What If Rural Really Mattered?

In this series we have talked about a few farms, towns, and counties, and the people who live and work there, that give a glimpse of what it would look like if rural really mattered. This month we examine what might cause such a sea change.

If rural America really mattered, there would be a lot more people like Linus Solberg and Greg Brokaw living there.

Linus Solberg Takes on the Corporate Clan
I first met Linus Solberg in 1997 when he testified before the National Commission on Small Farms in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He has taken on commissions, commodity groups, legislators, universities, representatives, senators, governors, vice presidents, and presidential candidates as well as meatpackers, grain traders, and biotechnology companies – the corporate clan as he likes to call them.

Linus once called and asked me to review an editorial he was writing. Then he told me he had a U.S. Senator, a nationally renowned economics professor, and a nationally syndicated columnist reviewing the same piece. How does a hog farmer from Cylinder, Iowa, build a personal editorial board of that caliber? He has the audacity to ask and the persistence to make it happen.

North Dakota’s Greg Brokaw
I also met Greg Brokaw in 1997. He was tracking down the responsible party for yet another Congressional effort to weaken farm program payment limits.

If you live in North Dakota and do not know Greg Brokaw, then you are not paying attention to family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. If you know Greg and have not been dressed down for screwing up, you are leading a charmed life.

I once asked Greg if he would call one of his senators and express his opinion on the need for effective farm payment limits. He called the senator, his other senator, a number of key staff in both offices, the president of a farm organization, the vice president, most of their board of directors and a variety of other key leaders across the state.

Linus and Greg have never backed down from a fight, and they lose far less often than their foes would hope. If President Lincoln had met Linus and Greg he would have said, “they are secure in the right, as God gives them to see the right.” And then they would have lobbied him on payment limits and banning packers from owning livestock.

For rural America to truly matter, more outspoken people with audacity, passion, and the courage of their convictions – more people like Linus and Greg – must step forward.

Contact: John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org or 402.687.2103 x 1010 for more information on our “What If Rural America Really Mattered” series.

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