By Sherry Bunting, Farmshine, July 1, 2022
As our nation commemorates Independence Day, we think of America’s agrarian roots and how an agrarian himself, Thomas Jefferson, the primary architect of the language so carefully chosen in our Declaration of Independence, wrote much on the subject of agriculture.
With all that is happening in the world, and in agriculture, now is the time to really ponder our nation’s birth. Liberty has proven for almost 250 years to be more than an ideal worth fighting—even dying—for. It is a condition of life in America that can be misunderstood and taken for granted.
The battle of Gettysburg, the turning in the tide of the Civil War marks this same spot on the calendar. This too is remembered every July 4th weekend with re-enactments on sacred ground where freedom was further fortified for all, lest we forget that our unity stood the test of valor and dignity from both sides—an internal struggle to recommit our nation to the freedom and responsibility of true liberty so that…
As President Abraham Lincoln said: “These dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
From East to West and North to South, the diverse beauty of both the land and people of our United States of America move us to do the work, the caretaking.
Diversity, too, is a key attribute of liberty.
Across the long rural stretches of prairie from the Midwest through the Great Plains—where one can go hours without seeing another vehicle—the bigness of this land and its call of freedom is, itself, liberating.
Whether it is the eastern patchwork of small farms living at the fringes of suburbia with subdivisions often sprinkled between them or the western stretches of uninterrupted farmland—we have a duty to protect America’s agriculture, the quiet essential role of family farms as the backbone of our nation’s liberty.
We can’t allow global business interests and elitists to dictate from afar, to turn our rural networks that need restoring and rebuilding into food deserts.
Thomas Jefferson once said that, “The earth is given as common stock for man to labor and live on.” He also held high the value of agriculture to the nation’s economy, which remains true centuries later in 2022.
“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will, in the end, contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness,” Jefferson wrote.
These are not idle words. In today’s times of rapidly advancing technology, many of us lack a full understanding of how advancing technology can coexist with the essential simple goodness of the sustainability we need—that of families farming for generations in the U.S. being able to choose their path instead of having it chosen for them, with new generations staying in farming or leaving to do other important work even as new and beginning farmers are drawn to the land.
Liberty is essential for agriculture to be that beacon. No other profession sustains our communities like agriculture, multiplying earnings throughout local communities.
The billionaires at Davos know this. The global corporations taking over all sustenance, they also know this. Real riches begin with the soil, the land, the work, the families, the food that sustain us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson observed: “The glory of the farmer is that, in the division of labors, it is his part to create. All trade rests, at last, on his activity. He stands close to nature; obtains from the earth the bread, the meat. The food which was not, he causes to be.”
Science, itself, is being misused, along with our faith in doing good, feeding the hungry, caring for the earth and for others, giving God the glory. The challenge is to retain our independence, remember our nation’s birth and what it stands for and never take for granted our agrarian roots, so essential for our future.