The Future of Agrarianism: Where Are We Now?
When Wendell Berry was writing his singular work, The Unsettling of America , from 1974 to 1977, the industrialization of agriculture was already well underway. The transformation of agriculture into an “industry” was enthusiastically endorsed by many agricultural pundits and “experts.” In fact, as Wendell tells us in the preface to the first edition of Unsettling , he was “incited” to begin taking the first notes for his book in 1967 when President Lyndon Johnson’s “special commission on federal food and fiber policies” made its report. In the view of the commission, a major problem with U.S. agriculture was that we still had too many farmers on the land. The “technological advances” had so reduced the need for farm “manpower” that national farm income simply could no longer support as many farmers.