Farming in a changing world

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Agriculture is an integral component in the development of any nation. For centuries, perhaps nearly three-quarters into the 20th century, farming dominated the economy and the culture. Even if you had no direct relationship with a farm or farmer, your life and work here were the result of the commercial foundation that farming had established.

Then came the interstate, which bought progress, as some call it, with more and more people, houses and supermarkets. Despite all the changes that the region’s growth has imposed on farming, it endures today for many of the same reasons it spawned the evolution of the Fredericksburg area centuries ago: Innovation, versatility and the incredible work ethic of those who raise livestock and work the soil.

The recent series on area farms and farmers focused on many of the issues that make farming such a challenge today, and how farmers have taken on and are meeting those challenges.

Some are committed to making the traditional farm work by raising niche crops, or focusing on the local “farm-to-table” movement, or turning their farms into living museums -agritourism- that people will pay to see.

They reach out across counties to find and accumulate the amount of suitable land they need to make the living they intend to make.

They challenge the demographic of the aging male farmer as women and a younger generation of farmers take on that way of life because of their love of the land and their dedication to hard work. Though they’ll take advantage of technology to improve yields and the overall efficiency of the farm, their idea of worthwhile work has little to do with tapping on a keyboard and staring at a computer screen.

And while their counterparts in the workaday world may enjoy an expectation of career advancement and success, farmers often face challenges beyond their control as they try to make ends meet season after season, such as the weather, market prices, government regulations and their own health. These things can make the pressure to produce at times relentless and unforgiving.

A Guest Editorial