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Some observers see the Black Lives Matter movement as a tidal wave washing away America’s original sin, slavery and the systemic racism it fostered for more than 400 years.

Maybe, but as the last 75 years of the American civil rights movement has proven time and again — and often in blood — rooting out hatred requires more than water or promises. It demands a true change of heart from America’s people and its government.

Deeply divided

Right now, however, our deeply divided government and even more divided people can’t agree on what news is “fake” let alone how to fight a deadly pandemic or eliminate the equally deadly blight of bigotry.

How deep is our divide? Ridiculously deep.

For example, according to survey data cited in the June 9 Wall Street Journal, “Those who say they always wear a face mask in public settings said they support Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, over Mr. Trump, 66% to 26%. Those who never or rarely wear a face mask back Mr. Trump 83% to 7%.”

The stark difference may partly explain why the U.S. leads the world in Covid-19 deaths. As of June 10, the viral killer has claimed 114,000 Americans in less than four months and, if experts are correct, likely will kill another 50,000 to 60,000 by Election Day, Nov. 3.

With that level of division already present in America, now is not the time to sow more through confounding, conflicting federal action, right? Recent events in ag prove otherwise.

On June 3, a federal appeals court effectively banned the use of dicamba-based crop sprays in the U.S. Five days later, however, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that farmers and commercial applicators could use dicamba stocks they had on hand as of the court’s ruling date.

That meant the court order somehow was bent by the White House for farmers and applicators to spray an estimated 4 million gallons of dicamba on 60 million U.S. acres to create yet another year of “substantial drift harm to farmers” — the exact reason for the lawsuit — who didn’t plant dicamba-tolerant crops.

Distrust

It’s a room service example of why an increasing number of Americans distrust Big Ag, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and government in general: they’re better at bending laws than abiding by them, better at sowing confusion than clarifying it.

Another early June example of USDA taking on extra-legal authority is Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s $3 billion “Farmers to Families Food Box Program,” that the White House explains as a way to deliver excess farm produce directly to hungry families.

The idea, however, flies in the face of reality and has been killed repeatedly by Congress as wasteful, duplicative and an open-ended Christmas gift to political insiders and posers.

So far, it’s been all those things. USDA has already discovered several unqualified suppliers that hopped on its newest gravy train. One, a San Antonio wedding planner, received a $39 million USDA contract to deliver “produce, meat, and dairy to charitable organizations like the [local] food bank.”

When that news became public, the wedding planner’s contract was placed under review.

By the end of May, however, the San Antonio Food Bank, which made its own national headlines because of “aerial shots of thousands in line to pick up food,” still had “not received relief from one of the USDA’s… biggest winners,” Perdue’s food box scheme.

By some miracle, however, a week later Ivanka Trump, adviser to the president, announced “5 million boxes have been successfully delivered to Americans most in need all across the country…”

Should we believe what she said or what we see? We are free to choose.

We’re also free — the freest in the world, most of us believe — to find new ground where every American can stand together in true greatness.

The only thing stopping us is us.

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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

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