Iowa Soybean Review Editor Ann Clinton poses in front o

Iowa Soybean Review Editor’s Notes by Ann Clinton.(Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

The Last Word: The Farm Truck

October 12, 2020

His truck, his dash, the country on his tags. The songs on his radio, the stickers on his glass. From four-bys to two-bys, it’s true you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a country boy by his truck. 
–Truck by Hardy 

I first heard this song on my teenage daughter’s playlist and it made me laugh out loud. The sentiment is just so true … no matter the age of the country boy, his pickup can tell you a lot about him. 

My dad has a truck he calls “Old Red.” It’s a Chevrolet. He’s been pretty loyal to the brand over the years. Well, except for that time in 1988 when he didn’t like the new Chevy body style. In protest, he bought a Ford and drove it until the wheels fell off. “He really showed them,” my mother muses. 

“Old Red” is iconic to my family’s farm. It’s hard not to think of my dad without picturing him in that truck. From planting to harvest, that truck has done some serious work. 

In the 53 years since they’ve been married, there have been many “Old Reds.” I recently asked them about all their farm pickups and it was fun to listen to them reminisce. Each pickup was driven until it was long past its prime, and only then did they reluctantly start memories in another version. 

As a mother of girls who are seemingly too old to be my own, I’m humored by their interest in teenage boys who drive rusted-out pickup trucks. It’s a right of passage, and they will, in their own time, be able to pass more educated judgments of character beyond modes of transportation. But at this point, it’s a generalized love affair. 

These teenage boys, who were you not THAT many years ago, will grow up to be the next generation of Carhartt-wearing farmers. They will be listening to their country music as they inevitably raise the highest yielding soybeans the fields have ever seen. They will tackle the environmental challenges confronting agriculture, and accept leadership positions that will propel our industry forward. Just like their truck-driving, forefathers before them. 

In this issue, you read about the American Soybean Association (ASA) celebrating its 100th anniversary. What’s truly remarkable, however, is that eight Iowa farmers have served as president of the national organization since its conception in 1920. Those farmers served on your behalf, advancing issues and legislation that has fundamentally advanced the agricultural industry. That’s pretty cool. 

In the article entitled, “A Century of Soy,” Iowa Soybean Review staff interviewed five ASA past-presidents from our state. From farm bills and trade agreements to tax incentives and global expansion, these leaders reflected on so many lessons from the past. Regretfully, however, I didn’t think to ask them how many miles were on their trucks. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up article. 

My boss has been on me to start a Letters to the Editor section in this magazine for a while now. In the past, I’ve savored the notes you’ve sent as little treasures of insight meant especially for me. Truthfully, I don’t think I can hold off on it any longer without making him seriously question my listening skills. So, I’m creating a new page and I need your wisdom. 

Send me a note about your truck. Your first truck. Your last truck. Your good truck. Your work truck. Whatever truck. There’s a story behind each one, so I’m throwing you a softball here. If you’ve ever enjoyed my column and you want me to remain in good standing at my place of employment, I’m gonna need to hear about it. (Send by Tuesday, October 20 for a chance to be featured.)

Stay safe, my friends. I look forward to talking to you soon. 

This story was originally published in the October 2020 issue of the Iowa Soybean Review.