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.