Our blog can be found here: https://petersonfarmblog.wordpress.com/
GMOs are not evil
GMOs are a valuable technology used in science, medicine, and agriculture. Farmers use them to increase yields, reduce inputs, improve the soil, and provide resistance to drought, insects and weeds. There are GMOs being used all throughout society, and there is a very good chance you’ve consumed or used a GM product today. We do believe people should be free to avoid GMOs if they want to, but GMOs have been around for 2 decades (over a trillion meals consumed) without a single sickness or health issue resulting from consumption. We’ve written about why farmers use GMOs and their many misconceptions here: What the Peterson Farm Bros Think About GMOs
Monsanto is not evil
One of the biggest misconceptions about agriculture (or on the internet really) is that Monsanto is an evil company bent on poisoning humanity. Anyone who is familiar with Monsanto or who knows a Monsanto employee knows this isn’t true. Most of what you hear online about Monsanto is either greatly exaggerated or simply not true. We don’t believe Monsanto is perfect and we know that many people are frustrated with how much money they make compared to farmers. However, if Monsanto was truly evil, farmers wouldn’t buy their products and their employees would not enjoy working for them. Plus, they are actually doing a lot of good things! We address 15 myths we’ve discovered about Monsanto here: 15 Myths About Monsanto
Organic farming is not the only sustainable way to farm
We are advocates for diversity in farming. We are believers in organic farming and think all of agriculture can learn a lot from what organic farmers do, but we also believe that farming is not a “one size/type fits all” industry. Our world is a complex, diverse place that faces complex, diverse problems that require complex, diverse solutions! We need big farms, small farms, conventional farms, organic farms, GMO/non-GMO, etc. in order to find those solutions and meet the needs of 9 billion people by 2050! Please watch: Greg’s Ted Talk for more on this subject!
Organic food is not always safer, healthier, more environmentally friendly and is not grown using pesticides
Again, we are believers in both organic farming AND organic food! We do believe that if people want to buy food that has been raised organically, farmers should be allowed to meet that need. However, we don’t believe that organic food is ALWAYS safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly. Many people buy organic food to support small farms, get healthier and safer food, and protect the environment. We believe that you can do these things without necessarily purchasing organic food. Plus, one of the biggest myths out there is that organic farmers do not use pesticides. They do. There is just a great amount of misleading information being put out there about the difference between conventional and organic food. You can read our entire opinion of organic food here: Conventional AND Organic
- “Raised Without Antibiotics:” Antibiotics and vaccines are used throughout the livestock industry to prevent animals from getting sick and help the ones who do get sick recover. Not using antibiotics on an animal who gets sick increases the suffering of the animal and is inhumane. Animals are never “pumped full” of antibiotics. Antibiotics and vaccines are very expensive and farmers would be stupid to overuse either one. All milk and meat is antibiotic free. There are strict withdrawal times for both that prevent antibiotics from reaching the food supply. (Read our entire opinion of antibiotics here)
- “Hormone Free:” All humans and animals have naturally occurring hormones in them, so meat and milk from animals will never be “hormone free,” but hormones can be added to an animal in production. All pork and poultry products are free of added hormones! Cattle that do receive hormones receive a tiny implant (size of a tic tac) that increases the efficiency of how they grow, it does not “fill the beef full of hormones” but adds a minuscule amount (Read our entire opinion of hormones here)
- “Non-GMO:” A non-GMO label makes sense for products that have the capability of being GMO, but many non-GMO labels are on products that are never GMO. The only GMO crops being grown are corn, soybeans, cotton, potatoes, sugar beets, papayas, canola, squash, and alfalfa. A “non-GMO” label on foods other than these creates fear that the opposite (GMO) exists in that type of food. We do believe in freedom of choice for consumers and so we aren’t anti-labeling, however, we do believe any sort of non-GMO label can cause confusion in uninformed consumers, making them believe GMOs must be dangerous, an opinion that we’ve attempted to debunk in our GMO blog.
