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Growing Up To Be ‘Energy Farmers’

May 23, 2017
Emmetsburg News

To The Editor:

I wish I'd taken photos. We were driving back from West Des Moines where two of our kids had birthdays to celebrate. The sun was setting--perfect light for some classic "rural Iowa" photos for Facebook. Notable were the significant changes in the farm equipment. One corn planter was so large that it looked like it could plant 40 rows at a time. As we drove along, it dawned on us that we were looking at a new breed of "energy farmers" at work; raising crops to sell for food to consumers, or bio-fuel plants that produce ethanol. As the sun was setting, we started to see the red lights atop the wind towers generating electricity. It was thrilling to reflect on it--my Dad and Grandfather would have been amazed. "A way to earn money while you're sleeping," they would likely say.

The reminiscing was taking me back to my young days when we were itinerant farmers in northeast Nebraska moving from farm job to farm job. Dad was good at it but when farm times were in crisis, farmers could not afford hired hands and, of course, he was a hired hand. As a young lad I was happy helping with the chickens and the pigs and eventually got good at milking the cows by hand. Admittedly, I wasn't crazy about doing chores, but as I got taller, I could get paid for detasseling corn, driving tractor, bailing hay or cultivating corn.

The irony of it all was that I was cutting weeds in a corn field one hot summer day when I noticed six tall radio towers close by; the same radio towers that transmitted the pop music that I listened to on my bedroom radio at night. I knocked on the door of the transmitter building and was greeted by the disc jockey who was spinning records in air-conditioned comfort; no comparison to cutting weeds from tall corn. This was the " new technology" of the time (1957). The disc jockey told me about a school in Minneapolis and told me how to apply. After a year in school I was "on the radio at my first job in western Nebraska. I would not leave farming far behind however as my radio/television jobs over the years were always funded in part by agriculture commercials.

Today here in Palo Alto County Iowa, we celebrate farmers who are engaged in the new technologies. They are becoming "energy farmers" by planting corn for bio-fuel, locating wind towers on their farms generating electricity. It's amazing. And it's just the beginning. When Palo Alto County officials opened the doors to Invenergy and MidAmerica Energy's planning teams, they opened the door to an estimated $140,000,000 (that's million) in property taxes to Palo Alto County over the lifespan of the project to plus the creation of thousands of new state-of-the-art jobs that my Dad and Grandfather could have never imagined.

And perhaps some young kids like I was once, loving the life on a farm, growing up to be "energy farmers" in jobs like those being created all America and being trained by Iowa Lakes Community College to keep those big blades a turning.


(signed) David E. Nixon

Emmetsburg, IA



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