Down the road, will there be enough food in this country to feed our children, grandchildren and many parts of the world with the same quality and abundance we have enjoyed? Or will we have food shortages and riots?
With today's modern science-based agriculture, we can continue to provide adequate, quality food for our population. But there are groups and interests out there today that want to destroy agriculture as we know it. Some groups, such as animal rights activists, want to take all animal products out of our diets. Other groups want us to produce our food on farms like it was 50 to 60 years ago.
According to several well-documented sources, there is an initiative on the ballot in California this fall that could affect all livestock and poultry production across the United States. That initiative, sponsored by a coalition of animal rights activists, would ban, beginning in 2015, all cage layer housing for hens and stall systems for hogs.
Research done at Michigan State University and other locations says that cage layer housing systems are as healthy as the so-called free range systems. In some ways cages are healthier, with less cannibalism and more protection from predators. Eggs tend to be higher quality in cage systems.
What these animal rights activists really want is not more humane treatment of chickens and other animals but to tell all of us we must be vegetarians.If the California initiative were to pass, estimates are that 95 percent of the poultry operations in that state would be forced out of business. Eggs would have to be imported from other areas and cost from $ 1-to -$2 or more a dozen.
All livestock producers and consumers across the U.S. need to be concerned about what happens in California this fall.
Research and fact-based science has proven the safety and quality of food produced on today's modern farms. Government regulations place strict limitations on the use of pesticides, and antibiotics on farms have assured us of a safe food supply. Exceptions are those involving bacterial contamination that has caused problems in the fruit and vegetable industry.
Much of our food is efficiently produced on large family farms. That has come about because of the efficiency of scale and the need for families to have a farm large enough to allow extra help so they can get away occasionally for a vacation.
We still have a lot of food produced on smaller farms. These farmers are dedicated to the smaller operations and some of them practice a more intensive kind of agriculture. But making a good family living on a smaller farm can be difficult. Many of them are part-time or one member works off the farm.
One organization says that their farming system produces food "pesticide and antibiotic free with no artificial fertilizers" and their products are safer than on farms using modern proven technology. That simply is not true!
In fact there is research that says there are natural pesticides produced by the plants. But like pesticides applied on modern farms under strict government regulations, neither one is dangerous to our food supply.
Some environmental activists also try to say that today's modern agriculture "goes against nature." Since we produce on three acres today what it took four acres to produce 25 years ago, our modern farming systems actually protect the environment. That plus government payments to farmers for applying conservation practices has benefited all of society.
So let's recognize what we have and don't let emotion and misinformation destroy our food supply. None of us want hunger in this world!
Parker grew up in Trumbull County, is retired from The Ohio State University and works with the local Farm Bureau Board.