Gold-plated tractors for gentlemen farmers


Let’s talk tractors — the sturdy workhorses of agriculture.

I’ve been around them since I was just a tyke — there’s even a Kodak snapshot of three-year-old me sitting proudly at the wheel of the Farmall tractor my Uncle Ernest used for years to work his small family farm in Northeast Texas.

I can only imagine how bewildered that hardworking, no-nonsense farmer would’ve been to learn about the latest “advance” in plowing machines: A luxury tractor!

Produced by Case IH, it’s named “Optum 270 CVX.” As described in the Wall Street Journal, the Optum is much more showhorse than workhorse — a “whispering, smokeless giant with automated systems controlling the tractor and attached instruments.”

It boasts “automated guidance [for] row-following,” along with “Swiss Army knife versatility with two and four-speed power-takeoffs,” an “array of power hydraulics,” “inline 6.7 liter turbo-diesel engine,” and “automated locking differentials.”

Climb the five-step ladder to get up to the space-age pilot’s capsule of this 10-foot tall vehicle and you’ll find so many aesthetics and electronics that you won’t know whether to go plow the back 40 with it or fly it to Mars.

The Case IH PR director says that this garnet-colored, 12-ton Goliath isn’t only built for Big Ag operations. It’s also for you gentlemen farmers who “want your neighbors to see what a fine tractor you have.” In that case, snoot appeal has to be awfully important to you, for the Optum sells for the Rolls Royce price of $250,000.

For genuine dirt farmers, like my Uncle Ernest was, riding a tractor is work, not an ego trip. In farm country, paying a quarter-million dollars for a plow horse brands you as a Wall Street dandy, a fool, or both.

If you honestly want to impress your neighbors, don’t gold-plate your ride — make a better crop.

By Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, and a member of the Public Citizen board. Distributed by

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