BY BEN LACROSS
Special to the Record-Eagle
---- — The last time I penned a letter to Santa Claus, the reply came in handwriting that looked suspiciously like my mom's. But, 'tis the season, and farmers everywhere are looking for a little help to make 2013 a bit better than 2012. So, let's turn to the big guy at the North Pole for some help. Most of us farmers have been nice this year, and we have a long list of wants for the next year on our farms.
On behalf of farmers in Michigan, we would like to submit this wish list for your consideration:
Quite possibly the gift most farmers would like to receive is a Farm Bill passed by Congress and signed by the president.
Without a Farm Bill, farmers face uncertainty, consumers face price fluctuations and the millions who rely on nutrition programs face hunger. The Senate passed a bill that would save taxpayers over $23 billion. It's not a perfect bill, but it does address our nation's debt crisis, and it provides needed reform to some antiquated farm programs.
Santa, you of all people understand that one Claus can't make all the toys for all the girls and boys. Without the Elves, there would be no Christmas. Without agricultures' skilled employees, many of our crops would go untended and unharvested. Immigration reform that addresses agriculture's unique needs for skilled, mobile workers would also be a gift Congress could give to agriculture. Decades have passed since Congress has attempted to fix a broken immigration system. Our current laws leave undocumented immigrants in limbo, penalize farmers who employ the only workers who will harvest their crops and tax already overburdened heath care and educational systems.
Tax reform and regulatory certainty would be under our tree this year. As the world population grows, farmers need to produce more food on less land using fewer resources than ever before. According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, more food will need to be produced in the next 50 years than has been produced during the past 10,000 years combined.
Farming and science have always gone hand in hand. Hopefully, the next Norman Borlaug or Temple Grandin is in some lab, somewhere, coming up with agriculture's next breakthrough.
Finally, Santa, farmers would like to see the food that we grow bring the world's population together in friendship, instead of tearing each other apart. Battles have been fought over grain, countries have disputes over control of resources and families have conflicts about the farm.
Nothing makes farmers happier than to know that somewhere, someone is smiling while enjoying the food they produced. We love to provide the produce that brings families together at the holiday season.
Thanks, Santa, and remember to thank a farmer when you are enjoying the cookies and milk on Christmas Eve.
Peace on Earth, and good food for all!
Ben LaCross grows cherries and apples with his family in Cedar.