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Tuesday, June 02, 2020
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I Farm You Eat

 
A Good Reminder

     Back in the summer of 2017,  I stopped at the Shelby County Soil Conservation office to ask a question that I had for them. While I was in the office, I noticed a stack of bumper stickers that they were giving away. I asked if I might take one, and they told me I could.
              The bumper sticker was green with white lettering, and I thought it was amusing. It simply stated, “I farm, you eat”. I attached the bumper sticker to the rear bumper of my farm pick up truck and did not think a whole lot more about it for several months.
              The coronavirus and its impacts have now spread to farm product production facilities, and for the first time, some Americans are learning how fragile that system can be. 
               Animals which should be going to processing facilities are being destroyed.  Crops may have to be plowed under. Now there are warnings that some foods may be in short supply, and prices will reflect that in our grocery stores.  

              I live on a family farm. We have livestock. We have a garden. We call ourselves farmers. But I must clarify that my farming is on a very small scale compared to some of my neighbors around me. They work much longer hours and spend far more time outside than I do. And they are at the mercy of the markets and unexpected events such as drought, flood and even, apparently, a virus that originated on the other side of the planet. 
              I have great respect for those full-time farmers who must endure the heat and cold that is a part of living here in Kentucky. They do indeed grow the foods we eat. Many Americans today forget the demands placed on farmers in the cold of winter and the heat of summer. Even the simple task of raising chickens to provide your own eggs is challenging in cold weather. The chicken feed freezes in the bag and you must break it apart in order to feed the chickens. Their water source freezes up so you must find ways to keep their water accessible. And last but not least, you must gather the eggs before they freeze in their nest. All of that is part of farm living.  But, imagine raising thousands of them only to have nowhere to take them once they're ready for production. 
              My hat’s off to the true farmers here in Kentucky. This is a difficult time. We have to deal with the weather. But, those who farm for a living must deal with the foibles of the market.  I may have to break the ice for my cattle on a cold winter morning.  Other farmers may be facing selling their cattle for pennies on the dollar, or worse yet, destroying their herds.
               Some day the coronavirus pandemic
 will all be a bad memory. We will forget these strange days eventually. But I hope we do not forget the many people here in Shelby County who live and work on the farms. It is because of them that we have food to eat that is healthy and nutritious. I am truly proud to have that green bumper sticker on my truck. Because they farm, I eat!