When pigs fly, the old saying goes. Politics make strange bedfellows, chimes another.
I've just finished reading a piece in the New York Times about changes in the tobacco industry. The irony of the article is its truth.
Tobacco farmers and health groups are now on the same side, prompting a tobacco buyout. As quota has been cut, tobacco farmers have found allies in the strangest of places, those who were once called enemies.
They were driven there by those cuts, as health groups found common ground with their once-supposed enemies and realized the value behind production controls. What once would have seemed absurd and almost unheard of has become the reality.
The tobacco program is dying in the field, and tobacco farmers have been sounding that alarm for several years now. Their tobacco is being replaced with foreign leaf. They've reached out to other groups normally not in the family to get things done. Hey, my dog is sleeping alongside my cat at this very moment — and they're getting along.
The cat is lying on an article I've just completed reading in The Wall Street Journal about the growing consumption of milk in China of all places.
It seems China has been building a growing dairy industry over the past several years. And the Chinese are developing a taste for milk. One Internet source says as people lead a better life, there will be a dramatic rise in dairy consumption in China.
The Chinese government is encouraging milk consumption and production, but it's likely they'll need more to meet the demand. China is now a member of the World Trade Organization and that opens up vast possibilities. Industrial zones specializing in dairy products are shaping up around urban centers in north China.
In a country that wasn't known for its consumption, it's now becoming fashionable to wear milk mustaches.
Two observations that on the surface don't appear to have much in common, but for the questions and scenarios they might provoke.
As agriculture continues in an economic slump and farmers seek to hold on to and expand profitable operations — or just survive — there comes a time when the old way of doing things may require serious scrutiny.
What's to say that farmers could not find ways to capture a larger part of the dollar from the crops that they grow? What's to say farmers can't join together in value-added ventures in the Southeast to capture profits that seem to be slipping away? Hardly new or novel ideas, but the thought becomes the seed. Some farmers in the area are already there.
The old paradigm about thinking outside the box may or may not be appropriate. An agriculture where the old paradigms give way to creating a brand new box might be more appropriate and give farmers the gears to move the engine toward profitability.
Stranger things are happening. Who would have thought tobacco growers and health concerns would get together? Who would have thought about China as a milk market?
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