The war on farmers

Teachers’ unions have destroyed public schools; we can’t allow agriculture to follow the same fate.

Americans have historically envied Minnesota as a state that built its economy on the shoulders of its farmers and its commitment to high-quality public education. As a person who has always been proud of my farm kid roots, I’m driven to despair that Minnesota’s liberal activists are now imposing a radical political agenda on farmers with the same zeal that they used to shred traditional public education.

Let’s start with education. This issue of Thinking Minnesota documents more insights into how the teachers’ unions have exploited that reputation dividend to promote a radical ideology that disdains basic knowledge and civic responsibility in favor of equity, race, and gender identity. The result has spiraled public education into a self-destructing system of violence, mental health problems, and deteriorating academic performance.

In his article, “Institutional Oppression,” Communications Director Bill Walsh uses a historical retrospective to explain how the equity-obsessed teachers’ union Education Minnesota (starting as the Minnesota Federation of Teachers and Minnesota Education Association) has ironically contributed to the educational decline and inequality for underserved and minority students. While continually demanding more state money to “solve” our so-called equity problem, they actively promoted school shutdowns during COVID and now justify the growing thuggish chaos in their classrooms and hallways by blaming systemic racism instead of poor discipline or personal responsibility.

Policy fellow Catrin Wigfall describes how Gov. Tim Walz’s Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board now requires educators to “demonstrate” ideological content in school curriculum in her article, “License to Woke.” In it, Wigfall explains that the board approved plans to require educators seeking teaching licenses to affirm students’ identities — such as gender and sexual orientation — and incorporate them into the learning environment. Teachers will also be required to “‘understand’ how ‘ethnocentrism, eurocentrism, deficit-based teaching, and white supremacy undermine pedagogical equity.’”

There is no better example of how public schools today place equity, race, and gender identity far above academics. And rest assured that the teachers’ union is right there to prompt the governor to heap money and influence to further their progressive agenda. In the meantime, minority students are left vulnerable to violence-riddled schools and poor learning standards, which are reflected in the continuous downward trend in test scores across the state.

This is not an environment in which most Minnesota parents and grandparents would proudly send their children to a public school. Senior policy fellow Katherine Kersten in this issue provides an eye-opening look at Minnesota families who have taken their kids’ educations into their own hands, breaking with public schools to pursue homeschooling. You will be surprised at how this movement has evolved and thrived in just a few years. Modern approaches to homeschooling involve organizing with other homeschool families to balance schedules and workload; others provide a “hybrid” that incorporates some traditional classroom learning with hands-on experiences through museums, farming, or introduction to the trades. But as Kersten clearly shows, there is an abundance of quality resources available to Minnesota families to fit their educational needs outside the public school experience.

What’s next? The war on farmers, already underway. Progressives always proclaim their weepy commitments to the “family farm” just as they do for “minority students” — unless they happen to get in the way of their pet political causes. No longer content to work hand-in-hand with farmers and the agriculture business to promote the interests of all Minnesotans, progressives are more than willing to destroy Minnesota agriculture in the name of a radical and unsustainable agenda of climate change policies.

We haven’t surrendered the fight on education — hardly! — but American Experiment intends to fortify the defense of Minnesota’s farmers against these attacks under the leadership of plucky policy fellow Isaac Orr.

The war on farmers and agriculture in general will be fought in unambiguous terms. “Big Environment” is on the side of environmental lobbyists making money from plentiful government subsidies — including our energy utility companies such as Xcel Energy, which Orr details in his article, “Death of a Wind Farm” in this issue. Foreign companies also stand to profit in nefarious ways as they mine for precious metals using slave and child labor such as for solar panels from China. The ultimate goal is for a few corporations to profit from a movement that claims to “save” the environment while they hold energy consumers hostage with ever restrictive and expensive regulations. The media helps this cause by continuously championing “green” companies and initiatives, only showing the relatively small benefits (such as paying less at the gas pump) but avoiding the high cost of electric vehicles — such as price, unreliability, and burdensome regulations, for example.

The cost of this impending war will be very high. Inefficient and exceedingly expensive “green” equipment and machinery will drive farming costs sky-high, driving out the smaller farms and driving up the cost of food. As we’ve seen in California, especially the San Joaquin Valley which was once known as the breadbasket of the world, is only a shadow of its former productive landscape as environmental activists and government bureaucrats have denied the valley the water and resources it needs for a thriving agricultural economy. These same radicals are targeting Minnesota’s family farms.

California, the posterchild for radical and failed environmental policies, provides a valuable case in point. California can’t pay its bills, its citizens are fleeing by the tens of thousands, and the state experiences power blackouts and brownouts with increasing regularity. If Minnesota’s progressive policymakers follow this example, it will sink our state’s economy which is mainly based on agriculture.

The liberal progressive activists will only be content once they capture complete control over others’ well-being, usually at the expense of efficiency, affordability, rising standards of living, and ultimately, prosperity. The green energy radicals will undermine Minnesota agriculture and reduce how much food is available to consumers. Let our failing public school system be a warning about what path we cannot afford to go down in the coming fight over Minnesota’s agriculture industry. I hope you’ll join our fight.