Personally, I’m going to bet on the farmer

May 7, 2013

Having heard another government "expert" state something pretty ignorant recently, I thought I would use what this person said to make some points.
Before I go on, I would love to source this and give an actual name to this particular fountain of ignorance; after all, we should give credit where credit is due. Unfortunately, I just don't have the name of this person or the name of the particular government agency she "works" for (I hope they aren't paying her very much). The reason for this is I was listening to the news, and when this woman came on with her statement, she was there and gone before I could think to write down her info. Be that as it may, what she said certainly got my attention.
As part of what I'm getting at, I would also like to point out that the government in general, and this administration in particular, has long had it in for agribusiness. Even though publicly the government may decry the loss of the "family farm", the legislation they enact does a lot more to do away with family farms than it does to support them. Don't forget, just a few short years ago the EPA was seriously considering making farmers comply with some kind of dust regulations when plowing fields. Of course when that got some public attention the EPA more or less said "just kidding". Knowing how the EPA operates that probably means they will wait a few years and then bring it up again.
The American agricultural producers have built the most dependable and safest food supply the world has ever seen. That food supply was built on the blood, sweat, and tears of American farming and ranching families and they work much harder, and are a lot smarter, than they ever get credit for.
Anyway, getting to what was actually said. The newscast I was listening to had to do with the recent heavy rains in the Midwest. As part of that they included a statement from the woman I've referred to. What she said was that the heavy rains and flooding was putting the drinking water supply at risk due to the fertilizers farmers were using being washed out of their fields and into reservoirs. She went on to say that farmers should stop fertilizing their fields when heavy rain was in the forecast. She also added that they should additionally quit applying fertilizers when the ground is frozen because it just lays on the ground and is not absorbed.
As far as I'm concerned, if this woman paid to study somewhere, she should go talk to that institution about a refund. If she doesn't have a secondary education she should sue the Department of Education for the poor public school education she received (for proof of her court claim she can play a recording of the statements she made about farmers and fertilizers).
I found what she said to be pretty infuriating on several levels. First of all, she was pushing forward a stereotypical view of farmers as people too dumb to be responsible for the fertilizers and chemicals they use. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike government workers, farmers have to actually pay for the fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and etc. they use. Not to mention the money and time they have to invest in applying them. Tractors have long had headlights on them so farmers can plow into or through the night when they need to (when the average government bureaucrat is snug in bed). Agribusiness of any kind is generally a risky, expensive, labor-intensive, and sometimes hazardous way to make a living. Those kinds of conditions weed out the people who can't figure out the best way to spend their fertilizer dollars pretty quickly (unlike government bureaucracies, where apparently ignorant people are promoted to the position of spokesperson).
Another implication of her statement was that government really knows what's the best way for farmers to operate. Well, there's certainly nothing new about a government worker trying to convince the world that government knows best. For that matter her statements going unchallenged by the media is also business as usual. However; as far as agriculture is concerned history has a nice recent example to show us what happens when government gets too involved in agricultural operations.
The former USSR (note I'm using the word "former" because the USSR no longer exists) used to have government bureaucrats who planned out long in advance when everything concerning agriculture, including fertilizer applications, would be done. For a government bureaucrat, it was the total package. No more depending on those pesky uneducated farmers to give their unsolicited opinions about when to plant, when to fertilize, what chemicals to use, what chemicals to not use, or etc. The perfect bureaucratic plan, except…, except for one teensy weensy little problem. It didn't work.
Even though Ronald Reagan deservedly gets credit for finally defeating the Soviet Union and winning the cold war, it wasn't all about the arms race. Victory would have been a lot harder for Reagan to achieve if the Soviets weren't having to heavily depend on American and Canadian wheat to feed their country. It may be hard to realize the Soviet agency in charge of collective farms was an unwitting ally of the West, but it's true nonetheless (wonder how many people they employed who would have been just like the woman above).
I guess the worst part of all of this is that our society has reached a point where some person can go on a national news program, say the things she said, and probably be believed by nearly everybody who heard her. I wonder how many people listened to what she said and now believe farmers just go out and indiscriminately spread fertilizer whenever it fits their schedule, no matter what the weather may be.
American agricultural producers have done such a good job of feeding us, and a large part of the rest of the world, that even now, in spite of fires, flood, drought, and increasing federal regulations, they still produce an abundance of food. In fact, they produce so much food that there is enough left over for our government to waste tax dollars subsidizing ethanol made from corn. Unlike the federal government, ag producers do all of this with their own money, and on their own time.
Because people in agriculture do know how to do things at the right time and get results, I have a suggestion. How about instead of government drone…, sorry, I mean bureaucrats criticizing farmers for something they don't do, let's get some farmers (if they can spare the time, these are busy people) to give government workers some advice concerning how to actually accomplish something? After all, judging by the level of government incompetence clearly on display here, one of today's competent, hard working, educated farmers could only make things better.

Bruce Kreitler is the author of Obamageddon (the Culmination of the Progressive Looting of America) and posts this and other articles at BruceKreitler.com.

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