Not in my backyard, revisited
By Trent Loos
Congratulations Ravenna, Neb. You asked for it and now you got it. This central Nebraska community of 1,377 people has just been informed that Leprino Foods is closing the cheese plant, which employees 173 people. Leprino Foods has been using up to 1 million pounds of milk a day producing string mozzarella cheese. Leprino claims that local milk supplies are simply not accessible enough to keep that plant open.
Now for the rest of the story.
In 2008 local farmers, the Woitaszewski brothers, worked hard at jumping through all the necessary hoops in an attempt to build a 7,500 cow dairy. The small “farming” community had a few vocal residents who threw a fit, ultimately killing the project. In case you were wondering, that dairy would have generated a full 1/3 of the milk needed to supply this plant.
This just happens to be the story in my own backyard. Yes, I only live 12 miles from Ravenna and have a daughter in the school system there. I do regret not doing more back in 2008 when there was so much misinformation flying about regarding protecting planet health from the livestock industry. But I repeat—you asked for it and now you have it. Now hardworking local employees will have to travel or move their families to wherever they can find work. The community will lose millions of dollars in economic revenue.
That is the one thing that is the toughest for me to deal with. Nobody seems to care about the impact of food production on the local economy until it is too late. Additionally, we now have a situation in this community, like so many others around the nation, where only a few loudmouths with a selective portrayal of the truth killed the proposed dairy farm and now the entire community has to pay the price.
It is very widely accepted that for every one dairy cow $25,000 is put into the local community. So now instead of $200 million dollar impact to this small town, 10 percent of the locals will lose their jobs just in time for the holiday season.
To top it all off, on Aug. 29 the USDA lifted the ban on processed poultry imports from China. During the same week, the U.S. government approved the purchase of Smithfield Foods pork production operations by a Chinese firm.
As a nation it is time people wake up to the dangers of what is really going on in terms of our reliance on foreign countries. First it was oil and it may be food if we keep this up!
Look where we are currently with 98 percent of our clothing imported. In 2012, we had another 15 percent increase in imported lumber because we are saving our trees to fuel forest fires!
The only bright spot, believe it or not, is crude oil. It was reported that in 2012 we only imported 40 percent of our petroleum, a national low since 1991. I might add that this success story comes as our neighbors in oil-producing regions are forced to live with major changes in their lives because of oil recovery. However, they seem to understand the importance of this venture to the nation’s future with a more visionary approach than the few squeaky wheels in Ravenna, Neb.
We are blessed with a nation that has the resources needed by the U.S. and global citizens. Our only challenge to the future is that when resistance comes, we need to be not too busy ourselves to engage in the process because it might be your job that is cut next.
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.