One day, I was standing in a metal equipment shed, out of the wind, and listening to growers talk about how they farm in order to bring the highest quality salad veggies to your plate. I looked down and was moved by these boots. How do we estimate the value of these boots? By the millions of people who are fed nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables every day? Or by the incredible immigrant success stories here: second generation Okie and Portuguese, third generation Swiss Italian, Swede, and Japanese? Their significant contributions to their rural communities? Their commitment to apply creativity and innovation to solve problems every day? Or by their refusal to give up in light of seemingly insurmountable challenges: COVID, Labor Shortages, Changes markets, Sklyrocketing nitrogen costs, Supply chain issues, Mounting Regulatory Costs, Evolving farm worker issues…
In 1926, as National Grange master, L.J.Taber, former Director of Agriculture for Ohio traveled to Rome as a U.S. delegate to the International Institute of Agriculture and was selected to represent the English-speaking delegates at a banquet. Farm and Dairy reprinted part of his remarks.
They are worth repeating more than 90 years later.
“Agriculture is basic and fundamental; without it, there is neither food, fiber nor the hope of continued civilization. The farmer is the foundation upon which rests the whole superstructure of the world’s civilization. Our happiness, our prosperity, our future are dependent upon food and the product of the farmer’s toil.
“If we study the increase of the world population in the last 200 years, and even project it through another century, we must recognize that the wisest statesmanship and the most far-seeing vision of our greatest minds must, within the coming 100 years, be directed towards seeing that mankind may have its daily bread.
“There is much that governments can do, much that education and scientific agencies can accomplish and there is much left for individual organizations; but in the final analysis, the feeding of the nations is dependent upon the toilers in the fields, the farms, the gardens and the forests of the inhabited portions of the earth.
“Organized agriculture is bringing into being a new consciousness of the relationship of the farmers to their vocation and their larger responsibility to civilization. …
… Organized agriculture must lead the farmers, the business world and the financial world to a realization of their interdependence. Our interests are in concord and not in conflict. We will go forward or slip backward all together.
“Four major goals should have the hearty support of us all: Through education and scientific assistance to increase the efficiency of the individual producer; Through cooperative and collective action and through sound business operation to enlarge the financial reward of the farmer; To increase the efficiency and reduce the costs of government, because heavy taxation is a grievous burden to agriculture throughout the world; To conserve the fertility of the soil and of our natural resources for generations yet unborn.”
“Simply put, we can’t hope for a sustainable future without sustainable agriculture.” John Biotti, Executive Director, American Farmland Trust
Farms Under Threat: The State of America’s Farmland. American Farmland Trust. https://www.farmland.org
Abraham Lincoln quote:
“Every blade of grass is a study; and to produce two, where there was but one, is both a profit and a pleasure. And not grass alone; but soils, seeds, and seasons – hedges, ditches, and fences, draining, droughts, and irrigation – plowing, hoeing, and harrowing – reaping, mowing, and threshing – saving crops, pests of crops, diseases of crops, and what will prevent or cure them – implements, utensils, and machines, their relative merits and how to improve them – hogs, horses, and cattle – sheep, goats, and poultry – trees, shrubs, fruits, plants, and flowers – the thousand things of which these are specimens – each a world of study within itself.”
He was an advocate for agriculture and signed multiple laws that shaped U.S. Agricultural Policy:
- Established the USDA on May 15, 1862.
- Signed the Homestead Act on May 20, 1862. This transferred nearly 232 million acres of land from the public to private ownership and created over 1 million farms.
- He signed The Morrill Land Grant College Act on July 2, 1862. This legislation allowed for a donation of public lands to states for colleges of Agriculture and “mechanical arts”.
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