Faith, friends and fortitude
By Trent Loos
Surely by now you have heard the echoing statements made by the leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, at the Farm Journal forum. In the unlikely event that you missed them, let me recap a couple for you.
"It's time for us to have an adult conversation with folks in rural America. It's time for a different thought process here."
(Rural America is) "becoming less and less relevant."
"But too often small communities go it alone. Too often rural interests are fixating on regulations that either didn't exist, weren't going to exist, or that were taken care of."
Honestly, I believe in most cases he said the same thing that we in rural America have been saying for quite some time: that we represent such a small percentage of the population that we need to shout louder. However, I also believe he thinks we should be shouting the words that he wants to hear as opposed to speaking out about the ag policies of the current administration.
The statement about "them" working and taking care of regulations that were attempted to be enacted against farmers is a blatant lie. You would have to have been in hibernation for the past four years to believe that one.
To me the issue here is that we now have "leaders" who really have no clue about the culture that exists in rural America. The God-fearing, independent-natured folks that call rural America home have a sense of patriotism that drives us to do what we think is right for the personal property rights that our forefathers put in place. Incidentally, leaders from the very inception of this country predicted that those very freedoms might one day be in jeopardy by the very actions we are witnessing in government today.
That brings me to a recent celebration of rural America in a most unlikely place, Las Vegas. I got to spend quite a bit of time in Las Vegas as the National Finals Rodeo was taking place. As far away as the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport I had people asking me, "When will the sea of hats starting moving through here?"
Every single cab driver in Vegas will tell you how much they enjoy this week on the strip, and it has nothing do with their ability to take the long route to your destination without the cowboys knowing where to go. Even the TSA folks at the airport have smiles and mentioned, in their words, "I just it love when the cowboys come to town."
You see that 10-day stretch in Las Vegas has become much more than just rodeo enthusiasts going to a great rodeo. It is a large gathering of like-minded folks who love rural America like no other. Cowboy Christmas, the World Finals in Team Roping and the NFR are just a few reasons for folks to gather.
This year a special public display took place at the Dec. 13 rodeo performance in the Thomas and Mack Center. Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, were shown on the big screen and 19,000 people immediately gave them a standing ovation and an emotional thank you.
This was not a Democrat versus Republican statement. In fact, I don't think it was political at all but rather an emotional appreciation for someone at the national level who at least understands the culture of rural America. The timing of the event was perhaps ironic in that it was immediately after the USDA leader said we are "less and less relevant."
If you need one more example of how this celebration of rural America sets itself apart from most, I would point out that each and every performance of the National Finals Rodeo began with the National Anthem and a prayer to God.
That prayer does mean something because this week we also celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who came to show us the path to heaven, which also is a culture that seems to be jeopardy. Faith, friends and fortitude will drive us in the upcoming year, my fellow rural Americans, and those are three things that we can always count on! Merry Christmas from the Loos family.
Editor's note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.