Carl Herold: Economic slowdown | SteamboatToday.com

Carl Herold: Economic slowdown

— How does agriculture fit into these times of economic slow down? Where do you fit into the roll of agriculture? Regardless of how the economy is going, you have to have water, food and shelter to survive. Everything else is frills.

In 2006, the United States Department of Agriculture estimated the value of production agriculture in the United States to be $267 billion. In Colorado, agriculture is responsible for more than 105,000 jobs, which comprises 4.4 percent of the state’s total and adds $16 billion to the states economy. Colorado exports $840 million worth of agriculture products annually.

From 2002 to 2007, more than two-thirds of the USDA’s budget was directed toward nutrition, 5 percent went to conservation, and 6 percent was listed as other. Only 21 percent was directed to commodity support programs. Because of these programs and a competitive global market, the United States can continue to affordably produce abundant food and fiber. Americans spend less of their paychecks on food than any other nation in the world. These facts came directly from The Future in Agriculture in Colorado Taskforce.

Today, food products in the United States are safe, plentiful and cheap – only about 10 percent of American’s income. How long can it stay that way? Development is taking acres and acres of agriculture land out of production each year. Municipalities are taking the water from agriculture land, destroying its productivity. Other factors include the passing of laws – laws based on emotion rather than scientific evidence. Regulations have been passed by an entity to exert control rather than positive benefits. Introduction of species that have a negative effect on agriculture, the Endangered Species Act, nuisance lawsuits, the consolidation of packing plants and machinery companies, the high cost of feed and the soaring cost of fuel, all add to the cost of products. These are just some of the issues that take agriculture land out of production. This could force more dependency for our food to come from foreign countries, which in turn opens us up to those same countries controlling the price of our food just as others control our energy.

As an individual, do any of the following questions concern you?

– Is water a concern?

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– Is loss of production agriculture land to development a concern?

– Is loss of production agriculture land to nonproductive land (open space) a concern?

– Are laws based on emotion rather than on science a concern?

– Are nuisance lawsuits a concern?

– Are environmental issues a concern?

– Are regulations for buying local food a concern?

– Is the price of food a concern?

– Is a healthy, safe food product a concern?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is to your advantage to educate yourself about these issues or any others, stay active and help keep agriculture viable. For accurate agricultural information you can contact The Routt County Extension Office, The Community Agriculture Alliance, The Routt County Cattlemen, The Routt County CattleWomen, The Farm Bureau and The Farmers Union. Many of these organizations are welcoming new members or visitors.