2020 was one for the books

Dave Bergmeier

As we turn the calendar to 2021 we know that 2020 could, in many ways categorized as a “dark year,” a folklore phrase associated with the loss of a loved one, a crop failure or devastation at the hands of Mother Nature.

All of us in the High Plains understand what 2020 meant. We can add our own misery index—from frustrations over politics to challenges in technology. For parents with children from kindergarten through college faced one challenge after another in trying to get coursework done and projects completed.

This week’s cover story by Jennifer M Latzke provides an excellent view of what farmers and ranchers have faced in the past year from the expected excitement of new trade deals to the eventual impact of how COVID-19 rolled through the economy.

COVID-19 vaccines are starting to circulate in the High Plains region and may provide a lift in confidence over the next six months in putting this pandemic behind us and restoring normalcy to those who have been hit the hardest either with their health or loss of a job.

The new year provides hope and anxiety. Whenever a new president moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as changes in Congress, it causes angst. How President-elect Joe Biden goes about his business will be different from President Donald J. Trump. How that applies in terms of markets and regulations and how people will go about their business are unknown.

One hope is that once the pandemic gets behind us the priority from the new administration is to focus on rebuilding the country’s infrastructure. President Trump had put together a promising list of ways to rebuild highways, bridges and waterways at the beginning of his term. He also had a friendly ear to rural regions that needed improved broadband and connectivity.

All of those services are more essential than ever. Those needs have not gone away.

Congress could never find a common bipartisan initiative to undertake such necessities as the question rightfully occurs— how will improvements be funded? No one is in the mood to take monies from certain coffers to pay for another’s services. Our advice to the new president and Congress will be to look at a pay-as-you go method to help provide a reality-based and sensible way to finance needed projects while being innovative to help broadband connectivity.

From a regulatory standpoint, farmers and ranchers want to be treated fairly, whether it is purchasing inputs or selling the end product to the marketplace. Feeding a growing world population provides its own set of challenges. As Congress looks to reboot, too, the House and Senate need key members who are willing to scrutinize the new administration and question existing policies that need tweaked or overhauled.

We don’t expect 2021 to be easy but as what we are finishing up in 2020 we hope it provides important opportunities for farmers and ranchers so they can be successful in their enterprises.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].