America’s farmers don’t want charity. They want a partnership that will endure and a long-term investment that will truly make a difference

Farmers Want a Hand-Up not a Hand-Out

By —— Bio and Archives--July 31, 2018

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Farmers Want a Hand-Up not a Hand-Out
I live in farm country.  The northwest corner of Iowa is the “reddest” part of the state, having cast massive majority votes for the current president in most of the counties in this region.  The economy is dominated by corn, soybeans, ethanol production and massive livestock operations focused on eggs, poultry, pork and beef.  To thrive in this part of the state one has to be able to speak “agriculture” with all the boys at the local cafes and diners scattered in the small towns that dot the region.  When one does join the locals for coffee, one is not likely to hear too many positive things about the proposed $12 billion “farmer bailout” proposed by the administration.  These folks do not want a hand out—they want government out of their lives.  If any investment is to be made, then the government ought to focus on the long game—investing in developing human capital to sustain agriculture into the next half century.


I worked on the most recent presidential campaign as the chief policy advisor and national co-chair.  Among my many duties were those associated with developing policies that would become part of the platform upon which the candidate would campaign.  One of those planks focused on community building.  The objective was to develop programs and policies that would restore community institutions and human capital so that these communities would be less dependent on government.  This would mean taking a hard look at education, enterprise zones, community policing, affordable and accessible day care, available healthcare and organizations that would alleviate the need for government intervention.  At the heart of these initiatives was the need to build human capital.

Today, some 35,000 students graduate each year with degrees related to agriculture.  Unfortunately, the demand is 60,000, so year after year the nation falls 25,000 graduates short in meeting the needs of feeding an anxious and hungry world.  That 25,000 is just the surface number, as countless thousands more are needed with technical training to meet the needs of modern farming techniques.  The Department of Agriculture and the White House should be aware of these needs. Why, then, have they not thought about investing in the long term by taking some of the bailout money and feeding it to our land grant institutions around the country?  These schools could reach into the surrounding rural communities to enhance STEM education, vocational programs and stronger agricultural education programs at the K12 to graduate level.

What seems to be an even better investment, rather than feeding the funds to already rich and thriving “ag” programs like those found at Texas A&M, Cal-Davis and Kansas State, one should focus on reaching out to underrepresented populations and making strong investments in those schools and communities.  What I am talking about is investing in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities land grant schools (19 of them), the Tribal Colleges and the Hispanic Serving Institutions with agriculture programs.  Imagine the impact that $100 million dollars might have when distributed to those schools.  Imagine the power of building strong STEM programs in those communities that support these institutions.  Imagine the impact of this type of investment on agriculture for the next generation.

The $100 million dollars is less than one percent of the $12 billion proposed in the administration’s plan.  That $100 million, invested every year through the Department of Agriculture to our minority serving institutions, will quite literally change the face—and future—of agriculture in this country and the world.

If the administration would step up and start this program, private industry would eagerly jump on the bandwagon.  Why?  Because it would be in their interest to have a seat at the table.  All of the major agriculture-related companies would be elbowing each other out of the way to get to the head of the line to help.  John Deere, Caterpillar, Cargill, General Foods and a host of others would be on board—all wanting to claim credit for building the next generation of agriculture scientists and technicians.

I would hope that someone in the administration would read this so that they could find their way to common sense and give rural America a hand up and not a hand out.  America’s farmers don’t want charity.  They want a partnership that will endure and a long-term investment that will truly make a difference.


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Dr. Sam Clovis -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Samuel H. Clovis, Jr., Doctor of Public Administration
Liston to Sam on LATalkRadio, Sundays: 1:00 to 3:00 PM (PST)
(Impact With Sam Clovis)

Sam Clovis was raised in Kansas and attended the United States Air Force Academy, serving for 25 years on active duty as a fighter pilot.  He retired as a Colonel and the Inspector General of NORAD and the United States Space Command.

Sam served as a Fellow at the Homeland Security Institute, contributing in national preparedness and immigration policy.  He recently served as a tenured full professor of economics at Morningside College.

Sam has a BS from the Academy, an MBA from Golden Gate University and a doctorate from the University of Alabama.  He served as national co-chair and chief policy advisor for the Trump for President Campaign, was a policy director during the transition period and served as the Senior White House Advisor to the US Department of Agriculture.  He currently lives in rural Iowa.

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