All form fields are required.

“Aren’t pesticides and fertilizer bad for soil and water quality?”

Farmers actually apply a lot less fertilizer today than they did in previous generations. That’s because improvements in seeds require less fertilizer and less water while growing more; so we have good yields despite unpredictable cycles of drought or floods.

Farmers also have a significant number of regulations and complex application formulas they have to follow to determine exact amounts of fertilizer needed, based on changing soil types; that helps them maintain the safety of the plant as well as the integrity of the soil, and without all that nurturing and care, the soil wouldn’t be as productive when they pass it on to their sons and daughters to farm. We all live in a watershed, so it’s important to understand the amount of fertilizer put on lawns and golf courses can have just as much, if not more, of an impact than a corn field.

“Why can’t farmers grow all their food organically so they don’t need chemicals or large equipment that can harm the environment?”

Farming has changed, both in method and scope, to meet a growing world population in the United States and globally. The United Nations (U.N.) has called for a 100 percent increase in world food production by 2050 to meet the needs of the nine billion people projected to be on the planet then. The U.N. also says this doubled food requirement must come from virtually the same land area as today. That means increasing the use of new and current yield-enhancing technologies to grow enough food for everyone.

That’s why it’s important that farmers have the choice to grow organic or conventional crops, so you have a choice on what to feed your family at the grocery store. Organic food production takes a lot more labor, time and space than modern farming. Produce that’s grown organically has more weeds and bugs that need to be removed by hand. This additional labor adds to the cost of the product.

But, for a lot of people, cost is the biggest hurdle to putting food on the table. More than 60% of the 30 million children who participate in the National School Lunch Program receive free or reduced-price meals. So it’s important that these families have an affordable option to pick from too.

Modern seeds are pest- and drought-resistant and can grow in poor soil, so yields are higher and prices are lower. Same thing with livestock; there are many ways hogs, cattle and poultry are raised today; if you want it, farmers are happy to provide it. Consumer choice is a wonderful thing, but limiting choices can lead to food insecurity.

“Is modern crop farming causing all our fertile topsoil to disappear?”

No. In fact, erosion has decreased about 43 percent in recent years, according to the National Resource Inventory (NRI), which was recently released by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Environmentalists who did the study say the progress comes from a variety of soil-saving methods including planting grassy buffer strips in waterways near farm fields, to putting in terraces (a type of grassy ‘ledge’ in hilly fields), to using no-till farming methods. No-till means farmers leave a ‘stubble’ of the plant in the field after harvest, and this acts like a kind of natural plant ‘net’ to hold the soil in place when farmers plant it in the spring. To read more about the farmers’ progress to protect the soil, check out the NRI website.