Stuff Is Not Our Salvation: Thankfulness Is

     Last month I marked the 26th year of writing this column, “Under the Agridome”.  In fact, it is my 18th year of writing this column for DTN and for all of that I am truly thankful.  It is so different now than it was way back in 1986.  Back then, President Reagan was in office and so was Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.  It was a world before biofuel and one constructed on the US Farm Bill and European common agricultural policy.  One constant in those 26 years has been Christmas.  Each Christmas, I like to look back and tell readers how thankful we should be.

We certainly didn’t know much about China in those days.  The Chinese economy has exploded over the last 26 years, morphing into a modern state with an insatiable appetite for agricultural commodities.  Just this morning we learned that China canceled another 540,000 Tonne shipment of US soybeans.  It added to a down market on the day.  26 years ago that was something that dreams were made out of.  Now, we await a lower price, which will bring all that Chinese soybean demand back.

I am thankful for what I have and I’m very thankful for all of you readers over the last 26 years.  2 years ago this week I lost my father.  He was a mentor and business partner for many years and I have missed him greatly over the last 2 years.  I am very thankful for what he taught me and I’m very thankful that I was able to talk to him almost every day of my life.

He taught me many things, things that stay with me today.  He would always say, “You’ve got to get a crop.”  Of course he was referring to what we do every spring, preparing the land to plant a crop and bring it to fruition in the fall.  That’s how we made our money and in the beginning these young ears needed to hear that.  So I regret the fact that in 2012 I was unable to tell him about the record corn and soybean crops which came out of my fields.  I didn’t break records by a little bit; I broke them by a mile.  I wish I could’ve told him.  Needless to say, I’m very thankful for what I have.

At Christmas time it is very important to remember what we are thankful for.  It is a time when we should try to remember the less fortunate.  In southwestern Ontario this year our crops were good.  Meanwhile, American crops burnt up in the drought of 2012. For whatever reason this year many of us were spared here.  That’s a lot to be thankful for.

Of course over the last week our media airwaves have been full of the horrible events of the massacre at that elementary school in Connecticut.  At Christmas time my heart goes out to the families of those people affected.  Our American friends will engage in a political debate on what they might be able to do about it.  Meanwhile in Canada we have our own problems, but I’m thankful I live in a society, which is quite safe.

This afternoon as I traveled to London Ontario, I passed a grain elevator, with a very large pile of corn beside it.  It reminded me of the huge yields we had in this part of Ontario this year.  It made me think briefly about the abundance of this place, having so much corn we don’t know what to do with it.  So we piled it up and put great big tarps over looking for arbitrage to come this way.  Meanwhile in places like South Asia and Africa there are many empty stomachs.  Yes, I am thankful I have enough but I’ve always been strained to figure out why there is the contrary on the other side of the world.

As many of you know I have traveled to Bangladesh 4 times and seen many hungry people.  There’s lots of food there, but not a lot of money and unfortunately a lot of empty stomachs.  For whatever reason we still have problems taking care of our own human kind.  Hunger should be outlawed and poverty alleviation made a priority.  Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work out that way.

I am planning on returning there next month. While there, I’m sure I’ll see kids either selling things in the streets or begging, or both.  I’ll see kids crying because they’re hungry.  It is not pleasant, not pleasant at all to see some of those things. Then I will return home to everything I have here.  Yes, at Christmas time I am thankful, thankful for everything I have.  Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you all.

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