Can a picture really tell a thousand words? I’m not so sure anymore.
I’m also not always sure that I agree with Jim Cramer, host of the “Mad Money” program on CNBC. But he often seems to make sense — when I can understand what he’s saying. (Slow down, Jim.)
Last week, he was so impressed with Titan Machinery’s earnings report (revenues were up 55%, etc.) that he interviewed David Meyer, Titan’s chairman and CEO. It was interesting to hear a farm equipment dealer talking on TV about what’s happening in the farm equipment business. Nothing like going to the source, is there?
But as I listened to what Cramer had to say about agriculture before he introduced Meyer, I have to admit, I found his take on the industry pretty refreshing.
He started off by saying, “It's good to be a farmer these days. We're no longer in an era where they need to be bailed out by farm aid from Willie Nelson. No more of John Mellencamp's songs about rain on the scare crow, blood on the plow.”
His comments took me back to the Farm Aid concert I attended in Milwaukee last fall. The message that echoed throughout that event — from the misinformed performers to the well-meaning exhibitors who promoted organic farming — was that corporate farming is bad. Small family farming is good. Neil Young, one of the Farm Aid founders and a most vehement foe of big farms, may have a heart of gold, but has rocks in his head.
Personally, I’m all for the small family farmer and organic practices. And as soon as they can feed a few billion people, I’ll be happy to jump on their bandwagon. Until then, I’m all for working with the tools and technologies we have available that enable us to feed the growing number of mouths around the world.
Another recent incident also reminded me of the warped view that the anti-meat and poultry groups present.
While in Germany a couple of weeks ago, I visited a dairy, poultry and grain farm. The care this farmer gave to his animals was something to see. It was obvious he viewed these creatures as assets that needed to be treated well.
As we opened the door of the turkey barn, thousands of the young birds rushed to greet us. Actually, I think they were looking to be fed. So, as I snapped some photos, one of my German hosts tapped me on the shoulder and said, “That’s the kind of photo the anti-meat people like to publicize.”
As I looked up, I could see all of the floor space the turkeys had vacated in this temperature-controlled facility to see if they could beg a little more feed. But the photos I took were of hundreds of birds jammed together and barely able to move. I realized that if I were to publish those photos without thinking, I would have shown a very distorted picture of the real story.
A picture can tell a thousand words, but it’s getting harder to tell if those words — or pictures — tell a true story.