Minnesota Farmer

In the room
January 10, 2018, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Farm, Farm Bureau, Politicians, Politics | Tags: , ,

I’m just back from a trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) meeting in Tennessee.  I like to go every once in a while, especially when it is a city that I have family near.  In this case my sister lives just south of the city.

The main sessions run from Sunday morning until Monday afternoon.  There are tours and contests that run before and during, a trade show and on Tuesday a delegates session.IMG_1408

This years registration included an orange arm band for use on Monday.  That was the only way you could get in to the room for the closing session.  The extra layer was because for the first time in 25 years, a sitting President was going to speak to attendees.

Before we left there was a news release that President Trump would be speaking to the assembly.  Until later Sunday no one was told exactly when.  Then those with the meeting app were sent a change of schedule for the days meetings, including a security page.

Many meeting times were moved up, or moved to different locations, the trade show closed early and security check points were set up.  The ball room was to open at 10:00 for the noon closing session, and the line started forming about 8:00.  By the time we got in line at 9:00 the line went almost all the way across the Opryland hotel complex.

The security was not ready until 10:30 and the line movement didn’t reach us until 30 minutes later.  The first speaker, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue, started on time. Once you cleared security you were ushered to your seat, you went where they told you, no exceptions.  Your group had better clear security together, or you had to sit apart.  We got in at 12:15 and were pleased to get in the door.  We were about 3/4 of the way back and off to the side so the cameras were not in our way.  The auditorium seats about 5000 people, what with about 500 news people, special guests and a congressional delegation, we were quite a crowd.  Extra rooms were ready for a remote feed, but a saw a few empty seats in the back.

Security included toilets and a lunch cart.  Your only choice was hot dogs, and a few different varieties of drinks.  There were no where near the facilities needed for the group.  If you left the secure area you could not be sure you would be let in again.  After the closing session and an interview of Reba McEntire, there was a scheduled 45 minute intermission, which went a bit longer, no one rushes the President.

The speech was not overly long.  He did spend much of it praising the farmers there for their hard work.  He also reminded the delegation that throughout our countries history, farmers have answered the call to build and defend our country.  The President knew the areas of the country that turned out to elect him were mostly rural.  He told us that our forgotten area of the country was not forgotten anymore.

Overall, my opinion of Trump did not change.  He seemed to be on message more than usual, perhaps because he thought he was with a friendly audience.  He got 6 standing ovations, but not all of his usual topics were universally well received.  He did seem to forget where he was later in his speech when he spoke only to the Tennessee delegation, not the whole Federation.

At the end of his speech Trump signed two Executive Orders to promote the increase of the availability of Broadband Internet access in rural areas.  These orders were the product of the Rural Prosperity Task Force which was to deliver it’s findings that day.  The report is available at usda.gov/RuralProsperity

It was interesting to be in the room with a sitting president, to go through the security measures and hype of a presidential speech.  Secretary of Ag. Purdue and AFBF President Duval seem to think he is doing good things for agriculture, we shall see how this all plays out.  I can say I was in the room, and in politics it is better to be sitting at the table in the room, than on the menu.

Holding my nose is not enough
September 22, 2016, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Politicians, Politics, Vote | Tags:

In all of my 63 years I do not remember a presidential election like this.  I have in the past held my nose and voted for the least objectionable candidate, but I cannot this year.

Our presidential elections have moved steadily to mud slinging and over the top statements.  I think we are at the point where you cannot trust either major political party.  Yes, there are good points to both candidates, and to both political parties, but I shudder to think of either in office.  Both presidential candidates were elected by majorities of their party, but neither party is our country.  In poll after poll neither party can claim a majority of voters supporting them, and this may be the year in which it will be hard to find a majority of either Democrats or Republicans who really want to see their own candidate in office.  Me, I’m voting none of the above.

Oh yes, I will vote in the presidential election this year, but I will not vote for either of the major parties.  There are many who claim I am wasting my vote, but that is a fallacy put forth by the major parties to contain potential third party ascendence.  With the  current party problems, it’s time we have some new leadership from someone other than the main line parties.  It’s happened before, why not again?

Neither of our current political parties can claim they were there at the founding of our country.  Thomas Jefferson in 1804 was a Democratic-Republican.  The Whig party that provided several early presidents is no longer in existence.  It wasn’t until 1829 that Andrew Jackson was elected as a Democrat and in 1860 that Lincoln was elected as a Republican that we developed our current two party system.  (The Republican party had not even existed until a few years before Lincoln’s election.)  Even then parties with names like “Know-Nothing” and “Bull Moose” continued to capture the countries imagination.  Have these two feuding parties been around too long?

Many other countries have working elections with multi-party slates.  Usually one or two will dominate, but as time goes on they can and do shift who is in power.  It is not any more or less messy than what we have today in the U.S.  It may just take a wholesale abandonment of the major parties to wake up our politicians.  It seems that most politicians are more out for their own advancement than to help out the country.

