The Consequences of Drought

By now, the drought may be well on it’s way to over. Just last night it rained almost two inches. However, several times during the drought I was contacted by the news media so that I could expound on the consequences of the drought as it related to our farm. My experience only proved what I had been told, and have suspected for quite a while, namely, that the media already knows what it’s going to say, and they just want someone to which they can attribute the words.

My first response when asked about the drought was, “What all farmers know about the drought is that it will eventually go away, but the government won’t.” This response surprised those who asked enough, so that, I had to explain it in brief. I’ve had more time to think about it and will explain in more detail here my experience. Within the past ten years most farmers have had to become certified pesticide applicators, meeting education standards set by both the federal and state governments. They have also had to undergo the expense of training their employees in the same manner under regulations set by the federal government. Laws have become especially constrictive in the area if employing non-family labor. I know of one farmer that was fined for not putting in writing to his employees that they did not have to purchase sodas out of the soda machine located on the farm. Farms are in almost constant threat of being taken out of production due to a barrage of environmental laws. Agriculture has come under attack for a farm bill that is not meant, in reality, to make farmers wealthy but to ensure a stable, inexpensive food supply for the nation. The fact is that farmers are willing to take the risks of a free market system but consumers will have to pay the price for the option as well. Did the media mention any of this while covering the drought?

I have spent a good deal of time over the past two years dealing with the widening of New Hampshire Ave. Explaining my concern over losing my farmland and trees to the state; I was told by an elected state representative that it was O.K. for me to lose my land because the state was making an effort to save farmland elsewhere in the state. Although government can pass laws restricting the development of land, it can’t force people to farm.

By now, you must be wondering what this has to do with growing a tree in your back yard. I recently heard that a person was able to build a house in Montgomery County with seven bathrooms, but he could not have a chicken in his yard. One day you may not be able to plant a fruit tree either. Government employees have the ability to enforce laws in ways that support their personal agendas and ignore the intent of the law. And once a law is passed, I have been told, it is easier to amend one than repeal one.

I have followed, to an extent, the Mossburg situation. Ignoring their latest misfortune and realizing that I don’t like the thought of a dump any more than anyone else. I have this to say about that. The Mossburgs were operating a dump in north Potomac. The county allowed the area to be built up around them and their new neighbors want the dump closed. Don’t the people that live there now have a responsibility to handle their own trash instead of dumping it off elsewhere?

I would like to make these points:

  • It’s easy for ninety-nine percent of the people to impose their will on the one percent, it takes courage for the ninety-nine percent to handle their problems before they destroy the one percent.
  • Secondly, the Md. Dept. of Transportation must realize that mass transportation should have a higher priority than widening a road – find a way to do more with what you have before you take from someone else.
  • It should be made as difficult to pass a law as it is to repeal one. The fact is the laws are probably on the books to remedy almost any problem and better enforcement directed to the intent of the law needs to be accomplished.

One may ask, why is this farm, which seems to be under constant attack from the government, still here? The answer is simply that we have the most supportive and appreciative customers one could ever hope to have and once you get past dealing with the government, this is a really nice way to make living, in spite of the weather.

Next month, I promise, something about fruit trees. (Oh yeah, make sure you pick the fallen fruit from your trees to eliminate disease problems next spring.)

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