My friend Sue has an organic farm in our area. She grows a variety of flavorful and healthy vegetables and sells them from a stand on the farm, and also at a few farmers markets. This is where our paths crossed several years ago and we struck up a friendship that has endured. Sue’s great; intelligent and fun to talk with. Our conversation topics have been wide ranging; from current events and politics, to county issues and business, markets and vendors, mutual friends, and family. We have much in common.

Recently, Sue mentioned an issue that irks her, and it also bothers me. It’s a behavior that certain members of different segments of agriculture seem to have adopted. That is, attacking each other for the methods they’ve chosen to implement on their respective farms. It sometimes seems that it’s the conventional farmers vs. the organic farmers. I’ve heard organic farmers demonize conventional farmers and even go so far as accusing them of “poisoning the planet”. And conventional farmers speak of organic methods dismissively and with contempt. I’m of the opinion that this negative talk is unproductive and potentially harmful for both sides.  There’s room in the ag community for everyone.  For example, in addition to beef, my husband and I also raise conventionally grown crops on our farm.  There is demand for our products and the methods we choose make sense for our particular operation.  It enables us to be sustainable.  There’s a demand for what Sue grows, too.  Sue has found her niche in organic production.  We can co-exist by simply taking care of our different, respective customers.  The worst thing would be to eliminate one or the other.

It’s all about choices for the consumer.  Americans have long enjoyed abundant and affordable food, and want to have the ability to choose products that work for their particular situation.  We as farmers need to provide what they desire, and what a consumer may want will vary depending on a number of factors, including economic.  Let’s face it, organic or non-conventionally raised products do tend to cost more.  Some simply cannot afford to pay higher prices and find conventionally grown products a better fit for their budgets.  That’s their choice.  So, let’s stop the polarizing name calling and look at the big picture.  With the projected increases in world population looming on the horizon, it will take each and every farmer working in all segments of agriculture to help feed the world.

Now is the time to put aside our differences and focus on what we have in common.  Our goals are the same.  One is to provide a safe and wholesome product to the end consumer, whether they’re our neighbor at the local farmers market or folks around the globe.  Another goal is to take care of the environment, to leave our farms in the best condition possible for our children, or those who come after us.  We’re all farmers; we’re committed to what we do, work hard, and take tremendous pride in it.  We tend our crops with care, regardless of the crop or methods used.  If we think about it, we have a lot in common.  Just like Sue and me.