Vegan’s will say they love crop farmers who grow their food. But I can’t even repeat here what they think of livestock producers. So to say the least they’re a little confused when a mixed farmer like myself shows up to the debate. Do they love me or hate me? Most often it’s hate mixed with encouragement to only grow crops. “Why don’t you just grow crops?” First off, not all of my land supports growing crops. This world isn’t full of perfect 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile blocks of flat land. Some of its hilly, rocky, forested, etc. This is where I run my livestock & let them graze it. The rest is rotated between hay & crops. A number of years in hay production for livestock followed by a number of years in crop production is good for the land. Crop rotation is a foundation in agriculture for healthy land and plants.
On top of that crops that don’t make it to human consumption standards can be fed to livestock. All the way from salvaging crops that didn’t make it to maturity (green). To feeding harvested grain of low quality (feed grain). Livestock can make use of this & on my farm it doesn’t even have to leave the farm sometimes (saving a bit of transportation).
I wrote this early on in the debate on #farm365,
But still I will get asked, “Are you saying you need livestock to grow a crop?” No, just about everyone knows you can throw some seeds in the ground and they’ll grow. Anyone that grows a garden with no livestock knows this and this is probably where that question comes from. But agriculture on a larger scale (than a garden) needs efficiencies to remain profitable and these efficiencies come from livestock that will consume poor crops. Crop waste and low quality crops all need to produce revenue for the crop farmer to face another year.
I remember one specific conversation with a vegan who did not understand this simple concept. He stated he’d eat anything a crop producer grows. I showed him that picture and told him to enjoy his corn. His reply was “You feed that rotten $%@$ to your cows? That’s horrible” Horrible because he wouldn’t eat it, therefore it’s not fit for a cow? I don’t feed my cows salad from the grocery store just as I don’t mow my lawn and have it for lunch. Livestock can and need to process what we can not.
To illustrate this I made a couple of flow charts. From chatting with vegan’s, first is about the average understanding of agriculture as it pertains to them. Second is my best attempt to explain a basic farmers understanding.
Even that seems a little over simplified. But that’s the point. Agriculture is all intertwined and complicated. It’s not a simple case of just making a seed grow. Crops & livestock evolved together as agriculture. It’s not just a simple decision of tomorrow we all start growing crops. There will always be crop producers and livestock producers because they work together. Mixed farm seems to becoming a historic term and maybe that’s part of the problem. Some consumers now see crop farmers or livestock farmers, they don’t understand doing both. They see black and white. Ranches, Dairies, Hog Farms, Grain Farms, Vegetable Farms, Orchard’s, Sheep Farms are all so specific terms but they’re all farms. Historically one farm could have been all of those. So maybe we have to do a better job showing we’re all connected, we all stand together as agriculture, as farmers, almost as one single large historic mixed farm. Something #farm365 is accomplishing thanks in part to those attacking it.