Disappearing Farmers

(T)he countryside is suffering from want of caretakers. Farming at its best was diversified and very well done. The people who did that work here are dead or gone and their children are gone. They’re being replaced by huge machines and toxic chemicals.

Wendell Berry

Today only about 15 percent of Americans live in rural areas, the lowest percentage ever. And these days few Americans raise or grow any of their own food. Whereas in 1945 approximately 30 percent of Americans were farmers and the average farm was 195 acres, today less than one percent of Americans claim farming as their occupation, and most cropland is on farms with more than 1,000 acres. Even among those Americans who still live in rural areas, 90 percent of them are not farmers. There are now twice as many Americans in prison as there are farming.

From Organic Wesley


4 comments on “Disappearing Farmers

  1. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, being in the middle of farm country I can say those figures are sad but true. Even the farmers of modern day buy much of there food from the grocery store. Country living has become a luxury place to live while still working in the city. Acreages that surround my city sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Prime undeveloped farm land for crops are nearing $10,000 an acre. Thousand acre farms and larger are common place in Nebraska. Corporations have taken over operation of farms in some cases they will provide seed, and chemicals for the farmer with a guaranteed price if they will grow genitally altered corn that breaks down better for ethanol production. Thousands of acres are taken off the food grid in Nebraska for the production of ethanol. In 2011 91.9 million acres in the country were used for ethanol production. That’s a total of 12.4 billion bushels of corn used for ethanol production. Just think what would happen if all that land was used for good food production instead of production to produce fuel that’s not even cheaper than regular fuel but supposedly better for the environment. Yeah, I’m going to quit now.

    Have a great restoring small farms day.


    • Bill says:

      The truth is that the agricultural heartland of America, home to perhaps the finest soil on the planet, is a giant food desert. Something like 40% of the corn grown in Iowan now is used to make ethanol. And as they gobble up subsidies to grow it, they claim they’re feeding the world.

      You’re right. What if that land was devoted to actually growing food? I consider what’s happening to be a crime against nature.


  2. Cro Magnon says:

    This is not only a very sad state of affairs, but also a very serious one. Here in France farms are being sold off to foreign horse lovers, and fields of horses are now as common as fields of cattle. Goodness knows where all our food will come from in the future; luckily I grow most of my own and have a few hens, but otherwise people are being forced to buy foreign ‘air miles’ imports. Looking after my own few acres won’t save the world. I agree with Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      You’re doing it right though and more people are getting on board every day. It’s a shame to see good farm land being wasted on ethanol production (to use Dave’s example) or to raise pets for the uberwealthy (to use your example). Interestingly the use of good agricultural land to raise race horses is something John Wesley specifically complained about 250 years ago. It was dumb then and it’s dumb now.


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