George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were well known gentlemen farmers. John Adams lived on a farm. Abe Lincoln and a host of our U.S. Presidents who came before and after him, grew up on farms. Then Vice-President, Calvin Coolidge, was working on his father’s farm when he heard the news of President Warren Harding’s death. Coolidge took the oath of office in the front room of his father’s farm home. Our last real farmer to occupy the White House was Jimmy Carter, but he always had that naval nuclear engineering background to fall back on.
I pose the question, “What if the President was a farmer?”
Well, I’m guessing that the situation room at the White House might also include at least one TV screen with a direct feed to CBT, so the President could check on real time futures markets.
He might look at that big lawn around the White House and think about a grazing plan, figuring how many cow-calf pairs it would support through the summer months. Maybe he’d even work up a cross-fencing system and have Secret Service operatives move the herd through varied paddocks. Or he’d set up the White House lawnmowers with GPS and guidance systems to make workers’ tractor time more efficient.
Under his suit-and-tie exterior, we know a farmer-President would be toting his standard-issue pliers and holster for sure, in case something around the West Wing needed fixing. He might even have a private stash of baling wire and duct tape, just in case.
Forget golf or basketball. In his off-time, he might take in a rodeo, pitch horseshoes or test drive his Presidential ATV around his own private obstacle course. And forget Camp David. He’d take foreign officials to visit his farm or ranch, because they would provide free help when it came time to sort and work calves.
On his cell phone, he would have the Farm Progress Growing Degree Days app for sure. As part of his daily briefing would be a personal report from the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA climatologists about crop conditions and weather around his farm. A farmer-President would work in vacation days around planting and harvest, so he could be home to bring in the crops. News crews covering his vacations might be asked to do double duty and operate the grain cart. Or he might take a day off for a surprise visit to Husker Harvest Days.
A farmer-President might insist on completing a new Farm Bill ahead of schedule. He might worry more than a little about the details of such a bill, and concern himself with all of the important topics of the day nationally, including U.S. food security.
I’m not sure if a farmer in the White House would result in cabinet members and Secret Service officers wearing blue jeans to work, or country music stars singing at dinners hosting foreign dignitaries, but it would certainly change the style and culture of the job.
Closest advisors might come from the ranks of farm organizations, and there would be no “meatless Mondays” at any government cafeteria, if a farmer were President.
A farmer would most likely bring brutal honesty, a generous nature, a fast-paced and rigorous work ethic, vitality and undeterred optimism, unwavering faith in the Creator and an unapologetic frugal mindset to the executive branch of government.
Maybe government in general should learn to listen more to what farmers have to say. You never know. If folks realized what a farmer might bring to the Presidency, one might someday again grace the halls of the White House with good, old-fashioned horse sense.
Be sure to watch www.nebraskafarmer.com and read our October print issue of Nebraska Farmer for news, information and tips on meeting the challenges of drought. Your best online resource for drought information is the Farm Progress drought site at www.DatelineDrought.com.