Readers react to the Farm and Food File

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Six months may have passed since readers last got their say in this space but nothing during that time has mellowed their views of this effort, the words they use to explain those views and some of their more colorful suggestions on where they think I should store my ink pens.

March

For example, a March column outlining how Congress’s first effort to reform the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, would impact rural America wasn’t well received by Kevin B.

“Just got done reading your rubbish on rural health care. Your left-leaning ignorance is shining thru again!” his email began.

His solution to my (and, later, the Congressional Budget Office’s) deep concerns about the first House rewrite was as simple as it was straightforward: “Don’t you worry your little pouty head off; the adults, the Republicans, … are running the Country now…”

Winter

Another late winter column, this one on the proposed (now approved) merger between three upper Midwest Farm Credit lenders, brought emails, editorials, and telephone calls from Delaware to Nebraska.

Many began like one letter to the editor published in the March 21 Delmarva Farmer:

“I am writing in response to Alan Guebert’s poorly researched column regarding Farm Credit,” wrote a boss at MidAtlantic Farm Credit. “Guebert,” he claimed, “has gotten all his ‘facts’ from two people” who are “paid to… propagate false ‘facts’ about the Farm Credit System to eliminate us as a competitor in local markets.”

If true, those two paid propagators are even worse at their jobs than I am at mine because the Farm Credit System (FCS) — despite all our “false” propagating — is one of the fastest-growing lenders in the world. In 2013, FCS reported $247.5 billion in assets. In 2016, its listed assets were $320.1 billion, a $72.5 billion jump in just three years.

January

Another published letter to the editor in another newspaper not only offered me “two cents worth” of professional advice, it also offered my oldest brother and me some career advice.

“Maybe it’s time the ‘Guebert Boys’ retired,” noted the letter writer, taking me to task for a late January column and, coincidentally, a missive that my brother, a state farm group officeholder, had written that was published the same week in the same newspaper.

Two brothers publishing separate columns in the same newspaper the same week get one letter that objects to both them and their columns has to be some sort of record, right?

June

A mid-June column that took exception to President Donald J. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord brought more than a few warmly worded emails from readers.

One opened with “Mr. Guebert, are you so foolish to buy into the biggest sham in all of history?” and ended, “Surely you are smarter than to be taken in by this.”

Another, in part, read, “I’d like to tell you what I really think of your (Paris) column… but I cannot without my blood pressure rising.”

Positivity

At least not all the mail was written with one eye on the woodshed. Most arrived carrying kind praise and warm compliments.

One letter, written in print so small and so perfect that, at first glance, it appeared mechanical, begins “Dear Alan,” and quickly adds, “I hope it is OK to say ‘Dear Alan’ instead of ‘Mr. Guebert’ — I feel like you are a neighbor after reading many of your writings in our newspaper.”

Sure, it’s OK, neighbor; and it’s an honor.

One Nebraska emailer, like many others over the years, wondered how a member of the “LCMS” — Lutheran Church Missouri Synod — can “have the political views that you express in your columns. I was wondering, are you still a member of the LCMS?”

Yes, of course, brother; and, oh, go in peace.

Before you go, though, keep those cards, letters, and emails coming.

STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!

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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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