Listen, I want to thank everyone for all the encouragement you've given us struggling farm families through the years. Everyone who attended all those Farm Aid concerts, that sure was nice of you. But really, that's enough now. I know you want to help preserve the rural way of life, but I have to ask you all something: Have you ever lived the rural way of life? Because, let me tell you, it sucks. It's hard, and it's dirty, and it's boring, so please stop trying to save our family farm.
I grew up on the same piece of land my father did, and his father before him. Each morning, I've risen with the sun to the smell of earth and livestock. As far as the eye can see, there is grain, grain, endless waves of grain. And more grain. And still more fucking grain. Oh, God, how will I ever escape?
Every day, I see bumper stickers on cars expressing support for the plight of our nation's farmers. But just as soon as I peel one off, they put another one right back on again the next day. Won't you please turn your back on us?
Even though I was just a small boy at the time, I can remember the big drought that hit us in 1989. Times were so tough, we thought we were going to lose the farm for good. The bank was going to foreclose if we didn't have the long-overdue mortgage payment by morning. I stayed up the entire night praying, but to no avail. A group of townspeople organized just before sunrise and donated their own savings to make the payment. There was nothing I could do to stop them.
As if that weren't bad enough, a few years later they all pitched in to sandbag the rising river. When the waters receded, they all went back to their air-conditioned apartments, and I went back to waking up at 5 a.m. every single day to milk the cows. Thanks a lot.
Then, a few years ago, things were really looking up again. Crop prices were lower than ever. The bottom had dropped right out of the livestock market. The export situation was dire. But somehow, my dad managed to hold it all together through the bad times. Why, God, why?
I can understand going out gracefully, but Dad goes way overboard with that dignity thing. He gets up at the crack of dawn and slaves until sundown. All out of a sense of pride. Nice fucking corn, Dad. Real straight rows, too. I'm real glad it makes you feel fulfilled.
As for myself, I would have felt just fine if Dad would've sold the farm to that developer who wanted to put up a Target Greatland out here.
Yeah, it sure would've sucked to have all that money laying around, Dad. I would've hated trading in our old rusty '79 Chevy truck for one of those imported SUVs. It would be pretty embarrassing to drive one of those 1999 Toyota 4-Runners around town, seeing how they aren't even made in America. Yeah, real fucking embarrassing.
The land, the house, the silos—it'll all be mine someday, says pop. Yup, all those 40-year consolidated loans will all be mine. And then I'll be expected to stick to my guns and resist the corporate forces, too, or everyone will think I'm some sort of bastard.
Shit, I'm 16 goddamn years old. I want to be in a rock band. I want to go to Indiana U. and spend spring break in Cancun. I want to live in a house with my friends Trevor and Jake, a house that has a couch on the front lawn and spray-paint scrawled on the sidewalk reading "Limp Bizkit" or "Fa$cism" or something.
But, no. Here I am in the middle of nowhere, having the quintessential Heartland experience while those goddamn do-gooders in Washington are lobbying for greater farm subsidies. And the bank keeps letting Dad use this money pit as collateral so there's no way the bottom will fall out before I graduate from high school.
As for all those letters to the editor you people write? Thanks a lot, everyone. Thanks a whole bunch. Why don't you spend your time saving the whales or the rainforests or the ozone layer or something. Just leave me the hell alone.