To Bail or to Bale. In this Case, it’s Both!

What the heck can one say at a time like this except, “Sorry for your pain.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if the money spent on lobbying, marketing and advertising on behalf of agricultural issues had the desired effect? That the trade war hadn’t happened? That the gods and goddesses of weather would give us a break? That commodity prices would better reflect the effort that goes into producing crops for a hungry world?

Damn, and then this coronavirus comes along, incubated in an Asian marketplace where a way too close proximity existed between butchering live animals (infected with the virus) and selling the meat to customers. It’s still hard to wrap one’s head around why bats are such prolific carriers of viruses and how their blight infects poultry and livestock that gets eaten by us, The science is solid, but confusing to understand.

Regardless, the financial and emotional impacts of this latest disease on Midwest farm families is threatening an already unhealthy agriculture industry. Prices have been low to begin with, and now with markets shrinking and a shortage of farm labor, things have just become worse.

If there’s any silver lining here, it will be evident in two places: in our communities and in the form of relief offered by governments.

  • Like in the old days, when a neighbor called on us for support, we respond by sharing whatever we have. Sometimes it’s only a listening ear, other times physical and financial support. In those times, the spirit of community seems to lift everyone up and bring us together, those receiving and those giving. We’re in it together, thick or thin, red or blue, Christian or non-believer.
  • Many in the Midwest generally support a type of governance that exerts little in the way of oversight – whether from state or federal agents. And when things go awry, such as with natural disasters like this pandemic, we want to insure that the government (and its hundreds of millions of taxpayers) are there to support the rescue and rehabilitation of communities worst hit by disaster.

Oddly enough, the verb “to bail” refers to evacuating something, like water out of a boat or a bank account out of insolvency. In farming, the verb “to bale” means to gather something up, to consolidate it, as in hay. Yet, the word “baling” is equally apt for either verb. In the case of the Midwestern farm, it may be a unique opportunity to unite the verb forms. Our businesses need baling out and we also need the baling – or coming together – that community action can bring.