Will March 1 be Armageddon for Agriculture?

The countdown is on… just three days remain until the “world ends” due to sequestration.  Who knows what will really happen on Friday, March 1?  There have been so many threats made about the Federal budget; half-truths and mistruths abound.

Reading the White House fact sheet on how the sequester would impact the middle class, jobs and economic security could make a person question whether anyone will be able to survive.  The last news release I read talks about cuts to education, small business, food safety, mental health, and the list goes on – and on!

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, in an article posted Feb. 21 on agweb, said the USDA might be forced to make big cuts to its budgets that will disrupt service to farmers and consumers including:

  1. Food safety;
  2. The Farm Bill; and
  3. Small businesses, which could have a negative impact especially on rural communities.

What troubles me the most is that all of the areas on the chopping block are vital to some American or some U.S. industry.  Meantime, expenditures like aid to foreign countries and less vital programs, are never mentioned.

There are claims that we will have food shortages and many problems with food safety due to a lack of Federal workers.  A potential furlough requiring every meat and poultry inspector nationwide to stay home for two weeks could effectively shut down the meat industry.  These particular claims concern me since my livelihood is based on producing pork.

Consumers must be able to purchase food from the meat counter with confidence, so that we’ll continue to have strong markets for our products.  But wait… Some have said that Americans would be healthier with less meat in their diets.

“A meat industry shutdown would actually give consumers — and their bodies — a much-needed break from the foods that are causing our nation’s worst health problems,” writes Susan Levin on thecalifornian.com.

Talk about misleading!  It’s clear from reading Levin curse “factory farms” that she’s never visited with a family farmer like myself.

Why can’t we just agree that eating healthy can include meat as a very good source of protein and vitamins?  Eating fruits and vegetables play an important role in a healthy, and getting enough exercise should always be one’s goal.  “Balance” and “moderation” are often overlooked in favor of self-interest and special interests groups.

This whole process of “working on the federal budget” has turned into a publicity stunt.  There will be disruption and hardships for many people as a result, but it’s doubtful that we’ll starve.  Food is still being produced by farmers like me.  Grocery stores will remain open. This country will eventually move ahead.  But, the next few days will be telling as to whom and what floats to the top!