Show some love to farmers

It makes me laugh that my article is the one that appears for Valentine’s Day. I was thinking about writing on love, and maybe indirectly this article will head there, but for the moment, that is not the intention. See, I would like to address something that is floating around the internet after the Oscars.

During his speech for the Best Actor award, Joaquin Phoenix used it as a time to preach his personal beliefs at the world. That is all well and fine; preach it, Mr. Phoenix. I would love to hear how you view the world from your golden perch.

However, I am not OK with you using your platform to support a terrorist organization. Yes, I said it. The Animal Liberation Front and its sister network, Earth Liberation Foundation, have committed over 1,100 criminal acts and caused over $110 million dollars’ worth of damage, according to FBI.org. Some of these charges include arson, harassment, vandalism, and threats, according to FBI.org. By giving it such a public platform, Mr. Phoenix, you have essentially given terrorists a green light to continue their criminal activities.

Let me put this in perspective. Imagine if instead of advocating against milk and the agricultural industry, Mr. Phoenix’s speech had been advocating for people to join a gang and beat up anyone who did not share their beliefs. People would be in an uproar. These and a host of others questions I am sure would be peppered across every social media platform across the country and his career would need life support.

Now, do not get me wrong, there are parts of his speech I fully embrace. I do think that as humans we have become a bit self-centered. We should not be plundering the Earth for its resources; we should be recycling more; we should be reducing our carbon footprint; we should be eliminating our greenhouses gases; we should be conscious of how we interact with the natural world. We need it to exist.

However, here is my issue. Mr. Phoenix, I do not tell you how to act. I’m a terrible actor. I have a hard time controlling my face so that it does not say exactly what I am thinking every moment of every day. I cannot do an Irish, British, or any other accent. I cannot dance, sing, or play any other character than myself. Therefore, I do not tell you how to act. And I certainly do not use a major platform like the Oscars to bash how well you do your job. In fact, I let you carry on with what you love and say very little about it.

Therefore, until you spend a week, month, or year in my or my friends’ muddy boots, learning how to do our jobs, keep your opinions to yourself. This is especially true if you have a national platform and you use it to encourage more damage on farmers that are already struggling. Trust me, we do not need it.

Recently President Donald Trump rolled out his budget for 2020 and hopes to cut $4.8 trillion from it. Among those programs taking a huge hit are: Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, part of Medicare, the Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA.

I do not know about you, but I would like my food to continue to be safe, delicious and sustainable. If you are not familiar with the USDA, I would highly advise that you familiarize yourself quickly with this department since by living in this rural area, many of the USDA programs affect you.

Not only does the USDA keep food safe, but it helps to fund rural electric improvements, loans for homes in rural areas, infrastructure loans for health care, crop insurance, farm loans, conservation programs, and pest and disease programs. The USDA is crucial to keeping farmers in business, nature unspoiled and the world eating.

However, I am not an expert on the USDA. I’m just trying to give you an overview. I am trying to use my platform to encourage you to go out and learn something. I am trying to challenge your views of farm life and agriculture. I am trying to connect you to my farm since many of you were not lucky enough to grow up on a farm. I am trying to save a way of life that I love.

I wish that Mr. Phoenix was just as inclined as myself and had used his platform in a more advantageous way. Farmers need some love (and better weather) and Mr. Phoenix had a perfect opportunity to encourage society to learn more about where their food comes from.

I encourage you this Valentine’s Day to show some love. Buy some milk, cream, yogurt, or any dairy products and share it with one you love. After all, love is better with milk chocolate and no cows equals no milk chocolate.

Clemson is a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau and completed her doctorate at the Pennsylvania State University. She and her family farm in Mecca.