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2/25/2005

The Secret Storm

Every once in a while I want to throw things at my television set! Like a few nights ago when television and former U. S. Congressman, Joe Scarborough, pointed out the big money folks that were making money from the farm program and “That’s why I voted against it when I was in Congress.” Too bad Joe doesn’t KNOW enough about agriculture to realize the very stability of the nation he claims to be so dear to his heart is near collapse because of failed farm policy. Just voting against something won’t accomplish anything!  
 
When are these inept so called leaders going to knuckle down and exercise their brains enough to put agriculture on a true course of prosperity for the nation? No one in any sort of position to make a difference has enough courage to face the true number one problem in America. We can defeat terrorism. We can all sing kumbyah while we hold hands around the globe, but if the small family farms and ranches fail in this country we will find ourselves paying homage to monster agri-business firms who are angling for world domination through food and fiber. The secret storm has been brewing for fifty years. When it breaks loose it will make the Perfect Storm look like a feeble wheeze. 
 
A former Salina, Kansas, radio personality, George B. Pyle, now an editorial writer for the Salt Lake City Tribune, has come to the conclusion that someone in the media needs to address the looming catastrophe. Pyle realized that the independent family farm was being taken over “industrialized” production. The result of that system was the depopulation of the countryside, farm communities turned into ghost towns, a disregard for natural systems that was harming land, water, and air, and a deepening of the division between rich. 
 
Perhaps the most disturbing feature to it all was that even in rural America very few people seemed to think anything was wrong with agri-business . Few, if any, were doing anything to stop it. Agriculture’s evolution toward industrialization is seen as inevitable progress. The empty farms and barns are only harbingers of a new age in farming and ranching. There is nothing anyone can do. 
 
Perhaps something can be done. Pyle was editor and editorial writer at the Salina Journal for 11 years. In a recent article in that very paper (Former Salina editor takes on food industry, By Gary Demuth, Feb 11, 2005) Pyle takes on agri-business head to head boldly stating, "… the industrialization of what should be a natural, biological process is not right. It makes food less safe and less nutritious." It has been heard before but, that is only where Pyle begins. “Pyle found that no one else seemed to be writing about this issue, so he decided to voice his opinions where he always had - on paper. The result, four years in the writing, is a new book-length essay, "Raising Less Corn, More Hell: The Case for the Independent Farm and Against Industrial Food." The book is scheduled for June publication by PublicAffairs. 
 
Pyle makes the assumption that if the problem is to be corrected consumers rather than farmers will take the lead in changing things. That can only begin when consumers are made aware of the problem. Pyle confronts industrial agricultural propaganda with, “…government, industry, academia and farm organizations treat the citizens of this and other nations like so many mushrooms - in the dark and covered with manure. For more than 50 years, people have been told they have to put up with chemicals, fertilizers and concentrated foods, and it's demonstrably not true." 
 
Many have said that the era of the family farm is dead. Commercial agriculture should not be a lifestyle but a business. The problem with that logic is that the tone of the new agri-busines is one of greed. Greed that will lead to something I would call agri-fascism. In 1941, America sat comfortably by while all the signs of war were looming on the horizon. The war had begun, they just didn’t know it yet. The war for food has already begun. George Pyle is sounding the alarm. Let’s hope his voice is heard in time to make a stand.  
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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