Honoring David Brandt, the Meme and the Man.

Last week I included a short tribute to a friend, David Brandt, who was nationally known for his educational efforts promoting no-till, cover crops and other conservation agriculture practices. Here is more information, plus photos.

He and his wife Kendra, began growing crops without plowing in the early 1970s, partly because no-till required less machinery. They benefited from no-till research begun by Ohio State University a decade earlier and encouragement from a representative of Chevron Chemical Co. which produced an effective herbicide to manage weeds. Dave soon began experimenting with cover crops (planted after harvesting corn, soybean, and wheat cash crops) in order to keep living roots in the ground and “cover” the soil to minimize erosion from rain and wind. He was always willing to share his successes (and failures) to help other farmers succeed with what is known today as Conservation Agriculture System practices.

You may not know the farmer, David Brandt, but you have probably seen his photo. A photo of him, taken in 2012 by the USDA, was used a few years later to create a “meme” with the words, “It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.” The meme went viral and has been seen by millions around the world.

Brandt was recognized nationally and internationally as a top example of how farming could and should be done. He was in demand as a speaker and consultant promoting soil health in a way that is saving soil, profitable for the farmer, and results in cleaner air and water for society. He was very human, likeable, generous, and had an infectious laugh. He won’t be forgotten.

Last week I was on a Zoom webinar about David Brandt, hosted by two Indiana farmers. Other panelists were from Iowa, Oklahoma, and Ontario, Canada. For more than two hours, we told stories about the influence he had on us and others. A dozen listeners, from as far away as Australia, chimed in with their own memories.

Because I worked with David Brandt for thirty years as an OSU Extension Agricultural Engineer and Executive Director of the Ohio No-till Council, I have been called on for information, quotes, and photos for local and national media. I’ve posted several of these articles about his passing on Facebook.

Responses from his friends and colleagues are amazing, but not surprising. Here are a few: “Such a great man and such a loss.” “Kind and generous soul who helped and guided so many farmers.”  “Very sad for losing a friend, and it’s a big loss for conservation agriculture all around the world. He was here in France in 2015 invited by our ag minister.”  “May his legacy of promoting soil health live on.” “Condolences from Nebraska, such a special, one-of-a-kind person. ” “All those lives he touched will continue his legacy.”

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

Will Rogers wrote this tribute on the passing of William Howard Taft, the only person to serve as both President (1909-1913) and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Taft was a “big man.” This quote fits David Brandt who was also a big man.

      “It’s great to be great but it’s greater to be human. He was our great human fellow because there was more of him to be human. We are parting with three hundred pounds of solid charity to everybody, and love and affection for all his fellowmen.” DT #1122, Feb. 28, 1930

Photos: the famous Meme. And my photo of David Brandt in Sept. 2020.

The Durham Report. Solving the Debt and Illegal Immigration Crises. Tribute to a Friend

The Big News this week was the Durham Report. John Durham was appointed as a special counsel in 2019 by U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr to determine whether the FBI violated the law while investigating the 2016 Trump campaign’s connection to Russia. The report concluded the FBI should never have opened the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation and only did so because Director James Comey and those directly under him favored Hillary Clinton.

This may be a surprise if you get all your news from CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC. Or you read the New York Times or the Washington Post. Most “journalists” have scoffed at the Durham Report. No journalists from the NY Times or WaPo gave back their 2018 Pulitzer Prizes for their false reports on the Putin-Trump “love affair.” No journalists apologized for repeating false stories fed to them.

You probably remember several of the FBI leaders, including Director James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok and Andrew Weissman, who executed the investigations of Americans in a fake conspiracy. TV networks had the nerve to interview McCabe and Weissman who naturally denied there was a problem with their investigations. “No there there,” claimed Weissman.

Congressman Adam Schiff, as the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, then Chairman, repeatedly claimed (falsely) he had proof of Russian interference in the 2016 election. He claims the Durham Report is “flawed.”

Republican Congressman Devin Nunes knew in 2018 the Steele dossier that implicated Donald Trump was fake, paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Nunes said that President Obama knew in August 2016 that the Steele dossier was a hoax. But after Clinton lost to Trump, Obama conspired with FBI Director James Comey to pin false stories about Russian influence on Trump.

Even the judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) knew the basis for FBI investigations was false, but still approved them.

The Durham investigation took 4 years. If everyone involved had cooperated and provided evidence immediately, Durham could have finished the report in 6 months! This wild tale started by Hillary Clinton in 2016 skewed the 2018 and 2020 elections. And if the Durham report had come out 9 months ago, in September 2022, Republicans would probably control the Senate. How many other ‘events’ happened since 2016 because of the Clinton lie, perpetuated by the FBI?

