When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Birds-Point New Madrid Floodway to save the town of Cairo, Ill., most people expressed heartfelt sympathy for the farmers who made a living in the floodway, along with the hope that their livelihoods would be restored as soon as possible.
Those who felt so strongly for farmers represent the best in human understanding and compassion. I now bring you the worst.
Three Southern Illinois University professors have written a letter to President Obama asking him to leave the Birds Point Levee breach open, turning 130,000 acres of productive farmland into a permanent wasteland, er, wetland.
In my view, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should rebuild the Birds Point levee if only to spite these three self-important individuals, who either don’t know, or don’t care, that they are rubbing salt in a very fresh wound and offending every hard-working farmer in America.
Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation had this to say about the trio of egotists. “Those of us who remember the great flood of 1993 can write the script from here; environmental groups will use Mississippi County’s misfortune to attempt a land grab of massive proportions.
“The professors, without bothering to provide any evidence, claim that 200 square miles of fertile farmland would better serve mankind as a swamp, instead of producing food the world so desperately needs. I’m not sure how big the ‘I Miss Malaria Caucus’ is, but it’s imperative we drown this foolish idea in its infancy. The levees must be repaired as soon as it dries enough for dirt to be moved.”
Hurst noted that professors “are not only deluded, but self serving as well. The lack of concern they show for the families affected by the flood is breathtaking, the arrogance shown by their cavalier disregard for the efforts of generations of farmers is shocking. People are suffering, and the best that the academics can do is to propose a plan that will make the suffering permanent.”
Hurst says the U.S. government “has a moral obligation to help those in the path of this man-made flood. The levees must be repaired, the ground must be restored, the roads, bridges, and homes replaced.
“Crop losses this year, and every year until repairs are made, will be over $100 million. People need the food, Missouri needs the economic activity, and the farmers who have spent generations making the Mississippi Delta bloom like a rose deserve a chance to reclaim their lives.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has asked the Corps to rebuild the Birds Point levee as soon as conditions allow. I agree. Meanwhile, he should lecture those high brow profs on where their food comes from. A lesson on public relations couldn’t hurt either.