Swickard: That fine barnyard smell

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   American agriculture, which a hundred years ago was where many people worked is now just a very small sliver of the overall workforce. Consequently, many people occasionally notice the smell of barnyard animals and find the smell objectionable.
            Likewise, many agricultural colleges are shunted off to far corners of universities since frankly those Ag Colleges have that fine barnyard smell which offends people who are not from an agricultural background. Yet, everyone likes to eat. Everyone needs agriculture.
            In the year 1900, about a third of all Americans were living on farms and ranches. Those people knew that fine barnyard smell and were not put off by it. In fact, if you are like me who has spent plenty of time on ranches, cow flop smells just fine.
            The petroleum industry says their smell is the smell of money. Well, the smell on farms and ranches is organic and is in my humble opinion much better.
            You might ask: what does this have to do with the price of steer manure? You see New Mexico’s Land-Grant University, New Mexico State University, is fixing to select a new president.
            The very real danger is that the NMSU Regents might select someone who doesn’t know and like that fine barnyard smell. Don’t laugh, it has happened several times and New Mexico State University suffered.
            The selection of University President establishes the identity of the University. Every institution of higher learning has an identity and for Land-Grant institutions, that identity is unique for their state.
            For more than a hundred years NMSU was and is the Land-Grant institution in New Mexico. There are five pillars of a Land-Grant institution: Agriculture, Engineering, Military Science, Education and Service to New Mexico. No other institution of higher learning in New Mexico has this mission.
            The problem is that some sophisticates in the head shed have been appalled and dismayed by the fine barnyard smells that’s just upwind of them. One NMSU President was overcome with disgust by the smell and complained bitterly. Wrong president and that person did leave.
            The current NMSU President grew up on that fine barnyard smell and often has had bits of organic material on his boots. It never has bothered him. This was true for most of the other NMSU Presidents through the years.
            I have a test to put potential NMSU Presidents through before we should take them seriously as a replacement for outgoing NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. They must be able to really talk agriculture before they talk anything else.
            If they can’t tell a steer from heifer I don’t want them anywhere around NMSU. Yes, the hoity-toity sophisticated crowd would never participate in a cow-chip throwing contest. So what?
            A real agriculture person, male or female would. It is the identity of NMSU. I pray that the NMSU Regents and the smarty-pants consultants understand the difference between NMSU and all of the other institutions of higher learning.
            The next NMSU President had better like that fine barnyard smell.