Myth: Farmers don’t care about the environment

Myth: “There is only one right way to farm, and that’s organic or non-GMO or conventional or biotech, and the list goes on.”

Myth: The majority of U.S. farms are large corporate farms or “Big Ag.”

Myth: Agriculture is a limited career field.

Myth: “Pesticides are not regulated!” or “Pesticides need to be regulated.”

Myth: Organic means no pesticides!

Myth: Farmers douse/slather/drench their crops in pesticides.

Myth: Farmers use pesticides as a shortcut – they’re not necessary.

Myth: Conventionally grown food is less nutritious than organically grown food.

Fact:

Would you willingly trash your office? Neither would farmers. A farmer’s field and surrounding environment are literally his bread and butter, and farmers take great care to make environmental decisions that will ensure the health of their land for generations to come. Today’s farming methods, such as the responsible use of herbicides, allows for practices that put the land first, including conservation tillage and no-tilling (‘no-till).
With conservation tillage, it has been found that:
  • Erosion of soil can drop up to 90 percent;
  • Five hundred fifty-eight million gallons of fuel per year are saved, equaling 22.2 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions;

Conservation tillage and no-till increase crop residue on the soil’s surface which traps water in the soil by providing shade. The shade reduces water evaporation. In addition, residue slows runoff and increases the opportunity for water to soak into the soil. In fact, continuous no-till can result in as much as two additional inches of water available to plants in late summer. Modern farming methods also include Integrated Pest Management (IPM). With IPM, farmers can reduce energy use, environmental risk and production costs while growing quality crops. IPM includes the strategic use of crop protection tools as well as other practices to keep pest populations low and minimize the drain on natural resources.

Fact:

Can’t we all just get along? The truth is there is no “best way to farm.” The myriad tools and practices U.S. farmers and ranchers use highlight the efficiency of the U.S. food system. Each growing method has benefits, and farmers should have the freedom to choose the production method best suited for their needs whether it be conventional, biotech or organic practices.

Fact:

It’s still “family first” for nearly 99 percent of all farms in America! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the majority of U.S. farms are owned and operated by families, and those farms produce 89 percent of all the food materials grown in the U.S. What’s more, 90 percent of farms are “small farms,” which bring in less than $350,000 in annual income. Non-family farms, “where the operator and persons related to the operator do not own a majority of the business,” account for around 1.3 percent of the all farms. It is important to note, however, that “corporation” is not a dirty word! One of the prime purposes of a corporation is to limit liability and allocate resources, and family farms become corporations for these purposes.

Fact:

Between now and 2020, expect to see 57,900 average annual openings for graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment areas. According to projections made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Purdue University, almost half of the opportunities will be in management and business, and another 27 percent will be in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Jobs in sustainable food and biomaterials production will make up 15 percent, while 12 percent of the openings will be in education, communication, and governmental services.

Oh, you would like specifics of what kinds of jobs are available in agriculture? How about viticulturist, landscape contractor, dietitian, crop management consultant, rural development specialist, range manager, biological engineer, farm services agent, forest products manager, veterinarian, precision agriculture specialist, plant and animal inspector, aquaculturist…we could go on and on and on and on and on….

Fact:

Well, do we have a surprise for you! The crop protection industry works in concert with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal and state regulatory agencies to bring products to market after a thorough evaluation and approval process. EPA regulates pesticide use pursuant to the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. Before a pesticide can be sold to farmers, pesticide manufacturers must demonstrate that the pesticide will not result in unreasonable adverse effects on the environment and a crop may not be treated with a pesticide unless EPA has specifically approved the pesticide for use on that crop. Federal law ensures that any pesticide residues on your food are safe for you and your family. The process of gaining pre-market approval or “registering” a new pesticide product is intentionally rigorous, and it takes up to a decade before a new product is available to growers. As companies register new products, EPA requires them to submit more than 1,000 pages of scientific data that evaluate any potential product risk for the Agency to review. Since 1959, Congress has updated pesticide laws multiple times and currently mandates that EPA re-review registered products at least every 15 years to make sure they meet current scientific and regulatory standards. In addition, manufacturers spend a great deal of resources ensuring the continued agronomic value of their products.

Fact:

Thought your organic grapes were going commando, did you? Sure, pesticide-free organic items do exist, but, most organic farms must use some form of pesticide to grow their produce. The difference is organic farmers use crop protection products principally derived from naturally-occurring sources to help them say, bye fly-licia! In fact, there are actually more than 20 synthetic chemicals commonly used on organic crops that are approved by the U.S. National Organic Standards Board. One major difference between organic and conventional pesticide use? The actual volume of pesticides used on an organic farm is not monitored and recorded by the government.

Fact:

If farmers slathered on crop protection like we slather on sunscreen, say at a ratio of half an ounce for the area of your face, farmers would have to use more than 54,000 ounces per acre. In reality, crop protection products are applied sparingly (as low as 3 ounces per acre). Avoiding overuse is as important to farmers as ensuring the soil is rich in nutrients and crops are watered – every application of crop protection is part of the heavy or substantial investment a farmer makes in his or her most valuable possession, the land.

Fact:

With 10,000+ species of insects, 30,000+ species of weeds, and 100,000+ crop diseases caused by fungi, viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms, the struggle is real for crops in the field. Like really real. So farmers use a variety of methods, like integrated pest management (IPM) to keep our salad bars stocked with fresh and zesty produce all year long. And there’s nothing lazy about IPM, which emphasizes long-term pest prevention, targeting problem organisms using a spring mix of biological controls, habitat manipulation, AND pesticides. Pesticides are a necessary tool.

Fact: