News from the Secretary

News from the Secretary
New name!

This is the third anniversary of this little column. It is time to change its name.

Some of these columns are mostly facts that rural South Dakota citizens need to know about government programs, government policies or new research. Those could be called "news."


However, most columns are just my "views". Sometimes it is views about our people, our land, or our laws, but its purpose is to make people think about those things and our basic values.

More than 105 newspapers print this column. I receive calls and emails about it from all over the nation. Almost every time I travel somewhere to speak, I receive a compliment about a column. It also has some critics.

One reader called the column "Pravda-like." I confess that I have no idea what he meant by that comment. I don't read Russian newspapers. The Russian word for "Pravda" is translated as "the truth." Maybe it was a compliment.

Several columns were about our dairy industry and the need to preserve it, but some readers have the impression that our dairy retention program is some kind of government give-away to induce people to move to South Dakota. I don't know where they get such ideas.

Most of the new people moving here to build dairies are well off financially, after having sold a dairy farm somewhere else. We don't give them anything except a little advice and information that is available to everyone.

I never know how readers will react to a topic. I wrote a column poking fun at the ESA (Endangered Species Act) and received only two responses. One came from a man who called it his "new favorite" among the columns and another came from a woman who is a faithful reader but felt I unfairly attacked species preservation.

I am just a West River rancher. Some topics like the ESA make no sense from my view of the world. I see the same people demanding that we teach only evolution in our public schools while supporting legislation like ESA, which assumes evolution is bad thing and we can stop it.

Evolution means things must change and the things which cannot adapt to change will disappear. It looks exactly like nature to me. All of life is made up of cycles. No law can stop the wheels of life. But, that is a rancher's view.

I don't claim to have "the answer" to each problem. That is something we must seek together. What I have is an "office of ag policy" and access to its research. That makes me appear to know a lot of things. However, anyone may access that research via our web page.

I like hearing different points of view. More than anything I like speaking in person to small groups and learning what they really have to say from the heart.

The views in this column are at times just a little bait in search of a bite. Sometimes it even works on old fishermen who take the bait and chomp away at the column for all they are worth.

That's alright.

What good would "food for thought" be without some chomping?

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