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Irons in the fire: I’m a rural snob

Paul Marchant for Progressive Forage Published on 30 August 2019

Jackpot, Nevada, is a wide spot in the road about 50 miles south of Twin Falls, Idaho. The town was founded in 1954, shortly after Idaho banned slot machines.

Were it not for Nevada’s legalization of gambling, and the appetite for gambling of the citizens of my home state of Idaho, Jackpot, as a town, would not even exist. It would be just a spot among the high-desert ranches between the San Jacinto and Hollister, a place at the bottom of the hill to rest the horses. As it is though, the success of casinos like Barton’s 93 Club and Cactus Pete’s have literally put Jackpot on the map.

I’m not much of a gambler myself, but I have a certain fondness for Jackpot. It’s my preferred “mile-high” city. The official elevation of Jackpot is 5,213 feet, but if you trot 50 or 60 steps to the north, you’ll quickly get to your mile. I figure Jackpot is every bit as much a mile-high town as Denver. And, with all due respect to my friends in Colorado and in deference to the National Western Livestock Show, I prefer Jackpot to Denver.

As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a metropolis on the planet (a metropolis by my definition being any designated area inhabited by 723 or more human beings) where I’d rather spend time than just about any one-horse cow town. I’d much rather spend the weekend in Twin Bridges than the Twin Cities. San Jon is much more to my liking than San Jose. I’m an unapologetic and undeserving son of the rural American West and have developed a certain distrust and, dare I say, disdain for some urban ideals and the many misinformed attitudes of the cosmopolitan elite.

It’s true: I’m a rural snob. Yes, I realize I’m exposing my obvious hypocrisy. Just because someone hails from the city or the suburbs doesn’t necessarily mean they believe agriculture, the very thing that sustains life on the blue planet, is systematically and willfully destroying the earth – with no respect for purveyors of the sacred green movement. That, I suppose, is the mirror image of the faulty urban belief held by many city dwellers that anyone who resides more than 15 minutes from a mall is a naïve, overall-wearing imbecile.

This particular quandary vexes me daily. I want to think and believe that we can always find some common ground no matter how uncommonly ridiculous the other side’s beliefs may seem. How is it possible to believe we’re all in the same boat when so many seem so intent on sinking my canoe? Can’t they see they’ll follow us to the bottom of the pond if they keep shooting at our hull?

It’s a tired old mantra – that of educating the masses – but I’m afraid we need to figure out new ways to fight the old battle. The days of believing your “Thank a Farmer” bumper sticker will suffice are behind us. I don’t need to be thanked. I think those of us immersed in production agriculture are incredibly and undeservedly blessed. As I noted: I’m a rural snob. And since we are thusly blessed and prosperous, it’s our obligation and duty to figure out how to renew and reinvigorate this education thing. The battle would be much less savage if the opposition fought with us rather than against us.

I regret to inform you it won’t be easy. I don’t even know if it’s possible. I really don’t have the answers yet. There will always be opposition – like the never-ending feral hog and horse populations, the idiots will keep reproducing both biologically and intellectually. But we have to keep up the fight. There is no choice.

 And I really do believe there will always be some common ground, even if it’s buried under piles of cheap, trashy lies and misinformation. We may have to dig deeper than we ever thought. Just because we may not be able to find it doesn’t mean it’s not there. The same sun rises and sets every day whether you’re in Shoshone or Chicago. So let’s start with that: Keep digging so we can start educating.  end mark