Back before the collapse of the United Soviet Socialist Republic we had visitors from Romania tour our feedlot.
We explained the program including cost of cattle, feed, maintenance, and cost of gain.
“How much will they pay you for your cattle?” they asked.
“We don’t know,” was the answer.
The Romanians did not understand.
We explained supply and demand, capitalism, and the free market. It was beyond their comprehension.
“How can you stay in business if you don’t make a profit?” they asked. “Under Communism we never lose money.”
Of course, it goes without saying that many of their countrymen went to bed hungry … which brings me to this year’s strawberry crop in Florida.
Tampa Tribune headline: Farmers leave strawberries to rot as prices collapse.
Through a perfect storm of plant varieties, January freezes, thawing irregularities and simultaneous ripenings, harvest time brought a tsunami of strawberries on the market. Prices plummeted 75 percent.
Farmers are “plowing them under.” They have already lost the cost of planting and growing. Add the additional costs to pick, process and deliver and they just go deeper in the hole.
Wheatgrowers, dairymen and orchardists can understand their pain. But in any tragedy there are vultures. These opportunistic hyenas are railing against the farmers for not spending even more of their money to pick, process and deliver the extra produce to the homeless, the worthy cause and the orphans.
“Terrible waste…” “Senseless…” they opine. “Just selfish people!” the self-righteous proclaim. “They could at least allow us to go into the fields and pick for free.”
These carpet-bagging buzzards, like all the neighbors of the Little Red Hen, lift their voices in retribution, but never a finger in contribution.
I could try and explain to them the concept of supply and demand, capitalism and the free market like we did to the Romanians but I believe it would fall on deaf ears.
There was a time when farmers would have gladly allowed the needy to come U-Pick their berries but now the needy have lawyers and spokespeople who stand between them and the shortcake. The farmer can’t win.
To you vocal critics of the strapped farmers who think I am being hard on you, let me suggest that you and your group offer to pay the extra cost of picking and processing. Then together, you and the farmers could deliver food to the needy and the shelters.
I expect the farming community would take you seriously if you offered to do your part. Because if anyone abhors the waste of God’s bounty and the value of the sweat and toil that puts it on the plate, it is the farmer you are maligning.
When one can afford to be generous and isn’t, it marks them as a small person. That does not include being generous with somebody else’s money; that just means you’re cheap.
Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org