Agricultural development vs. economic development

Published 9:36 am Friday, April 26, 2013

We buy commodities that come from far away, but which grow right here. We buy pine boards from South America (from our big box lumber suppliers) that grow here. We buy milk from ‘who knows where’ and our local milk is sent to another state. We buy meat and chicken from the Midwest, while local farmers are raising the same thing here. We pay companies to deal with our waste, when we could process it right here and make a profit rather than pay for removal service.

There are many options for agricultural, economic growth in Polk County, but most of those are not simple. To start a sustainable, locally beneficial business will take knowledge and perseverance, and willingness to work for little or no profit for the beginning years. It would be so much easier to entice some big corporation to come to the area that would hire 100 people right off the bat. Later, when that corporation envisions more profit elsewhere, it can simply move on to another needy community, leaving us with whatever the corporation does not want to take.

Seeking economic development is somewhat like looking for someone else to solve our problems. Solving our own problems, using the resources that we have right here, takes considerably more hard work, knowledge, and imagination. Us older folks are very quick to accuse younger generations of not being able to work hard, but maybe that finger should be pointing back at us. Many of us were able to walk into a good corporate job that took care of us throughout our working career, leaving us with a pension. It’s not so easy nowadays. Corporations focus on maximum profits for their shareholders, often at the expense of the local community. Is that the sort of development that we really want?

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

It’s not just about jobs; it’s also about quality of life. I think that we can have both. Sustainable, low impact development is harder to accomplish, but it will benefit our community much more in the long run than the ‘quick fix.’