In my part of the world, the 2011 crop turned out to be a good year despite being one of the most stressful years in recent memory. We were in a drought in the Delta, and the Mississippi River had begun its historical rise.
The cotton was planted, but we still needed a rain to get the heavier soils up to a stand. Some folks joked that they would love to run their pivots, but they couldn’t because parts of the fields that needed irrigation were underwater. Sand boils started to develop on the mainline levee, and the Levee Board and Corps of Engineers were working around the clock trying to stop the erosion.
Then came the news that the backwater levees would overtop! This would put seven feet of water in my home.
We halted all soybean planting as we knew that land was going under. I hired a contractor to clear off an abandoned railroad bed because it did not go under in 1927, and that is where we would store our equipment. I found a house in the hills for my wife and children to move into.
Highway 61 and 49 were closed. After days and weeks of anticipation, the water began to recede. Due to efforts of the Levee Board, Corps of Engineers and hundreds of volunteers, our way of life continues today.
The stress of all of this was enormous! Why would I want to continue to live in such a flood- prone place? Why should I have to drive 80 miles roundtrip to get a Quarter Pounder with cheese?
A friend introduced me years ago by saying, “Mike does not live at the end of the world, but if you have a good pair of binoculars you can see it.” The answer is land. Land is why my great grandfather came here from New York after emigrating from Russia.
You could not own land in Russia, and, after spending some time in New York, my greatgrandparents headed to Mississippi after hearing stories of the cotton plantations. Land is why after four generations, we are still here at “the end of the earth.”
Anything worth having is worth fighting for, but sometimes you just get tired of constantly fighting. That is what it takes. If you don’t look out for yourself and your interests, no one is going to do it for you.
“Stickability” is a word my father uses often. It means being able to stick to a task and come out on top no matter how difficult things get. Another word he uses far too often is “careless weed.”
We are all concerned about herbicide resistance, but after 80 consecutive days this year of this being the first word he said to me everyday, I began to think my name was “careless weed.” When he would say it, I would immediately say “Yes, sir.”
We hear all the time, “our jobs have gone overseas.” Yes, automotive, textile and many other jobs are gone forever and will never return to the United States. Why? The existing industry did not stand up for itself and fight hard enough.
They may have thought they were fighting hard, but foreign lobbyists were fighting harder, while many of our people in positions of power were just looking to get as wealthy as possible before they were voted out of or died in office.
The next Farm Bill will be a battle, and you will live with the results for years. If there has ever been time for a fight or to show your “stickability,” that time is near.
Agriculture has great lobbyists, both national and regional. I urge you to support these groups, as a hard fight is what it will take to get a good Farm Bill to preserve our way of life. Now is the time to fight and get involved.
When the new Farm Bill is written, do you want to be someone with “stickability” or be known as a person who was just a “careless weed?”
– Mike Lamensdorf, Rolling Fork, Miss.