The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Virgil Vaupel
Thanks for Listening 

A New Word in Farming: 'Autonomous'


The word autonomous used to be attached mostly to governments. According to my Funk and Wagnalls it means “ acting independently or having the ability to do so.” “Robotics” comes to mind as well. Something that doesn’t need continual watching or manipulating to function in the manner it was designed to function.

You’ve seen the robotic vacuum cleaner advertised on TV I’m sure. That would be a good description of autonomous and robotics. I wonder if an airplane on auto-pilot would be considered autonomous.

Imagine a highway where trucks are being operated autonomously. No driver. The dispatcher simply programs in a destination address and the 80,000 pound semi heads down Interstate 90 with no driver. Oh, they might have an attendant aboard just to appease the public. I mean, would you feel safe seeing a semi traveling toward you with no driver?

Well, it seems that today’s truckers want to give the impression that no one is driving because in most of the trucks I see coming toward me all I can see behind the wheel is a ball cap on sideways, what seems to be a twelve-year old driving and a couple eyeballs staring out from around the steering wheel.

What I’m getting at here is about a story I just finished reading in the Farm and Ranch Journal about John Deere and Case working on autonomous guidance systems for their tractors and other farming machinery. It’s a guidance system that will allow the tractor operator to program what they want the machinery to do, set the GPS thingie and go to the house to watch the Cubbies and to watch their tractor on a monitor doing its thing.

Seems to me that it’s just one more innovation, invention, or act of congress that will pound one more nail into the coffin of the American farmer. Oh sure, there will still be farmers to grow our food but seems that with every “good” thing that comes along thousands, if not millions of jobs are lost.

The San Joaquin Valley in the Socialist Republic of Mexifornia, the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Skagit Valley in Washington are rife with Mexican farm laborers, many of whom drive the tractors, combines, corn choppers, potato pickers and other machinery involved in harvesting the crops. Where will these poor unfortunates find work if computers and robots are taking their jobs? Worse case scenario: will they be forced to return to their home countries to live very nicely on the money they made while working in America? Bummer!

The precursor to what we know as CRP was the infamous Soil Bank that paid farmers to not grow crops. How many workers does it take to bring in the crops from a field that has been put into the soil bank or CRP? The farmer still gets paid for the crops he didn’t grow and he doesn’t have to pay out any wages. Sweet!

Now I’m thinking this would be a great plan in banking. Let’s say I go to my banker and tell him I’m going to pretend to put $40,000 in an interest bearing account and he will pay me the interest on the money I don’t have. It wouldn’t take an army of tellers and clerks to run that bank would it? Just robotically print my check and send it out every month.

Maybe it’s time to “Just Say No More Automation.” Maybe it’s time to put more people back to work.

OK, Now that I’ve teed-off every farmer in Valley County who relies on CRP income to keep the cows fed I’ll go sit in my bath tub, get out my straight razor and commit sideways before one of them commits it for me!

That’s it for now folks. Thanks for listening.


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