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50 Years: Farmers are the backbone of America

Perhaps the most attractive aspect of the life led by the men and women who produce potatoes is its wholesomeness. There are, of course, headwinds: harvesting while watching input prices continually pushing higher (diesel, labor, fertilizer and all the rest ... phosphate now up 68 percent). There's the stress on margins, and pests and weather never take a bank holiday. Growers are scientists, accountants, managers, mechanics, conservationists, marketers and political activists all rolled into one. But through it all much of the pleasure in the grower's profession is his surroundings: the peace of a distant horizon, the smell of thawing soil in spring, the power grinding progress of wheels, belts and diggers and finally the clean, eerie quiet of the crop, finally at rest in storage.

Growers treasure their independence, backing up their ideas with their own labor and capital, confident that when neighbors see the results they will know who is responsible. At home, with abundant food on the table and the family gathered 'round, the rewards for good ideas and hard work speak for themselves.

The way of life for the farmer-businessman is misunderstood by city dwellers. Its independence and an emphasis on family, community, morality and the rewards of hard work were the character traits that built America that developed the greatest agricultural economy in the world. Limited government and property rights were critical. Said Sam Adams, "Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, thirdly to property."

Congratulations Spudman on the half-century mark. The segment of this period that involved our family gave us some of the best years of our lives. The wondrous nature of the people who grow potatoes and the industry people who serve them made it so.

—By Don Miller, Spudman publisher 1977-1999

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Originally posted Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012

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