Are we in the twilight zone?

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By David Strecker, SJFB President

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” Rod Serling, Twilight Zone, 1959.

Is it just me, or does the year 2020 seem like it would make a great episode of The Twilight Zone? I swear that I wake up each morning with the theme song playing in my head. From deadly viruses, to murder hornets, civil unrest, and now unsolicited seeds showing up in mailboxes.

In all seriousness, the most recent thing to hit the news is seeds showing up in the mail when they were never ordered. This is a situation that the USDA and our county ag commissioners are taking very serious. All across the country, several people have received seeds in the mail in packages marked as jewelry. The seriousness of this rests in the fact that we do not know the true origin or the motive of these seeds being planted in and around the country’s food supply.

Here’s what to do if you receive unsolicited seeds from another country:

DO NOT open the seed packet.

DO NOT throw the package away.

DO NOT plant the seeds.

Call the San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner at (209) 953-6000 to drop off or have them pick up the package. Please keep all packaging material to submit. Please spread this information to others to protect our country.

With everything that keeps getting thrown in our face this year, it is difficult to remember good things that happen. On July 15 I had the honor of participating on a conference call with President Trump. I will admit it is a bit humbling to be on the phone directly with the president of the United States. Originally the president was going to hold a conference call with the state presidents of American Farm Bureau. The president of American Farm Bureau, Zippy Duvall, felt it would be important for the county presidents throughout the nation to also participate. More than 3,000 Farm Bureau leaders were able to be on the phone with the president of the United States.

Zippy Duvall was recently diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus. He said that he spent a couple of weeks with fatigue and not feeling well, but appears to be over the hump and on the mend.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue also participated in the call. Both Secretary Purdue as well as American Farm Bureau President Duvall spoke of the immediate communication that President Trump had with the agriculture community.

President Trump said he started fighting for the agriculture community before he even took office. One of the first things President Trump did to help the American Farmer was getting rid of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). President Trump simply stated, “I gave back your land!”

WOTUS would have decimated agriculture and would have most likely put most if not all of us out of business. Additionally, President Trump reminded us that he rescued the American Farmer and Ranchers by getting rid of the Death Tax. I know many of us have dealt with that in the past and many were facing an uphill challenge of keeping their farm or ranch in the family if the president had not acted on this.

He also reminded us that he sees the importance of Rural Internet Broadband. More than $2 billion was allocated for Rural Internet Broadband across the country and it is currently being built right now.

Another important milestone was the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, The USMCA. This trade deal replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA was more than 25 years old. It needed to be redone. Thankfully, President Trump made that a priority.

It was a long process to get the trade deal done and I know some were nervous of the outcome. President Trump used the example of Canada holding a 287% tariff on our dairy products. Simply put, Canada’s citizens did not have access to our dairy products.

With new USMCA trade agreement in place, our dairy farmers as well as a plethora of other producers will have a larger market for their products. With reworking trade deals throughout the world, President Trump’s administration has eliminated rice tariffs on U.S. rice into Argentina. Potatoes out of Idaho now enter Japan. There is an increased demand for American lamb. China will now purchase $80 billion worth of products from U.S. farmers and ranchers.

One thing that was only briefly discussed in mainstream media was the purchase of U.S. agricultural products by the government to help feed the needy across the country.

With the massive layoffs and job loss due to COVID-19, the number of families that needed food greatly increased. When this crisis started, many of us were nervous of a market to sell our products. At the time of this conference call, more than 35 million boxes of food had been provided to the needy. In just a two short weeks, that number has increased to 50 million.

President Trump is willing to fight for the American farmers and ranchers from day one and Zippy also said,” President Trump is a man of his word.” Zippy also said that there is less bankruptcies in American Agriculture due to President Trumps actions. President Trumps closing words were, “I fight for the farmer and I love the farmers and ranchers!”

One thing is for certain in 2020. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. I can only ask that each of you continue to do what you do best. Farm on! I have faith that science will defeat superstition and knowledge is greater than imagination. Please be safe in your daily activities and I look forward to the day we can all join together again.