Friday, June 27, 2014


There have been quite a few paeans to the "American Farmer" lately.

Dodge truck commercials, YouTube videos, bloggers writing panegyrics, it gets kind of thick sometimes.

I grew up on a little truck farm in Northern Utah.  As a place to grow up and work through the summer, it just couldn't get any better.  Dirt poor though.  But it got the extended family through a lot of crap, depressions, world wars, etc., that would have been a damn site harder to get through without the 82 acres (35 acres of irrigated bottomland, 37 acres or alkali flats that were uncomfortably close to the Great Salt Lake).

But something started happening when I was a teenager.  I thought nothing it of the time, but the little farms all around started to get bought out and the families moved to the city.  Over time, two of the rich families had control of all the land once owned by 15-20 individual farms.  One of the families sold out to surburbia, one of them now controls nearly 2,000 acres.

They are preparing the hand-off to the fourth generation now.

Now here is the part that no one is going to like.  These guys are a corporation.  Most of the farmers in the US aren't "Rugged individuals" anymore, other than the back to the land folks with their 20 acres and their in-town jobs supporting the hobby farm.  No, farmers in America are lawyered-up Corporations with tax accountants, and computers laid into the same commodity futures indexes as Goldman-Sachs.

The youngers who are taking over the "farms" are different now too.  The ones that I know take business and management courses now.  I am not aware of an Ag degree among them.  They go to school free, hell they even get "dividend checks" from the family Corporation for spending money.  They are pretty damn hard to distinguish from the rich white kids from back east.

So, we talk about the rich white kids from rich families centralizing the wealth in America.  We talk about inequality, but when a person uses corporate tactics in an agricultural setting we give him a pass.

So, when I see these hymns of praise to farmers, I kinda laugh.  The world has changed from the hardworking farmer that is our mental ideal to the corporate puke.

If you have less than an quarter section and an open tractor, I might think of you as a farmer, praise you effusively and buy the beer. If you are just another factory owner masquerading as a farmer, go fuck yourself.

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