360 Politics: Third-generation Missouri farmer worries, discusses ag policy
AUXVASSE, Mo. - Linnenbringer Farms provides fresh eggs, chicken and beef to people throughout the heart of Missouri but Luke Linnenbringer said the future of farming is disheartening.
"I find conventional farming to be very risky right now," Linnenbringer said. "There’s a lot of eggs in one basket there."
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Linnenbringer said farm policy has huge impacts on his family-owned farm and he wishes there was less regulations. He said the people who lobby for farmers are bankers, equipment, and chemical manufactures who are working to help themselves, not farmers.
"Farmers are really surfs at this point working for these other interests and trying to scrape by," he said.
Government regulations create rules farms must follow to sell their products to consumers. The farm policy provides best management practices, advises what crops to grow and how to treat those crops.
Soybeans are a major U.S. export but Linnenbringer said farmers are advised to grow them.
"We think that it’s a really great thing we can export so many soybeans to China," he said.
The country should export less and instead focus on growing food we actually need to avoid importing it, he said.
"Maybe we should grow some vegetables, organic vegetables because we then import vegetables back from China, he said"
Linnenbringer said these policies put everyone at risk, create more barriers and add complications to farming. One regulation requires farms to wash eggs before they are sold to consumers.
All eggs have a coating called a bloom that blocks bacteria from getting inside. With a bloom, an egg can last six to twelve weeks without refrigeration, Linnenbringer said.
Washing the egg makes the bloom come off. This immediately decreases the egg life which is why he said the egg-washing regulation is not beneficial.
Linnenbringer said the public should become more educated on farming and the importance of local food.
"There’s a direct trade off between healthcare costs and food costs," he said. "The less we spend on food, the more we spend on healthcare and that seems inverted."
He said he believes more nutritious foods grown at farms and not in factories would help the country’s health.
"Why are we not willing to spend some extra on food and save on healthcare," Linnenbringer said. "We can save on the aches, pains and life problems we create by eating really bad food."
Over 300 chickens roam the farm’s pasture. They lay eggs in a chicken coop. The farm sells the eggs in local grocery stores such as Clovers Natural Market and HyVee West Broadway in Columbia, Mo. Linnenbringer Farms also sells chicken and beef from its cows.
To brighten the farming industry’s future, Linnenbringer said he hopes more people will start shopping locally. He wants people visit farms and become more knowledgeable about their importance.
More attention on farms may also create other benefits. He said the farming industry could provide more local jobs give people opportunities for work.
Linnenbringer also said the whole outlook of farming needs transformation. He said it as a great and "noble" career path and he is proud to be a Missouri farmer.
Editor's note: This story is part of a series, 360 Politics, profiling mid-Missourians of different backgrounds and political viewpoints.