President Biden returned from the G7 meeting in Japan. In discussions with Speaker McCarthy on raising the federal debt ceiling above $31.4 Trillion, Biden can’t seem to find any expenditures to cut from the budget. I suggest he spend a few hours reading a publication on federal waste compiled by Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, “Federal Fumbles: Ways the Federal Government Dropped the Ball.” This 68-page book describes 50 projects ranging from several thousand dollars to a few million that frustrate any taxpayer with common sense.

Here’s another change that would save Billions. President Biden is welcoming more than 2 million illegal immigrants a year, then deciding which ones (about 10%) qualify for asylum. Dealing with the 90% who should never have been allowed to enter is overwhelming border states and mayors in New York City, Chicago, and other sanctuary cities. The simple, cost-saving solution is that no one can enter at the border unless they have applied for and been approved for asylum. I feel sorry for the 90%, but why don’t they go to another country.

A personal note. If you are in agriculture, you may have known David Brandt. He died yesterday at age 76 of severe injuries from a traffic accident 3 days ago. An Ohio farmer who I worked with for 30 years, Dave was nationally known for his educational efforts promoting no-till, cover crops and other conservation agriculture practices that are profitable for the farmer and can save billions for society. Here’s a recent example of the problem: on May 1st, a Dust Storm resulting from freshly tilled dry soil and 50 mph winds resulted in 7 deaths and 30 injuries from a crash of about 70 vehicles on I-55 in Illinois. If that farmland had been no-tilled with cover crops there would have been no dust. No dust. No crash. No deaths. No injuries.

Rest in Peace Dave. You left an amazing legacy on Earth.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“The time to worry over a debt is before you get it, not after you got four-fifths of it.” DT #1991, Dec. 21, 1932

Open Borders Impact the Climate. Mother’s Day Gift Suggestions from Will Rogers

The Biden Administration has several conflicting stances. Maybe unintentional, but it’s still odd how one policy is in direct opposition to another. For example, allowing millions of immigrants to enter illegally increases global warming. And promoting organic farming can harm the environment.

During the 2020 campaign, candidate Joe Biden made it plain that he intended to open the border. He also announced plans to end our use of fossil fuels. Either 80,000,000 voters did not believe how disastrous such policies would be, or they voted for Biden because they had contempt for Donald Trump.

On illegal immigration, the border with Mexico became more catastrophic this week with the end of Title 42 which restricted immigrants who didn’t have a Covid vaccination. Out of 300,000,000 citizens in this country, only two claim the border is secure and under control: President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas.

About 10,000 immigrants are being processed and released each day by the Border Patrol agents and 1500 US Army soldiers. Meanwhile, thousands more are sneaking across stretches of the border where no wall exists and Border Patrol folks have been reassigned to desk duty. Since January 2021, 1,200,000 “Got-aways” have entered. These are illegal immigrants seen by Agents or cameras, but not caught. How many more have entered without being seen? Could it be 2,000,000?

Environmentalists who dominate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are determined to improve air quality (shutting down power plants) and water quality (restrictions on little streams and ditches), and stop global warming. (John Kerry, Climate Czar, says ‘climate change is a catastrophe.’)

But illegal immigrants are coming here to increase their Carbon footprint. Yes, typical immigrants add 4 times as much “global warming impact” than if they had stayed in their home country. Naturally they come here for a better life: earn more money so they can travel by car instead of bicycle; eat beef and pork instead of nuts and beans; get plentiful clean water (hot and cold) from a faucet instead of carrying it in a bucket from a community well.

Organic farming typically involves a lot of tillage. Even with crop rotations and cover crops, usually a lot of the ground is bare, making it susceptible to soil erosion from rain and wind. Organic farming is a small but growing percent of crop production. More than half of major crops are grown with intensive tillage.

No-till farming is a solution (soil is protected by living plants and crop residue) but the EPA is slow to approve new herbicides necessary to manage weeds without cultivation.  So, no-till and other farming practices that improve the quality of water and air (preventing soil erosion and dangerous dust storms) are hampered by government regulations. The absence of tillage also allows the soil to store carbon that plants remove from the air. Reducing carbon dioxide in the air is one way to reduce global warming.

Decisions by President Biden resulted in Americans paying more for electricity and restricting fossil fuels. But they have no beneficial effect on the climate because China, India and several other countries are increasing their use of coal, oil, and gas. Why don’t other countries follow Biden’s (and John Kerry’s) lead? Because, like our illegal immigrants, billions of people worldwide want to improve their lives, which means increasing their carbon footprint.