- “Gluten Free:” Gluten free labels are great and are needed for people who legitimately suffer from gluten intolerance. However, if you do not legitimately suffer from gluten intolerance, there is no need for you to avoid gluten. Gluten has been consumed for thousands of years and is in many products that accompany healthy diets. The gluten-free fad has been beneficial in providing new products for people who are actually gluten intolerant, but is causing problems as well.
- “Grass-Fed:” The grass fed label on beef can be very misleading. All cattle are fed grass throughout their lives. Even grain-finished cattle are raised on grass for the first half of their lives. From there they are transitioned onto a grass/forage/grain diet and eventually finished on mostly grain for the last portion of their lives. “Grass-Finished” is the appropriate label and refers to the ending period of cattle’s lives when they are being finished. We believe both grass finished and grain finished are sustainable ways to produce beef. Learn more here: Why do we have feedlots and grain-finished beef?
Our food supply is not being poisoned by agricultural practices
Farmers are not poisoning the food supply. It makes zero sense that we would produce dangerous products that we ourselves consume! A vast majority of farmers use technology like GMOs, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, etc. If you believe that these things are killing us, you must also believe that the thousands of farm families like us are willingly producing this poison! We would never do such a thing! If the farm families who used these types of technology knew they were dangerous or poisonous in any way, we would stop growing them and stop consuming them. We haven’t.
Most of the unhealthy products you consume come from the middle steps between the farmer and your plate. Evidence shows that added sugar, added fat, and added preservatives are causing health concerns rather than GMOs, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. These are being added by profit-hungry companies, that are agreeably hard to trust. However, at the beginning of the equation are farmers, and farm families that are creating healthy products you CAN trust! Evidence is clear that limiting calories, avoiding added sugar, fat, and preservatives and exercising daily are what is best for your health. There is no evidence that technologies used in agriculture are bad for your health.
Agriculture is not destroying the planet
There is no way that farmers and the agricultural industry can feed and clothe billions of people efficiently without making a huge impact on the environment. However, farmers are making a lot of progress in minimizing that impact! It takes less input to grow beef, pork, poultry, and crops than it ever has, thanks to the technology we talk about on this page. Conservational farming, waste regulation, reduced emissions on machinery, and better management practices are all ways farmers are reducing their impact. We still have a lot of ways to improve, but you can’t say we aren’t trying! You can read more about how farmers are reducing their impacts on our blogs: Reducing Impact
Family farming is not dead
96 percent of the farms in America are family farms like ours, according to the USDA. The vast majority of the food being produced in America is being produced by family farms. Corporations do play a big part in the industry, but they do not “control” or “rule” the food supply. Farmers are still at the root of the food equation, and are growing healthy, nutritious crops better than they ever have! Technology, efficiency, and commodity prices have definitely increased the size of these family farms, and many of them farm thousands of acres and thousands of animals, but they are still the same value-driven family farms that were around 50-100 years ago! Read more in our blog: Family Farming
Farmers are not only in it for profit
Profit is definitely one of the central motivators in how a farmer farms. A farm would not work and a farmer couldn’t support their family if the farm was not making money. Money factors into most decisions made on a farm. However, there is so much more to farming than how much money is being made. Farmers have a rough job, one that requires many hours of hard work in tough conditions. The bottom line is that the vast majority of farmers farm because they love what they do and care about taking care of what they have and raising healthy food for people to eat, not because farming makes them rich.
Farmers do care about the land
As mentioned above, there is no way agriculture can feed and clothe billions of people without making an impact on the environment. However, farmers do care greatly about their land, their water, and the environment! It only makes sense. Why would farmers abuse the land that produces the crops they make a living with? Why would farmers pollute the water that their family drinks and that they need to grow their crops? Why would farmers destroy the environment that they live, breathe, and work in every day? Farmers are the original stewards of the earth and to this day are working hard to improve the health of the soil, the water, and the air.
Farmers do care about their animals
Again, why would farmers mistreat the animals that they are raising for a living? Animals that are mistreated do not grow as fast or as healthy as animals who are treated right. It is every advantage to a farmer to give an animal the food, shelter, medicine and quality of life it needs to be happy. If not, the animal will get sick or not produce well and the farmer will lose money. Furthermore, farmers love their animals. If they didn’t they wouldn’t raise them. It takes a lot of work to raise animals and it requires many sacrifices. Livestock live better lives than many humans do! Please read our “Animal Welfare” blogs for more.
