What’s the plan, Sonny?

In early October Sonny Perdue, U.S. secretary of agriculture, flat out told our nation’s farmers that if they want to survive, they have to grow into large corporate farms.

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” he told farmers in Wisconsin earlier this month.

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet and speak with the secretary from my days back in Nebraska and I am stunned to the core that he actually made this statement.

Sonny, as I got to know him, is a level-headed pro-agriculture man who got into politics. He’s really more of a farmer in my mind than he is a politician.

Still, someone or something has gotten to Sonny to make him say something like this.

Perhaps what has happened is the secretary has seen the writing on the wall and he knows that farmers are in trouble with the massive tariffs that have been placed on the products they sell and the items they buy.

Ag producers are in a tough boat right now and they are getting punched when they buy items they need to farm while the demand for their now-higher-priced farm products falls. Every day it gets harder and harder to produce a profit on a farm.

I’ve been writing about tariffs and how they negatively impact farmers and ranchers from the beginning of 2016.

As a nation, the United States needs to make trade deals to ensure that the bread basket of the world will continue producing enough food to properly feed the planet.

Our nation’s farmers are really heroes. Without farms we wouldn’t have food in the grocery store, fuel in our cars, clothes to wear or even alcohol to drown our sorrows in.

Everything in our lives revolves around agriculture.

All of us need to lock arms and stand up for the American farmer. We stand against those who plan on the demise of the family farm.

I will never forget being in Nebraska back in the 1980s when everyone was going broke and the banks were selling off land and property at public auctions.

I fear that we are not far from that happening again and it shakes my soul to think this malady could return.

Without agriculture, the security of our entire nation is in jeopardy. Without farmers and ranchers, we have nothing but starvation and death.

We need to quickly make conditions better for farmers, not worse.

The idea that the secretary of agriculture told farmers to grow or die may actually be his way of prophecy and honesty in the wake of low commodity prices, consolidation, declining income, trade uncertainty and rising bankruptcies.

I believe the secretary is warning ag producers and the entire nation that it will likely get worse before it gets better.

God bless the American farmers and ranchers. I will always stand with you for I know your mission is just and true. Thank you for providing food for me to exist and flourish. Today, I pray ag producers also flourish and prosper.

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Justice reporter Jim Headley can be reached at jheadley@pinalcentral.com.

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