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Are farmers, ranchers and truckers the new ‘canaries in the coal mine’?

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
George Naylor looks over organic apples grown on his farm, on Sept. 13, 2022, near Churdan, Iowa. Demand for organics has increased so fast that the U.S. Department of Agriculture committed up to $300 million to help farmers switch from conventional crops.

As I have said many times, I’m not in favor of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. I seek out and support those who comprise the “Pragmatic Commonsense Party.”  

In my estimation, there are few groups who work harder, have more common sense, or offer up more pragmatic solutions than farmers, ranchers and truck drivers. Of late, some members of these groups have been waving “warning flags” of dangers to our society’s functioning — and yet, most of our world “leaders” have turned a blind eye to their pleas, or worse, attempted to vilify those who speak out about problematic government policies.

For one example of such bullying tactics, cast your mind back to 2022, when more than 50,000 truckers drove across Canada toward that nation’s capital of Ottawa to protest COVID vaccine mandates. These truckers soon were smeared by the liberal Canadian government and some media outlets. Some were arrested and some had their bank accounts frozen. All this because they wanted to keep working to provide for themselves and their families — but they questioned the legality of vaccine mandates.   

Many of these truckers did not necessarily oppose vaccines, boosters or masks. They wanted to better understand issues arising from the pandemic and believed that free people should not risk losing their jobs if, for example, they did not want to be vaccinated.   

Now let’s flash forward to what’s happening today, with ranchers and farmers who are raising alarm about other policies that they believe could crush their livelihoods and threaten the world’s food security. As was recently headlined in Fox News: “Two years into the Biden administration, ranchers say their jobs have gotten ‘1,000 times harder.’” 

These U.S. ranchers say they’re battered by overregulation, raging inflation that’s driving up the price of fertilizer and medicine for farm animals, or the massive influx of illegal migrants because of President Biden’s open-border policies. Some ranchers have given up their spreads or plan to do so. 

Going back to the “Pragmatic and Commonsense Party” for a moment, over the past three years, we have been told time and again, “Listen to the experts.” That’s nice, but what qualifies someone to be called an “expert”? Oftentimes, the “experts” we were told to listen to didn’t seem to have a clue about the subjects they were speaking about. So, regarding American ranches who are having trouble, one rancher cut to the chase: “If you’re going to learn about what happens on a ranch, the person you should ask is a cattle rancher. You shouldn’t go talk to a politician. You shouldn’t talk to an activist. You should visit a ranch.”  

Bingo. And yet, politicians and activists often ignore such pragmatic advice, and the media will seek out “experts” who never actually worked in the field.  

And from beleaguered ranchers we turn to the put-upon farmers. At the beginning of this month, almost 3,000 tractors driven by angry farmers blocked traffic in Brussels, Belgium, to protest a plan by environmentalists to cut nitrate levels. These farmers fear the plan could put them out of business.  

The debate over “agricultural pollution” is turning into a polarizing political issue in both Europe and the United States. And I worry the farmers may lose the fight.   

As “globalist experts” attempt to hijack the debate, the farmers who grow our produce and grain on both sides of the Atlantic would be more than happy to point out that fertilizers affect perhaps 50 percent of all food production; that Russia’s war in Ukraine has all but stopped fertilizer production in Ukraine; that farmers themselves are environmentalists of a sort; and that, for the moment, fossil fuels still ensure our food security.  

Speaking of food security, back here in the United States, a push to install “green” solar farms is threatening to consume thousands of acres of farmland and wooded areas. But where are the environmentalists speaking out for the protection of those acres and trees? Solar panels aren’t edible, of course, so the trade-off soon could prove to be untenable. 

And if that’s not enough, keep in mind that China now owns nearly 400,000 acres of U.S. farmland and likely will continue to try to buy more.  

There are self-proclaimed or anointed “experts” and then there are incredibly hard-working men and women who deal with real-life — and potentially life-altering — issues every day: farmers, ranchers and truckers among them. They’re the real “experts” in my mind. So, maybe it’s time to pause the politics and pontificating for a moment to listen to them, before it’s too late. 

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.

Tags Biden farmers Inflation overregulation ranchers Truck drivers

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