The Life of A Modern Farmer

Based on what I absorbed through the video, the average farmer lies somewhere closer to that of a corporate CEO but still represents some aspect of the American Gothic type of farmer. In the corporate facet, today’s farmers deal with all the stress and money predicaments pretty close to the representation of a CEO. A CEO’s definition is a chief executive officer. This means that the farmer is the highest in the authority of his people and also is responsible for the supervision of all aspects of an operation.

This pretty much explains the duties of a farmer in a general whole. In the American Gothic light, the farmer has a lot of heartache and stress to deal with. Most of a farmer’s work relies on the weather, how well the crop will do, and how the market is in the field of farming that they’re doing. When a year isn’t going too well the farmers of the world might have some daunting or even life-shattering decisions.

This is the aspect of the American Gothic side of the modern farmer. As a whole the modern farmer is somewhere in between a CEO and an American Gothic farmer.

The struggles of the modern farmer are somewhat different from most other jobs in today’s world. Farming includes tons of manual labor that add to the stress of a contemporary farmer. One other tremendous struggle is financed. A farmer relies, for lack of better words, on luck and Mother Nature.

A farmer might work is butt off and farm as much land as he has and it could all be wiped out by a hailstorm in less than five minutes (insurance could compensate for that, but who knows) Given the same circumstance, the market might be pretty darn low, and the income of that year may not be able to pay for the bills that year. A farmer could lose everything or most things at the hands of a bad year. Farm businesses don’t have near as much leisure time as some other businesses. A farm business has some of the same finances as a corporate business does but does not have near the same type of labor and stress as a farmer.

There are three main types of today’s farming operations: organic, natural production, and conventional production.

Organic farming is a method of crop and livestock production that involves much more than choosing not to use pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones.

Organic production is a holistic system designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. The principal goal of organic production is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.

The general principles of organic production, from the Canadian Organic Standards (2006), include the following:

  • protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health
  • maintain long-term soil fertility by optimizing conditions for biological activity within the soil
  • maintain biological diversity within the system
  • recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise
  • provide attentive care that promotes the health and meets the behavioural needs of livestock
  • prepare organic products, emphasizing careful processing, and handling methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production
  • rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems

Organic farming promotes the use of crop rotations and cover crops, and encourages balanced host/predator relationships. Organic residues and nutrients produced on the farm are recycled back to the soil. Cover crops and composted manure are used to maintain soil organic matter and fertility. Preventative insect and disease control methods are practiced, including crop rotation, improved genetics and resistant varieties. Integrated pest and weed management, and soil conservation systems are valuable tools on an organic farm. Organically approved pesticides include “natural” or other pest management products included in the Permitted Substances List (PSL) of the organic standards. The Permitted Substances List identifies substances permitted for use as a pesticides in organic agriculture. All grains, forages and protein supplements fed to livestock must be organically grown.

The organic standards generally prohibit products of genetic engineering and animal cloning, synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, synthetic drugs, synthetic food processing aids and ingredients, and ionizing radiation. Prohibited products and practices must not be used on certified organic farms for at least three years prior to harvest of the certified organic products. Livestock must be raised organically and fed 100 percent organic feed ingredients.

Organic farming presents many challenges. Some crops are more challenging than others to grow organically; however, nearly every commodity can be produced organically.

Popularly known as “do nothing” farming, natural farming is an environmentally sustainable way of growing food, founded not in technique, but in the principle that an equitable relationship between farmer and nature should form the foundation of the farmer’s actions.

Natural farming contrasts starkly with most contemporary forms of farming in that it is premised on developing closer relationships between farmer, land, and consumer, where as the industrial farming process—including industrial-scale organic—requires the fundamental separation of these relationships. This point has proven to be a key element in natural farming’s inherent sustainability, while also proving to be a difficult concept for most Western students, who are used to more ‘process-based’ approaches.

While techniques and methods vary widely, natural farmers share common roots in re-connecting themselves and their farming processes to the Earth, and cultivating food that inherently regenerates the health of the natural world—and of humanity.

The prevailing agricultural system, variously called “conventional farming,” “modern agriculture,” or “industrial farming,” has delivered tremendous gains in productivity and efficiency. Food production worldwide has risen in the past 50 years; the World Bank estimates that between 70 percent and 90 percent of the recent increases in food production are the result of conventional agriculture rather than greater acreage under cultivation. U.S. consumers have come to expect abundant and inexpensive food.

Conventional farming systems vary from farm to farm and from country to country. However, they share many characteristics such as rapid technological innovation, large capital investments in equipment and technology, large-scale farms, single crops (monocultures); uniform high-yield hybrid crops, dependency on agribusiness, mechanization of farm work, and extensive use of pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides. In the case of livestock, most production comes from systems where animals are highly concentrated and confined.

Both positive and negative consequences have come with the bounty associated with industrial farming. Some concerns about conventional agriculture are presented below.

As you can see there are many different ways to farm in the modern world and many hardships and rewards. In real words, farming is a “eat or be eaten” world. In the modern world farming is a risky but rewarding job.

Sources

  1. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/09-077.htm
  2. https://openoregon.pressbooks.pub/envirobiology/chapter/9-3-conventional-agriculture/
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