To the editor:
I am a sixth generation farmer here in Douglas County. My generation of agriculture producers is more aware than ever of environmental challenges and concerns. We use techniques as elaborate as new land management practices, buffer strips and fertilizer protocols and as simple as putting up a fence to keep livestock away from streams.
Public policy is driven by public opinion. In the shaping of public opinion, perception is everything. If people perceive farmers and rachers to be polluters who could care less about clean water and air, it is because the environmental community has succeeded in promoting that perception. I would hope Kansans know agricultural producers only hurt themselves if they ignore the environment. So whether it is enlightened self-interest or an innate sense of responsibility, when given the opportunity to do something to improve the environment, the farmer will do just that.
We're the original environmentalists, stewards of the land, and all that. These clichdon't describe the commitment the current generation of agriculture producers feels toward clean water and a cleaner environment. Farmers are willing to work to find middle ground, while environmental activists want it their way or no way at all. People are becoming divided: urban versus rural, big versus small, city versus farm. We prefer to work together for the betterment of all Kansans.
We will eat fewer Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at Grandma's farm, and more of those family meals in the house at the end of the cul-de-sac. But that does not mean we can just ignore those of us who have chosen to remain in the farming community. After all, we will be the ones supplying the food for those family holiday celebrations.
Many in the environmental community can walk away from legislative compromises on water quality and other environmental issues but myself and my family and the agricultural community continue to work and live toward the betterment and profitability of our farms, ranches, or communities and our state.