I believe in Santa Claus. No, really.

Like an over-filler auger wagon, I cannot carry this load anymore, so, for the record, let me say this plainly and sincerely: I believe in Santa Claus.

This admission may surprise friends who treasure my many rare abilities and foes who fear my modesty. Who, after all, is more rare or more modest than me? Wow, that feels good.

Please allow me to share one or two other beliefs.

First, I believe there’s absolutely no connection between the 115 hardworking members of Congress who sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Oct. 1 whining again about the unfairness of proposed rules on transparency in meat and poultry markets and the $48,605,199 in campaign contributions these diligent, caring people collectively received from Big Agbiz over their selfless political careers.

I know what you’re thinking: Guebert made that number up. No, it’s true because it was on the internet. Of course, it would be even truer, maybe completely true, had it been on the radio.

Do the math

OK, so now you’re thinking that $48,605,199 is a lot of money. That, also, would be true if it was yours, or even better, mine. But, really, if you divide that amount among the nine or 10 (let’s say 10 because I can divide by 10) Big Agbiz companies that run the world it’s just, uh, something like, well, it’s not much.

Moreover, if you divide those 10 firms by the 115 House members and senators who signed the letter and divide that number again by the number of pork giants — what, 20 or so? — and then multiply that number by the number of packers left (four, most def) and, finally, compare that number with a ratio of cattle ranchers who are actually members of the We Love Meatpackers Cattlemen’s Club, well, in fact, each signee actually represents fewer pigs, steers or chickens than people.

Conclusion

So, really, the money, if my phone has done the math right, is, uh, chicken feed. Or, for you 20 or so hog folks, basically similar to free acorns. And, frankly, to be fair (like me) that $48 million needs to be put into what’s known around the Beltway as the Beltway Way.

That’s even simpler math: 535 members of Congress working 140 days a year to get little done while juggling the high cost of East Coast living, liquor and limos — not to mention re-election — so that each can continue to serve you and themselves for a mere $174,000 salary.

Sacrifice

Keep in mind that each of ‘em do all of this for two or six or 40 years with very limited opportunities for advancement other than to become a lobbyist to ensure that government of the people, by the people and for the people never actually sees, hears or speaks to any actual people.

Yes, I know, Big Agbiz and Big Meat are people, too. True, they are unusually rich people who usually just whistle up a senator or House member when they have something to say or want a law killed that affects how livestock and poultry are owned and killed.

Fact is, the top six packers’ PACS dropped just a tick over $451,000 on our elected representatives in the current election cycle.

That’s not that much. In fact, it’s downright puny when you think that all it takes to take a meeting or two with a big link or two on the old Washington sausage train is less than a half a million.

Alternative

Oh, you don’t have $451,000? No sweat, just call your House member or senator and leave a message. They’ll call back. Really.

One more thing: I believe in the Easter Bunny.

(Alan Guebert’s Farm and Food File is published weekly in more than 75 newspapers in North America. He can be contacted at agcomm@sbcglobal.net.)

2010 ag comm

About the Author

Alan Guebert was raised on an 800-acre, 100-cow southern Illinois dairy farm. After graduation from the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as a writer and editor at Professional Farmers of America, Successful Farming magazine and Farm Journal magazine. His syndicated agricultural column, The Farm and Food File, began in June, 1993, and now appears weekly in more than 70 publications throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and spouse Catherine, a social worker, have two adult children. farmandfoodfile.com More Stories by Alan Guebert

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