Hard experience teaches that biotech, chemical and other agribusiness giants have no sense of respect for Mother Nature. But Rick Friday has learned that they have no sense of humor, either.
Friday, a lifelong Iowa farmer, also happens to be a talented, self-taught cartoonist. For 21 years, he has supplemented his cattle-raising income with a dab of money he gets paid for drawing cartoons each week in an Iowa publication named Farm News. Friday really enjoyed this side job — until April 30.
The day before, the News had published his drawing of two hard-hit farmers chatting at a fence about the low prices they were getting for their products. "I wish there were more profits in farming," mused one. "There is," exclaimed the other. "In year 2015, the CEOs of Monsanto, Dupont, Pioneer, and John Deere combined made more money than 2,129 Iowa farmers." (tinyurl.com/thatfarmcartoon)
It wasn't exactly a harsh comment but — WHAP! — the next morning, Rick was slapped with an email from a Farm News editor announcing that, at the direction of the publisher, Friday was immediately being terminated. The drawing "had caused a storm here," the editor wrote, adding that one of the named corporate giants had pulled its advertising. "In the eyes of some," the email confided, "big agriculture cannot be criticized or poked fun at."
And yet, Big Ag wonders why it is so loathed across America's farm country!
The petulant corporate bully that mugged Rick Friday won't identify itself — but why won't Farm News? Do its publisher and owners feel no journalistic responsibility to report actual news — in this case, news that farmers really could use?
The publication's pusillanimous sacrifice of its longtime cartoonist is a shameful betrayal of both its farmer readership and the ethics of journalism.
They should rename it the Agribusiness Shill.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.