Committed to Doing What is Right – Earth Day and Every Day

Viewpoints / Focus on Agriculture April 22, 2022

Credit: Nebraska Farm Bureau member Zach Hunnicutt 

By Kevin Krentz

Every day is Earth Day to a farmer. Preserving and protecting our natural resources has always been and will always be a priority in every aspect of food production. Farmers are innovators and continue to create and adopt methods to progress towards our goals. We care for the environment. We care for our animals. We care for our families. We care about our communities – and we care about you.

A farmers, we make up less than 2% of the population. We are responsible for caring for 40% of the land, yet have the responsibility of feeding the entire population here in the United States. Talk about a huge responsibility – no pressure, right?

Reducing, reusing and recycling have always been and will continue to be a driving force for farmers.

On my family’s farm, we strive to provide our employees with a positive place to work. By working closely with our employees and offering them the flexibility to spend time with their families and care for their mental health, we hope our employees look forward to working with us, not for us.

I care about protecting the environment around me. I grew up on this land and now I am blessed to raise my family here.

Maintaining soil health is a crucial first step in delivering the healthiest, safest food in the world to your table and mine.

Farmers maintain soil health by implementing practices like no-till and cover crops. No-till means leaving the soil undisturbed – imagine planting a garden in your lawn without using a rototiller to turn the soil. Cover crops keep the soil covered all year long and help to absorb water and nutrients that crops can use to grow.

On my family farm, we use cover crops to retain soil nutrients in between growing seasons.

A key component of completing the environmental cycle includes cattle. We benefit from using dairy cow manure as fertilizer to grow our crops. On my dairy farm, we manage our manure by working closely with our agronomist to maximize nutrient use. Using cow manure helps us lower our reliance on commercial fertilizer.

Lowering our carbon footprint goes far beyond the farmgate.

Food waste is part of everyone’s environmental impact. Food waste in the U.S. is estimated at 30% to 40% and happens from the field to the plate with spoiled and excess food being thrown away.

Livestock can consume some of the wasted food we cannot. Cattle can convert potatoes and vegetables, cookies, distiller’s grains, cottonseed and much more into another source of healthy protein.

On my farm, we help manage the food waste crisis by feeding byproducts to our cows. We also work hard to feed our animals the proper amount of feed every day to minimize waste. Computer programs help us to deliver the most accurate diet to our cows. I take great pride in giving the best care and nutrition to my animals.

Reducing, reusing and recycling have always been and will continue to be a driving force for farmers. On my farm, the same water is reused three times. First from the well to help cool our milk, then to water our animals and finally to sustain our crops.

Farmers have worked for generations improving practices and will continue to advance in protecting our natural resources. I am committed to doing what is right – today and every day. Are you?

Kevin Krentz is president of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. This column was previously published by WFBF.  

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