Farmers don’t drench their crops in pesticides
When people think about farmers using pesticides in crop production, they typically think of a crop being drenched in toxic pesticides. In reality, up to 95% of a spray mixture a farmer uses is water, and very little of the spray is actually applied to a crop. It is common for only a soda can’s worth of pesticide to be sprayed on an entire acre (football field). Most pesticides are sprayed before and after a crop is planted, but even for pesticides applied during the growing season, residues from such mixes are always given time to wear off of a plant before harvest, especially in cereal crops. The amount of residue in your food is far, far below anything that would ever affect you. However, you should always wash fruits and vegetables before eating. You can read more about toxicity levels and pesticides on our blog: Chemical Application in Agriculture
Farmers do rotate crops
A common criticism of farmers is that they practice “monocropping,” aka they don’t rotate their crops. As of 2017, nearly all farmers rotate their crops in some way, organic farmers or not. Some may only rotate between 2-3 crops (corn, soybeans, wheat) or some, like ours, may rotate between 5 or 6. The other definition of “monocropping” is planting just one crop in a field. Planting multiple crops at once is an impractical goal for farmers as they cannot harvest the crops in an efficient way. However, many farmers today are implementing “cover crops” that allow for multiple crops to be grown in a field in one growing season. It is common knowledge that rotating different crops in your fields creates better soil health and higher yields. Soil health is becoming more and more a part of the farming discussion and a great amount of research is being done on how to build the health of soil. (Read more: How are farmers improving?)
Farmers don’t get rich off of subsidies
Subsidies exist to help farmers supplement their income, manage their expenses, and maintain the supply of agricultural commodities. While the system isn’t perfect and it does tend to favor large farmers over smaller ones (we agree it should be opposite), subsidies are a valuable part of the farm economy. Many subsidies come in the form of crop insurance, where a farmer is reimbursed if their crop fails. Without this system in place, more farmers would go broke and there would be even fewer farms operated on an even larger scale. There would also be a higher risk of financial crisis in lending institutions. The vast majority of farmers do not get wealthy off of farm subsidies, they just provide a slight cushion of constant in a profession that is very vulnerable to volatility. (Read more: Crop Insurance in America)
Large scale animal agriculture (factory farming) is not evil
One of the practices that gets the biggest knock in agriculture is intensive animal farming or “factory farms.” Factory farms are by definition farms that have thousands of animals. Our farm is a “factory farm.” Without intensive livestock farming, there would simply not be enough meat, dairy, eggs and animal products to go around. It is the most efficient way to raise animals, because the animals are all in one spot and the farmer can take care of them easier. Economy of scale, when done right, can often lead to better care of animals and less input required to raise one. The important thing to remember is that smaller is not always “better” and bigger is not always “right.” It all depends on the location, type, and climate of the farm and the commitment of the farmer to the animals. (Read more: What are factory farms? and The Welfare of Livestock Animals)
Meat, eggs, and dairy are healthy for you and the environment
People have been eating meat, eggs, and dairy products for thousands of years. Many of the people who live to be very old have eaten diets containing these for their entire lives. Meat, eggs, and dairy are excellent sources of protein and nutrients and build strong muscles and bones. Should you over-consume these products? No, just as with anything. The environmental impact of raising this type of food is also greatly overstated. While raising animal products does take it’s toll on the environment, they are the best, most efficient way of delivering protein to a hungry world. And farmers are working hard to minimize their impact each day. For more on our opinion of this subject, please read our blog: Why We Raise Animals For Food and Products
Not everyone should be vegan
While we do respect the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle, we feel very strongly that not everyone needs to avoid meat and animal products. These products are very valuable to our infrastructure, efficiency, economy, and accessibility to protein. A vegan lifestyle is simply not possible for everyone. Vegans also advocate that animals who are raised for food an products are abused, exploited, and made into slaves. We do not feel this to be true at all and explain why in our blog: Why We Raise Animals for Food and Products