David and Goliath of Television

By Baxter Black, Contributing Editor

“The farmer has always been a peasant.”

Richard Blinco, Idaho

When the market crashed in 1975, Richard had a ranch, feedlot, dairy, potatoes, alfalfa and a packing house.

Here we sit 45 years later and not much has changed. Today less than 1.3 percent of the American population (7 percent in Canada) is involved in production agriculture. We are left with the responsibility of feeding the ever-growing population that now stands at 331 million people. We do it. It is lots of work. We have an enormous amount of scientific, technical, medical, and mechanical research looking over our shoulder as we break the ground, plant the wheat, brand the calf or drive the truck.

Imagine a nóngmín bent over in a rice field a thousand years before Christ came – not much different from a farmer bent over a furrow, feeling the soil today. What is our motive, our inspiration? Do we say, “We’re feeding the world” or “I’ll get famous!” or “The big money”?

No. It is as simple as “It’s what I do.”

There are people who have a deep heart, have a conscience, are dedicated to those we work for, are close to God, maybe have guilt, or just kindness and care. They don’t think “money first.” Occasionally, the consumer has a chance to make farmers’ lives easier, nicer, more satisfying.

Let me suggest … their own television channels. Television waves are controlled by a handful of global companies. They have brought wonderful communication worldwide with hundreds of channels, 99.9 percent of which are dedicated to the majority polled – suburban folks.

The ag rural television, which is not “about us” but “for us,” is limited to pillars like U.S. Farm Report, Orion Samuelson and some local weeklies that are an hour long.

The RFD-TV channel is the only exception. RFD-TV contents are exclusively rural and agriculture, 24 hours a day. They are leading the effort to have Congress vote on HR 2682 that would ensure at least 1 percent of programming is devoted exclusively to the ag rural market.

Like ag publications and ag radio, ag television is part of what holds all of our ag community together. To those of us in ag media, it’s not just a job. I think it has something to do with our souls.

If you want to help, contact your representative or senator about passing HR 2682.

HR 2682: Agricultural News and Rural Content Act of 2020

This bill requires certain video programming distributors, such as cable providers, to use at least 1 percent of their channel capacity to transmit channels of programming that serve the needs and interests of rural areas.