Friday, October 1, 2010

Us vs. Them

There very much exists in rural North America today a culture of us versus them, with farmers standing alone on one side (along with all the "pro-ag" agribusiness professionals and integrators, most of whom haven't had a dirty shoe since Nixon left office) and everyone else on the other. It wouldn't be an oversimplification to say that farmers (often not unjustifiably) think everyone is out to get them and wants to change their way of life (with change being the operant word in this sentence). Because I am a full time farmer who very much looks and acts the part, I am more or less immediately welcome on the "farmer" side of the fence wherever I may be. This can lead to some interesting situations, especially when I think out loud about what I really believe, which is often very much at odds with the generally accepted "rural reactive" mentality of 2010. Here are a few examples, followed briefly by my thoughts in italics.

1. "One of these days, folks in this country are going to be hungry again if we're forced to abandon "x" way of doing things. And maybe if that happens prices in commodity agriculture will finally go up enough that for the first time in your life you might be able to make a decent living farming, but I'm sure if you work at it you'll come up with a way to screw it up and then complain about it. Or more likely we'll find a better and more sustainable way of doing things that will lead to even bigger surpluses and lower prices than we're already dealing with.

2. America has the cleanest, safest and most abundant food supply on earth. Okay, I'll bite. But at what cost to farmers, animals and the environment ? I also think a lot of folks in Canada, Europe and Australia would raise their eyebrow at that statement, especially regarding food safety. And if you ever entered a grocery store with the intent to purchase in any of these places, the price and quality of the food on offer in those "foreign" places would almost certainly surprise you.

3 There ain't no money in farming.....And if you continue to do what you're doing right now there ain't never gonna be, except nobody ever says that part out loud for some reason.

4. I don't understand all these damn people that spend money on animals when there are people suffering. It's seldom that simple. Often those who have compassion for animals put their money where their mouth is and help a lot of people too.

I find the older I get the less patience I have for stupid, reactive people who are stuck in thought processes like those listed above. Maybe eventually we'll collectively stop talking this sort of nonsense and hunt a different way out of the mess these speakers find themselves in today.

What would you think if someone started spouting these sorts of thoughts in your presence ?

Hope everyone has a great weekend.


Sylvia said...

Well, no one talks to me of I can't say. But I can say, as I've aged, I've gotten more vocal in my beliefs! (of other things)

Jason said...

You can argue about farming with me ! Deal ? :)

Sylvia said...

Sure. ;) We can do it over coffee at the half way house or the wheel inn. (was at the wheel last week! Yum!!)

Jason said...

Either place'll work but I think the I'd vote on the Wheel for better food !

We used to go to the Wheel a lot ! In fact, the guy who I got into the freezer beef business with, Bob Stannard, lives just down the road from the Wheel and is a brother in law to the owner !

Speaking of food, Melissa and I were just now lamenting the passage of the Dog Team Tavern several years ago; I can still taste their maple oatmeal pie !

Sylvia said...

Did Melissa hear about tylord farms burning down a few years back? Took all the stored semen and most of their breeding stock. :( barn fires and fires in biggest fear.
The wheel is much better :) but don't forget, "don't complain about farmers with your mouth full." Lol

Sylvia said...

Oh and yes, the dog. Sad about that. Were you still living here when that happened? One of my favs is fire and ice :)

Jason said...

Yes, sadly we did. Bob and I bought all the steers Dave (at Tylord Farms) had. Shame that, and I agree; my biggest fear too !

We had just moved back to TN when we heard about the Dog Team. My mouse pad is all I have left ! :(

I'm with you on Fire and Ice !