A check for the American dream

When the opportunity presented itself in 2012 to speak in Dublin, Ireland, I thought that would be a good deal. Little did I know that it would be the one trip of my life that has had the longest tentacle.

First off, I met Andrew Henderson on that trip, which led to my trip to the United Kingdom one year ago now to seek opportunities for UK-United States trade deals and it led to the live broadcast of Across the Pond. Every weekday morning, we conduct a short conversation about the happenings on both sides of the pond and how it may impact farmers plus the consumers when it comes to food access and price.

Now, what also happened on that trip that created a tremendous awareness for me was the European thought process and how ideas created in the cubicle were driving farm policy. As I visited farmers in Ireland, I would see construction ideas, or certain fencing or even how land was being utilized and ask, “Why did you do that?” The answer was always the same, “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t get my check.”

Yes, a huge chunk of the EU farm policy is driven by how to get a subsidy check. Building a feedlot, or even just farming, requires a certain number of trees or hedgerows and if you don’t comply you don’t get your payment. I will not go into great detail about that because that is not the moral of this story but rather to point out what I witnessed that affected my thought process.

I am starting to see a rapid progression of the same exact process happening right here at home. I realize we have had some level of that for quite some time. How many times have you been told that you cannot lease soybean stubble to graze your cows because it would mess up your Farm Service Agency or Natural Resources Conservation Service plan?

I first heard about the impact as I was told that towns like Emporia, Kansas, have so much CARES Act money that they had to find places to spend it. In the process, all farmers and landowners in Lyon County have been put on notice that the community needed some of the farmland for town folks to walk on for a wilderness trail.

Jay Truitt, who has been a lobbyist in DC for nearly 30 years, shared the breakdown of the latest $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package that, at this moment, has not yet passed. It has been widely reported that only 9% of that will actually find its way to the hands of the taxpaying citizens. But 75% of the monies will go to states and other government agencies likely to create problems, especially for farmers and landowners. This is a government creation to create more government.

In the past week I have been shocked at the number of friends and people who I have personally talked to that tell me they got a nice Paycheck Protection Program deposit, and if the money keeps coming “why fight them.” I even talked to western federal lands ranchers who tell me they have been getting such big checks they have stopped fighting for property rights because it isn’t as important as it was.

People wake up. We are being bribed into socialism. Want the best case example? I challenge you to call one of your local school board members and ask them if the school has a pile of cash that they just came into? If so, why aren’t they reducing the burden on the local landowners and putting the brakes on their “tax ask?” Why are they not looking to use the funds to improve educational opportunities? No, instead you may see new scoreboards, gymnasiums and kiosks with a digital welcomes being installed.

Control of your life is coming at you harder than ever right now and it’s not coming like we expected. We are being poisoned with sweet rewards that take away the sting of reality. We are getting a direct deposit of socialism and nobody seems to be turning it away. Is spending that “free money” worth sacrificing your kids and grandkids “American dream?”

Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.LoosTales.com, or email Trent at [email protected].