Big Farms give way to Small Farmers

Note: Please see Mari’s comment and my reply, below. Definitely a case of not “having walked in the other person’s shoes,” and plus being quick with unthinking judgments. Mea culpa!

This offers amazing insight. Can you believe? Truck drivers are now the #1 job in most U.S. states!? Ye gods!

Watch America’s Farmers Slowly Disappear from This Map

Too bad we don’t have another map showing how big industrial farms are being displaced by small organic and permacultural farmers, from the same generation that is leaving the Big Ag farm.

The New Farmers

Sure beats truck driving, eh? Hard to believe that’s what’s taken the place of traditional farming. Moving stuff around. GMO stuff for Monsanto. Stuff made in China or American prisons, by slaves.

Once our localization movement roots in deep enough and spreads wide enough, we won’t need many trucks. A good thing. Those truck drivers can get off their squashed, too skinny or obese asses, stop scarfing truck stop fast food and cigarettes; feel the soil and listen to the land — and dig in with the rest of us.

Howdy neighbor!

This could be a good time. Way better than some old lonely, sentimental, nostalgic song.





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10 Responses to Big Farms give way to Small Farmers

  1. Mari Braveheart-Dances says:

    Ann – I believe fervently, passionately in the local-grown movement, not traipsing food in trucks all over creation. It makes zero sense to me. The permaculture “movement” is what is primary to life, I believe. – Yet, may I respectfully say that your dig on truck drivers is pretty judgmental. I have known some truckers, was married to one. I’ve been on the road. For some people this is a life they have chosen because it pays the bills. I’m sure for most truck drivers, it’s that. Truck driving is a hazardous job; it’s pretty rough. The truckers whose pants sag or who have pot bellies from the food on the road are people too. I agree that the system is broken. I think that we are all responsible for the choices we make, and in that sense truck driving buys into the system. On a personal level, however, it’s a hard life – not a great one. We would all be better off living locally. Still, every working person deserves respect. Peace, Mari Braveheart-Dances

    • Thank you SO much for this response, Mari. I need this kind of reflection into my own biases. And will direct people to it at the top of this post.

      • Mari Braveheart-Dances says:

        I honestly don’t see how you manage to write as beautifully and prolifically as you do without inserting some biases. We all have them! Thanks for the great job writing and sharing, and you are a fantastic listener!

        • I like to see us as each having a “slit” through which we are viewing and experiencing the Mystery of Reality. It really helps me evolve my own thinking/feeling process when others give me feedback on the specifics of my peculiar/particular slit! So thank you thank you again.

  2. One appreciates your, “mea culpa,” regarding truck drivers. It is far more than food that’s being moved around the nation’s highways. The clothes you’re wearing? Shipped via truck. The car you drive? The raw materials, the parts, and the car itself shipped by truck. Do you really want a steel mill in your neighborhood? An aluminum smelter? How about a petroleum refinery for the plastics and fuel for that car? Is there a copper mine in your back yard for the circuitry and wiring? Since these and other commodities are located in different parts of the continent or planet, they have to get to you somehow.

    That somehow is by truck.

    My family were farmers until my parents’ generation. When my grandparents sold the family farm and moved, “into town,” it was just as, “RoundUp-Ready,” soybeans were hitting the stage. As my grandfather talked of this development, his eyes filled with tears because he could not imagine why anyone would create a plant that required an unnecessary herbicide to germinate. He farmed as farmers always had, by rotating crops, by allowing fields to lie fallow for a season to rebuild the soil, by spreading the manure of his dairy cows on the fields as fertilizer. He rarely applied ammonia (which fertilizes the soil as it breaks down because of sunlight and rain, etc.), but did so after the dairy herd was no longer something he could maintain.

    They sold the farm just before the mass destruction of American family farms in the early-mid 1980s that created the vast industrial farms we now have. Family farms produced more food than could be eaten or preserved before the huge agri-corporations took control. Since then, this country has had to import food because large, industrial farms produce less, not more.

    That small, family farms are returning is great news. It will take a couple of decades of steady growth before their superior ability to produce food for their regions is confirmed. However, until then, trucks will be moving food.

