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Farmers are often the target of radical environmentalists who try to perpetuate the myth that farmers have absolutely no concern for the land and only see it as a means to make money. Of course nothing could be further from the truth.

Since such negative propaganda can have a detrimental impact on the agricultural industry in general, and farmers in particular, it is important that these misrepresentations are not allowed to go unchallenged. What follows are some facts that can be used to clearly and correctly contradict the inaccuracies promoted by many radical environmentalists:

  • As landowners, farmers have helped to install more than two million miles of conservation buffers. These buffers not only improve air, soil, and water quality, they also provide wildlife habitats.
  • Speaking of wildlife habitats, more than 50 percent of American farmers say they intentionally provide habitat for wildlife. Such measures have led to population increases for species including deer, fowl, and moose.
  • Crop rotation has long been – and continues to be – one important way farmers take care of the land they grow crops on.
  • Conversation tillage has grown by almost 50 percent in the past 30 years. This method of farming reduces erosion and also uses less energy. On a related note, total land used for crops overall has decreased by 15 percent in the same time period.
  • Farmers are adopting – at many times at a much faster rate than the general population – alternative energy sources. These include wind power and renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Such energy sources are beneficial to the environment as they leave a smaller environmental footprint than other petroleum-based fuels.

Obviously, farmers list protecting the land on which they make their living as one of their most important priorities. After all, why would they want to destroy the very thing that sustains their livelihood? It would be well for critics of farmers to remember that long before “environmentalism” came into vogue farmers were the original stewards of the land. Further, since the early 1930s federal farm programs have included provisions to help farmers protect wetlands and other delicate land.

It is important that farmers and those who support them have the ammunition to fight off farming’s many critics. Especially since these critics only seem to be interested in disparaging honest farmers who work long and hard to not only protect the land but also provide our nation’s abundant, safe, and nutritious food supply.

Farming can be a hard life but it is a life that many people are interested in trying. In most cases, people who want to give farming a shot fall into two categories. The first are those who would love to farm but are overwhelmed by the prospect. The second are those that believe all they need to do is buy a plot of land and they will be an instant success. Both types have a point, and the reality is somewhere right in the middle.

Before anyone can begin farming there are certain necessities. These are land, capital, labor, equipment, and buildings. Part-timing farming is a good way to begin because you can gradually ease into full-time farming or decide that part-time farming is enough. As a part-time farmer you are able to derive the benefits of farming while keeping your day job.

Many people romanticize what it means to be a farmer without understanding all it entails. As with all professions there are pros and cons. The farm life provides a healthy way of life that can free you from the many stresses of urban living. It also can afford a family the chance to enjoy the wide open spaces. The air quality is much better in the country and the physical labor can help keep you in shape.

The farm life is not for everyone, though. Many people feel isolated and cut off from their friends. Further, if they are involved in activities away from the farm the travel time back and forth can be physically and financially draining. Finally, the realities of farm life can hit new farmers harder than a seasoned one. The death of livestock or a crop taken out by weather can seem like insurmountable setbacks.

If your farming plans are still in the infancy stage, take advantage of this time to do your homework and find out as much as you can about what it takes to own and/or run a farm. Here are some things that can help you decide if you want to continue on your journey:

  • Talk to farmers you know and get in touch with agricultural organizations. University extension education offices are a great place to start.
  • Think about your goals. What do you want to produce? How will you market your products?
  • If you are married or have children, make sure all are onboard for what can be a drastic change in lifestyle.
  • Without the support of your loved ones it will be next to impossible to make the big move from city to country.

If your dream is to be a farmer, by all means pursue that dream. After all, as most farmers will tell you, there is nothing quite like it. Before you make any major decisions, however, make sure you have done your homework so you will know what to expect from your new lifestyle.

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