Funny or Die's Nick Wiger has created a commercial parody that's an excellent critique of modern American farming.
One of the most popular, and certainly the most talked about, commercials during the 2013 Super Bowl was the Dodge car company's creation, a celebration of the American farmer set to the words of the late broadcaster Paul Harvey. (The original can be viewed here.)
Harvey's speech was first delivered at the 1978 Future Farmers of America convention, based on a piece he had written a few years earlier. He later disavowed authorship, a smart move given that very similar published pieces date back to the 1940s, usually appearing in small town newspapers.
Whatever its origin, it's a beautiful poem (especially as delivered by Harvey), speaking to the difficult and thankless work that farmers in America -- and around the world -- do. I'll admit to tearing up a little watching the Dodge commercial, even though it was clear from the start that it was for the benefit of some American car company. (And to be fair, Dodge has announced they'll be donating to Future Farmers of America this year.)
But I teared up even knowing that the concept of the small, family farmer, with multiple crops and organic practices and livestock he'll bond with is something outdated at this point. As we've covered time and again, modern American farmers have evil corporations and specialty-crop killing subsidies and genetically modified seeds to deal with, among many other issues that really decimate the image of a simple family living off land they've owned for generations, just doing it for the love of a hard day's work.
And this Funny or Die video, though ostensibly funny, gets right to the heart of it all.
So God Made a Farmer, presented by Paul Harvey
And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, "I need a caretaker." So God made a farmer.
God said, "I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board." So God made a farmer.
"I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon -- and mean it." So God made a farmer.
God said, "I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, 'Maybe next year.' I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours." So God made a farmer.
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a farmer.
God said, "I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church.
"Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.'" So God made a farmer.