You’re right, I’m wrong… Next!


The email got the point as quickly as a working hammer gets to a nail: “Alan — You have got to be kidding me — production agriculture ‘embrace’ the EPA clean water regulations?” it asked not really seeking an answer.

The question was sent in reaction to a mid-September column that urged farmers and ranchers to work with the Obama White House to find some shared ground on the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule before an even tougher clean water rule (think Lake Erie, green slime, Toledo) is imposed on U.S. agriculture.

Not a chance, continued my emailer, because “The proposed regulation could represent the largest land grab in history of the world.”

Well, no and yes.

No, the proposed WOTUS rule would not “represent the largest land grab in the history of the world.” The winner of that title far more likely is either Genghis Khan or Christopher Columbus, not the U.S. EPA.

And, yes, this is the year-ending installment of the “You’re Right, I’m Wrong… Next!” the semi-annual reader mail column where readers have their say after I have had my say and, OK, I might have another, very final say.

Just kidding, Brian, the above emailer from, according to the area code to the cell number he also sent, Minnesota’s black earth (and snow-white walleye) region.

Another reader/email writer was equally direct when commenting on the same EPA report. “Another column completely devoid of practical agricultural economic advice. You should change your e-mail address to:”

That’s a long email address. I’ll stay with; it’s shorter, like me.

Immigration rebuttals

A column on the dire need for immigration reform brought reader comments from California to New Jersey. Many were similar to this email from “Bev.”

“You seem to think that once illegals are ‘legal citizens’ they will continue to work for less than minimum wages and conditions… No… they will become like the rest of Americans and demand equal pay for equal work…”

Exactly, that’s the key element underlying this important reform. No one, be they either a born-and-bred citizen or a paid-under-the-table illegal, should be exploited by a broken immigration system. The same rules for everyone ensures fairness for all.

Even weather sparked dissent

“A friend” — at least that’s how a November letter from Texas was signed — took me to the woodshed for an early winter column that welcomed colder, wood-burning weather.

“If you had to get out of your warm, cozy office and feed cattle, you would not be so thrilled to see winter arrive,” was its suggestion.

“Of course,” he added, talk of wood stoves and winter overlooks how “your president” (not his, evidently) and “all you liberals” “conveniently moved from talking about global warming to talking about climate change.”

Farm dogs forever

A column that mentioned the sad duty of delivering Maggie, my longtime farmette dog, from a year of pain and misery, brought many notes of similar remembrance and sorrow.

One from Charles in Illinois was particularly poignant: “I read your comment about your dog and I must be getting senile but it touched me deeply…”

You’re not getting senile, Charles; you, like me, just miss your old friend.

* * *

And, as a final note to the final column of the year, I will forever miss an old, wise friend, John Bunting, a central New York dairy farmer, who died Nov. 10 from the debilitating effects of a severe stroke suffered in April 2012.

John was a Quaker and a seeker, a steward and intellectual and, although we never met, we were dear friends because of hours and hours of telephone conversations — often while he milked his beloved Jerseys — on every topic under the sun and, sometimes, on the topic of the sun itself.

Gone though he is, I can’t help but smile when I consider that John now has the answer to the Biggest Question of All and he can’t find a telephone to call me and excitedly share it.

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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.



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