Sunday, September 30, 2007

What to do?

I am in an organization that sometimes has different official views than I do. I can accept these differing view points, as long as I get a chance to express mine in hopes of persuading the group toward my beliefs. Of course, this can cause some tensions, but I try to keep it above water and not let things get personal.

However, a recent online discussion among some members and myself has led me to believe that the leadership of this organization does not really care about free discussion, but rather personal attacks and partisan allegiance.

I was recently told by a fellow board member that I was greedy for wanting to see some CRP land released to crop/pasture/hay production, that I wanted to rape the environment, and that I was a Republican asshole. I replied that I didn't see how this helped the discussion and asked for an apology. He insisted I apologize for him, and later, told me to "go to hell".

If an organization has a person on the board that cannot control his anger and lacks the ability to debate the merits of a topic, then what good is that organization if that person stays on the board? It tells me that the organization is not looking for the best possible answer but rather wants to lie in bed with one political organization at all costs. It tells me that dissent, the very reason our country was created, cannot be allowed in the organization.

So, should I keep putting up with this BS? If my views are not respected in the organization, why should I spend time and money going to board meetings in Ames and get slammed by others? I thought our goals were the same; to help the family farm. But apparently, one board member, and possibly the rest, think that my views and beliefs are dirt and shouldn't be paid attention to.

I joined this organization because my wife worked there, and I had similar beliefs in it at the time. I became a board member because I thought it would give me a chance to develop leadership skills. But, if I'm going to be told that I'm an asshole for holding the beliefs I do and that I should go to hell, then what benefit am I getting?

What do you think?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Basketball or football?

Here's the score from our boys 8 man football team game last night:

Mormon Trail (Garden Grove) 82, East Union 76

What the? It was an away game, and I haven't had the chance to talk with anyone about it today (been out delivering feed), but is this for real?

Usually we see scores like this in basketball games, college nonetheless.

Anyone know where the defense was? For either team? Did they substitute the cheerleaders in for defense? Maybe they brought in the 6th graders?

Kind of reminds me of the time I beat cousin E in Atari Football 132-7. He won't admit it, however.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pathetic attempt to satirize the 1980's

I know, I should have some insightful information about the start of harvest (500 bu picked today, 25% moisture), the cost of inputs ($600/ton NH3, $230+/bag corn), or political commentary (Hillary scares the Mt Dew out of me).

Instead, I give you this.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Our town in the Des Moines Register

Last Wednesday my uncle, wife, and I were interviewed by John Carlson of the Des Moines Register to talk about the recent projects that have been taking place around town. For you out of towners, this article, published Friday, will give you an idea of what's been going on around here.

The article was pretty good, considering the usual bias supplied by the DM Redstar (usually from the editorials). John Carlson is a good writer, not a typical Gannett-oid.

Anyway, enjoy the article.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Find your candidate

I found this over at State 29. It's suppose to help you find your presidential candidate by matching your preferences on hot-button topics to the supposed leanings of the various lemmings.

Who did the calculator say was my candidate? Ron Paul, at a 77.61% match.

Tom Tancredo was second at 73.13%. Next was Brownback at 72.39%, and my chosen favorite Mike Huckabee at 69.40%.

Chris Dodd was the lowest at 20.9%, next to Edwards, Hillary, and Richardson.

What is funny about Ron Paul being my "top" choice is that after I came back from the Straw Poll, I told my 4 year old son about going around to the different candidate's tents. We reworked it into a story where he would drive his battery powered JD Gator around to the tents to visit the candidates. However, it has since morphed into Ron Paul chasing Graydon in Paul's own Gator, and not just at the straw poll, but around the farm and in the town park! I have no idea why he thinks that Ron Paul is out to get him, but he does!

Anyway, take the test and see who is your "favorite" candidate, and post. That means you, Richman!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Reflections on Labor Day

I really don't like holidays too much; they get you out of your rythmn of eat/sleep/work/repeat by throwing an odd day of "rest" into the schedule. So, not only are you not supposed to "work", but neither is anyone else, and therefore you can do little but sit at home and watch the grass grow, paint dry, or some other useless activity.

However, I was able to beat this holiday's blues by laboring on Labor Day. Yep, instead of taking time off to go drink beer at a BBQ grill, I sat in a tractor and disked ground for preparation for seeding to pasture most of the day. The A/C wasn't even working properly, so it was even more labor.

However, by the end of the day, and through my usual self-entertainment of surfing Wikipedia, I came to realize that yes, the Labor movement in this country did have some good points, and working conditions, as well as safety standards, would be a lot worse if some people didn't band together, walk out and say we're not going to take this anymore.

Being a dog-gone independent farmer, it's tough for me to understand why anyone would throw his or her livelyhood together with complete strangers to increase their chances of betterment when I can have about the same chances on my own with out paying dues. Same goes with safety standards - you learn very quickly around the farm to not stick your hand in certain places, so why do we need a federal office to get in the way of productivity?