    We have four trees in our yard that produce one crop of citrus per year; two grapefruit, one orange, one lemon. Where will our citrus come from the rest of the year? California, most likely, shipped by truck.

    The climate of the northern Sonora desert doesn’t lend itself to growing grains other than corn/maize. But, most of the farmland is dedicated to cotton (for your sheets, shirts, and skirts), or alfalfa and buckwheat for cattle feed because people want dairy products and the cattle are raised and milked here. Should we give up eating bread, rice, or other grains because we should only eat what is grown locally? Following that logic, people north of the Sunbelt or Southwest need to give up citrus because it can’t grow there. Scurvy’s a pretty nasty way to very slowly die.

    Yes, the system is broken. But, until we can ensure that mass malnutrition won’t occur as we adjust our diets and preferences to match what is indigenous to our specific region, we will need to move food around somehow. And, until we are able to live without what used to be luxuries like indoor plumbing (copper pipes, iron pipes, brass and porcelain fixtures, etc.), trucks will need to bring the raw materials to factories and then from those factories to a store near you.

    One made one’s living as a long-haul truck driver for a little over a year as a break from the dissertation was required. It’s a very hard, not-well-paying, and thankless job. Proper nutrition is possible, but requires planning and access to markets, “on the road.” This isn’t always possible and so the food at the truck stop is what one must eat. Still, decent and even healthy choices can be made. An industry built upon, “just-in-time,” deliveries which has turned the trucking fleet into a vast, rolling warehouse doesn’t allow for drivers to have the time or the flexibility to easily make those choices. One’s livelihood depends upon being in certain places at certain times and if that means a fuel stop is the only chance to grab something to eat before driving again for hours, then that is what one does. Stocking up on healthy food during breaks or hometime can mean avoiding a diet of turkey legs and massive tubs of soda. But, again, it takes effort and planning and one learned that most drivers are not knowledgeable nor encouraged to do anything other than to eat what’s available, and affordable, at the truck stop.

    It is our personal stories that matter most and this writer has been fortunate to see first-hand both agriculture and transportation change in one’s lifetime. Taking time to look outside of our, “academic, or new-age, or progressive, or sustainable,” bubbles to see the humanity of those who make our modern lives possible is perhaps more important than resting comfortably on our privilege and disdaining those with fewer choices. Oh, one last thing … not every truck driver smokes.

    • Wow, Luccia, I thank you for this extremely insightful, and educational post that gives context and exquisitely sad meaning to the loss of traditional farms for the generations who worked them and those who had to leave or be funneled into Big Ag. Re: your comments about all the stuff we have can’t be sourced locally, so trucks are necessary, I do wonder how much of what we have is necessary, as well as how habits we have with that stuff amplify the situation. For example, I just in the last few months began wearing shirts for more than one day before washing them! Now I’m wondering how long I can actually go in the same set of clothes (except for underwear) before they start to smell or get obviously dirty. If I wash clothes less often they will last longer and I won’t need so many in my closet. These kinds of possible changes in unnoticed habits start to preoccupy my attention.

      It seems to me that only a enormous change in our attitudes toward stuff can shift things in a meaningful way — and most likely, that will only take place if there is some kind of mighty interruption in life as usual — and even then, whatever we do or don’t do may be too little, too late.

  3. CindyW. says:

    it seems a little of both (awareness of others being trapped in a system with which we often don’t agree, for complex reasons – and efforts to change our own habits/practices) are needed. The author Sharon Astyk wrote a book some years ago on how she imagined peak oil would force us back to less energy/more labor-intensive lifestyles (Depletion and Abundance). I sometimes order things by mail, which arrive by truck, because where I live, there is no public transportation and very little car sharing (which I’d love), and I have an old car that would break down if I drove it long distances frequently. I have done without and have tried to make do with what’s available locally, which is often uglier and less well-made. That was a decision my “betters” made – to eliminate buses and trains and force everyone to use private cars for everything; I don’t think average citizens got a say in it. Just one more example – along with “just-in-time,” which is being applied everywhere – even in US medical care, where it absolutely does NOT belong.

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