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Being thankful 2020 is near the end

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As I have gotten older, I continually find myself wanting time to slow to a crawl and not pass by so quickly, but with 2020, I am so over that and simply want it to get gone as fast as possible.

The sad part of that is Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays are my absolute favorite times of the year. Great weather, great hunting, and precious time spent with family and friends.

I understand without a doubt that we have to be more vigilant than ever this year and do our best to stay safe and keep everyone around us safe, but I personally believe that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a whole lot of prayer are exactly what all of us need as 2020 comes to a close.

So for those who would say we don’t need to have Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, humbug!

Christmas would never be optional anyway, and in our hearts it should be celebrated every day, not just once a year.

Although it has been much different, the 2020 school year is passing along at a faster clip than I would have ever imagined, but I am definitely ready for 2021 and a fresh start.

We all have so very much to be thankful for in this great country and hopefully 2021 will provide lots of healing and unity that have been missing for several years now. During every great disaster, conflict, or time of turmoil, Americans have always rallied and came together to persevere, it is definitely time for us to do whatever it takes to make that happen once more.

Locally we have so much to be thankful for such as the lakes, rivers, and streams that surround the Arkansas River Valley, not to mention the abundance of fish that thrive in these waterways.

When it comes to the great outdoors we should be thankful for the abundance of wildlife and the scenic beauty that makes the Arkansas River Valley so unique.

Gorgeous mountains such as Petit Jean, Nebo, Magazine, the Ozarks, and Ouachitas provide us all with not only a great place for people from all over the world to visit and enjoy, but also gives us a spectacular view of the places we call home.

Rivers such as the Illinois Bayou, Fourche, Petit Jean, Piney Creek, (big and little) and the Arkansas not only compliment the scenic beauty of the Natural State, but also provide us with some of the best hunting and fishing opportunities in the world.

Think about it, where else can you go and have so many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors right outside your door?

Which leads me to the things I am most thankful for, great friends, a loving family, a job that I treasure and some of the best students in the whole world. I truly have been blessed beyond measure and for that I am eternally grateful. If there is a positive affect from this pandemic, we have all got to spend more time with family than ever, and many have taken advantage of the outdoors as 2020 has seen more people hunting and fishing than ever before. I am tired

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of the term, but it is social distancing at its best.

Hopefully Thanksgiving 2020 allows you to get outside and do a little hunting or fishing, or just simply enjoying what has been a beautiful fall despite all that is going on around us.

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving Day while staying safe and enjoying time with your family.

***

By Jim Hightower

In December 1972, I was part of a nationwide campaign that came tantalizingly close to getting the U.S.

Senate to reject Earl Butz, then-President Richard Nixon's choice for secretary of agriculture.

A coalition of grassroots farmers, consumers and scrappy public interest organizations (such as the Agribusiness Accountability Project that Susan DeMarco and I then headed) teamed up with some gutsy, unabashedly progressive senators to undertake the almostimpossible challenge of defeating the Cabinet nominee of a president who'd just been elected in a landslide.

The 51-44 Senate vote was so close because we were able to expose Butz as …

well, as butt-ugly — a shameless flack for big food corporations that gouge farmers and consumers alike. We brought the abusive power of corporate agribusiness into the public consciousness for the first time, but we had won only a moral victory, since there he was, ensconced in the seat of power. It horrified us that Nixon had been able to squeeze Butz into that seat, yet it turned out to be a blessing.

An arrogant, brusque, narrow- minded and dogmatic agricultural economist, Butz had risen to prominence in the small — but politically powerful — world of agriculture by devoting himself to the corporate takeover of the global food economy. He was dean of agriculture at Purdue University but also a paid board member of Ralston Purina and other agribusiness giants. In these roles, he openly promoted the preeminence of middleman food manufacturers over family farmers, whom he disdained.

'Agriculture is no longer a way of life,' he infamously barked at them. 'It's a business.' He callously instructed farmers to 'get big or get out' — and he then proceeded to shove tens of thousands of them out by promoting an export-based, conglomerated, industrialized, globalized, heavily subsidized, corporate-run food economy. 'Adapt,' he warned farmers, 'or die.' The ruination of farms and rural communities, Butz added,

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'releases people to do something useful in our society.'

The whirling horror of Butz, however, spun off a blessing, which is that innovative, freethinking, populist-minded and rebellious small farmers and food artisans practically threw up at the resulting Twinkieization of America's food. They were sickened that nature's own rich contribution to human culture was being turned into just another plasticized product of corporate profiteers.

