Most farmers and ranchers in the U.S. agree that government regulations can make agriculture a tough business to navigate. From complicated requirements such as tax documents, regulatory forms and surveys, and never-ending demands for complex paperwork for environmental, export, and livestock health issues, agriculture is an industry fraught with regulatory control and complicated rulemaking at almost every turn.

But while the price of farming and ranching in the U.S. is stiff when it comes to challenging government controls and requirements, a look across our southern border is a quick reminder that producing crops and raising livestock could be much more challenging and a lot less profitable if we didn't live in the Land of the Free.

In the Mexican state of Michoacan for example, a drug cartel known as the Knights Templar has been exacting a tribute from farmers in recent years; not only a cut of profits for what they grow and sell but also the common practice of dictating to farmers when and how much they are allowed to plant.

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Just across the U.S.-Mexico border from South Texas drug gangs in Tamaulipas in Northern Mexico demand many business owners, including farmers and ranchers, pay protection money. The threat to agricultural interests has been so great that Luis Montoya Morelia, the head of federal police in Tamaulipas, reported recently that fishermen along the Gulf coast just south of Brownsville, Texas, have been forced to sell their fish and shrimp to the Zeta cartel for as little as 3 cents a pound. Then the cartel wholesales the products to buyers at a much higher rate.

Mexico's National Security Commissioner, Monte Alejandro Rubido, told reporters in Mexico City recently that ranchers in Tamaulipas were buying grain sorghum from the U.S. because farm equipment companies refused to rent harvesting equipment to them out of fear the equipment would be stolen or destroyed by controlling drug gangs.