A Matter of Fact

Last week, a question was asked by a local news station for people to comment on. I was going to let the question slide, but then some of the comments got out of hand, and I felt the strong desire to say something. Actually, I felt the strong desire to hit someone, but common sense took over and I used my brain, not my brawn.

This was the question:

If you’re receiving federal crop insurance payments or government money as a farmer, are you a hypocrite if you’re against government subsidies?

Nice one, eh?

The funny thing is, I have no problem with the conversation taking place. And I have no problem with trying to brainstorm for better solutions. But I DO have a problem with people accusing farmers of wrong-doing, when they haven’t a clue as to how the system works to begin with.

To begin with, if you aren’t familiar with crop insurance, perhaps you should check out this link and read up on it. But to give you a quick, few-word synopsis, it boils down to this: you cannot be eligible for disaster payments if you don’t have crop insurance. That’s right, they’re intermingled. One comes with another.

So, that being said, I don’t necessarily favor government payments…but I’m not stupid. We have to protect our farm and our family from disasters, because contrary to what some say, you can’t just walk away from a natural disaster and wait for the weather to get nice and start farming again. You can lose everything in an instant.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “But Val, no one would ever think that.” Wrong.

This is a direct quote from the conversation on facebook, “As a wife of a carpenter, when the weather gets bad and he can’t work he doesn’t get paid..period…sorry if the crop was ruined due to weather, but why should you get help and us nothing? We grew up in farming families also, so we know alittle of what we are talking about.” (Name withheld to protect the…well, uneducated? I guess?)

My response was a little sharp-tongued, but served the purpose:

“Dear carpenter’s wife, I believe a more appropriate analogy would be your husband building a two-story, $300,000 house. Paying all of the inputs, including electrical work, lumber and labor, and then watching as the house burns down in a fire caused by lightning and then being told that he could try again next year. We’re not talking about being out of work for a day or two, we’re talking about losing a whole year’s worth of costs…and those bills get paid, whether the crop makes it or not. There are fewer farmers feeding more people every year. Yes, there are problems with the system and we need to make changes, and yes, there are cases of abuse, just like any industry. But we need to work together, not criticize and point fingers.”

So why am I writing this? Read the last line. We need to work together, and work towards a future that makes sure that farmers can do what they do best, and lawmakers and constituents and interest groups can all work together and make sure that there is a future to be had.

Do you understand the power that you have? Do you understand the strength of your voice? Your vote?

Please, don’t misjudge how important you are…and please, don’t shrug off such serious issues as disasters and insurance without putting some thought and time into it. Our future…all of our future…is needing some change.

And don’t be mistaken. The only one who can provide that is us.

4 thoughts on “A Matter of Fact

  1. Val, I saw your responses on Facebook and the one thing that troubles me with this whole political system today is no one wants to have the conversation. Yesterday, the Boston Bruins went to the White House. The Playoff MVP was their Goalie Tim Thomas. Thomas is one of 2 people on that team born and raised in the USA. Most people would consider this an honor to go to the White House but because of his political leanings and beliefs, he decided not to go to meet the President. While it’s a bigger deal if Thomas would skip a game because of his political beliefs (I don’t know how an NHL player would do that), the issue that I find troubling is no one wants to have the conversation. What does an NHL player skipping a meeting at the White House have to do with your message? I find people take a look at things too quickly, don’t educate themselves, and make a very quick and blind judgement. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation people. That’s what our country needs more than ever. Things aren’t as black and white as most of the media tries to put it. It’s ok to have a little gray in there…and pink, purple, green, and blue. Having the conversation and working together is what makes this country great and will hopefully put our country back to where it needs to be.

  2. Well put!!!!!!! The U.S. government has always believed in cheap food and has spoiled the consumer with “cheap food” prices… If they let us charge what it really costs to produce America’s food, it would be a complete shock to the consumer. Just how many people do you know purchase insurance so they are guaranteed that there will be food on their table? You, as a farmer, still have to purchase the insurance to make sure you even qualify for support if that crop fails. Take the American farmer out of the equation and you will remove not only food, but fiber and fuel. The average consumer does not get that no matter what they do in their day to day life…the American Farmer is the rooted source.

    Another thought…when you purchase an item in the store, you pay tax on it. With any land which is purchased, you pay taxes when you first buy it and then every year after. Those property taxes support schools, communities and government programs.

    Lastly, subsidies are created to get a program up and running. Our goal is to see that program sustains on its own, but some programs will never be this way, since the U S wants everyone to have cheap food. Remember only 10 percent of every person’s disposable income is spent on food.

    Just my thoughts! Keep educating them, Val!

  3. Your reply to the “uneducated” was very well done. You are right, we MUST stick together & work out the problems. The majority of Americans seem to be clueless as to how their food and fiber gets from field to plate or closet. I for one am tired of being put down and told how to live ( with wolves in MY livestock on PRIVATE property) by people with “their mouths and bellys FULL” ! But I digress…. just wanted to say – THANK YOU for your input, blogs & hard work.

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