So, yes, this year I am voting for a “third’ party candidate, at least it is not someone I have to hold my nose to vote for.

50 foot buffer


Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton stirred up a bit of controversy when he proposed a 50 foot buffer strip on Minnesota rivers, lakes and drainage ditches.  If he wanted to get the discussion going on ways to protect our states waters, he definitely succeeded.  In fact the surprise and controversy started on the day of his announcement when DNR officials were blindsided by his intentions.

I attended the meeting on buffer strips held at the Worthington Fire Hall on Thursday.  The room was more than standing room only as attendees spilled out into the hallway.  One bystander counted over 150 standing in the room and could not count those in the hallways or seated.  Mostly it was farmers at the meeting, but a sprinkling of mayors, school officials and agricultural business employees were also there.  All came out in support of buffer strips and water quality, but did not agree that a one size fits all 50 foot buffer would solve the problem.


There was also come confusion on what Dayton’s proposal would not include.  At first blush the proposal seems to be aimed at farm land which would amount to an uncompensated taking of land from farm families that live near these waters.  Pictures posted at the meeting by the governors office did cover only farm land so that intention seem to be supported.  One attendee questioned whether the DNR should not also be held to this standard and had pictures of local DNR land that would become out of compliance with a 50 foot buffer.  Also unstated was if this proposal would include land currently used as beach front gardens, play areas and lawns.


Not every drainage ditch bank slopes down to the water for over 50 feet.  Most drainage ditches in rural areas have banks of soil along them that create a barrier to water running into the ditch.  This soil was placed there when the ditch was dug and is an effective barrier to water entering except in controlled areas.  Do these ditches also need a 50 foot buffer?

The controversy has not been helped by some news organizations making statements like “Big Ag. against clean water.”  Those at the Worthington meeting were not against clean water, they were against a blanket 50 foot buffer strip proposal.  Also, those at the meeting could not in any way be considered “Big Ag.” but they were farmers of all ages, farm types and farm sizes who own and live on the land that will be affected by this proposal.

Governor Dayton further muddied the waters by several times bringing up the recent notice by an area town to have it’s city residents use bottled water.  This problem was not at all related to buffers, but to a malfunction of equipment in the city’s water supply.

At the end of the meeting Dist. 22 Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne, gave his response on the governor’s proposal saying that one of the take-aways from the discussion is that there isn’t one answer to the problem.


“We have a variety of programs out there, and they really do work,” Weber said. “The reality of this proposal is it put everybody on defense right away.”

Yet, Weber said there is a willingness for stakeholders to gather, sit down and discuss it further. He encouraged Dayton to gather representatives from farm, drainage and conservation organizations to discuss what is available now and how something more could be implemented.

Weber also asked Dayton to “say these bills are dead for this year” and bring the groups to the table for discussion.

“I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the cooperation and willingness … in advancing the goal that you have,” Weber added.

So the process has started.  The discussion on the 50 foot buffer has now moved out of St. Paul and into the out state area.  From what I have heard the other meetings the Governor has set up were also well attended.  It shows a willingness to talk about the issue, but is also shows that the governor made the proposal without consulting his own department heads.  Perhaps if he had discussed this with them first there would not be so much controversy.

The proposal is still moving on in the state house and senate.  It is still likely that it will not even make it through one or more committees before the end of the session.  If it does move forward it will need much work, much more than has been shown so far.

November 3, 2014, 6:16 pm
Filed under: Politicians, Politics | Tags: , ,

When it comes to election time, I’m a confirmed cynic.  I have lived and watched political elections my entire life.  I have come to the conclusion that you should only believe half of what a candidate says about himself, and 10% of what he says about his opponent.

Political ads drive me crazy.  They are full of so much fiction that it is a wonder anyone believes them.  I have watched the truth be twisted for so many years that election season is my least favorite time of the year.  One small mistake and a whole career can be ruined by opponents who will twist that mistake into titanic proportions.

Oh, I do still enjoy politics.  What I enjoy about it is the planning for the future.  I love great ideas and huge plans for change.  I have shaken hands with presidents, governors, senators and representatives.  I have sat in their offices and listened to them dream.  Pressing the flesh and dreaming big is a great part of politics.  But come election time it all turns ugly.

So here’s my advice to you as you vote.  If someone said something bad about a candidate, do not believe it.  If the candidate himself sounds too good to be true, he or she is.  Accept that you are going to elect a scoundrel, or a weakling, almost surely one who bends the truth to fit his audience.  Yes, there are a few good politicians out there, but even they need to be watched.  Your job does not finish with the election.

The most important thing you can do is visiting elected officials after they take office.  There you can influence the future.  Electing a person to office means little, it is what you do after they are elected that matters.


