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Our Opinion: Life on the farm

Monday, May 15, 2006

Help wanted: Hard worker with good business head and plenty of capital. Must be willing to work pretty much around the clock when needed. Must like animals and/or plants. Good knowledge of chemistry, biology and government regulations required. No health insurance. No retirement plan.

How many readers of a help-wanted ad like this one would apply? National statistics show fewer and fewer young men and women are interested in a life of farming. But those who are all have one thing in common: It's in their blood.

Fortunately for the rest of us, the United States has the most productive and efficient farms in the world. These farms supply an abundance of food and fiber at affordable prices to consumers who are accustomed to year-round availability of items like produce and fruit that used to be in supermarkets seasonally.

The ability to meet consumers' demands for food items regardless of the season is due largely to increasing imports. Foreign competition is just one of the many factors that affect agribusiness and the decision of some farmers to find other jobs and others to consider farming as a career.

Farmers always have and always will have a special outlook on life. They face odds of failure that are far beyond the comfort level of most workers. Farming used to be the biggest occupation in a once-rural America. While farming no longer is tops in numbers, it supplies the goods that keep the rest of us going. For that, we are thankful.