Sunday, July 21, 2013

Farmers Sunday July 21st

The FTA (Free Trade Agreement) between countries is a serious area of contention for the farming community in Korea. The economic issues are complicated, but the results are not: the farmers always lose.  The government, seeing the benefits from free trade for big business, is willing to sacrifice the farmers, believing that in the long run all will benefit. Cheaper farmed goods will enter the country, and food expenses will decrease for all citizens.

Catholic editorials and articles have recently made readers aware that July 21st is Farmers Sunday, which is intended to bring the plight of farmers to public awareness. Korea's self-sufficiency in grain production is only 24.3 percent, as of 2011, one of the lowest in the world.  And because we see a likely change in weather conditions, future production may be no better than it is currently.

Farmers face numerous obstacles in their daily lives, as they work to bring food to markets throughout the country. Future weather conditions always pose problems, as will the movement toward free trade, which will allow cheaper food products to enter the county. If all the countries had the same playing field, there may be something to say for free trade  but that is not the case. Conditions in each country are different: lower wages and subsidies are the primary variables that do not make for fair competition.

The desire of the present generation for a comfortable life is going to make the farmer's life difficult. The city-dweller consumer will have a great deal to do in helping the farmers overcome their difficulties by motivating some of them to change to organic farming. People of faith should be taking a lead in this movement by supporting farmers who are making efforts to live and farm ecologically. Helping the farming areas to farm in a healthy manner is not only a question of producing food but also a means of fostering life.

Consumer cooperatives, buying directly from the farms, contract production and education programs have done much to stimulate interest in the farming sector. However, as the editorial states, there are many more mountains to cross. Korea has only 254 parishes that are selling products from our farms, a very small number. The interest city dwellers  show farmers in buying their organic farm products will stimulate others to embrace the new methods of farming.  Non-organic methods of farming are much easier and the yield is greater than in organic farming, which means consumers of organic produce must be willing to help organic farmers overcome the difficulties, with their cooperation and willingness to pay more for organic products.

No comments:

Post a Comment