President's Column | Ask the Expert - Your Local Farmer

Posted on Jan 27, 2021
Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney

To say we are inundated daily with information is quite an understatement considering all the electronic devices we have.

Our phones, tablets and computers have become magnets for everyday doses of news and opinions that circulate throughout the digital airwaves.

In a perfect world, all this information would be truthful and helpful, but, unfortunately, that is not always the case.

We have found so-called “experts” speaking up at every log-on and anyone who has access to a smartphone can become an instant reporter.

One topic related to agriculture that is likely to show up in those newsfeeds soon, if not already, is the idea that net farm income could reach its highest level in seven years. On the surface, that is a fact, but it should come with an asterisk. Much of that revenue comes from tariff relief funding, natural disaster assistance, and COVID-19 assistance legislation.

But to fully understand that farm families are in no way getting rich off government payments, you have to hear the whole story; something most internet “experts” don’t provide.

Our friends and colleagues at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) have provided some very eye-opening information that gives a more complete picture of this issue. Take a look at this excerpt from their report:

“While farm profitability will certainly be higher in 2020, it’s a false positive. Farm cash receipts from the sales of all crop and livestock commodities are now projected at $367 billion, down $3 billion, or one percent, from 2019. Cash receipts this year will be the lowest since 2016 and they remain $57 billion less than the $424 billion in cash receipts received during 2014. There has been some relief in production expenses, which, at a projected $344 billion, are down $5 billion, or one percent, from 2019 and the lowest since 2011.”  

Those statistics and this information from AFBF paint a much different picture for our farm economy than some of the “surface only” reports moving about the world wide web.

The truth is, most farm families struggle to make ends meet but they continue with the tradition and labor of farming because of their love for the land and their desire to produce the most abundant, safest, and most affordable food supply in the world.

At the end of the day, the American farmer is important to anyone in this country who eats. It’s as simple as that. Less than two percent of the total U.S. workforce is comprised of farmers and ranchers, and that number continues to decline. Therefore, we must understand how vital it is to keep farm families on the farm and to encourage a new generation to take up the cause.

One of our goals at Kentucky Farm Bureau is to always provide correct information about the agriculture industry, all based on scientific fact. We don’t have anything to hide and the general public deserves to know the full story. 

Not everything you read on the internet is true or complete. So, the next time you have a question about food production, go to the real experts – your nearby farmer. 

Mark Haney, President
Kentucky Farm Bureau