I hope by the time you are reading this message, we have begun the downward path to controlling COVID-19. It would also be wonderful if we had some optimistic developments for vaccines to prevent the spread of the virus and medicine to help with recovery.

It’s still hard to comprehend the pandemic ever happened in our society. It proves that Mother Nature is powerful. We must never forget that we need self-discipline to be prepared for anything.

In agriculture, we commonly use the term hindsight. Hindsight is defined as an understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed. In agriculture, it is typically used for marketing strategies, planting time windows, harvest choices or anything that after the event could have been better had we known what was really going to happen.

I bring this up, not because hindsight fixes the past, but because it creates the opportunity to understand the future better. This is what makes family farms and ranches the best stewards of the land. They learn from the past, their experiences and their results. This knowledge allows for them to become much better at running their operations and sustaining it for future generations.

This message could be about second guessing our reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that would not be the best use of hindsight. We need to identify some high-priority fixes for the future:

• A public and private health care system that covers all citizens.

• A diverse number of family farms and ranches across our country.

• Better farm programs that allow for surplus food and a return on investment for farmers and ranchers.

• Elimination of monopolistic/oligopolistic practices, specifically in transportation, farm supplies, farm product processing/packing and other businesses that produce essential items.

• Truth in labeling laws, including country of origin.

• An infectious disease department that is adequately funded.

• More domestic production of goods, so we aren’t completely reliant on foreign countries for supplies.

• Trade agreements that are fair and address currency manipulation and labor laws.

It is time for visionary leadership that understands we are not invincible. It will take great minds working together to get this epidemic behind us and to further enhance our society.

I am confident we will overcome COVID-19. Sadly, we will experience losses that might have been preventable. The question becomes, “Do we get better from this experience, learn from hindsight and then have the will to do what is in the best interest of society?”

I hope and pray all of you remain safe and healthy.

– NDFU President Mark Watne