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Agriculture / Conservation News
April 2009 Agriculture Department News

By Jonathan Hermonot, Agriculture Committee Member

  APRIL 2009 --

As a proud Grange and Farm Bureau member and a farm owner, I believe it is my obligation to stay up to date with ever changing agricultural issues.  The statistics show that most families are three to four generations from the farm.  This means more people are becoming disconnected with agricultural issues and practices.
This can result in misconceptions leading to rules and regulations that can cause businesses to lose viability in a competitive market.
I just traveled out to Sacramento, California for a Farm Bureau leadership conference where 1,200 members from almost 40 states gathered.  We listened to many talks about communicating your farm story, agricultural grant opportunities, animal welfare, economic outlooks, developing a proactive business plan, and many other issues that affect farmers.  We also toured some impressive farm operations.  I took much away from this conference, most of all the need to have a business plan and to tell your farm story.  This gets the consumer emotionally connected to the farm and become friendlier to farming practices. 
Our state does a good job promoting CT Grown products and farm markets but I believe we can do more to educate the public.  I hope our committee can develop ideas and receive suggestions from you that will help improve Connecticut’s agriculture.  Some ideas are developing the right to farm act, protecting land rights, having more open house events at farms, pushing agricultural stories in the news, and expressing the benefits of farming to the public.  I talked with many individuals from many states that held optimistic views and excitement towards agriculture but are dealing with pressure to change practices from certain groups with opposing agendas. 
It’s a volatile time in our country for all business; especially agriculture!  The big question is how can we help improve agricultural prosperity in CT?  Should the government take a bigger role or do they hinder the process.  For example, there is a proposed bill that addresses low milk price through dramatic increases in the milk license fee that stores pay to sell milk.  This money would be used to help dairy farmers stay viable as their industry becomes more competitive!  Is that the answer to our problem?  By solving one problem do you create another? 
You may create a backlash from store owners who are trying to promote and sell the milk and who are facing their own issues of viability.  Is the state going to support the store owners when they go through rough times?  We need to create synergy when creating policy, not policy that works against each other creating good guy, bad guy stereotypes!
My final thought is as government intervention increases we may need to structure more policy when impacted businesses get into trouble.  I’m passionate about less regulation over business.  I believe manipulating the free market creates problems and leads to inefficiency.  The free market and capitalism works wonders and it seems to be under assault through government growth!!!  We need to keep agriculture strong through good leadership and stewardship. 
Feel free to contact our committee or the Grange website with thoughts or suggestions!


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