The Edmond Sun

Opinion

October 12, 2012

American agriculture inspires awe, appreciation

EDMOND — For thousands of years, humans measured their survival chances by gauging nature’s bounty at harvest time. For the bulk of man’s time on this planet, his existence was precarious. There’s no way to number the people, the communities, the civilizations that disappeared simply because crops failed. From the moment mankind discovered the miracle of agriculture, he has realized that labor alone will not insure nature’s bounty. Yes, labor is required, but without the blessings of uncontrollable, outside nourishing powers, there is no guarantee.

This is on my mind this week as I’m traveling through vast expanses of farmland witnessing the incredible powerhouse of American agriculture. Thousands of hard-working men and women are breaking their backs racing the elements in an all-out sprint to gather the hay, wheat, corn, sunflowers, apples, sugar beets and a host of other crops while the weather holds.

Fields and country roads are thick with powerful machines able to bear the crushing harvest burdens that once bent and destroyed the bodies of men and women who had no choice but to do this work with their bare hands or primitive tools. Even after the sun sets, reapers and combines remain in the fields gathering crops with the help of electric lights.

Entire communities pour out of their homes, schools and businesses to join hands in this enormous seasonal endeavor that determines whether the community will prosper this year. Each year these communities miss the strong hands of those who labored so long in the past and now are gone. They watch with pride as their young men and women step up to take their place as co-laborers doing their part to contribute to the welfare of them all.

It is no exaggeration to say that these American farm workers are the mightiest workforce on Earth. I have seen the tiny plots of African and Middle Eastern land tended by every member of the family regardless of youth or age using the most primitive tools, irrigating by water hauled manually from river or well. These Third World farmers battle pests and elements every day clinging to the hope that there will be a harvest capable of providing enough nutrition to help keep the family alive.

While in this great country, millions of acres of farmland receive life-giving water delivered by irrigation systems that are wonders of modern engineering.

The ingenuity of American farmers has elevated agriculture to a powerhouse never imagined by our hard-working forefathers. Though an increasing quantity of our produce is now imported from abroad, there was a time when it was the American farmer, inventing, refining and broadcasting revolutionary agricultural machinery and techniques that fed the Americans and much of the world. The best farming practices employed around the globe today are patterned on innovations pioneered by American farmers.

A few days ago, in South Dakota, I parked beside a field of harvest-ready sunflowers and watched a gargantuan John Deere Harvester cut down the tall stalks, extract the seeds and send them in a great shower onto a transport vehicle driving alongside. I learned that our sunflower crop this year promises to be bountiful and things are going so well that the harvest may be weeks ahead of schedule. Everywhere in North and South Dakota, people were working hard, but spirits were high. There will be celebrations and rejoicing when this year’s harvest ends.

I am writing this column from a hotel room in Hayward, Wisconsin. I spent yesterday in the apple growing region of Minnesota where I planned to take part in the festivals celebrating their harvest. Spirits are not so high there. This year’s crop was hard hit by an early warm snap followed by a bitter freeze. Some Minnesota orchards suffered as much is a 70 percent loss. But it is one of the great qualities of the American farmer that they bear this year’s hardship with the certain knowledge that next year will be better.

Each time I have the opportunity to witness, first hand, the amazing marvel of American agriculture, I develop a greater appreciation for American farmers. We owe it to these people, these communities and ourselves to look at the labels on the products we buy. It’s not enough that they work hard and are blessed with bountiful crops if there is no market for their produce.

Without our support, the day may come when the wonder and blessing of American agriculture will be in the hands of foreign growers and corporations. With small efforts and minimal expenditures, we can patronize our family-owned American farms. Before we buy, let’s look at the labels. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is an Edmond resident and retired attorney.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results