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Celebrating the producers in rural America

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Dear Editor:

I have been farming in Delta County for 45 years. I came to the valley as an urban consumer ignorant of the many aspects of what it takes to produce real wealth: food, timber and minerals. These basic raw materials are the foundation upon which we build a civilization. All wealth accumulated in the system begins with those people who produce or extract from the earth what the rest of us use to enjoy the livelihood that we have in America.

In America most people are consumers not producers. These consumers are, for the most part, pretty ignorant of the challenges that these primary producers face to gather the raw materials that go into making the products that we all take for granted. Producers of raw materials live in a different world than consumers do. Producers work long hours, take great physical and economic risks -- the real work of building a society that can take care of the basics for all its people. Without these producers the economic system you enjoy and are dependent on, will not work.

Farming, ranching, mining and timbering are very dangerous enterprises with unpredictable results/success. And not only are they dangerous but require great skills to be successful. If you have ever had to grow your own food and not just shop at the local grocery store, you will understand. These enterprises are humbling because you are not in control, and they require such high levels of skill. America was birthed as a nation of farmers. Our work ethic, our religious values and our social values emerged out of this agrarian matrix. Our religious values as farmers and ranchers arise out of an environment that by its very nature is humbling and moves one to prayer and belief in god because it is all too clear you are not in control when working with the natural world. It is only in the urban areas do you suffer the illusion that you control the natural world or that you are God or that God does not exist.

Here in Delta County, many of the new people in the valley are from the urban world of consumers and they know very little of the challenges facing the producers. They oftentimes judge negatively these producers out of ignorance. They do not appreciate what they do or why they do it. They even bring their own media and newspaper bias to the valley, unfairly judging the producers because they do not conform to their consumer biases. The consumers who move to the country do not get to make the rural areas into urban areas and impose all their consumer values (some good, some bad, and some ugly or ridiculous) on the rest of us. It does not matter how much biased, anti-producer newsprint is exercised in the valley to impose those extreme urban values; we need to support our producers who are the backbone of our rural communities. The country and the county need right-to-farm and right-to-produce legislation. Debate, perhaps, how to do it, but do not devalue the producers when you do so. Three hundred million+ people in America all eating three to five pounds of food each and every day -- you do the math!

Whether one agrees with the choices producers feel compelled to make to extract or create raw materials, all consumers need to show some real appreciation for those who take the risks to provide the goods that these consumers take for granted -- food, automobiles, fibers, fuels, metals, wood, electricity, et al. Without these products, their economic world would collapse. These producers take all the risks. We owe them are gratitude and our support. Enjoy the country. Encourage producers to be good stewards of the land and be thankful they are here. They do not do it because they expect to make lots of money. It is because they are truly the guardians of us all and are in service to the greater good.

Wayne Talmage

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