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by Abigail Van Buren

Prayer of Farmers Reveals the Tough Row They Hoe

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in behalf of all farmers and our embattled farming industry. Farming is one of the hardest, most labor-intensive occupations in this country. This year has been particularly difficult because a very wet spring and summer have prevented many of us from planting all of our crops. Consequently, many individuals are uncertain about the future of dairy farming in our state.

In addition, the Southern states have suffered severe drought. This has also affected crop production, so you can bet that soon customers will be complaining about the price of food. Fortunately, in our great country we are blessed with the quantity and quality of our food products.

My grandmother sent me this prayer, which she clipped from a newspaper many years ago. Its author is unknown. Perhaps it will help consumers appreciate not only the farmers' point of view, but our struggle to survive. -- A FARMER IN MAUSTON, WIS.

DEAR FARMER: Having been born and reared in Iowa, where the tall corn grows, I appreciate the Farmer's Prayer your grandmother sent, as well as its unique insight. Read on:

"Dear God, I'm grateful for the generous bounty which you have bestowed upon me, but I must ask one more heavenly favor: Grant me the wisdom to understand why a pound of T-bone steak is considered too high at $3.50 while a 3-ounce cocktail at $2.25 is not, and people pay $1 for a soft drink at the convenience store without blinking, but insist that a 15-cent glass of milk is inflationary.

"Help me, too, my Lord, to comprehend why $6 movie tickets are a normal expense, but $3.50 for a 60-pound bushel of wheat is unimaginable; why cotton is overpriced at 60 cents a pound but a $20 cotton shirt is a "bargain"; and why corn is too steep when 3 cents fills a bowl, but no one bats an eye paying $1 for a serving of flakes in a restaurant.

"Lend me your divine insight that I may perceive the justice in being forced to grant an easement to the utility company so they could cross my property with their gas lines, then double the price they charge me for their gas. And finally, grant me the strength to endure without bitterness the consumers who scoff at me for shelling out $10,000 for a piece of farm equipment that they were paid to build, so they can afford the cars they drive on their vacations down the road that used to be my acreage before it was stolen for the right-of-way.

"Eternal thanks to you, my Creator, for your past insight and divine guidance. But please -- help me to understand their reasoning. Amen."

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