But, when I read about the struggles that some went through, either in labor or safety violations, injuries, and deaths, I realize that sometimes intervention from within or above is necessary for the whole operation to keep moving forward.

Hamlet Chicken Processing Fire - 25 people were killed and 54 injured when a hydraulic line ruptured, creating a fire that swept through an older plant. Doors and windows are locked to ward off theft, but they don't allow workers to escape properly.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - 146 workers, mostly women and girls, were burned or jumped to their deaths because doors were locked and fire escapes were few and incapable of handling the crowd.

Radium Girls - US Radium Corporation used women to paint radium onto faces of watches, providing no protective covering, while the owners and chemists are careful not to come in contact with the material. The women are not warned of the radioactivity of the material, and the company used disinformation to keep radium poisioning from being discovered.

Love Canal - Local school district built an elementary school on a former toxic waste dump. Children have higher levels of maladies than normal, but the school district and chemical company claim nothing is wrong.

Because of gross mismanagement and opportunism on the company's part, workers and community members came together to fight their injustice. In many cases they were told to sit down, stop rocking the boat, or you'll get fired, kicked out, loose your school, etc.

Sometimes accidents happen, but responsibility should be taken for them immediately; this is basic stuff my 4 year old is being taught in pre-school and at home. But, when corporations don't take responsibility for their messes, their short-sightedness, their purposeful ignorance, and people are hurt or killed, the companies need to pay.

I don't like regulations any more than the next person; I am a big believer in common sense and personal responsibility. But when common sense is lacking, and personal responsibility is not found, we need a higher authority, the government, to step in. That's why departments like the EPA, FDA, OSHA, National Labor Relations Board, etc were created. That's why groups like the AFL-CIO were originally created as well - to put right what has been made wrong.

We may not agree with how these groups go about their work; I think some of the things OSHA does are very intrusive into a workplace. But, they do play their part, and overall, they do make things safer and better for workers, employees, and customers. Yes, there is more bureaucratic BS and hoops to jump through, sometimes more than what we are comfortable with.

But, if groups like these had not come along, we might still be plucking chickens with our hands for pennies a day and worrying if we'll fall asleep and tumble into the lard tank.

Sierra Club and CRP

Sorry for the hiatus from the blog, folks. Sometimes I get extended writer's block, even while interesting events pop up, like the destruction of Western Civilization by Judge Hanson in Polk County. I'll get around to that later.

About 10 days ago I attended our state Farmers Union convention in Des Moines. During the workshops I spoke with some of the various people who were responsible for booths there; the Edwards campaign, the Dodd campaign, the Biden campaign, Leopold Center, etc.

However, when I walked up to the Sierra Club's booth, I was asked by the attendant:

"Would you like to sign a petition to increase CRP enrollment?"

Oh buddy, you asked the wrong fellow.

I'm from Wayne County, IA, the county that has the highest enrollment in CRP in the state. We have approximately 56,000 acres in CRP, and 102,000 acres in corn/soybean production. That means we have about 35% of our potential crop land in CRP. There is CRP land within a 1/2 mile of my farm in one direction. There are large tracts of land in my area that are enrolled already in CRP.

And these guys want more?

I explained to the young skull of mush that we don't need to increase CRP acres, but rather we need to reform the process and get productive land OUT of CRP and maintain conservation plans on the rest that restrict them to high residue cover programs, ranging from no-till rotations to meadow/pasture, depending on the severity of the erosion potential land. I told him that whole-farm enrollment in the 1980's allowed landowners to put their entire farm in the program, regardless if some of the land was highly fertile and non-erodible; just some of the farm had to be classified as "highly erodible land" to get it to qualify. What's worse, the landowner is paid MORE to include these more productive lands by the government because of the lost crop production.

I told the Sierroist (Sierra + environmentalist) that Uncle Sam is the biggest land hog in the area, and is a detriment to beginning farmers to be able to rent and own land. A lot of farmers in this area got started raising livestock, and keeping this potential pasture and hay land out of the market shrinks the opportunities available.

The Sierroist mentioned that when he had spoke at the local Isaac Walton league about increasing CRP, it was met with enthusiasm. No kidding! I like the Ikes as much as any hunter, but these guys are urban-based; they don't attempt to make a living off the land like we farmers do. As far as they're concerned, they could care less if a farmer is trying to making a living out here, especially if it gets in the way of driving the new Expedition out, putting it in 4wd for the first time, donning the custom made Cabela's camo gear, and experiencing the great wild for a few days in the fall so he can feel like a man.

While I remained calm and explained the situation to the young Sierroist, hoping that he would see the light, I am reminded that he, like a lot of other environmentalists, are insulated from the environment they so want to keep us from hurting. They would rather attempt to command us underlings from on high, rather than come out and see the situation for themselves. No, keeping ignorant about the truth is helpful in their case, especially when that ignorance can be used to dupe unsuspecting accomplices to go along with their agendas.