Letter: Family farms feed the world, not just Hancock County

To the editor:

Regarding the Hancock County property rights column in the Opinion section of the Greenfield Daily Reporter (“Your property rights are in small print,” Oct. 11, A4).

If you are going to bash the farm industry in this county, at least get the facts right. The setback on property line is 750 feet, not 450 — and yes, it can be reduced in some circumstances, just like you can build a garage closer to a property line if the surrounding property owners do not object.

In this day and age if you are going to buy property, it isn’t up to the farm next door to inform the potential neighbor what his livelihood might include. Farming is like every other business. You have to be able to adapt to make a living so, yes, we might have to change our operations — not because we want to, but because we must.

There are also restrictions for building confined feeding operations in this county, some of which include waste management, setbacks and buffers.

You make it sound like farmers are the only large trucks using our roads, and that isn’t true. If you would check the property taxes, farmers pay huge amounts of money on their property, and so we should have a say in what this county does for agriculture.

Farm ground in this county is lost every year to non-farming operations. Nothing in your column concerns the fact that these entities spew fumes in the air. When they do, is that a health issue? Health problems associated with farms are indeed hard to document, because our environment is changing every year. It has very little to do with farming and more to do with global warming. You would think that more farmers would be succumbing to horrendous health problems if your statement is true. Farmers’ biggest health concerns to me seem to be stress from dealing with Mother Nature.

Farmers feed the world, not just Hancock County, and then get bit by the hand they are feeding. Hopefully the readers of your paper are not all farmers. If so, there might be some subscriptions canceled. I would have more to say on this subject, but it is harvest time in Hancock County, and I need to get back to that since this is payday for farmers.

Not everyone can be a farmer. Actually, not many do anymore. The median age for farmers is around 55 years. Most people do not want to work that hard. Our sunup-to-sundown days are long gone. It’s more like 16 to 18 hours. When you tack on the high cost of equipment (combines can go for over a half a million dollars easily), then we sell $3 corn that cost us $4 to grow. We let the government tell us who we can sell to and control the import of our farm products (that is where the stress level comes into play). So, yes, you struck a nerve in your column.

I hope you raise a big garden and are a vegan (remember what I said about biting that hand that feeds you). I also hope you live in town, because I don’t. If you think so little of farmers, I don’t want you as my neighbor.

Pat Mohr