So God Made A Farmer

For me, Chrysler again won the Super Bowl advertising bowl in a rout. The Paul Harvey commercial for Dodge Ram trucks was absolutely brilliant (see the video below). It came in the fourth quarter of the game, after all the awful Coke and Bud Light commercials made you just want to turn the sound off and run to the john. What a dismal group of commercials this year – until the Paul Harvey narration of “on the eighth day God made a farmer,” over a gritty compilation of still photos of farmers doing their work. It followed in the footsteps of Eminem and Clint Eastwood in the two previous years, which helped reestablish Chrysler in the auto and truck market.

Guts, Glory, Ram – we saw it on the field, but missed it in the ads – until Paul Harvey.

Good day.

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All signs point to a strong economic first half for 2013 for manufacturing in the U.S. Vehicle sales are running at a 15.3 million unit pace. The stock market is at a five-year high, interest rates are low and staying there for a while longer, maybe two more years if Ben Bernanke calls the shots. Truck sales are strong. Aerospace and agriculture are perking along. Military is down, but hardly out. We are going to have higher taxes and reduced spending, we just don’t know how much of either.

Most people I talk to are doing well, but still hesitate to add a lot of people, though I see industrial properties beginning to fill up. The uncertainty about the impending changes coming from Obamacare is definitely pinching hiring. People I talk to are adding overtime, replacing machinery, outsourcing or trying to stay under 50 employees to avoid the complications of the “Affordable Care Act” in 2013 and 2014. The irony is that most strong companies in manufacturing have reasonably generous health insurance plans because they help in hiring and employee retention in a tight labor market for skilled people. Obamacare may very well push them to pay fines and classify their people in the Federal pool, but this is still unclear. With a lack of clarity there is less hiring and more overtime.

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The National Rifle Association, long seen as the big dog of political interest groups, is being shown to be an emperor who has no clothes – at least in some political races. My district, the Second Congressional District of Illinois – Jesse Jackson Junior’s district until he quit this year for “health” reasons – is having a primary election on February 26. Gun laws have emerged as the key issue. One candidate, Democrat Debbie Halvorson, is adamantly “pro gun” and has taken money from the NRA. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and Gabby Giffords of Arizona have been building Political Action Committees to fund “anti-gun” candidates, and have been running ads specifically against Halvorson, which has put her on the defensive. She is also the strongest white candidate in a district with a black majority. It has now come out that one of the stronger black candidates, Democrat Toi Hutchinson, has also taken money from the NRA, which makes for an interesting twist.

This election will be an important test, with major national implications of the strength of the NRA when confronted by an equally determined and well-funded opposition. Halvorson may very well make the gun issue work for her in an election where 25 percent of the vote may win the primary.

Question: Can you make a living as a farmer?

 Dodge Super Bowl Commercial: Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer”

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8 thoughts on “So God Made A Farmer

  1. AvatarTyler Shinaberry

    That is a heavily loaded question… it’s just a very risky living and also depends on your size.
    We are seeing this in our very own community as a wealthy entrepreneur is taking his shake at farming… putting local farmers out of the picture with extravagant profit promises for rented ground. Only time will tell this story.
    There is a difference between a farmer and a corporate farmer. A corporate farmer may or may not be the same farmer spoken of by the late, great Mr. Paul Harvey. This kind of farmer is more than a farmer of the land, a steward of the earth, but a farmer of men.
    My father is one, his father was one, his father before him was on, as was his father and so on… the pride that gives me is unspeakable.

    Unlike a manufacturing environment where variables are limited and math and science come into play, the farmer is at the mercy of mother nature to accumulate his wealth. I would venture to say an operation under 1000-1200 acres would suffer to get by with today’s costs… many however adapt and continue to make a decent living.

    My Grandfather chose to stay small for his love was in the furrow not his wallet— He prided himself until his death that he would hoe his fields every night by hand and planted so straight he could pop a groundhog off at the other end.

