From Dakota Tri-State Neighbor
"Palin says what farmers need is to be left alone"
Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013 11:22 am
Five years after running for vice president on the Republican ticket with U.S. Sen. John McCain, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin showed she still has a following as she heaped praise on the people of the Upper Midwest at the ninth annual Ag PhD Field Day at the Hefty farms near Baltic.
With more than 5,000 people listening to her talks at two different locations on the farm July 25, Palin got the biggest applause when she said, “I would argue what farmers need most is for politicians to butt out and just leave them alone.”
Palin, who is said to be considering a run for the U.S. Senate in Alaska next year, said the farm bill is a good example as it’s loaded with 1930s-era relics and would churn out more regulations for farmers.
“The problem is a big, arrogant government,” she said, “when government is in every aspect of your life and in your business and collecting so much data on you.”
“It’s a bloated, out-of-control government, and it’s not just a Republican or Democrat thing, but big, stupid government making our life harder, not easier.”
She talked about an Illinois farmer who told President Obama that he preferred starting his day in a tractor or combine cab rather than filling out forms or applications for permits.
She said Brian and Darren Hefty talk about the “weed of the week” in their television and radio programming, and she suggested that Washington, D.C., should employ a reformer who would find a government program or bureaucrat that isn’t needed and call it the “weed of the week.”
She also got a big laugh and applause when she said she rather would be governed by the South Dakota Farm Bureau than “the bunch we have in Washington, D.C., right now.”
Palin, who was accompanied by her daughter, Piper, to the event, said farming has been called the “profession of hope.”
“That’s what I see when I visit. I see optimistic, good, hard-working and patriotic Americans who believe the tomorrows are better than today.
“I think that’s what our farmers give us. It’s the real hope, not this hopey-changey thing we hear from Washington.”
Palin said the “elitists on both coasts” call this area “flyover country.” However, she said, she thinks of it instead as the heartland and the salt of the Earth.
Using food metaphors, she likened this region’s people to the beef patties inside a Big Mac or the good, creamy filling in the middle of an Oreo cookie. “You’re the meat and the sweet stuff.”
She said she hasn’t been at many ag appreciation events over the years. In fact, the last time was at the Alaska State Fair when her cell phone rang with a number she didn’t recognize after her visit to the ag tent.
She went to a nearby tent at the fair, and it was McCain asking her whether she wanted to be his running mate.
With her husband working far away at Prudhoe Bay, her Down syndrome son Trigg only 15 weeks old, a son overseas in the military and a daughter who had just told her she was pregnant, Palin said, “Yeah, I have nothing else going on. Sure, why not?”
“Well, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” Palin said about the election. “But I guess things turn out the way they are supposed to be.”
She spends most of her time in Alaska now, and she said that although fisheries, gas, oil and minerals are the main industries, Alaska has a vibrant agriculture industry.
She mentioned in particular the cold-weather vegetables that grow to huge sizes in the land of the midnight sun during the summer months.
She said Alaska holds the world record cabbage at 127 pounds. She also mentioned that state residents have grown a 96-pound kohlrabi, 82-pound rutabaga, 42-pound beet, 39-pound turnip, 35-pound broccoli and 18.9-pound carrot.
“That’s the size of a salmon,” she said of the carrot.
“We grow ’em big, but of course it’s nothing like you all produce for the U.S. and the rest of the world.”
Although farming is changing with all of the technology, she said what hasn’t changed is the American farmer.
“You not only feed America, but you are what has helped make America so special, so exceptional. You helped build America.”
In all, an estimated 6,500 people from 30 states, including a busload from Pennsylvania, attended the field day, the largest such event in the U.S. and the largest for the Hefty family since it started the event.
Darren Hefty said that Palin’s appearance wasn’t meant to be political, but with less than 1 percent of the U.S. population involved in farming, it was a chance to talk about ag issues with an influential person.
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democrat, was the main speaker last year.
“She was certainly a draw,” Hefty said. “We wanted her to speak to farmers about how their voices could be heard more effectively in Washington. I thought she delivered a good message about the importance of agriculture to our country and how farmers are viewed in a positive light by the general population.
“It was just an encouraging message that what we are doing is being seen by most people and we just need to unify our voice and speak to our legislators.”
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