> The lack of new farmers to replace those leaving is a huge crisis in
> this country. The average age of farmers is 56 and the number under age
> 35 is dropping dramatically year after year.
> challenge of producing those crops are an endless source of joy to me.
>Yes, I'm a romantic. But, to a great extent, isn't that what it
>takes? We can teach business management, budgeting, marketing and
>sustainable practices but, if we can't find people who WANT the job of
>farmer, what's the point?
Sure, it takes romance and a deep felt fascination with the miracle of
seeds turning into food. But I suspect it takes a lot of specialized
knowledge as well. I'm not sure what the historical reasons people have
chosen to go into farming. (Perhaps another reader can enlighten me).
But I'll hazard a guess that many people undertook farming because either
they felt called to it or they lacked alternatives, or lacked other
marketable skills or education. Now, there are a lot of us from urban
backgrounds who might be persuaded to go into farming but we lack the
practical knowledge base that has eroded in the post-war era. On the
other hand, we have alot of skills that will be necessary to survive as
farmers in the forseeable future, namely business managment, budgeting,
marketing and sustainable practices.
> It is technically possible to laser map fields and computer guide huge
>farm machines like robots from a control room tower miles away or even
>from a satellite in space. It is possible to change the genetic
>make-up of plants to make them resistant to herbicides so we can kill
>everything in a field except the chosen crop. Such technical marvels
>will probably cull for those folks who are into technical marvels and
>production statistics -- qualities that may not be (probably aren't)
>found in someone who loves having dirt under their nails.
If I were to go into farming tomorrow, I would probably want to utilize
some of these technical marvels. I may want to use GIS/CAD technology to
build a map inventory of my lands and to entertain various cropping
scenarios. I could also use relational database technology to assist me
in record keeping. In other words, these technical marvels can be used just
like any other farming implement. I don't see appropriate applications
of cutting edge technology to be incompatible with dirt under the nails.
> Stewardship comes more easily to those who see the minutia of the
>natural living system on a daily and intimate basis than those who
>view it as just another data point. Ultimately, sustainability depends
>on an attitude of stewardship. As a country, we must look at the place
>of the farmer resource and the farming community that can nurture it in
>the system. The production system today is clearly not sustainable
>for the farmer resource.
Agreed that sustainability depends on stewardship. But stewardship is
going to depend on good data about natural living systems, however
unromantic that may sound to the ear, as well as on an appreciation of
the aesthetic of farms, farming, and rural life.