Somerset—Well, it is February and the boredom of winter has settled in. January at least had the Keystone Show and the Farm Show, but all this time of year holds for those on the farm is the promise of plowing snow.
For Larry and me, this is the time to plan out our crops for the summer. The seeds have been ordered and the first of the tomato and pepper plants have been planted in the greenhouse. These will be grown and transplanted into our high tunnels to provide an early crop for the Farmers' Market. Hopefully this will mean tomatoes and peppers for sale in the second week of June.
Membership in Somerset County Farm Bureau can be regular or associate. Regular membership is for those involved in agriculture. Now, this doesn't mean that you need to be farming hundreds of acres. Farming comes in all shapes and sizes.
I was raised on a large dairy farm and the majority of those involved in farming in Somerset County are dairy farmers. But Larry and I are involved in a small agricultural enterprise — one that has grown smaller with the closing of our greenhouse operation.
Most of the farmers who are a part of the Somerset County Farmers' Market are small operations, but we are still involved in agriculture. It is true our little market will not feed the world, but we meet the need to provide fresh and local products for those interested in where their food is coming from.
The question can be asked, "Why do we need large farms?" Large farms are efficient and can produce food, fuel and fiber for many. The world population is growing and there is a need to meet the demands of a growing market.
Often large farms are called corporate farms, leading to the thought of those who misuse the land and mistreat their animals. This is far from the truth.
Yes, there is a need for large farms to become corporate as sons and daughters come into the business, but the vast majority of corporate farms are still family farms. These farms, like any business, need to be able to make a profit in order to survive. Larger farms have the advantage of modern technology and are less invasive to the environment as they do their farm practices.
Which is better? Neither! We need both the small farmer and the large farmer. Small farms meet a niche market, providing fresh, local product. Large farms make the investment to produce the volume to feed many at a low cost.
In the 1950s we had about 40 percent of our country's population involved in some aspect of agriculture. Today that number is under 2 percent. If it were not for the sweat and the investment of larger farmers there would be many more in the world going hungry.
So, during this month of winter boredom try to take the opportunity to thank a farmer for feeding the world.