Tues., Nov. 27, 2018
Psalm 67:6 – The earth has yielded its harvest. God blesses us—our God blesses us!
As you put a spoon into acereal bowl this morning and taste your favorite version of the milk-laden grainchoice, will you think of the farmers who produced the milk or harvested the grain which became the cereal?
As you pull a knife through the chicken or beef that you have for dinner today, will you understand the dedication and commitment required to raise those animals and the necessary process to bring these choices to your table?
Most of us look in our refrigerator or pantry or freezer and grab whatever looks good in the moment to nourish our bodies. It’s hard to imagine what is all behind getting food from a production operation to your table … or the restaurant where you are eating.
Harvest season is finally wrapping up in Wisconsin. A very wet late summer and fall delayed harvest. Early snow delayed things down for a while. While some crops still remain in the fields, most of the harvest is now off the field and in a bin ready to be turned into products you and I eat and enjoy daily.
It’s been a tough year for production agriculture. Record low prices for multiple years have taken its toll. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis announced that 84 production farms in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana declared Chapter 12 bankruptcy for a 12-month period that ended in June. This is more than triple the number that filed in the previous 12-month period.
What does this mean? There are fewer and fewer people who produce the food Americans, as well as many people outside of the U.S., eat. Long-lingering low prices producers receive make it challenging for farmers to keep producing food.
Why has this happened? It’s not an easy answer. Some is spurred by overproduction. When farmers receive low prices, they often increase production to create more income, which may only create an even more challenging situation. Trade challenges with other countries have not helped. Decreased consumption of some products, like dairy milk, make the situation challenging. Promised help from the federal government has been slow in coming and not enough for some.
Most people don’t think much about where food comes from. In the U.S., food is inexpensive compared to other countries around the world. Consumers have access to lots of food and choices for relatively low prices. What’s not to love?
Production agriculture experienced a similar situation in the 1980’s. My parents became part of a mass exodus from production agriculture. This current downturn, however, seems longer, more challenging and carries with it a deeper sting.
I am grateful for this year’s food harvest. I extend a shout-out to the folks who work long, hard days to provide millions and billions of people a safe food supply. I pray we all can be a little more appreciate of those who supply a healthy food supply for the rest of us. And have empathy for those production agriculture people who are hanging on by less than a thread. The struggle is real. It takes a toll emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Give production agriculture a Christmas present this year by buying locally and increasing usage of unprocessed food. Donate to a need family, local food pantry or local non-profit as an example of how to celebrate the production agriculture folks around us. Say an extra prayer for these folks or lend them a listening ear. Don’t know any production agriculture folks? Drive down the road until you find a farm and realize they are the ones who help provide you food. Reach out to them and thank them. It will mean more than you can ever imagine.
For harvest and an abundance of food, I am grateful.
Holy God – we are blessed with another abundant harvest. We are blessed with access to food and variety of food. May we appreciate those who have dedicated their lives to harvesting food for everyone else. Amen.
Thanks for my good friend Lisa Leege who took the pictures while riding in the combine with her Dad, Roger Zimmerman.
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