Category Archives: Farming

Technology and the Farm

Technology plays a big part in our lives. From city dweller to farmers, how much has changed in the last century?

How many mouths does a modern farmer feed? That number really isn’t that easy to measure, but studies now estimate it to be around a hundred families. In 1930 that was an easy question to answer. A farmer back then feed his family. He was also able to feed three other families, but that was about it. Land plot were smaller, things were more difficult to plant and take care of. They didn’t have huge industrial machines we known today. Even when I was growing up the farm equipment, which gigantic compared to that of bygone eras was small compared to the machines you working the fields you see today.

Farm management has also become easier which allows for more streamline work.

And it isn’t even the complete picture of how technology effects the farm. You would need to factor in all of the other advancements we’ve made to properly say how much our modern world really effects a modern farm.

Advancement of Farmer’s Agendas

With the need to band together becoming apparent in the early half of the last century. Farmers began to create and join organizations and unions that focused on their interest. This led to significant leverage on the political stage. And this was needed.

One of these movements was the Grange movement in the US.

The Grange

Officially known as The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, began shortly after the Civil War (1867) in 1867. Because of this it is the oldest American group focusing on agricultural and its advocacy in the United States. The Grange helps to promote both the economic as well as political well-being of the community.

You may not know, but mail delivery in the rural areas of the US was not always free. Thanks to the efforts of the Grange we now for the most part take this service for granted. Other efforts to help and improve agriculture and farming came through the Granger Laws.

Today the Grange has well over a hundred thousand remembers. Their organizations can be found in more than two thousand communities in nearly forty states. The Grange is currently housed in the Washington, D.C. Their office was constructed in 1960, but their community buildings are still a part of rural American life today. With Grange Halls serving as a center of many communities.

FNSEA

But similar examples of farm focused organizations can be found all across the Western world. For example the FNSEA is a very politically active equivalent to the Grange in France.

Worldwide

No matter what the size, farmers are represented on a global level by the IFAP, a non-profit organization established in 1946. The International Federation of Agricultural Producers is by far one of the largest such organizations, with more than six hundred million farmers, broken up into a hundred and twenty different national unions in nearly eighty countries.

Still, this is only a very small sampling of the different organizations and co-ops that are available on the local, regional and national level.

Opinions, The Farmer’s Life

Many people look at farming from different perspectives. What do that see? Some, and this is partly due to modern culture, see the yokel. The uneducated person that lives on the land and lives from the land. Others with more exposure will talk to you about the hard labor involved. Still others will relate fond memories they had of country life. But what is it really? What we talked about here are just a collections of impressions.

If you’ve ever worked a farm you will know that it is much more.

The Small Business

I use small here, but that has changed through the years. Today farms a very large businesses. But their roots go deeper than what we see in the shallow surface. A hundred years or so ago, farmers were just that a small business. They were business owners that produced their goods, their good just happened to be food.

The management of the farm was a full time job (it still is) that required careful planning. Add on top of that the unreliability of the weather and it wasn’t just a job, but a high-stress job. Back then farmers were actually seen as intelligent, they were literate when others were not and they were often better off than other families.

Today things have changed little for the farmers of America. Things have become easier, but the work is hard and it is stressful.

Further Back

Now let’s go even further back. The country life that we know now is just a point far in the future.

Farming began in the Neolithic era. It was a period where humans began to fashion tools and take control of their surroundings. This era began around 10,200 BC. It wasn’t until the Bronze Age that specialized work forces, farmers, began to appear in the Sumerian culture between 5,000 and 4,000 BC.

This is also an excellent example of irrigation as the Sumerian made heavy use of it in their agriculture. Another interesting point of their agricultural work force was that they used three person teams when they harvested their crops.

Similar methods of farming, like irrigation were also present in Ancient Egypt. Since they were so dependent on the Nile for the source of their water.

Introduction of Animal Husbandry

The art of caring for and raising animals goes further back than farming as we know it, you might say they were ancient ranchers. But as you can imagine it was easier to herd animals than it was to settle and grow crops in one area when the required tools were missing. The dog was domesticated from the wolf in East Asia more than 15,000 years ago. And this change has played an important role in animal husbandry throughout the ages.

Goats, sheep, and other animals that are now common in our modern farms like pigs (swine) appeared between 8,000 and 7,000 BC in the Middle East and China.

Cowboys, we see them herding the livestock in old movies and we see them working modern ranches on horseback. The horses that they use weren’t domesticated until 6,000 years ago.

The history of farming is an honorable and illustrious one, like the surface of a field of corn is deep and rich with life.

The FFA, Farmers for the Future

Learning to Do,
Doing to Learn,
Earning to Live,
Living to Serve

Organization motto

Do you know somebody that is interested in or a member of the FFA?

The FFA is a organization that specializes in furthering the agricultural education of middle and high school students. Founded in 1928 this youth organization was first known as the Future Farmers of America. Today, however, they are known as National FFA Organization (changed in 1988), though many still call it the FFA. With the largest membership figures of any youth career and technical student group in America (579,678 members) in more than 7,500 chapters through the United States. FFA also has chapters in Puerto Rico and on the Virgin Islands.

The organization focuses its interest on these categories:

  • Food
  • Fiber
  • Natural Resources

As well as encompassing these fields in production agriculture:

  • Science
  • Business
  • Technology

For more information on the FFA visit their website.