How do you spell farmer? O-P-T-I-M-I-S-T!

By Mike Barnett

2011 was a year of great contradiction for Texas Farm Bureau and Texas agriculture. As an organization, it was a year of great success. As an individual farmer or rancher, it was a year of bitter disappointment.

Through the hard work of our members, Texas Farm Bureau had the greatest legislative year in our history. True eminent domain reform, groundwater rights and a grain indemnity fund—as well as a host of other agriculture-related legislation—were achieved because of grassroots efforts.

It was a different story for Texas farmers and ranchers. The year started out dry and got drier. Some of you planted crops—some of the seed never sprouted. You watched helplessly as pastures withered under the blazing, hot summer sun and you started selling your herds as rain refused to fall. You watched in envy as farmers in other states sold good crops and livestock at great prices, while you had little or nothing to sell.

But you haven’t given up hope.

Let me tell you a story about a neighbor of mine.

Jack and Susie have twin boys whose only resemblance to each other is their looks. If one of the boys thinks it’s too hot, the other thinks it’s too cold. If one says the television is too loud, the other claims the volume needs to be turned up. One is an eternal optimist. The other is a doom and gloom pessimist.

Just to see what would happen, on the twin’s birthday, Jack loaded up the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist’s room he loaded with horse manure.

That night Jack passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new toys, crying bitterly.

“Why are you crying?” Jack asked.

“Because my friends will be jealous that I have all these toys,” the pessimist twin wailed. “And I’ll have to read all of these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff. And I’ll constantly need batteries. And my toys will eventually get broken.”

Passing the optimist twin’s room, Jack found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure.

“What are you so happy about,” he asked.

 To which the optimist twin replied: “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Yes, 2011 was a tough year. Not only were you battered by the weather,  there were a host of people wanting to take a chunk out of you: bureaucrats at EPA with their regulations, animal rightists with their undercover videos, national legislators with their inaction on the budget and farm bill… the list goes on and on.

Will 2012 be any better? Who knows? What I do know is that you wouldn’t be in this business if you weren’t an optimist.

We’ve had a heap of horse poop piled on us this past year.

Anyone found the pony yet?


Mike Barnett

Director of Publications
Texas Farm Bureau
I’m a firm believer that farmers and ranchers will continue to meet the needs of a growing world population by employing equal measures of common sense, conservation and technology.
Follow Mike on Twitter and Facebook.

3 Responses to “How do you spell farmer? O-P-T-I-M-I-S-T!”

  1. Ah without the EPA what little water we have would be undrinkable. Let’s farm and ranch with American family (non corp) values and not try to be like the Chinese destroying their land for near term profits.

  2. And we have many, many regulations in place to protect water. As long as proposed regulations are based in science and not flawed computer models – as in the Cheasapeake – agriculture can live with it. Efforts to regulate farm dust are not even possible, let alone cost effective. As to corporations…I’m frustrated with the notion we should run screaming from the room every time the word is mentioned. What about the thousands of family farms incorporated for tax purposes? And – sometimes only corporations have the resources to develop the technologies we’ll need to produce the food needed in coming years.

  3. Also – there’s just not a lot of "destroying the land for near term profits" going on in American agriculture. The prevalent reality is multiple generations of farm families on the same land. Each generation is more determined that the last to leave the land in better condition than when they became responsible for it.

    But – at the same time, I don’t know a farrmer or rancher that considers "profit" a dirty word.

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