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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Farming is tough road to navigate

  • This week, the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show is in full swing in Harrisburg.
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  • This week, the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show is in full swing in Harrisburg.
    This is the 97th year for the farm show, and that should tell us all something — agriculture is crucial to Pennsylvania.
    This farm show is the largest indoor agriculture exposition in America.
    That is amazing in itself.
    When you think about states like California, Texas and Florida, which have huge agriculture production, it says a lot about the importance of agriculture in Pennsylvania.
    All you have to do is drive across the Keystone State to understand the importance of agriculture. From blueberries to corn, this state produces a lot of agriculture products and those are shipped all around the world.
    But there's another side of agriculture that's discussed constantly but there doesn't seem to be many fixes.
    That is the dying family farm.
    Family farms are a tradition older than this country. Agriculture was crucial in the formation of this country. Without food, those involved in the revolution would never had accomplished winning the battle.
    Once the country was developed, the vast majority of people in this nation were farmers. Most operated small farms which fed their families and also provided food for others in the local area.
    When expansion headed west in this nation, agriculture was the key. People were promised land if they agreed to farm that land.
    Homesteading was the backbone of western expansion and agriculture was the key.
    But over time, things have changed.
    Vast conglomerate farms are now the norm across the country. They utilize a huge amount of land and are operated like a corporate business.
    Many family farms have succumbed to these large conglomerates based simply on economics.
    Family farms are dying — but they are not dead.
    Many families are trying to hold on to the tradition and keep the family farm alive.
    Whether it's a 100-acre farm in Pennsylvania or 4,000 acres of wheat fields and cattle in Montana, there are family farms which continue to operate in this country.
    It's a hard existence.
    We all know about the rising costs of fuel and electricity and just about everything else essential in running a farm.
    Costs continue to climb.
    But profits for farms continue to decline. It costs more and more to operate these farms and in many cases, they are dependent upon unstable markets when trying to determine profitability.
    There is likely no easy fix to this problem.
    It's hard to stop large corporations from doing what they please. If they have enough money, it's hard for small farmers to turn down the offer.
    Page 2 of 2 - Yet many hang in there and hope their children will be interested in continuing the tradition. Many won't because of the uncertainty of the markets. It's hard to convince young people to take that risk and go into farming.
    Some of those who are willing to take that risk will likely be in Harrisburg this week learning about the latest in technology and techniques.
    We encourage everyone to support their local farmers. They are the backbone of the economy and a vital link in the survival of mankind.
    We salute our farmers and look forward to working with them well into the future.

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