In learning moving forward consciously, we must learn from the past. Today’s large acreage farmers are called to reconsider their planting schedules, in light of new market and environment changes, to look after the future financial sustainability of their farm and help create a resilient future.
The farming scene in the USA has become one that is about the size of tractors and yields. We’ve had tremendous progress in both tractors and yields, but this evolution has neglected certain people as well. In the past, we relied on farmers to produce what was at the market, what was in the sink, and what was on the table and I’m worried that that culture that supports a rural community has been sold to a collection of companies and middle-men who have political power. When we give up our common sense, it’s hard to get it back. What rural extension agencies have done is enslave a farmer, with genetically modified seeds and debt.
There’s an alternative, and in my community of Oberlin is a good place to start. Here and in other major cities, urban farmers are digging out a niche with compost, tomato trellises, and beans. It’s not large-scale, but it’s a start to educating our people. For most of us, the tools or income isn’t available to begin farming. But we learn about natural systems, control of soil, prevention of crop failure, watering, and the rest. Some of these solutions can then be applied to farming, with good success.
My advice to big farmers? Diversify; hire a few more workers; start looking at organic certifications; lease out smaller fields to budding farmers /OR/ grow in those fields for a local restaurant. Big cash/grain crops are already passing. What most producers now are doing is considering twice before following standard fertilizing and spraying prescription that is sold by the seed companies. By working in niches they get a higher market price, increase the resilience of their fields by adapting to the weather changes, and are ready in case they need to “weather” change coming up.
Resilience is the ability for a system to respond to change. Have you noticed changes recently? The political system is shutting down. So are subsidies pre-loaded into the food bill. If we can’t afford this production (like in the second world war), in the past we grew it ourselves. It’s a small agriculture that supports and builds rural communities.