‘The central problem

with modern industrial agriculture … (is) not just that it produces unhealthy food, mishandles waste, and overuses antibiotics in ways that harm us all.

More fundamentally, it has no soul,' said Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist and former farm boy from Yamhill, Oregon.

Rather than accept that, they threw themselves into creating and sustaining a viable, democratic alternative. The 'good food' rebellion has since sprouted, spread and blossomed from coast to coast.

This transformative grassroots movement rebuts old Earl's insistence that agriculture is nothing but a business. It most certainly is a business, but it's a good business — literally producing goodness — because it's 'a way of life' for enterprising, very hardworking people who practice the art and science of cooperating with Mother Nature, rather than always trying to overwhelm her.

These farmers don't want to be massive or make a killing; they want to farm and make delicious, healthy food products that help enrich the whole community.

This spirit was summed up in one simple word by a sustainable farmer in Ohio, who was asked what he'd be if he wasn't a farmer. He replied, 'Disappointed.' To farmers like these, food embodies our full 'culture' — a word that is, after all, sculpted right into 'agriculture' and is essential to its organic meaning.

Although agriculture has forestalled the total takeover of our food by crass agribusiness, the corporate powers and their political hirelings continue to press for the elimination of the food rebels and, ultimately, to impose the Butzian vision of complete corporatization. This is one of the most important populist struggles occurring in our society. It's literally a fight for control of our dinner, and it certainly deserves a major focus as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner this year.

To find small-scale farmers, artisans, farmers markets and other resources in your area for everything from organic tomatoes to pastured turkey, visit the LocalHarvest website.

***

By Dean Ridings

Thanksgiving is a great time for counting our blessings and expressing gratitude. In challenging times, an attitude of gratitude is all the more important, and this year has been one of the most difficult for so many! Nevertheless, we’ve seen many people in communities across our country who have risen to the occasion and gone above and beyond to serve their fel-

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low citizens in the face of all of the difficulties and heartbreak that COVID-19 has wrought.

I’m grateful to the first responders and health care workers for their tireless efforts to protect and care for our communities in the face of uncertain and often dangerous circumstances.

I’m grateful to teachers and educators for their dedication to education and their ability to adapt to unusual learning environments. And I’m grateful to parents who, all of a sudden, have found themselves in home school situations, needing to remember the basics of math, English and science.

I’m grateful to local businesses for their dedication and perseverance and creativity to continue to serve their customers through curbside, delivery and online options.

I’m grateful to restaurants and grocery stores for continuing to safely serve and provide for their customers day in and day out.

I’m grateful to our houses of worship where we can lift our hearts and find renewed strength.

And as the CEO of an association representing the newspaper industry, I’m also very grateful to the daily and weekly newspapers across this country who put it all on the line every day of the year, and to the readers who support their vital work.

I’m proud of the work these newspapers do, and I hope you will join me in expressing your appreciation to them. It’s not easy hearing people challenge your motives with repeated

From personal connections, I know how much the publishers and editors of these newspapers care about their communities and the work their staffs do.

The importance of local newspapers has never been more evident than in the past year. Even though the major stories of the year were national — COVID, the elections, the economy, racial injustice and more — the impact has always been local.

The reporters at your local newspaper are your neighbors. They are part of your community, and I know that they care about what happens there. They provide vital information to protect the health and safety of the public, with news about crime, local schools, local government, steps being taken to address the spread of COVID, local trends and more.

They’ve kept us informed with detailed information about businesses that are open, creative ideas for things to do at home, outdoor entertainment options and tips for addressing the challenges of working remotely.

And, they have performed a vital role in protecting democracy and informing

process. In a season filled with misinformation fueled by one-sided digital sites and cable news channels, local newspapers were relied on to provide fair coverage of the issues that mattered the most to readers.

This Thanksgiving, newspapers are also giving us a fun, new way to share our gratitude with those around us. They invite you to look into your heart and share the things for which you’re most grateful — health, family, faith, friends, pets or anything else — on a new, national Share Gratitude platform: ShareGratitude2020.com.

You can even include a video message or post a photo to the site.

Local newspapers have supported all of us through this difficult year and now they need our support as well. Consider subscribing to your local newspaper, in print or online, to show your thanks for the job they do each and every day and to ensure that they can continue to keep your community fully informed in the days ahead. Thank you for reading the newspaper, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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