FOOD & FUEL
Reader letters, telephone calls and e-mails arrive at this office every day and every six months or so some see print here because, as I often explain in personal replies to correspondence, “I’ve had my say, you’re entitled to yours.”
For example, a mid-January column on a massive restructuring of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association brought plenty of mail, much of it disapproving of me, my intellect and my work.
“I read the article and was appalled at what was written,” noted a cattle “farmer and feeder” from Nebraska.
So, evidently, was the leadership at NCBA. In a widely printed, early January “Dear Editor” letter, then-NCBA President Gary Voogt and “President-elect” Steve Foglesong began with warm thoughts: “Alan Guebert proves over and over he is completely out of touch with the real issues facing today’s cattle producers.”
The long polemic goes on to describe me as “off base and misinformed,” “out of the loop” and the originator of “misguided rantings [that] are an irritation to most farm families.”
It ends on a similarly personal note: “Guebert’s most recent column is, (sic) ‘I could’ve been a contender.’ A meat packer executive instead of a ‘journalist’ woe is him, he is neither.”
OK, but unlike NCBA’s massive restructuring plan to take over the $80 million beef checkoff, I’m still standing (well, mostly sitting) even though I am an off-base, misinformed, out-of-the-loop irritant.
A February e-mailer, responding to a column on organic food, spent all of maybe 30 seconds composing and sending his editorial comment that read, in its entirety (and in bold type): “You are uniformed, clueless about ‘organic.’ Please, please tell me you are NOT LCMS.”
For the few yet uninformed out there, “LCMS” is shorthand for the “Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod,” the organizing structure of the church of my past, present and future. Since we Lutherans, like most faiths, have a commandment about not bearing false witness against our neighbors, I have only one thing to say in reply: I AM LCMS.
A late-February column explaining how influential federal Judge Richard Posner recently ended his life-long love affair with market deregulation in favor of stronger antitrust enforcement brought an insightful observation from “Gary.”
“Dude,” he begins coolly, “free market capitalism is not the problem. (It’s) ‘special interests’ that fill the wallets of judges and politicians. How can a free market compete with big business lobbying for any unfair advantage they can buy?”
According to a Missouri writer, I know even less about the “many practices that have and are bringing Americans the most bountiful, safe food supply in the world.”
In a mid-May letter protesting my “crop protection” ignorance, he went on to suggest that “several of [my] statements” in a column on atrazine were “misleading of the true picture.”
Another writer agreed and, referring to my explanation on how my father had mixed powdered atrazine with water by using his arm as a stirring paddle in the 1960s, concluded with this pleasant thought: “I will keep my hands in the bucket for now, but might suggest others that claim to be supportive of agriculture pull their head out of it.”
Other readers were equally concerned where I kept my head-when in and not in use. One was “Arlen” who opined that “Over the years I have enjoyed reading your columns for the most part.”
Gee, thanks… I guess.
“Sometimes you have your head where the sun doesn’t shine, but if you knew me better, you would realize my head isn’t sunburned either.”
“Keep up your good work and thanks for the articles — good and bad!”
Hey, no problem, Dude.
Guebert is a syndicated columnist from Delavan, Ill. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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