On a small airplane from Chicago to Des Moines I sat next to one of the major farmers in Iowa.
He taught me about the two crops that Iowa grows: corn and soybeans. There is no irrigation, there is usually enough rain. This gentleman grows organic crops in his thousands of acres because he sells directly to Japan and China.
Out of the plane window he showed me what the two crops look like from the air.
The parts of the story that relate to current issues are that young people are leaving the farms, as they have been for two centuries, and the old farmers sell to their neighbors for cash. The benefit is that farms have become the size of an entire section which is good for the giant harvesting machines that are used. These giant machines are almost fully automated and they operate best while driving in one direction for a long time. Big farms accommodate these very efficient machines. These machines plant and harvest; they plant each seed directly in the ground with its fertilizer at the beginning of the season.
The other part of the story concerns his family. I asked about the brothers and sisters. One brother was not too bright and was no help around the farm. So they got him a job as a U.S. Congressman. He had held that job for 18 years at the time of this plane ride.
It has been my experience as a legislative analyst and political activist that most people in politics are not very bright or competent. The successful farmer’s brother fits into the narrative perfectly.