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Ken's Commentary: Welcome to Summer 2013

I am writing this wearing a fleece vest and shorts; I am determined to get into the spirit of summer even if I have to freeze to death to do so!

This has been a strange year and made worse by how different it is than last year’s premature spring and blistering summer weather. We work on weather averages, but we average extremes to come up with pretty moderate temperatures and rainfall. I’ve been told that if you have one arm in a bucket of cold water and one arm in a bucket of boiling water, on average you are comfortable. That may be the best way of looking at year-to-year weather in the Midwest.

Last week’s planting progress showed how much mechanical capacity and pent up energy there is in rural America. Over half of the corn crop went into the ground in seven days. Some farmers were saying they ran their planters as much as 20 hours per day. The advent of GPS-assisted steering makes it possible to keep the rows straight, even when your eyes are crossed, but there has to be some common sense as to when to go to the house and sleep.

As we move into the Memorial Day weekend, I hope things have slowed down enough that you can enjoy some family time and some celebration in your community. This country was built by its agriculture and industry, but if it weren’t for the commitment of ordinary citizens to their country, we wouldn’t have one.

Last week, I flew to Washington, D.C., to visit family and to attend the House and Senate Farm Bill mark-up hearings. As we stepped off our airplane at Ronald Reagan National Airport, I heard a band playing a patriotic march. As I walked up the concourse, I saw a row of American flags and an orchestra playing as an Honor Flight of World War II veterans arrived. There was a crowd of people greeting them, and literally everyone in the area began to cheer as hobbling old men began to emerge. The smiles and tears were everywhere. It made me proud to be an American and to see my fellow countrymen and women saluting those farm boys and factory workers who laid down their hoes and hammers and went to far-off lands to defend our country. We didn’t see those who laid down their lives for our country but it doesn’t mean we can’t salute their memory and dedicate ourselves to keeping this nation free.

May you have a safe and happy holiday weekend.