Without question, the most read blog post on WATTPoultry.com so far this year has been one written by my colleague Meredith Johnson, titled “Commercial farm fires in 2022: conspiracy theory or not?

It was well-written and covered a topic that resonated with readers. Several weeks after being written, it is still attracting many readers, and many online comments.

While I read the comments earlier, it wasn’t until about two weeks after Meredith wrote the blog that I clicked on a link provided by a reader in the comments section. That link was to a piece of content written by Justin Malonson for the Federal Inquirer that included a list of fires and other situations that caused losses at agrifood facilities. Malonson’s work was something I had already partially seen when an acquaintance copied and pasted it onto Facebook. 

Almost immediately, I noticed two errors made my Malonson. Rather than mentioning a Lincoln Premium Poultry facility, it mentioned a “Lincoln premiere poultry” facility. And instead of referencing a Cargill-Nutrena feed mill, it mentioned a “Cargill-Nutrene” feed mill. I didn’t scroll down any further. If the person who complied the list can’t even get these names right, it isn’t credible.

Bias very evident

Make no mistake about it, Malonson’s list was a way to drum up angry sentiment toward President Joe Biden. I figure most presidents, including Biden, do enough of that themselves without anyone’s help, but that’s beside the point.

Malonson wasted no time trying to make it look like these farm and processing plant losses were all part of a ploy by the current presidential administration. 

The second time I read that list, I scrolled all the way down. I noticed the list included a large percentage of the poultry flock depopulations that have taken place this year due to avian influenza infections.

Yes, we could point out the real reason those birds were depopulated, and that depopulations are in accordance to rules that have been in place under both Republican and Democratic administrations, but would these political extremists buy it? Would they think the fact that birds are being depopulated for avian influenza infections in Canada as well is also a part of some left-wing conspiracy? You know there are those who would say it is.

One divide makes another worse

Malonson’s piece exposed something I had known for a long time. Many people in this country don’t know agriculture. His failure to properly identify Lincoln Premium Poultry and Nutrena leads me to believe he is one of those people. 

So not only do we have a divide between the Democrats and Republicans, but we also have a divide between those who know agriculture and those who don’t. And sadly, too many people are too concerned about the former and not concerned enough about the latter.

That’s a mentality I don’t understand.

We never talked about politics at home when I was growing up, other than when a classmate of my mom’s was our state representative. But we never talked about him as a Republican or a Democrat, so I only thought of him as Bob. I liked Bob. 

Then, when I was in my 20s and started working as a newspaper reporter and later editor, I became interested in politics. To me, I found it fascinating how a local person could go to the state or nation’s capital and go to bat for the geographical area in which they live. I saw a lot of good results that helped the local community and economy. 

During my newspaper career, I heard a state senator speak to me glowingly about a colleague of hers, who once upon a time rode the school bus with me. Those two senators were on separate sides of the political aisle, but at the time they worked together to get things done for their agriculture-based districts. I also attended the funeral of a state representative, and delivering a kind and heartfelt eulogy for her was a representative of another party.

But those days of people first, party second are gone, and as a result, the days of politics being even remotely interesting are also gone. 

It’s nobody’s fault they weren’t raised on a farm or in the agriculture industry, and it’s wrong to look down on people who are unfamiliar with the industry. 

But what is concerning is that there are people who live on farms, such as the earlier mentioned acquaintance who shared Malonson’s message on Facebook, who should know better than to share such garbage.

Could it be that this person was so intent on bad-mouthing Biden that it was more important to her than spreading knowledge of how agriculture works?

It’s truly a shame that people’s obsession with one divide is actually exacerbating another divide.