LTE: Iowa is Where You Come to Die

I am a fifth or fourth generation Iowegian located just north of Yorktown, 7 miles west of Clarinda. Growing up, I have mainly seen the underbelly of ag and been forced to earn my living in factories. I graduated community college with a Pell grant/secretarial degree and fled Clarinda for Omaha only returning when I got pregnant so my mom and my sister could help me raise my daughter. I live on the remaining 6.7 acres of a homestead tract that has been held by women since, I believe, 1948 when my grandfather died leaving my 52 year old grandmother to raise 3 boys under the age of 16.

Dad and Mom did everything they could think of to hold the farm together, raising a small number of pigs, cattle, sheep, and poultry, and sharing rent with a neighbor who did the row crop work and had the equipment. 80 acres of pasture and 80 of row crop. Mom was also from a farming family who lost their farm about the time my paternal grandfather died and were forced to move to town, so when my father died at 49, she sold most of the land to a neighbor and just retained the house and 6.7 acres. All that pasture ground is now row crop. I also still have a mobile home that I moved onto the property where I raised my daughter. It allowed me my own home, but we were still close to mom so we could help each other out.

My viewpoint is that the current ag structure is unsustainable. We have some of the richest top soil in the world but modern farm practices are strip mining it and for what? We are destroying poorer countries’ economies by flooding the market with cheap corn. I don’t like ethanol. Brian Bowman says he would approve of it if the industry would change to switch grass, but I’m not sure I like it even then.

I disapprove of the subsidies that the government pays for growing corn. We should be growing food and not burning fuel. Our small towns are dying as more and more land is consumed by manicured fields that are only utilized for three fourths of a year. Young people are leaving the state in droves because they are not happy and can find better work elsewhere. Clarinda has three funeral homes but the fancy new hospital the city built will not deliver a baby. Iowa is where you come to die. I am an ardent Democrat, neither of my parents voted though my dad leaned Republican and my sister is a strong Republican.

– Dorene Claybaker

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