Food reaching you daily starts back with a farmer

Duane Dailey

As a well-fed nation, we might forget the value of farming. Where’s our food come from? Why the grocery store! Or the fast-food joint.

Farming became so efficient we feed more than our own population. That’s good. But, it can be devastating if we take for granted that all hungry people can be fed.

Actually, we can’t. We dropped our concern for agriculture. There’s huge ignorance about how we feed ourselves in this richest of nations. We can’t be indifferent to food needs of people here and abroad.

Changing from hunter-gathers to farmers made civilization possible. If you’re not grubbing for food every day, you owe big thanks to farmers. It’s not just farming it is all of businesses that go into modern agriculture. That’s huge. Even folks in those businesses may not know the value of what they do.

Yes, now some in an Ag School and Extensions do not know their base is farming.

A recent science story I read told that hunter-gathers spent about eight hours a day gathering and eating. That didn’t leave time to do much that makes a civilization.

Inventing grain bins and storing food back in the Fertile Crescent started our way to agriculture. That was only 13,000 years ago. Not long in the millions years of our evolution.

With stored food, people could live in groups near granaries. That started towns, leading to cities. Groups could care for one another, saving babies and keeping elders. That results in civilization. I’ve lived to an age far beyond that of hunter-gathers.

Farmers, specialists in raising food, allow others to doctor and care for people. Feeding people extends lives.

Now, we’ve almost eliminated the part of population devoted to farming. The rest of us live off what they do.

Yes, we declare a week to thank farmers. But, who takes that seriously?

In Missouri, whether we know it or not, farming allows us to do so many other things. We can support artists, musicians, entertainers and even politicians.

We’re in trouble when politicians fail to learn the importance of agriculture.

Farming gave us more than food. Sure, there’s clothing and housing. Trees are part of agriculture. Trees made our houses. On and on.

In writing a weekly column, I try informally to inform not just farmers but townsfolks about agriculture. More than once I’ve received letters back saying something to the effect: “There are farmers in my church. But, I had no idea what they do or how complex farming has become.”

Yep, even in rural areas we pay little attention to goings on just outside of town.

Farm culture retains some early farming ethic. That takes looking out for one another. In sparse populations, the farmers are first responders, fire fighters, first-aid givers and much more. When a farmer falls, others come to gather the harvest. We need more of that to maintain civilization.

Every day, there are people in need. I was shocked to read locally, that we have MU students who don’t have enough food. It’s so costly to go to college they can’t buy food. Even in our public schools, we have young scholars who depend on taking home a buddy pack of eats from the Food Bank. I designate my contribution for the buddy-pack kids.

In Congress where the Farm Bill was inching its way forward to renewal one party blocks food aid. They do not want to include food stamps to feed the poor. In the past the Farm Bill was the most bipartisan of all laws. Not anymore. Divisiveness isn’t civilized.

Hello Washington, become kind. Be giving. Sure, there may be some who cheat on food stamps. But, there are still many people in need. Vote for the food stamps. If we think we can afford to fire million-dollar missiles in other countries, remember, food for peace comes cheaper than that.

Write to or 511 W. Worley, Columbia, Mo., 65203.