Exploring VA Wines October 2014
I get caught sometimes just looking at my own little world: How many grapes are on the vine, how much wine we sold last weekend and how is our wine progressing in the barrel. We all need to monitor our own operations for productivity, growth and financial success, but we always need to be conscious of the business climate that will allow us to sail or force us to sink. I have spent a lot of time along with many others to maintain and improve the business climate that favors agriculture and rural businesses that help feed agriculture. Focusing on revitalizing the local rural economy, we have been able to encourage businesses to start and expand based on the idea that we can grow and produce quality products that people are willing to buy. We also have created experiences like wine tasting, bed and breakfast stays and farm dining that help our customers enjoy the rural experience as recreation as well as a product.
Much of our rural economy though is not based on the experience or niche product, but instead based on the commodities market. Beef, pork, soy beans, corn and hay are often produced on a large scale and sold based on the pricing of the national market. I often overlook this kind of farming in my thought process. I understand that we all eat and use the products off of farms like this. This is what most of the farming acreage is around here. As we talk about farming, it is critical that we always think and include all types of farming. I have heard the term of Crocs and Timberlands referring to the footwear that different farmers would wear. Me, I tend to wear sandals and scrub my feet each night in the summer. Organic growers are tagged with wearing the crocs while the more conventional farmers would wear the work boots. Recognizing that farming practices are different without segregating groups is important.
Groups like Future Farmers of America, Farm Bureau and Farm Credit University are recognizing these potential rifts in the industry. In our efforts to grow more farmers, our programs need to keep in mind that agriculture is a wide range of products and growing styles that our students can devote themselves to for the future. The growing part of the ag world is the local niche crops like wine grapes and hops but we will always need conventional farmers to keep the commodity crops growing.
As you drive around the countryside this fall and choose your pumpkins and gourds for your seasonal decorating, remember that somebody grew that pumpkin. We will always need a farmer to capture the sunshine and convert it into food and other products. They need to make a living like everyone else. Harvest is here and we are happy to deliver.
Written by: Doug Fabbioi