May June, 2003






Exporting our most Precious Commodity!

GUEST COLUMNIST Rick Haines, Northern Ag Network

First let me express my thanks to the powers that be for the opportunity to write this column. Then let me finish throwing up as it dawns on me that all the fastpaced rhetoric I spew daily over the airwaves will now be set to print! My name is Rick Haines, I have a face for radio, a passion for agriculture and I am NOT a journalist! I am pro-agriculture, pro-mining, pro-timber, pro-multiple use and pro-Rural America.

At least I admit that Iím biased and you donít hear that from many media people. Mind you, I have nothing against journalists as long as their reporting is objective without hidden personal agendas. I am probably the most average guy youíll ever meet. I grew up in eastern Montana where, due to the uninhibited vista, you could watch your dog run away for three days. We were far from rich and far from poor. We were typical farm and ranch folks. I am proud of my heritage because it allowed me to be self-assured and comfortable with my abilities.

I am sorry to see that lifestyle dwindling away as we tend to more and more larger operations. Economy and commodity pricing will like as not escalate this shift, but I do not take this as a given. To do so would be to resign myself to the trend being inevitable and irreversible, and there is too much at stake. Our region is highly productive from beef to board feet, from cereals to coal, and from elk to ethanol Ė weíve done our best and itís getting better every year.

Yet we annually export our most precious commodity, our youth! In the coming months we will send a new crop of graduates out into the world armed with the skills, morals, civic knowledge and work ethic that only Rural America can produce. In doing so we sentence these young people to a life elsewhere because we have not spent our valuable time creating an infrastructure of jobs worthy of their talents.

We expend hours and dollars debating and marketing our personal agendas while our main streets die, our schools empty, and our communities degenerate. Enough is enough, and the time is at hand to get down to the business of sparking business outside the metro areas. This is first done by asking yourself if you want to, and if the answer is no, move. If the answer is yes then roll up your sleeves, put on your thinking caps, resolve your petty differences and get to work.

Yes, a new crop will be exported to the Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Phoenix suburbs soon. The plain truth is these metropolitan areas do not deserve them! Corporations await this spring crop to pick and choose from at will. Scooping them up, using them up and eventually turning them loose to return to their roots seems to be the fashion. I fail to see how we can afford to let this continue.

I am a product of the soil and toil of the West. I have the desire to reclaim our heritage and make Rural America thrive again. I cannot do it alone, and if you will but join in, we can conquer the issue and keep our young people close. In doing so we make our communities flourish, main streets team with life, return our schools and churches to their proper levels and make our forefathers proud! I am a believer. Are You? Youíll find that I have an opinion on almost everything and I share it freely.

Yet you will find fewer items that I am more passionate about than this one. After all, what good is it to argue trade, endangered species, property and water rights, legislation, intervention, land use or preservation if there is no one to carry on when we are gone? Permanence is not a birthright, it is an earned right, and tomorrow we had all better get out of bed to re-earn the right to live and work in Rural America on behalf of the next generation!


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This page was last updated on Tuesday, September 28, 2004