Why America needs its farmers

Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farms in Virginia, is a famous organic farmer.  Also smart—he puts his chicken coops on wheels so that he can have fertilizer wherever on his farm he wants.

Back in August, he heard a talk by Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture.  Vilsack said that in 2012, the number of American farmers declined.  The percentage of Americans who are farmers have been declining for some time, but 2012 was the first year that the actual number of farmers declined.

Vilsack said American needs its farmers, and the reason he gave surprised Salatin, and surprised me, too, although maybe it won’t surprise you.

SalatinJoel.PolyfaceWhat could be the most important contribution that increasing farmers could offer to the nation? Better food? Better soil development? Better care for animals? Better care for plants?

Here’s his answer: although rural America only has 16 percent of the population, it gives 40 percent of the personnel to the military.  Say what?  You mean when it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, the bottom line—you know all the cliches—the whole reason for increasing farms is to provide cannon fodder for American imperial might.  He said rural kids grow up with a sense of wanting to give something back, and if we lose that value system, we’ll lose our military might.

So folks, it all boils down to American military muscle.  It’s not about food, healing the land, stewarding precious soil and resources; it’s all about making sure we keep a steady stream of youngsters going into the military.

Click on A Letter from Joel Salatin to read his full account of his encounter with Vilsack.

Click on Polyface Inc. for Salatin’s Polyface farm web page.

Click on Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farming Wisdom for more.

Hat tip to corrente for the link.

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2 Responses to “Why America needs its farmers”

  1. Anne Tanner Says:

    If we lose the attitude of wanting to give something back, we will have lost the whole battle, in my opinion. Farm kids grow up with these values. And you’re forgetting the advantages of going into the service, too–education, discipline, in-depth knowledge of many different parts of the world (NOT just Afghanistan!). Too many do go to war, and some return damaged terribly. That must stop. But a blanket “cannon-fodder” description is just way too easy.


  2. philebersole Says:

    Anne, I did not intend to disparage either America’s rural culture or military service.

    My father and three uncles were farmers’ sons. My uncles all served in World War Two, and my father would have served except for a serious medical condition. For what it’s worth, I volunteered for two years’ military service myself in 1956-58—not that it’s any big deal, but it’s more than Dick Cheney or Rush Limbaugh put in.

    I think there is a subtle but important difference between paying respect to farmers and paying respect to patriotism, and saying that the reason we need farmers is as a source of military recruits.


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