    A farmer is guaranteed a living… perhaps not in wealth but in a satisfaction that only a farmer could know and explain. To a Paul Harvey farmer his occupation is a direct communication to and obligation to something far more powerful than himself … perhaps the downfall of society’s core began when people ran from the field to the factory… perhaps it can return to the factory… I think this commercial was a start… a statement to the humble pride and ability to adapt and give one’s self over to something larger than his/herself. A taste of what made America great.

     
  2. AvatarCarter

    Farmers do not make money — they enjoy a life style.
    Corporate mineral extracters using crops make money, but do not have a unique life style.
    Corporate additive manufacturers using cattle, hogs, etc. make money, but do not have a unique life style
    Farmers, real farmers, leave their productive asset – soil – better, more productive, than when they started working it. Corporate extracters leave little behind — just look at the mud in the mouth of the Mississippi.

    Farmers create a better future through their life style and theri reward comes when they sell their productive soil to the next generation. Extracters make money year to year but leave little to the next generation. Extracters are like our government — borrow and use the resources today and leave the bill to those who follow.
    Thank God we still have some farmers who know that we borrow the earth from our children and they want to leave their children some good dirt

     
  3. AvatarHarold A. Voshage

    Lloyd, Your spin on the Dodge ad was spot on! This 86 year old machinist was born &
    raised on two farms in the early thirties depression and dust bowl years in a Mennonite
    community in S W Minn. My wife Carol and I agree heartily with you, it was far and away
    the best Super Bowl ad! Thanks for your insight.

    Best regards,
    Harold A Voshage

     
  4. AvatarMICHAEL KURTZ

    It makes me proud to say my Dad was a Farmer. He started out behind horses and finished driving a combine at the age of 96. He was an independent man. He did not participate in any goverment programs as he believed he would make it or not on his own management . He knew how to make the soil yield a crop and he could keep livestock alive thru the coldest weather. All he asked was to be left alone to work his farm and let him keep most of the fruit of his labor. The commercial about the farmer brought a strong emotion to the forefront for me. I thought it was a class above the rest.

     
  5. Avatardave

    Traditional farmers here in upstate NY can barely get by. If their hourly rate gets to half of minimum wage, they think they’re wealthy. The large dairies are leveraged up to their eyeballs, and still barely getting by. All of my neighbors who farm would like the government right out of it, no subsidies, no controls. They feel they can better deal with real markets than government controlled markets.

     
  6. AvatarJeremy

    This commercial had class and will be a “classic” (if their is such a thing in advertising), unlike most of the commercials that numb your mind after watching them.

    I watched the commercial and felt a humble pride in knowing it was about me, my family, and the common bonds that all true stewards of the land can only understand. You don’t do it for the money, you do it because you know deep in your heart and soul that this is the life you were born to lead and the heritage that you are meant to pass down to the next generation. I remember the first few lines of the FFA creed I memorized my freshman year of high school, “I believe in the future of farming with a faith born not of words, but of deeds…” and I still believe them today. I recall how devotedly my mom would tune in to Paul Harvey and “The Rest of the Story” each day to brghten some otherwise dismal days – we grew up poor, but never went hungry. I never meet Mr. Harvey personally, but always felt he was a man of his word and that you could trust what he was saying. More journelism and less political slant unlike things today.

    Can you make a living farming today, guess that depends on the kind of farming you do.
    Dairy farming – probably a rich soul and empty pockets. Crop farming – with todays markets, yes you could make money, but it a huge investment and always a risk of when the next drop in price will be. Growing up on a small dairy farm in western PA, my dad always told me to get a good job so I could afford to farm, I listened because I am writing this after work at the shop. The older I get though, the more I question the wisdom of that choice. My wife likes to remind me how much money we would have if I gave up my farming habit… maybe, maybe not. If I could get 500 acres to crop farm, I would leave this shop job in a minute, and just worry about raising crops and kids.

     
  7. AvatarDon

    I don’t like Dodge, but farmers are what made America what it is today. My Dad was a farmer, we worked hard to make a living but it taught me thats what it takes to get ahead in this world. Guess what it payed off for me, but it takes hard work. To many people want a free ride today.

     

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