Monday, June 18, 2007

Pet Peeves--"Traditional Farmers"

Don't have a URL for this, but it's aggravated me and, if this blog serves any purpose at all, it should help relieve my aggravations. Last week I ran across an article criticizing US farm programs (which is fine, there's nothing wrong with that). But one of the criticisms was that they had the effect of undermining the traditional farmers in other countries, because they couldn't compete with the flood of food imported from the U.S. at low subsidized prices.

What aggravates me is not the cause and effect relationship, but the idea that undermining traditional farming is somehow wrong and bad. After all, China is surging its way to developed nation status by policies that undermined traditional farming, creating an urban labor force for its new industries. Ireland is the Tiger of the EU because its traditional farming has been undermined and abandoned. The U.S. is an industrial power because our traditional farming patterns have been destroyed.

Granted, destroy any traditional way of life and you cause suffering and pain, loss of the past and loss of life. And granted, the power of the market is blind. But I believe in the general proposition that life in the U.S. today, taken by and large, is better than it was 180 years ago when one of my ancestors immigrated. And that's true despite, and even because, the traditional agriculture found in 1830 America has been destroyed, even on Amish farms.

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