Welcome to the first installment of the series "Things you should be worrying about, but probably aren't aware of..." Yes, I plan on dumping things on your already overburdened shoulders that will hopefully make you take notice of some issues that probably aren't on the radar for most of you. In many cases, like this one, I won't have a really good solution for the problem, either.
I recently came across the results of the most recent ag census, which you can find here. Although the focus of this particular part of the section of the census was the AGE of US farmers, (which IS increasing dramatically, and which I DO think is alarming) I was most disturbed by some other data listed there.
The number of farm operators under the age of 45 in the United States that work off of the farm stands at a whopping 81%. Based on most farmers I know, they don't work off the farm because they want to, but because they have to out of financial necessity. The same graphic shows that only 22% of farmers in this age group derive more than half of their income from farming.
In what other profession would it be acceptable for those practicing in the profession to do it as a part time endeavor? How about your doctor that also stocks shelves in the grocery store? Maybe a lawyer who moonlights installing carpets? The chef who mows lawns on the side?
Is it right that farmers must find other work in order to pay the bills? Do they have the time and energy left when they come home to really be able to concentrate on the job of growing wholesome, affordable food? As someone who does farm full time, I can honestly tell you that I don't know how they do it.
Should producing the third most essential ingredient for human life really be reduced to a hobby?
I know that there is a group of supposedly "enlightened" people out there who think that this is progress, that having only a negligible percentage of the population "burdened" by food production for everyone else is a really great statistic.
I am, and will remain, one of the unenlightened.