Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 10:00 AM
'Crushing' proof not available?
Joe Beach's offering -- "Fights unite ag groups" -- in the Sept. 10 edition is labeled "analysis" but contains none. Instead Beach reports the results of meetings with farmers, ranchers and the "representatives of ag groups."
There is nothing wrong with that. But Beach's article goes beyond reporting. It paints a picture of an industry under attack by the "legal juggernaut" launched by environmental activists and beset by armies of government bureaucrats who are intent on making their life miserable. Beach editorializes that these farmers and ranchers "suffer crushing consequences when they lose."
Beach's article could have been lifted from the Farm Bureau's talking points. Analysis, on the other hand, would have evaluated the similarity he found among diverse farmers and ranchers when "they are talking about the things that impact their business." He would also have evaluated the claim that ag folks actually suffer "crushing consequences" when environmentalists win in court.
Perhaps he would have referred to the same edition's front-page banner headline -- "Income climbs in 2010" -- which reported that ag profits in 2010 are projected to be the "fourth-largest ever" and "well over the 10-year average."
That does not sound like "crushing consequences" to me! And as for Beach's claim that "water is the lifeblood of farmers everywhere," I would ask him to identify those for whom water is not a necessity.
Farmers and ranchers perennially cry the blues -- it is part of the culture. Rather than parroting those cries it is the responsibility of journalists to separate fact from spin and to fairly analyze the meaning of both.
I suspect that there are farmers and ranchers out there who "suffer crushing consequences" when change comes. I also suspect that change in markets, competition and nature (droughts) are more often responsible for those consequences as compared to the court victories won by environmentalists.
I've lived in ag communities for 35 years and I've never met a farmer or rancher who was "crushed" by environmental regulation. And while the Capital Press regularly excoriates environmental regulations, only once can I remember an article reporting on a real farmer or rancher who had to go out of business as a result of environmental regulation.
This is a habeas corpus call -- show us the farmers and ranchers who have been "crushed" by the evil environmentalists and their "legal juggernaut." And instead of parroting the Farm Bureau's talking points, give us some real analysis!