I thought I needed to wait a decent interval after the mid term elections to pen this post; after all, the echoes of the word 'vote' have barely faded from the news channels and the last campaign signs are blowing into the fence rows to disintegrate with the winter winds and snows. On the other hand, the potential candidates may not have begun jockeying for position with appearances on above mentioned news shows, but several have thrown down the gauntlet in the form of assorted books and appearances. Thus it begins again....
Nope, I won't get a chance to speak out front of a crowd for this candidate; no one will ever consider me an impartial voice. On the other hand, I stand front and center as the authority on the candidate's actions, viewpoints and abilities. I've been there and done that. After all, we've worked as partners in love and war, work and play, politics and religion, richer, poorer, sickness, health....well, you get my drift.
So, I'm making my campaign pitch for my husband in his bid to be the next president of an organization we've devoted a lot of energy to during our adult lives, Missouri Farm Bureau. I've pictured myself making a nominating speech for Blake, figuring I can best describe the efforts I know he makes to be an advocate for the industry he believes in and loves. It is more than self serving, this belief in farming as a vocation; he sees the health of the food production system as a humanitarian effort, a moral imperative for consumers present and future. The work we do now cannot fail to have an increasing ripple effect on the people who will eat in the future. We have a family farm and we sincerely and earnestly hope our children and some of our children's children will grow crops on the land we work now, but that is a personal hope, the kind any parent or small business owner might have for their life's work. No, being leader of our farm organization has a bigger obligation and opportunity: making it possible to sustain the system that has, almost miraculously, provided the growth in agricultural production unpredicted and unprecedented in human history. Whew! What a load! But one need not be a particularly acute observer to recognize that the means to our end of abundant food are under siege by folks with the idea that "technology", "scale", "genetic modification" are terms that lead directly to cruelty to animals, degradation of the environment and the destruction of human health. This is a battle Blake is eager, willing, and well prepared to join. I know, because it has possessed many of the working hours behind the wheel of a combine, or pickup, or at the desk of the computer evening after evening.
Life on the farm has never been simple,or easy. As farmers, we accept as part of the job the risks of weather and income. But we have never once doubted that way we perform our job and its outcome is not only good, but inherently Moral. I may have my doubts at times about the long term necessity to the world of another flat of Super Elfin Paradise Impatiens, or even cherry tomatoes, but I KNOW the world needs our glorious glacial soil, our temperamental but temperate climate, our Grant Wood repetition of corn and beans, beans and corn. We never needed to convince our consumer friends in the past; they were appreciative, or at worst, blissfully ignorant of the nuts and bolts and nitty gritty of the food in their local grocery. But times change, I guess, and abundance is no longer sufficient. At each and every level, our methods are under intense scrutiny and sometimes found not up to snuff. We find ourselves fighting an evasive battle, knocking down one straw man after another.
So, vote for this guy. Vote for Blake. Give him a chance to take the bully pulpit of our farm organization and defend our vocation, our living, our countryside, our philosophy. This is a man who has been faithful in the little things, who takes care of family, farm, philosophy, future. Before we were married, I could see him jostling grandkids on his knee, and, bless all, that vision has come to life. Yep, he can't make it through Burn Notice without falling asleep on the couch; yes, he might tell bad jokes, or be flippant when you might not find it called for. But, take it from a person who knows well and honestly: if you want a friend and earnest eloquent voice for those who feed the world, this is your guy....and this is my chance to say so.