Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Should USDA programs be deeply cut?

Some budget crunchers want to put agriculture spending on the table with other discretionary spending.  While there is fat at USDA, I say we must remember that everyone eats food.  We all need a safe and affordable food supply and the Obama campaign promise to use ag research and technology as “soft power”–bread rather than bullets around the world. 

Richard Hass with the Council on Foreign Relations recently said that one million dollars is the cost of having one soldier in Afghanistan for one year.  But, farm and nutrition programs are about to get the ax.  Less than 2% of the American population is involved in farming but that 2% feeds the nation.  In Georgia, we have ag research colleges at UGA, ABAC and Fort Valley State.  The ground-breaking techniques from these institutions are amazing.  Farming is hard work and hard financially.  Without USDA programs, family farms would be endangered and huge corporation farms would be the future.

High schools, vocational schools and four-year colleges should help students prepare for careers in food and fiber production that doesn’t require tilling the soil.  Food is big business and kids could prep for jobs like Wal-mart distribution managers, meat inspectors and Whole Foods managers.

Federal food programs are win-win because farmers get to produce more crops and kids shouldn’t be hungry.  Yes, it’s the parents’ job to feed their children but hungry kids are too much while we spend trillions on other things. We know that people who have healthier diets cost less in medical expense (bad eaters are digging  their own graves.)  

Former House Ag Committee chairman Kika de la Garza often told the story about touring a nuclear submarine and asking the officers what forces the vessel to come up from the bottom of the sea.  The officers said that could desalinated water and the boat produces its own energy but they come up for food.  We all eat.


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We are at a seriously crossroads in America and heaven only knows what’s next. From the economy to the national debt to our schools to senseless crime, President Obama’s hair is going to be completely gray by next summer.  The situation in Afghanistan/Pakistan has me baffled because the ultimate goal is keeping nuclear and atomic weapons out of the hands of rogues.  One million dollars per year per service member is pricey but if left unchecked a few angry radicals could do the unthinkable.

At Black college in the 80s, we would listen to Sting’s “The Russians” in the dorm and hope the Russians loved their children too but these new cats actually look forward to better lives on the other side.   “How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy.”  Those toys in the wrong hands are nothing with which to play. 

I have friends who say that before September 11 they could not imagine their children not being safe at home on American soil.  Really?  Of course, those friends don’t look like me because we grew up on constant Klan watch—not to mention confederates with badges .  In a strange twist, we are not safe in the community today for thuggish reasons.  It is a sad state of affairs when young men from here are safer in the military overseas than in the neighborhood. 

This post seems gloomy but the sun isn’t shining today.  Okay, it’s shining somewhere other than normally sunny south Georgia.  Some say these conditions are baby-making weather; let’s hope “some” have some jobs and some money because expanding or starting a family during these dark economic days is scarier than the Taliban.

On the bright side, thank heaven for making me an American.  The poor here lives better than the average person around the developing world.  And what are they developing?  Oppenheimer’s toy and resentment.  


Sting–The Russians

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When President Obama was selecting his cabinet, Georgia had a golden opportunity to have my southwest Georgia congressman as Secretary Agriculture. We are talking ag, the most important industry in our state, and everyone slept on the chance. Everyone except me because I was jumping up and down with my fingers crossed. Oh, I forgot. I have no juice and no one listens to me (juice, an important southern ag product.)

Last night, the leader of the free world gave his blueprint for our efforts in Afghanistan and our attempts to stabilizing that dangerous region and he mentioned agriculture.  I told you so; I told you so.  Ag is vital to our new soft power approach around the world—we still can blow some things up with fire power from the peach state.  We are talking giving a man a fish and teaching him to fish, or better, giving him a seed and bring his family into the legal farming global economy.  Poppy, heroin and cocaine are cash crops in that region and the money funds terrorist operations.  So the U.S. Agriculture Secretary helps sow the seeds of love, beat swords into plows or whatever.  Ag research universities in Athens, Fort Valley, Tuskegee, Tifton and Greensboro could design crop varieties and farm equipment that could indirectly help bring our troops home and create new markets for our agri-business interests.

My father left the farm in Gordon, Georgia, to study ag in Greensboro at North Carolina A&T.  His beloved A&T was the school where 911 terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed studied mechanical engineering.  KSM is the same age as Sarah Palin and me so if I went to my father’s alma mater we would have been in the class of 1986 together.  I could have vibed that something was up with dude and we could have avoided the trouble he later masterminded with one good behind-kicking behind the dorm.  Before people trip on A&T because KSM went there, they should know that Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Jesse Jackson, Jr. are graduates as well as Astronaut Ronald McNair, who died the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.

Before you trip on who went to college where, you should watch the movie Santa Fe Trail.  The film reminds us that Robert E. Lee commanded the troops who captured John Brown and that Lee was superintendent at West Point when cadets included JEB Stuart, George Pickett, James Longstreet, Philip Sheridan and George Armstrong Custer.  So, Ronald Reagan played Custer in the movie and I don’t think any of the West Point men portrayed in the film could have imagined a Black Commander in Chief speaking at the Point.

How many member of Obama’s cabinet were governors?  Being governor is bigger than being a U.S. House member if you are not in leadership or a committee chair.  If our state has the opportunity to have a Georgian as ag secretary in the future, Democrats and Republicans must jump quickly.  I should also mention the renewable energy provisions and initiatives in the Farm Bill; efforts that reduce our involvement in the Middle East by developing fuel and power in America.  Ag Sec is one important job because the way to global peace might start with a piece of bread.


Santa Fe Trail

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