch families take pride from their shared experience living, working and harvesting food from the land.

They believe that through their profession of producing food they are giving more to the world than they are taking from it.

John Schlageck is a Farm Bureau commentator, specializing in agriculture and rural Kansas.

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