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By Pettus L. Read
Director of Communications for Tennessee Farm Bureau
What’s Up The Government’s Sleeve

If you have ever watched a magic act, somewhere during the performance the magician will pull a rabbit out of a hat or maybe even something else. I’ve been trying to keep them out of a garden without any luck and maybe a magician is what I need. But, if what the government requires you to have to keep a rabbit in a magic show is needed, as reported by David Fahrenthold in The Washington Post, I think I’ll stick to my current methods of bait, trap and remove.

In the article by the Post, it reported that a one rabbit magician in Missouri was required to have a USDA government license to keep the rabbit in his act. Seems that the law that is decades old was intended to regulate circuses and zoos. For some reason, the Washington Post says, it is being used to regulate Marty the Magician’s rabbit. The thing that could make you “hopping” mad in this whole deal is that the government issued a new rule recently requiring Marty to have a disaster plan for his rabbit. Some of the things they asked him to plan for were fire, flood, ice storms, power failures and tornados. Now, rabbits have been doing pretty good since after the big flood when Noah let them on the ark and they continue to populate my farm during some major ice storms and tornados without the help of the government.

It just shows you that someone in the government system needs something better to do or let them find some way to pull a balanced budget out of a hat and leave Marty’s rabbit alone. There has to be more important things on the government form filing system than making disaster plans for magician’s rabbits. Can you imagine that we have a government system requiring a disaster plan for a rabbit and we have cities that don’t even have complete disaster plans in place? Sounds a little “hare-ey” to me.

Right now up in Washington the House and Senate are trying to come up with a farm bill that farmers can depend on for planning their next year’s crops. This makes two years they have waited for a brand new farm bill and hopefully one with less forms as well as paper work. They don’t need extra work to develop disaster plans for rabbits, but a farm bill to support a strong agriculture in our country.

Several years ago, I was given a story about a bachelor farmer. I don’t remember who gave me the story and neither do I have the name of the author, but it sort of describes many of the farm people I grew up with.  It seems there was a farmer who had a reputation for being real tight with his money.  Some called him conservative, but others just called him stingy. In fact, he was so tight that he caused the government to send down an investigator to see if he was paying his farm employees fairly.

The investigator told the farmer he was checking him out to see if he was violating the law by paying his hired help below the minimum wage.  He asked the old farmer to explain how he paid his workers and the old man explained his actions this way.

“I pay Richard $80 a week to milk the cows, as well as listen to his iPod for the better part of the day. Then there is Gertrude who is supposed to clean my house and cook the meals, but she spends most of her time on her cell phone texting. I pay her $100 a week. Then there’s the neighbor boy who is supposed to keep the grass cut, but he spends his time sitting in his car listening to rap songs. He gets $55.”

After hearing what the old man said, the government man scratched his head and said, “I don’t see too much wrong with those figures.  Is there anybody else you have not told me about?”

“Well, there’s this fellow who is not too smart.  He works from before sun up to after sun down seven days a week and gets about $20 a week,” the old man said, looking sort of guilty.

The government man’s eyes jumped up and down.  He broke the lead out of his pencil writing the information down on his forms. “Let me meet this man. He’s the one I have to talk to,” the investigator said.

With a grin on his face, the old farmer leaned back in his straight back chair, stretched out his arms over his head and said, “You’re talking to him.”

- Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.  He may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com

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