The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Forrest Hershberger
View from the Handlebars 

Widening the Disconnect

 

I wanted to tease or title this as “strange days,” but I already used that. Maybe it is “Strange Days2.”

I recall early in the social media platform reading a sentence or so that really puts things in perspective. “Destroy the cities, and they will grow back. Hurt the farmer and there will be weeds growing in the city streets.”

Maybe 10 years ago, I went on my first bicycle tour. It was a landmark for the effort, but also for the education. Among the lessons learned is the frequent disconnect between rural residents and their urban cousins.

Having spent much of my time in rural areas, I was entertained to see the bike tour almost littered with signs giving cyclists quick lessons on agriculture and its impact on society. The multiple ways a farmer and rancher have their own methods of quality control, above and beyond what is required through government oversight. The numerous products supported by grains grown, or a processed carcass. The list is endless.

And the level of technology used by agriculturalists today is far beyond what was used in previous generations. I still recall the surprise when Denver cyclists learned a farmer in the eastern plains of Colorado uses drones to monitor his fields.

Generally, the same period of time it was announced that a lab had produced a hamburger patty. For the cool cost of the title to your new car (then) you could sit down to a burger and fries that never cost the loss of (bovine) life. What’s $20,000 among friends, anyway? I found it funny that people didn’t trust food inspections and packaged products yet we were expected to jump on board with a not-so-beef hamburger patty.

Then comes the recent news of a steak produced by a 3-D printer. Does anyone remember how to sing the Jetsons jingle, or Star Trek maybe?

More recently, I read of “grave concern” that the weight of farm tractors and such are compacting trees soil subsurface, some scientific sounding Sky Is Falling reference. One comment was made of the weight will increase even more with the batteries needed to power a tractor or combine with electricity; and the cost will send many growers saying things I don’t in this space.

It makes me wonder how many of these writers and authorities in lab coats have fully researched their position. How many have walked a field long enough to get more than dusk and a few scratches on the boots? How many know successful farmers are not the knuckle-dragging mentality with no respect for the land?

I’m pretty confident if the career choice was based on compensation per hour, sometimes per season, many would do something else.

Here in Sidney when I was still learning where even the primary county roads are, I was assigned to attend a “farm clinic” at a local farm. I’m sure that’s not the property word. It was for elementary age children to get a close-up view of the farm life.

And this middle-age man walked away learning a thing or two.

The headlines alone should tell us the weakest link is not the farmer and rancher, but the steps between the field and the table.

 

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