Here’s My Grownup Christmas List

This time of year we’re receiving mixed messages everywhere we turn. Turn on the television and feel a pull on your heartstrings as diamond companies encourage you to celebrate each moment that has changed your life forever. Move over Sears® Wish Book®… YouTube has published a Christmas Wish List video. Toys R Us has pushed a list of the “Fabulous 15,” the only hot toys that matter. Radio ads, Facebook pages, websites and Twitter feeds continually update us on the countdown for Christmas. (Do you know there 16 sleeps, until #Christmas?)

If a person took all of these ads and retail messages to heaChristmas listrt, you could miss out on the true meaning of Christmas and find yourself feeling totally inadequate or else entitled to more. This sense of entitlement – and our government’s response to it – has provided me with more content for my 2015 blog posts than I’d like! That’s why today I’m sharing my Top 5 Grownup Wish List for this holiday season:

  1. I wish Americans would take personal responsibility.

One of my biggest pet peeves is how Americans are more focused on blaming someone else for their circumstances than they are on realizing the American dream. (Remember the editorial that ran recently in The Des Moines Register that insinuated American farmers are responsible for poverty?) Unfortunately, some people have learned they can make a better living off the government than they can by earning a living. This is why I have a problem with the minimum wage and food stamps (SNAP). Rather than taking everything so personally – and becoming overly offended and demanding political correctness – Americans should take personal responsibility. Let’s ban bad behavior!

  1. I wish our water quality woes would end.

From Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) and the Clean Water Rule to the Des Moines Waterworks lawsuit, Iowa farmers are finding themselves in troubled waters. We can’t take water quality issues at surface level. As I’ve written in the past, it’s important to consider the source, and follow the money to find the motive. Several federal farm groups are keeping the pressure on Congress to act in a bi-partisan manner to withdraw the EPA and Army Corps’ of Engineers’ “waters of the United States” rule. Ironically, the EPA’s water rule is likely to slow to adoption of conservation practices. Water quality is just one of the regulations that impact our livelihoods. In fact, I’ve heard that 29% of an American’s income goes to cover regulations! It’s important that get involved in the political process. We don’t have the luxury of sitting back and trusting that the government is here to help us.

  1. I wish the public understood that sustainability has been practiced since the 1930s!

“Sustainability” seems to be one of the biggest buzzwords in agriculture today. Recently it made headlines again touting how locally-raised food crops could help improve water quality and aid refugees. Many “hot buttons” were covered, including the lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Waterworks. However, many of the so-called problems stated in this article are totally untrue!

You might remember that last spring “sustainability practices” was the overlying reason that HHS and USDA released “dietary guidelines” calling for a reduction of beef. Congress addressed sustainability in the food and farming system as far back as the 1990 Farm Bill, wrote Registered Dietician and New England farmer Jennie Schmidt wrote the dietary guidelines committee is 25 years late to the party.

Sustainability practices were also the focus of AgWeek 2015. If people in powerful positions were honest, they’d admit that sustainability practices have been in place since the 1930s. After all, we haven’t experienced another Dust Bowl! Farms must be sustainable or we couldn’t pass them down from one generation to the next. I know sixth generation farmers. How can you not call that sustainable?

  1. I wish more farmers had a virtual “open [barn] door policy.”

Truth is, most Americans are at least three generations removed from the farm! It’s no wonder that consumers are easily confused by misleading food labels. It’s no wonder consumers have questions about antibiotics usage and concerns about hormones in our meat supply. Ag illiteracy, combined with an atmosphere of misunderstanding, means many people are easily swayed by groups like HSUS or celebrities like Food Babe and Dr. Oz. If farmers aren’t willing to set the record straight will, then who will? If not you, then who?

  1. I wish more people understood #RealPigFarming.

Ag literacy is a challenge for elected officials and rulemakers, as well as consumers. Invite consumers to take a look inside your barns – virtually. Wanda of Minnesota Farm Living and Lauren of Farm Girl with Curls do a particularly good job of giving consumers a glimpse of what happens inside their hog barns. These two ladies are definitely passionate about living on a farm and raising livestock, and I applaud their online efforts. After all, passion leads us all to reach our full potential.

“If you have a strong commitment to your goals and dreams, if you wake up every day with a passion to do your job, everything is possible,” says Canadian wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc. How can this Paralympic Champion and World Record Holder inspire you?