Ignorance Of Agriculture's Economic Role Is a Threat
Suggestion that maybe it's time for Buffalo Commons is chilling
Published on: November 29, 2009
A recent editorial in the Kansas City Star was picked up by the Wichita Eagle. It suggested that perhaps it's time to dust off the 1980s "Buffalo Commons" concept and turn a vast swath of northwest Kansas into a national park populated by buffalo. They suggested starting with Greeley and Wallace counties -- which by the way aren't actually northwest but west central.
The writer said population has dwindled to next to nothing and agriculture accounts for only 3 percent of the gross state product and that is diminishing annually, so we might as well create a park that would sequester carbon and attract tourists.
The very idea that it might be time to displace 4,000 hard-working Kansans and turn their property into a national park is scary enough. But the ignorance of the value of agricultural production to the economy is appalling. Agriculture is not 3 percent of the Kansas GSP and shrinking. It's 15 percent and growing, even if all you do is add up the market value of ag sales.
And those sales are raw products, mind you. They don't include the sales of products from the state's ethanol plants, flour mills, beef processing plants, oil crushing plants, cotton gins, dairies, farm machinery manufacturing, or fertilizer and chemical production.
Can the editorial board of the Kansas City Star really be this stupid? Are they really convinced that the lure of the "old west" will bring in tourism revenue equal to the agricultural production of a million acres of farmland?
Scary is the only word for it.