It didn’t generate much attention in the Upper Midwest, and I nearly missed it myself: The proposition on the California November ballot to place further restrictions on the use of cages in livestock production. The proposition passed, and I did a short day-after-the-election story.
An eagle-eyed Agweek reader noticed the story and mentioned it to me later. “I see those crazy Californians are at it again,” she told me.
“Well,” I said, “a lot of them have different experiences in life than you and me. They look at production ag differently than you and I do. I think many are misinformed or uninformed. But that doesn’t make them crazy.”
The other person nodded and said, “A lot of them are uninformed. A lot of ‘em are misinformed.” She paused for a moment (comic timing) and added, “But a few are crazy.”
Well, maybe. But if they are crazy - I still prefer uninformed or misinformed - Upper Midwest agriculturalists will happily take advantage of it if possible.
Case in point: The Low Carbon Fuel Standard, or LCFS, seeks to encourage the use and production of "cleaner low-carbon fuels in California" and consequently "reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” according to California regulators.
Is that a good thing? Well, I’m a less-government-is-almost-always-better guy, so I’m skeptical of regulations in general. But I don’t know nearly enough about the LCFS to have a meaningful opinion on it. It’s safe to say, though, that some some Agweek readers think “crazy Californians” when they read about the LCFS.
But that craziness, real or imagined, provides potential profit opportunities for farmers in this part of the world. For instance, no- or limited-till corn raised in the Midwest could be sold, at a premium, to help California comply with the LCFS.
Another example: Some Californians, citing various ethical and nutritional concerns, refuse to eat red meat - which, again, some Upper Midwest agriculturalists consider crazy. But many of those same Californians are eating more pulse crops, such as chickpeas and lentils, which are grown in the Upper Midwest. Again, that Californian “craziness” is creating profit opportunities for farmers here.
To be clear: Pulse crops, about which I’ve written many times, are nutritious and affordable. Both pulses and red meat can play an important role in healthy diets. I mention pulses and red meat simply to illustrate that Upper Midwest farmers can both benefit and suffer from what Californians do.
I have a weakness for alliteration. “Crazy Californians”’ and “Left Coast Liberals” hold a certain linguistic appeal for me. But indulging in their use is neither wise nor productive.
To Upper Midwest agriculturalists: Those so-called “crazy Californians” are fellow Americans, fellow human beings and existing or potential customers. Deal with them respectfully, emphasizing what you have in common and trying to bridge your differences.
To Californians (all two or three who may be reading this column): Many of you look at production agriculture differently than I do. That doesn’t make you - or me - crazy. Try to see our side of things, and I’ll try to be better at seeing yours.
And wherever you live, whatever your life experiences, whatever you believe about production agriculture: Merry Christmas.