The blame game
July 1, 2014, 8:00 am
Filed under: Politicians, Politics, Vote | Tags: , , , , , ,

Politicians are out to stay in office.  In order to do that they need to drum up some support.  Usually they do that not by bringing people together, but by singling out a few amongst us as the enemy.  Usually it is those who are not well understood.  Those different from the voting base they are talking to.

Today another effort to separate came across my email feed.  The message talked about the decline of the U.S. and how that as a democracy our days may be numbered.  No other democracy has lasted over 200 years, and they were predicting a bad end for our blessed country.  They tried to blame the end of our nation on the immigrants coming into our land of opportunity.  That is where they are wrong.

Currently many of those newest workers in the U.S. are coming into the heartland of our nation.  Did you know that one-third of all immigrants to the U.S. are moving north up the I-35 corridor today?  These are people looking for work, for opportunity.  They are not the shiftless, seekers after an easy dollar that many would have you believe.   Many of these people are well-educated.  27% of our doctors in the U.S. are foreign-born, 24% of our health care workers are foreign-born, 18% of our countries small businesses are owned by recent immigrants. These are not people who are a burden on our society, but drivers of our economy.

We look at these others and see people we do not understand.  We tend to forget that we too are of immigrant stock.  My own family is only here since the mid 1800’s.  We have only been here for half of this country’s history.  Our ancestors came here for work just as these newest workers do.

Many of the newest workers in our society are willing to take jobs that our own children do not want.  They process our meat and pick our fruit.  They clean our hotels and take care of our children and grandparents.  They do the dirty, hard jobs so we can live well without thinking about all of that yucky stuff like blood and shit.

It is not these newest ones who are bringing our country down, it is our own children, and yes, the government we voted for that allows us a life of ease.  Americans have voted for the easy life and that would be our demise if it were not for the infusion of new hard working residents in our midst, most of them here legally, but a few of them illegally.  They are here not to take from those already here, but to feed themselves and their families.  Some flee a much harder life of poverty and war, of gangs and bad government.  If we give them jobs, they will stay and thrive as our ancestors did.  If we shut them out, then we are indeed headed for the downfall of democracy.

Always right!

I’ve been accused of always thinking that my way is the only way.  I’ve been told that I can speak on any subject with passion and conviction in my voice.  Those of you who have done this are probably out there reading this now and smiling in understanding.  Well, I can tell you that I am not always right, just ask my bride.  On those subjects that I know, I believe I am right.  I’ve had 60 years to learn and have been active in many things in those 60 years.  I am still learning and upgrading my understanding of the world around me.images

To have the confidence to write and talk to others you have to have passion for your subject.  To me that means that I have researched options and come to a conclusion that is right for me.  I am always open to have my assumptions corrected.  I’ve been on both sides of some very controversial subjects and may change my mind again if the facts prove me wrong.  The thing is I try to let facts form my opinions, not other people’s opinions.

imagesI believe that there are some subjects that I know better than most do, and on those subjects, I will stand up for what I believe.

So go ahead, ask me questions about agriculture.  I know and understand my part of agriculture and have talked to those in other parts.  I am passionate about getting the right information out about agriculture.

There are many other subjects related to agriculture like the genetically modified plants that we use, or herbicides, insecticides, these all I am sure I know better than those not in agriculture.  If you are going to make a comment that I do not believe in, I am going to call you on it. I have confidence in my facts, we’ll have to see if your facts are just as strong.  I’ve some really crazy facts in my brain that may shake your world, so go ahead and challenge me, but be ready with facts, not opinions.Unknown


30 days: Setting policy after the harvest

Day 22 of the 30 day challenge on what farmers do after the harvest found me helping to set policy for the Minnesota Farm Bureau.1460232_551941724885564_255974754_n

Farmers realize that they are a minority in this country.  When you are only 2% of the population you have to keep on your toes or someone else may be telling your story that does not have your best interest in mind.

Organizations such as the Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, Corn Growers, Soybean Growers, Beef Producers, Pork Producers and others give us a voice that is much larger since we have banded together.  Politicians come to us for the information they need to make policy, and since we have little money to pay lobbyists we need to specialize in information rather than persuasion.

Setting policy together is not an easy task.  Farmers are notoriously independent.  They have to be.  What works on one farm or in one region, may not work on another.  They adjust and do what is best for them.  Policy for dairy may not always be best for beef or corn.  Meetings of farmers help them all to understand the political problems they face and what they can do together.8574369261_93eb3fcaf4_mOnce the policy is set, it is time to make a trip to the halls of power.  Telling our story face to face in our state capital or Washington, D.C.  Helps our representatives by giving them stories to tell and faces to put on those stories.  If you are not helping to do the cooking, tomorrow you may be on the plate.


