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December 19, 2014
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Rural America’s relevance

Nate Wilson

According to Vilsack, America’s farmers are doing just fine—record farm income, record farmland values—and for current corn and soybean farmers, he’s correct. However, the desperate plight of America’s livestock farmers is overlooked. Still blaming inflated livestock feed prices on last year’s drought, he disingenuously refuses to connect the problem to its original source—the administration’s slavish adherence to the Renewable Fuel Standard. This mandated ethanol policy creates a governmentcontrived class of winners (corn and soybean farmers) whose prosperity starkly contrasts with a class of policy-created losers, (livestock farmers), brought about by the Obama administration’s social engineering. This fiasco is developing into a crisis whose folly will make no more historical sense than Mao Tse-tung’s infamous Cultural Revolution of 1960s Communist China.

This secret will not keep, as significant numbers of America’s poultry men, dairy farmers and livestock producers complete their downward financial spiral into insolvency. With this senseless loss of crucial farms will come shortages and rapidly inflating consumer prices for eggs, meat and dairy products. The administration’s farm policy incompetence is soon destined to be painfully obvious at supermarket checkouts.

Vilsack comes by his incompetence honestly; he has no practical experience in farming or agri-business. A Pittsburgh native, trained in the law, transplanted to his wife’s hometown of Mt. Pleasant, IA, he was there vetted in politics. After two terms as Iowa governor, he was elevated to his current position by a president as blissfully ignorant of rural America as he is.

Vilsack’s insensitive remarks unmask contempt for rural Americans. His sense of moral superiority and lack of respect deprives him of the common touch, so crucial to the office he holds. This fatally handicaps his insight of the realities facing America’s iconic family farms. His tenure at the agriculture department portends failure.

Despite Mr. Vilsack’s peculiar opinions, rural America, albeit seriously challenged, is every bit as relevant today as ever. If Vilsack craves this “adult conversation,” he should engage rural America straightaway. There he will find people long accustomed to braying “jackasses” and a hornet’s nest of adult “folks” of a divergent point of view, just itching to have this chat. The point that awaits being driven home to Mr. Vilsack is that it is not rural America but he, our impertinent secretary of agriculture, who lacks relevance.