The semester so far has been one filled with debating. Debating to defend the rights of unborn children, the honor of former President George W. Bush....and the latest? Defending against the following statement:
"Agriculture is not important in America and has been of decreasing importance since 1776."
This was the first slide that showed in my natural resource economics class today. Please pick your jaw back up, just as I had to in class. The first thing you need to know about the professor is that he is over-tanned (definitely supporting the Tucson tanning bed industry...ok, maybe that is an assumption...), liberal, AND an environmentalist. Henceforth he will be referred to as OTLE (abbreviations from the previous sentence, get it?). The following is the conversation following the revealing of this slide in class, as best I can remember (though it gets so fuzzy when your blood is boiling, your pits are sweating, and your mind is absolutely reeling!):
OTLE: So, as you can see from this slide, agriculture is of little importance to us as Americans. The total contribution to GDP is minimal. (Turns to hit the button on power point to bring up next point.)
Janette: (Raising my hand but not really waiting to be called on...) I would argue with that statement. While the contribution to GDP might be smaller than other industries, you cannot put a dollar value on what it means to our national security and the basis of our entire economy as well as to the health/nutrition of Americans, all who must eat each day! America produces the world's safest, most abundant, most affordable food supply. In addition, the only reason that the number you are referring to is smaller than it was in 1776 is that with technology, farmers have become more efficient at producing food, so as an American we typically only pay 10% of our disposable income on food, where as in Kenya or other developing nations, they might pay up to 70%.
OTLE: (Writes on the board pretend numbers for Ag contribution to GDP and a higher pretend number for movie industry contribution.) Which number is higher? So, we can conclude that movies are more valuable than food and agriculture here in the US.
Janette: That is a naive statement. At the end of the day, we each must eat, be clothed, and have shelter---all of which comes from agriculture. We can do without being entertained though.
OTLE: Do you have a better measurement then for measuring the importance of the industry?
Janette: Common sense. (Yep, I said it.) Common sense tells us that food is fundamentally more important than movies and you absolutely cannot put a dollar value on that.
I stared him down with a defiant stare that few people besides my mom and dad know I possess....but he got the message and I think he was a bit scared of me after that as he changed the subject. HOWEVER, I am not through with this. Hopefully tomorrow evening or Thursday I will be posting a rough draft of a calm, rational, logical, FACTUAL argument to prove him and his statement wrong. Please keep an eye out for that because I need all my agriculturalists to help me make this good!
My life hangs in the balance though, because I had recently resolved that I want to farm someday. (Don't laugh Jason and Papa!) I don't know where/when/what/how, but I had made up my mind. Today I realized that I might have to spend my life combatting idiots like OTLE instead....though if I do take that path I am CERTAIN I will have high blood pressure soon. Like tomorrow maybe.
Just to stay on the soapbox a bit longer, it is so sad to me that our country that was founded on high-caliber, progressive agriculturalists has become so ignorant of agriculture life/ways/facts that they must question/assume the worst about all agricultural pursuits....if they even see the value in them. It is absolutely appalling to me. Whats worse is that they don't even know what they are missing....appreciation of a safe food supply, knowing the joy of seeing a newborn animal born (after you carefully selected the genetics of its mom and dad!), watching a crop grow from seed to harvest, the pride of a hard days work (and the soreness that comes with:)), the peacefulness that comes from working in the environment God gave us, a deeper understanding of the very principles in our world that God put in place for us, getting to avoid the "birds and the bees" talk with your parents b/c you grew up watching it happen in the pasture, and countless other blessings that I can't even begin to capture here.
Genesis 1: 28
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and SUBDUE it. Rule over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
So not only do we have an America that is further removed from the facts of farming and agriculture, we have an America that is further removed from God and His will for mankind to live on earth. The second one makes the first one look like small potatoes, so maybe I should conquer the second one with my life's work and inadvertently conquer the first one after that....