December 15 marked a significant transition in my husband’s life—Retirement. Officially, Ken’s retirement begins on January 2, 2018, but he’s using his final vacation days these last two weeks of December.
Ken has been working since he was 15. He turned 70 in September. Fifty-five years is a long time, and Ken has spent these years working in the agricultural industry, first managing a fertilizer plant and the last thirteen years working for the Idaho Department if Agriculture as an enforcement agent.
As the current administration rails against all regulation, Ken and I have had long conversations about the ways regulation of agriculture benefits growers and citizens. For growers regulation protects them from unsupported accusations. Ken has investigated many of these and has fascinating stories about the ways farmers’ beighbors lay blame when a tree, for example, dies.
Similarly, regulation offers a way to mitigate disputes between growers, such as accusations of overspraying from aerial application. And regulation protects consumers from unscrupulous business practices, such as the improper application of herbicides and chemicals.
Last trimester one of my students interviewed Ken about banning chlorpyrophos. Despite the recommendation of the scientific community, Dow Chemical has successfully lobbied the EPA, under the head of Scott Pruitt, to continue allowing this harmful chemical’s use on food-based plants. Chlorpyrophos is particularly dangerous for children. Ken supports banning chlorpyrophos.
While we were out shopping a couple weeks ago Ken was approached by a lawn care specialist who thanked Ken for helping and teaching him over the years.
It’s this service mandate with an emphasis on teaching rather than punishing that Ken is most proud of during his time with the IDA.
For both of us Ken’s transition into retirement scares us a little, but he has a long honey-do list that will keep him busy. Yet retirement is also a tangible reminder that life is fleeting and temporal.