The wisdom of past generations of farmers

  • Article by: VERLYN KLINKENBORG , New York Times
  • Updated: November 7, 2012 - 1:48 AM

The very structure of the agricultural system, as it stands now, is designed to return the greatest profit possible, not to the farmers but to the producers of the chemicals they use and the seeds they plant.

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davehougNov. 7, 12 6:46 AM

The surest way to improve the soil is to remember what industrial agriculture has chosen to forget. - - - Very true. Now tell me whose income will be hurt to improve the soil. Should it all fall on the farmer, his consumers? Should some federal agency dictate 'pay more for alfalfa so more is grown and improve the soil'. You article is all valid, the conclusion is where the pain & decisions come.

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dbhuskerNov. 7, 12 8:49 AM

I believe this is an extremely important article because it raises the issue of stewardship, of passing what is good and best on to the next generation. In light of what he says can we believe it when farmer spokesmen tell us they are true stewards of the land?

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fursideNov. 7, 12 9:10 AM

Incentivize (subsidies) to get done what must be done for the survival of the land. We have given tax credits and write offs for certain types of farming that are clearly destructive to the health of the soil (we have actually killed the soil, ever see flocks of sea gulls following the plow any more? ... no!) Those who have benefited from write-offs of clearing land, tax write off of irrigation, and who has received subsidies over a certain income level of acreage; owe that money back because it is ill gotten for the health of the planet. Accounting models that were wrong should not condemn future generations to extinction.

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traderbillNov. 7, 1211:49 AM

I agree completely with furside. Like so many government programs, farm subsidies were to help the independent farmers but as those were bought up by big companies we are now subsidizing them while they use hormones and antibotics to increase yields. It might interest you to know that Archer Daniels Midland's subsidies are bigger than its bottom line. Something is wrong with that. Also, the FDA is failing to protect us by allowing these products to reach the market with no health warnings. Yet,thanks to Grover Norquist, eliminating a subsidy is the equivalent of a tax hike...just as reversing a 'temporary' cut is. No wonder we are so conflicted.

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