Peace with agriculture

posted in: Commentary | 2

Brownfield (Ag News for America) posts a lot of news that doesn’t make other media sources. One of my recent favorites pairs two of my life’s loves: the US Army and agriculture.
Nebraska Army National Guard takes ag to Afghanistan
Tuesday, May 13, 2008, 3:36 PM
by Peter Shinn
One of the keys to winning the war in Afghanistan may be helping farmers there grow enough food to feed their families. Doing so will help take land out of opium production, the profits from which are helping to maintain the Taliban as a serious military threat.
That’s why the Nebraska Army National Guard is taking a team of Guard members who are also agricultural producers to Afghanistan later this year, to help make Afghan farmers food self-sufficient. Colonel Mike Johnson is commanding the mission.
“They can raise some opium, but even that with the income, they can’t get enough food to take care of their family for a year,” Johnson told Brownfield. “So if we can go over and help them expand their operation a little bit, and get them enough food from one growing season to the next, they’re going to be a lot better off.”
As for the Nebraska Army Guard members who are going to Afghanistan, Johnson noted they’re making some serious sacrifices to help improve ag production there. And Johnson emphasized it’s not just the Guard members themselves who will bear the burden of their commitment.
“We’re leaving in the fall time-frame, so they’re going to rely on some other folks – good folks in Nebraska – trying to help them out, getting their harvest in as we get ready to go over,” Johnson said.
And Nebraska’s farming and ranching Army Guard members are eager to help. According to Johnson, he had more than twice the number of volunteers for the mission to Afghanistan as he could take. Those selected will be in pre-deployment training for the next few months. The Nebraska Army National Guard joins the Army National Guard of Missouri, Texas, Indiana and Tennessee in sending agricultural support missions to Afghanistan, Johnson added.
Editor’s Note: 1Lt Peter Shinn is a member of the Iowa Air National Guard.

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Anastasia is Policy Director of Biology Fortified, Inc. and the Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. She has a PhD in genetics with a minor in sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. Her favorite produce is artichokes!