Remove your cap and bow your head Iowans, for it is I, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. As mandated by the arcane and unruly spirits of the earth and by the Statutes of my Department, I have come to bless your harvest, as I do each year, forever and ever, until the end of the fiscal year. I am wise, I am forgiving, I am Tom Vilsack.
You have worked hard. Your federal government has noticed. I have read the sacred forms you sent. I have taken notice of your updates on farm.ewg.org. I have kept you close to me, though many miles keep us apart. You are always in my heart. I am your Secretary of Agriculture and you are my farmers. I care about you and your crops. These are the ancient words uttered here during each harvest by the Secretary of Agriculture.
As is the yearly custom, you have erected a gazebo in the DMV parking lot where I administer my rites. Iowans, gather to me your tools, your farming implements, your children and your laborers that I may lay hands on them and bestow upon them the strength, fortitude and conviction of the Federal Government.
I was appointed by President Barack Obama to attend to the agricultural needs of the nation. I oversee the forests and the grasslands, I oversee the safety of food production. I oversee the food stamps program. From my hand issues form “DDI – 17: Dealer Notice to Dairy Farmer of Intent to Stop Purchasing Milk.” And the same hand may take it away. I provide guidance and wisdom. So it has always been. So it will forever be, until the end of the fiscal year.
Gaze upon me, and know that it is I. I wear the sacred robes woven by the Brothers of the Brooks. Upon it I wear the flag lapel pin, that you might know my heart is pure. Behold my calf-hide work gloves. They are mine. Passed down by generations of Secretaries of Agriculture since the federal work programs of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Behold my federal scythe. It is mine. Forged in the long dormant factories of Detroit. Sharpened by the Vice-Presidential whetstone each summer under a waning moon. Gaze on these United States Government issued objects and know that it is truly me, your Secretary. I am wise, I am forgiving, I am Tom Vilsack.
This thresher, whose is it? You sir, bespeckled and downcast, your soft body swathed in flannels and Carharts. Raise your eyes and face me, for your salvation is at hand. Repeat and be blessed by your appointed official: “I am of sound mind and sound heart. My intentions are pure. I am the sickle of Lady Liberty. I know it is the Founding Fathers who guide my plow. I know my swine grow fat on patriotism. I will grow and harvest for the American federal government and for no other governments. Should I grow crops for any foreign bodies, may my fruits, vegetables and grains wither and die on the vine. ” So say I, your Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.
And to the thresher, I say this: may it separate grains from chaff and stalks and husks swiftly, as cars and trucks are carried down the many roads of Eisenhower’s National highway program. May its blades never catch a rock. May it meet all emissions standards, to be evaluated each year. May it drive true under both Democratic and Republican administrations, smiled upon by both the Donkey and the Elephant.
You sir, what are you holding there? Please pass it forward to Bruce I. Knight, the Under Secretary of Agriculture from Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Ah, yes. A cob of corn. Thank you.
I bind this cob before you. It wrap it in a cloak of the Washington Post, honorable trumpet of DC since 1877. In this princely garb I will transport this cob and it will be prepared in a healthy meal for the First Family. Should it be to their liking, it will be the omen of a robust harvest and the flowing forth of many subsidies from my oaken desk, may it stand forever and ever. But take heed, Iowans, should the Obamas dislike the cob, it will be fed to their dog Bo, or to their Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid. And this will be a dark omen. And you, Iowans, should gird yourselves for a woeful year.
I must return now, to the land of 1,000 speeches, Washington DC. But hearken for me each night as you lay down to sleep, for I am there always, pledging allegiance in your fields, in your orchards, in your slaughterhouses and in your hearts.
I give my life to you, here under the heat of the sun, here above the heat of the parking lot tarmac. Know this: Should your harvests fail, I will return with the proper forms and lay myself down in your fields. I will sacrifice myself, opening my own veins so that my blood will flow in the furrows and cleanse the soil. Such is my duty, and so it shall be, forever, until the end of the fiscal year.
For I am wise, I am forgiving, I am Tom Vilsack.