Wendell Berry once wrote, “Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live.”
Unfortunately, many farmers say that the rules and regulations coming out of Washington today are making it tougher than ever to farm. A hundred years ago, almost one in three Americans worked on a farm. Today, less than three percent of Americans work on farms. During this same time period, the number of farms decreased from almost seven million to two million.
Of course, the decrease in farmers and farms can be attributed to a number of factors, including larger farming operations that have taken over many family farms and migration to the cities. However, many farmers say that they have grown weary of rules and regulations that seem to have little to do with farming and more to do with red tape.
According to Dwight Koops, president of Kansas-based Crop Quest, increasing regulation is one of the most frustrating trends in agriculture today.
“Immense pressure is being put on farmers to track the origin of all commodities and products grown for consumption,” Koops says. “The technology and paper trail that this will require will vastly change how and what gets accomplished on a typical farm operation in the future. The cost to producers and consumers will be a huge burden as well.”
Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation agrees. In a January speech he noted that, “As damaging as the weather or economic winds can be, farmers’ and ranchers‘ biggest challenge these days seem to come from their government.”
Stallman went on to say that while farmers and ranchers care deeply about the environment, excessive restrictions and regulatory costs will prevent them from sustaining the nation’s food supply. In short, farming and ranching will become economically unsustainable.
Many farmers say they are worried that they will be regulated out of farming. They add that complying with all the new regulations will mean that they will not be able to turn a profit. While these farmers understand that some rules and regulations are necessary, excessive regulation is running small and family farms straight out of business.