Today we celebrate Mother’s Day. Anna Jarvis began the effort to honor mothers in 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia. By the 1920’s the florists, candy makers, and the greeting card business had commercialized Mother’s Day to the extent that Anna Jarvis fought against an official Mother’s Day. She criticized sons and daughters for being too lazy to write a personal note and for giving candy, then eating most of it themselves.

Will Rogers had his own opinion on what to give mothers. He devoted most of his 15-minute radio broadcast to them on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1935:

       “The florists just practically corralled this Mother’s Day business. They have led us to believe that no matter how we have treated our mothers during the past year that a little bouquet of hyacinths or daisies will square it… There’s nothing in the world more beautiful than flowers. And every home that can possibly afford ’em should have flowers. But on the other hand, there’s an awful lot of need and want in the country, and I got a plan. My plan is not to eliminate flowers. I’m strong for flowers, but they’ve just got one drawback. You can’t eat ’em. And I imagine an awful lot of mothers today would not have rebelled if you’d sent ’em a ham. Yeah, a cut of beef or a whole lamb. Suppose the meat growers had been on the job and linked Mother’s Day up with their organization like the florists have. If they’d done that, instead of receiving a bunch of hollyhocks, she’d receive a cluster of pork chops….   Father had a day, but you can’t find anybody who remembers when it was. It’s been so confused with April the first.”

King Charles III Crowned; Will’s friend Edward, Prince of Wales; Army Troops Sent to Mexican Border  

King Charles III was crowned today. It’s the first Coronation in the United Kingdom in 70 years.

Now, I never met a British Royal. But Will Rogers did.

Will Rogers became friends with Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1924. Before I tell you why Edward liked Will, let me remind why you might know about him. He became King Edward VIII in January 1936 (5 months after Will’s death). Eleven months later, Edward abdicated the throne to “marry the woman I love,” a twice-divorced American socialite, Wallis Simpson.

Prince Edward visited the United States often and was treated like, well, like Royalty. As a 30-year-old bachelor prince, he received adoring attention from women. However, newspapers and comedians made fun of him for frequently falling off his horse during steeplechase races and while playing polo.

Will Rogers frequently defended him on the Ziegfeld Follies and in his syndicated newspaper columns. Will spent one 15-minute radio broadcast entirely on Prince Edward, May 18, 1930. Here’s one segment: “Now, I suppose, according to the usual run of American humor, I am supposed to tell you some jokes here tonight, Prince, about your falling off your horse.  Well, I have never seen a picture of you where you had fallen that the horse hadn’t fallen too. I am not much of a horseman, but all these people that joke about your falling off, what do they expect a man to do when his horse falls?  Is he supposed to remain up in the air until the horse comes back up under him? I saw one picture where you had fallen in a creek. We haven’t got a comedian in this country that could swim across this creek, much less try to jump it on a horse, and we haven’t got an editorial writer that could row across it. So, I am afraid we are going to have to find something else to kid the Englishman about besides his horsemanship.” Will closed with, “Fine fellow! Very, very human. No wonder they like him over there, for he is a regular guy.”

Will Rogers said Edward didn’t want to become King. He was having too much fun as a Prince. But, as mentioned above, he did become King, for 11 months.

Here’s an interesting angle to consider. When Edward abdicated the throne, his younger brother became King George VI. When George VI died in 1952 at age 56, his 27-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, became Queen.

Now, suppose Edward VIII had remained King, married an “acceptable” woman, and had a child. Edward lived until 1972, and that child, in his/her early 30s, would have become King or Queen. In this rewrite of history, Elizabeth would not have been a Queen, and there would have been no coronation today of King Charles III. (The Church of England policy has changed in 85 years. No problem with King Charles being divorced and married to a divorcee.)

Meanwhile, along our border with Mexico, officials are preparing for a surge of illegal immigrants after May 11. As if the absurd numbers we have allowed into the country already are not enough, more than 10,000 a day are expected to overwhelm Border Patrol agents and towns and ranches along the border. The Biden Administration has done nothing to discourage the 90% of asylum seekers who do not qualify for asylum.

About 1500 Army troops will arrive at the border. That sounds like a great idea until you hear they are only serving in a clerical role. Instead of using them to support the Border Patrol in keeping illegal immigrants from entering, their role is to rapidly register and welcome them into our country.

It is high time for President Biden to go to the border, stand along the Rio Grande River for a full day, and personally greet a few thousand. At the end of the visit, he could take a couple dozen with him on Air Force One. Half could stay in the White House, the others at his Delaware homes. With luck, none would be a Cartel drug dealer or Chinese spy.