Shut down funnies
October 5, 2013, 6:20 am
Filed under: Politicians, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve always enjoyed political cartoons.  They have the ability to boil down an issue into simple terms.  Here are some of my favorites since the Congress decided to abandon their jobs.  The sentiment seems to be the same, but no one seems to be listening.toons-tuesday-1_custom-2b3af4b22cb86f4343b9e8ecddd852848daa0f71-s40-c85

Yes, this is the usual message.  The wrong ones are being shut down.


So maybe it’s time we don’t re-elect some of these clowns.


This has got to be one of the best.  Our veterans could tell congress a thing or two about getting the job done.


So how do we get this changed?  I’d say that if the government is shut down congress and the president do not get paid, and they lose their pay like other furloughed employees.  There are some states that do half the job by shutting off pay checks, but giving back pay once the government starts up again.  Just saying………..

It’s all in the name
October 3, 2013, 1:57 pm
Filed under: Farm, Politicians, Politics, science | Tags: , , , , ,

So tell me does the name make a difference.  Yes it really does.

According to a new CNBC poll that surveyed two different groups, 46% of the group that was asked about “Obamacare” were opposed to the law, while 37% of the group asked about the “Affordable Care Act” were opposed to the law.

At the same time, more people support “Obamacare” (29%) than those who support ACA (22%.) In other words, having “Obama” in the name “raises the positives and the negatives,” as CNBC put it.

It’s also important to note that 30% didn’t know what the ACA was, compared to 12% who weren’t familiar with Obamacare, according to the poll.

So does the general public really understand what they are talking about?  Obviously not.  What we have here is another case of people making a decision about something before they know the whole story.  It’s unfortunate but true that in our complex world you cannot know everything about everything.  So how are you deciding that something is good or bad if you do not know all of the facts?

It comes down to the spin.  Who tells you the story first?  If Oprah or Dr. Oz tell you something is bad, it must be bad.  If a book about aliens in America becomes a best seller, it must be true.  We live in a world where news makers are influencing our understanding of the world which, in most cases they do not understand.  Our tabloid press system has become mainstream.

Today the most “Shocking” statements make the news, and way too many people believe what is written or said because, if it is a quote from a celebrity it must be true, even if that celebrity has no first hand knowledge of the product, person or event.

I try to be well informed.  Also, I’m by nature a skeptic, it is not in my nature to believe everything that I am told.  So when the headlines blare out a story, I do not always believe.  I’m especially unlikely to believe when it is a political or entertainment figure that is talking.  Oh, and the internet?  Just as unlikely to be true.

So who should you believe?  You need to find some experts to follow.  Get your news from well respected sources.  Go to the farmer rather than the pundit for farm issues, the nutritionist rather than the actress for food facts.  Seek out science sources rather than newspapers for scientific information.  Most of all, do not believe politicians.  Those who have an agenda will always steer you wrong.

September 12, 2013, 11:19 pm
Filed under: history, Politicians, science | Tags: , , , , ,

Just because everyone knows it’s true does’t mean it is.  Wow, that’s a mouthful.

I really find it disturbing that there are so many things in this world that everyone “knows” to be “true” that are not true.  Our own self interest is to blame.  We cannot believe that that the things we read in the press or hear on the news are not facts.  We want to believe that the impossible is possible.  UFO’s and Sasquatch come to mind a prime examples.

Modern day “reality” shows and media “Doctors” are to blame only for fanning the fires, we are guilty for believing them.  They are the modern day equivalent of “Snake Oil” salesmen.  They are selling us “Miracle”  cures that have no hope of performing at all.  TV shows and tabloids have learned that we want to be entertained, and the fact that so many believe the lies and half truths is what disturbs me.  Some will believe any “Startling” fact that is thrown at them.

The bigger the name, the bigger the lie that people will believe from them.  Where are the days of Walter Cronkite when we had news men that really told the truth in the news.  Now to hold an audience you have to keep telling bigger whoppers.

Even such names a Oprah and Dr. Oz have stooped to selling snake oil break through’s that have no basis in fact.  Of politicians, we do not even need to guess.  They will tell their audience anything they need to to get re-elected.  Faulty, spun or massaged data are commonplace.  The higher up you get in politics the harder it is to believe them.  You want to sell something?  Just use the data you want to and ignore the rest.

All of this is happening at a time when real science is being down played.  Scientific fact is now trumpeted after the first theory.  Facts need to be studied and proven.  Irrefutable truth is not “sexy” in fact, it is often boring.  By the time the scientific community has proven something beyond a doubt, we have moved onto a new misconception.

So before you jump off the cliff of believing something that everyone just “knows” to be true, stop and do a reality check.  Talk to people in the industry, not the commentators or pundits, but the science and technology people who are on the ground doing the work.  Remember, the truth may be boring.