As a reporter, few things are as important as the “truth.” It’s what makes sense out of complicated issues and defines what can be trusted.

I wish I could say everything I’ve ever written was 100 percent true, but the “truth” of the matter is, few of us can make that claim and still be telling the truth.

I was very encouraged this past week to hear a veterinarian for Pfizer Animal Health talk about truth as it pertains to agriculture and the lives of farmers.

Dr. Greg Quakenbush — that’s his name — warned farmers that truth is under attack and they need to be ready to defend what is true.

Absolute truth

While opinions can differ, facts are either true or they’re not. He said absolute truth should be the deciding factor of our ethics and moral values; not what people think or say.

“Ethics has to be based on absolute truth. If it’s not, then ethics becomes like truth and everybody has their own ethics,” he said. “If everybody has their own ethics, then we’re going to have a culture that’s going to disintegrate, it’s going to be anarchy.”

Those are some strong words, but I appreciate what he said. There are people and groups today who question whether anything at all is really true, or insist on five different “versions” of the truth as being equally true.

Quakenbush warned of people who “want to change our culture” as farmers, when it’s not for the better. People like radical animal rights activists, opponents of approved animal medications and opponents of modern crop technology.

Pseudo science

He said today’s science is being “hijacked” and “overrun” by pseudo-science — people who are out to make a political and ideological point, and not always a truth point.

He encouraged farmers to “find your ethical voice and begin to speak out because there’s a freight train coming of people who never even stepped in a cow pie, they have no concept.”

To tell the truth, I think the freight train is already here — it’s already spreading fear, misinformation and lies at the sake of advancing agendas that too frequently bear no truth.

Important issues

Our nation’s agriculture has a lot of important issues to decide the next few years — things like food safety, livestock medication, animal treatment, genetically modified seeds and mineral extraction from the ground.

In all of these issues, it’s imperative that facts be the backbone of the discussion, and that sources and studies speak the truth, and the whole truth.

Even in the last few days, I’ve witnessed public testimony from individuals who have not spoken the truth — who have confused oil and gas production wells with disposal wells, who have misquoted government action and labeled the American food industry bad for our bodies and the environment.

I’ve heard people talk about what is good for “farmers” and what the “farmers” want, when they themselves do not farm and would struggle to start a tractor.

It takes some work to get to the truth about what’s really going on in today’s agricultural scene — especially when so many have muddled the truth amidst their own idealogies and political agendas.

Even the word “farmer” itself is being hijacked, by people who want to dictate to the rest how it should be done, despite not having knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

Truth endures

The encouraging thing, to me, is that no matter how much deception and misinformation enters the discussion — truth can still be found if you seek it. It may take some unraveling, and you may have to call out a few “scientists” who claim to speak the truth but really don’t. But in the end you will find the truth.

Toward the end of his talk, Quakenbush quoted a Biblical passage that says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Those who do not know the truth are held in bondage to lies and misinformation, he said. You don’t have to be religious to know how true that is.

Opinions about how we should farm, and what we should and shouldn’t do with our land are as unique as the person who holds them. But if they’re to be considered as anything more than opinion, then they need to be rooted in fact and in truth.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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