Last month at a round table discussion, Paul Meints, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, stated that farmers are fatigued from the “one more thing.” When farmers are asked to do a conservation practice and they do it, they think this thing is going to solve their environmental problems. Then 5 years later, 3 years later, or even 6 months later, they are asked again to do one more thing. They do another one more thing and the cycle continues.
Mr. Meints’ comments reminded me of when Peggy and I bought our house; a house we love. Naturally, we were excited to be new homeowners. We knew the house would need work; it was 80 years old. But as we began remodeling, we found that every time we fixed one thing there was another thing needing just as much work. It was disheartening, but we didn’t give up. We always thought the next repair would be the last. But it never was the last. I remember the day we took a full inventory of our house projects and settled on a 5 year plan. It was a bit overwhelming, but it was a relief to have a plan… even if we knew it could change as time went on.
Farmers need a conservation plan that provides them with a long-term planning horizon, just as Paul Meints suggests. Farm plans should identify and prioritize critical resource concerns and layout alternative solutions based on the best available science that fits into the farm business plan. Obviously, the landowner and/or farmer should select the best management practices (BMPs) to implement in their system. And with help, farmers can make those important informed decisions.