Human Survival is Dependent on Agriculture
The fact that the world needs agriculture more than any other industry is widely overlooked today. There is no industry, other than agriculture that provides food, clothing and shelter to the human race. It is well known that the world’s population, and of most salience to you, the reader, our great nations’ population is growing at a rapid pace, that is only projected to increase in the future. Most importantly, just what the hell does this mean? Well, my very high and curious consumer, it means that we are going to need a lot more food, clothing, and shelter at a much more rapid supply than history has ever seen, and without it we face the risk of malnutrition, starvation and so many problems that the number of farmers and ranchers we currently have, would have no means of sufficiently producing. The Future Farmers of America use a funny quote that says, “Where would you be without a farmer? Naked and hungry.” It’s funny, but the truth that this statement holds should speak volumes, yet to the American public, it isn’t even audible as a whisper.
The ag industry faces a constant battle of negative perceptions that skeptics have conjured up, leading to ideas about agriculture that are simply untrue. As a self-educating stoner, I’m positive that you can relate to this, as people are constantly attempting to shame the marijuana industry. This is a problem because as it is, there has already been a decline in the number of farmers and ranchers in the United States, and the average age of farmers and ranchers is increasing. At a time when we need producers the most, we are extremely low in supply, compared to the high demands of the over-flowing populations needs. As the country has evolved, society has become adapted to the instantaneous availability of the things they need to survive. Technological advancements and industrial innovations called for people to move into cities, where it is less common to grow produce or raise livestock. The agriculturist has been the silent super-hero who has protected the U.S. from reaching unattainable food insecurity, which plagues so many less fortunate places. Part of the problem is that agriculture is no longer portrayed as appealing to the public at the level necessary to obtain prospective industry workers. However, what seems to be one of the most appealing things to the generation that will soon be carrying the nation? Marijuana, which just so happens to be a natural plant, grown from the earth, has the capability to create products for food, clothing and shelter, and is capturing a nation-wide audience, due to the realization of its benefits and potential to stimulate the economy.
In two years, from 2013, to 2015, the percentage of people who admit to regularly smoking weed rose from 7% to 11%, according to a Gallup poll. Currently, 10 % of people with degrees say they toke up as well. 1% of people grow marijuana. There are 322,755,529 people who resided in the U.S., as of December 30, 2015. Of those citizens, we need 2,482,734 farmers, in order to feed our own economy. One farmer can feed 130 people. In a perfect nation, if we had the number of farmers necessary, we could produce everything we needed to support ourselves, without having to import and export. Again, this is a completely hypothetical situation. I mean, after all, to exist in such a state would be Euphoria, at least in my mind. Sad thing is, no one cares about farming and ranching in our society. Imagine being a completely independent nation. Only, that’s not how the economy works. We cannot exist without international trade. Back to the point, the fact is, that we only had 929,800 farmers in 2014. That’s only .29% of the population, when we need just .77%.
Here’s my idea: include marijuana as a federally recognized agricultural commodity that the USDA will grant loans to produce, under strict conditions requiring growers to adopt sustainable and conservative practices, as well as the production of other small scale food crops, in order to attract more people to agriculture. The majority of weed grown is done utilizing methods that are damaging to the environment. We cannot and should not let this crop continue to be grown in such a matter. The USDA has created many programs and made a determined effort to help farmers and ranchers implement and learn about the importance of sustainability and conservation, we have a responsibility to do the same for all plants and livestock. The government is putting millions of dollars toward funding, training and educating new farmers and ranchers. If we supported the population that grows marijuana as an ag product, we could introduce them to sustainable practices, and other small crops to contribute society, in a bigger way. They could apply for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher loans to begin incorporating conservational methods and the production of other agricultural commodities on a local scale. By the year 2050, we will need to feed, clothe and provide shelter for 9 billion people. It is imperative that we gain more workers in the agriculture industry.
The agriculture industry would prosper in so many ways from this change. This industry would create profits to stimulate the ag economy. The end of marijuana prohibition is quickly approaching. Americans’ perceptions and opinions of marijuana have greatly shifted and will continue to do so. In California, where marijuana may soon be legal, the tax on each cultivated plant would be $9.25 per ounce of flower buds, and trim have a tax of $2.75 per ounce. The revenues generated will be applied toward social services. It is estimated that California is set gain over $1 billion annually if cannabis is legalized in the November 2016 election. Rules regarding quality of marijuana and practices would be enforced by the state’s Public Health and Food and Agriculture departments. There are more than enough revenues from taxes that could be contributed to the agriculture department and its efforts.
I believe that as an agriculturist and a medical marijuana patient, we have a responsibility to empower one another, by becoming more unified. It is our duty to support our fellow Americans who are extensively putting forth the labor, funding and commitment that it requires to cultivate these crops. With the right aid and resources, these producers could begin contributing to society in far more ways than the average citizen by growing food for their local economy. As of now, there are far more people who want to eat and stay warm than there are people who feed and clothe others. The U.S. needs more producers for food and clothing.
Recognition, Support and Respect
The money that could come from the cannabis industry could help the nation to achieve a decrease in its dependence on other nations for imports and our economy could improve significantly. This multi-billion dollar industry has created jobs, especially for millennials. These young adults grew up in an era during which the economy hit hard times. Many sought degrees and graduated, only to find that few jobs were available. They also grew up in a time when marijuana was becoming more widely accepted in the eyes of citizens, and many state governments. Student debt burdens many of them, while it has seemed nearly impossible for some of them to ever begin catching up. The programs that the USDA provides to providing funding, training and education to farmers and ranchers have the means to create so many more agricultural workers and producers, yet few people are applying for these programs. Millenials and others suffering from the financial burdens of student loans, who do not have careers that can help them pay off the debt, would have the chance to be successful in a field lacking in employees and business owners, a field where jobs are in high supply and their products enjoy and even higher demand. We can guide them toward reducing their student debt and eventually paying it off, in addition to providing necessities to our country. We would then have a larger population of agriculturists. We would also be better able to meet the needs of our people. The revenues generated through the taxation of medical marijuana as a national agricultural commodity could be applied toward creating agricultural propaganda that would further encourage and educate the public on opportunities in agriculture, and the importance of this industry to the survival of the human race.
The weed industry has taken America by storm. People are rushing to ride the green wave that is rapidly rolling across the nation. The US Department of Agriculture, and agriculturists, must get in on this opportunity because there will never be another like it. Never before has agriculture seemed so cool. Except maybe during and after prohibition, when the demand for beer shot up, increasing the demand for hops. Upon the ending the prohibition alcohol consumption skyrocketed and hop farmers thrived. This could be the same success that those in the cannabis industry will enjoy once cannabis is legalized.
These people deserve recognition and assistance. They have dedicated their lives to cultivation and have risked everything they own. At one point, the USDA was on board with hemp production, and even created a propaganda video, boasting of its uses and benefits. This was years ago, but the government has since fought hemp and cannabis production, ruling cannabis as a controlled substance. It is high time that the USDA reconsiders its position on weed at the federal level. Both agriculture and the cannabis industry would prosper from this relationship. There is no doubt that marijuana is an agricultural product, but the resistance of accepting this truth must end.
Beginning with this piece, gethigh.com will be covering a series of topics involving marijuana agriculture. Visit us each week to read the latest Ag & Herb articles, by Roxanne De La Mota.