Read: Don't touch the brownies

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It was just about the end for poor ole Farmer Brown as he lay on his deathbed barely able to breathe. Just as he was about to expire, the aroma of freshly baked brownies came up the stairs to his bedroom. He always had a passion for this confection and thought to himself, “If I could just have one more brownie I could die in peace!”

He called to his wife, but his voice was so frail she could not hear him. Not getting an answer, he slid out of the bed and onto the floor.

He drug himself across the room and out into the hallway. Down the hall and down the stairs he went ever so slowly, crawling hand over hand, closer to that heavenly smell.

At the bottom of the stairs he pulled himself along painfully — hand over hand closer to that delicious aroma. He drug his pain-wrecked body across the living room and into the dining room to reach the source from where the wonderful aroma was coming. Finally, he reached the brownies setting on the dining room table. With all of his final strength he pulled himself up into his chair at the dining table.

The warm plate of brownies was now in sight. He reached across the table and slowly grabbed the tray of freshly baked brownies.

As he dragged the tray of goodies towards himself it made a scraping noise. Suddenly he heard his wife yell from the kitchen, “Don’t touch the brownies, they’re for the funeral!”

In Nashville and across the state the last few weeks, I’m sure many folks have been feeling a lot like ole Farmer Brown trying to get the brownies. As we all waited for the governor to sign or not sign the Livestock Protection legislation, it seems every time we had reached the point of it being over, someone would say ‘not yet.’

In the end the governor decided to veto the legislation, which is his prerogative. He stated reasons from the Attorney General, Tennessee’s Shield Law and concerns from some district attorneys. For those reasons he vetoed the legislation and it looks like we wait another year for Round 2, which I’m sure is going to happen.

I, for one, was hoping he would sign it into law, but if it needs fixing to satisfy everyone, which will be impossible in some cases, let’s get it done. The important thing is to stop animal abuse from the very first time that it does occur.

In the governor’s official statement he did say, “Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Tennessee. Farmers play a vital role in our state’s economy, heritage and history. I understand their concerns about large scale attacks on their livelihoods. I also appreciate that the types of recordings this bill targets may be obtained at times under false pretenses, which I think is wrong,” As an agriculturalist I do have to respect the governor for his diligence in looking at all the aspects of the legislation. It was good to hear him say he appreciated the role our farmers play every day and the problems they face at times due to unfair attacks through misrepresentation and deception.

As I read on the Internet all of this “whoop-de-do” one morning, I saw where a group was degrading and completely not telling the truth about an elected official or two. They said things that would have been better not said at all. In fact, we all have seen the air ways and press used on this issue, and others at times, to stir up the people and misuse facts to push agendas and opinions. Ben Franklin once gave advice to an individual who was fussing about a newspaper story that had given him a negative write up. Mr. Franklin said, “Never argue with a man who buys his ink by the barrel.” The same may be true about radio and TV today. They usually have the final word.

I do respect those who seek public office. They are doing a job that the majority of us would never attempt, but complain about often. They are hounded by those who even never vote and who are only heard from whenever their “ox is about to be gored.” Sorry, didn’t mean to use an abusive term.

There is a process that is followed to get laws and legislation passed in our state and we have seen it used. This I do accept and as the official statement from the Tennessee Farm Bureau said the other day, “For the farm community this bill was all about protecting animals by stopping abuse quickly and ending the exploitation for sensationalism. Our farmers take the responsibility to care for animals very seriously. We will continue to be optimistic that we can care for animals and work to prevent animal cruelty.”

So, unlike the old farmer in the story I’ve used here from an unknown author from years ago, I think I’ll have a brownie this time around. It’s hardly time for the funeral yet.


- Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at

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