February 27, 2024

Rural Issues: Gifts that keep on giving

I enjoy a full larder, a comfortable heated home, safe transportation and family and friends I love that love me right back. What else could I possibly need? World peace, of course, but I have limited expectations in that area.

Just how fortunate I am rings true especially these final weeks of the year as I hear from friends and family in parts of Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri that were in the path of storms that bred tornadoes and other storms with sustained winds of 50, 60, 70, 80 and even 90-plus miles per hour. The devastation from grassfires across central Kansas is heart-wrenching.

Many rural communities across the heartland of America have suffered the fallout from a different sort of storm in these past 21 months: COVID-19 and the reaction to the virus that shut down many businesses that will never reopen.

The Federal Reserve Bank tried to stimulate the economy by printing money. A flood of “free money” in the form of stimulus payments from the government may have been a godsend to some who were without work during the earlier days of the pandemic, but for those business owners whose workforce didn’t come back because they were doing just fine on the government dime, it was a curse.

As we celebrate Christmas, all discussions about the economy include the “I” word. Prices at the wholesale level grew by a record 9.6% in November from a year ago.

The producer price index, a measurement of inflation before it reaches consumers, is on the rise. Energy prices, food prices, steel and iron prices, fertilizer and so forth are all on the rise.

The increase in wholesale inflation over a 12-month period broke the 2010 record recently. I’m certainly not an economist, but it doesn’t take an expert in economics to figure out our economy must have been over-stimulated and the consequences are coming our way to be paid.

As so many pick up the pieces and move forward with their lives, grateful to be alive, I pray that I remain humble throughout this holy season and into the new year, grateful for that full larder, safe shelter and automobile.

No amount of money can purchase the most valuable gifts: faith, patience, a sense of humor, joy, laughter, hope, trust, integrity, self-discipline, courage, compassion, humility, friendship, music, loyalty, imagination and, most of all, love.

I will take this time over the Christmas holiday to focus on and enjoy those gifts listed above. I will face those challenges associated with the economy and inflation in the new year.

Merry Christmas!

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.