In these tough economic times we’ll stay true to our message that this is not the time to add more tax and regulatory costs.
By Kevin Rogers, Arizona Farm Bureau President
Cattle and hogs prices are down more than 10% from two years ago. Milk is down over 50%. We have already had several dairies shut down and sell their herds. The hay I sell to dairies, feedlots and horse owners is off 40%. Additionally, the downturn in the construction industry has dramatically reduced the sales of our nursery stock to landscapers. Energy and crop protection costs doubled and even tripled during their 2008 inflationary highs with little relief in the current downturn.
Arizona agriculture has great diversity. Diversity creates resiliency because individual sectors run on different cycles, and all businesses and economics run on cycles.
Although our agriculture is diverse, it also has great interdependencies and interrelationships of input, distribution, marketing and supply. You cannot grow crops without equipment and seeds and fertilizers. You cannot produce milk without feed from crops.
We can stand back and talk about economics and supply and demand and business cycles. We understand the economics of our various businesses. We also understand that so much of the things we produce are impacted by regional, national and global economies. We understand it all in the abstract until it hits us or our neighbor.
We know all of this, but these business connections are not just business, they are personal. If a farm, ranch, dairy or nursery fails, it impacts all of us. When your neighbor’s house is on fire, you don’t just pull the drapes and be happy that it’s not your house. You stand with them, offer your support, later some encouragement and perhaps a hand.
Some of our agricultural sectors are experiencing some very difficult economic times. Their troubles can impact our businesses, but we need to stay mindful of the human impact and personal costs. These troubles involve our neighbors. These troubles are not just businesses. They have people and families attached to them.
One of our overriding goals as an organization representing agriculture is to improve farmers and ranchers’ bottom lines. In these tough economic times we’ll stay true to our message that this is not the time to add more tax and regulatory costs.
It is time for consumers to support local growers and products produced in this country. It is time for our country to recognize the treasure it has in its agriculture and the people who produce for their families. It is time Americans recognize that the majority of our food is being produced by efficient farms and livestock operations that provide abundant, safe and affordable food for their families.
Some small and large operations will not survive this economic upheaval. Some will be our neighbors. We extend a helping hand and a prayer. We hope they will find solace in having participated in the greatest humanitarian effort on the globe „Ÿ feeding and clothing our people and the world.
Key Words:  Arizona Farmers and Ranchers, Local Arizona Agriculture, Arizona beef, Arizona pork, Arizona agriculture.