Playing politics? Ain’t nuthin’ to it


Dear Chairman Racicot:

While attending the annual Big Grain Gamble Fest in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, you announced the formation of the National Farm and Ranch Steering Committee Team for Bush-Cheney ’04.

First, let me say what a good idea this is.

As chairman of the president’s re-election campaign, I’m sure you know that only 84.5 percent of the nation’s farmers and ranchers voted for Mr. Bush in 2000. (It was 107.6 percent in Florida.). So there are more farmers and ranchers to be had by the president in 2004.

Second, since I have not seen an actual list of the team’s members, I presume anyone with ties to the farm or ranch can join.

As one who has been tied to the farm all his life, I’d like to be included in this vote roping team.

Pedigree. Please allow me to list my bona fides for your esteemed vituperation.

First off, I was born and raised on a farm. While I know that every mule can make that very same claim, (old farm joke, ha ha) my upbringing was on a grain and dairy farm. As such, I am ambidextrose; I can ladle political sweet talk with either hand to farmers and animal husbands alike.

Most of that ability came via my extensive land grant university education where I majored in ag economics, political science and Led Zeppelin.

And although it took me seven years to get my four-year degree, I can honestly state that lengthy tenure wasn’t due to drugs. When I remember the exact reason, however, I will write you again.

Steer you right. Additionally, I also know a great deal about steering and steers.

For years I’ve roped steers, rode steers, cut steers and even steered steers. To me, ag policy is lot like ’em; sometimes you’ve got no option but to grab it by the tail and shove.

While I am not a joiner, I do belong to two political organizations – the Lutheran Church and my wife’s Irish family.

That makes me bi-political, bi-liturgical and bi-marginal. I am equally skilled at poker and pinochle, Mass and communion, standing and kneeling and St. Patrick’s Day and Reformation Day. (I gave up smelt and domestic beer for Lent, too.)

Talk the talk. This rare, two-faced background qualifies me for political work of any kind.

For example, I can talk turkey with poultry farmers, chew the fat with hog farmers, cry over spilled milk with dairy farmers and shoot the bull with cowboys.

But I will not really promise anything to any of them unless you really think the president needs to. Then, like him, I’ll promise them the moon.

On top of all that, I am familiar with standard farm economical terminology like conservative payments, the point of distinguishing returns, terrification and packer lackeys.

I also know the difference between a Billy goat and a Judas goat, a boar and a boor, a foot fetlock and a foot fetish and a jake and a jenny.

Most of those skills were acquired through an Internet animal course taught by a guy named Dallas. So, as you can see, my Texas ties go all the way back to my earliest recent memories.

Longing. My professional career can be summed up in one word: long. Everything I’ve ever done was long overdue. My Curriculum Vitalis is long. Our phone number on the farm when I was a kid was two longs.

I’m long on advice, long in the tooth and much of my farming equity is long gone.

That’s mostly why I’m longing to get into political work. But that also means I will work long for the president. I will. I mean, if I ever have an estate I sure don’t want to pay death taxes after I’m dead.


Your two-fisted, two-faced servant,


P.S.: If I fail to make the team, can you still send me one of those “W ’04” hats? If it’s not free like at the John Deere dealer’s, though, keep it.

(The author is a freelance ag journalist who lives in Delavan, Ill. He can be reached via e-mail at: Read his columns online at

© 2004 ag comm


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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.