Why do we need people in rural America?

Today is the start of our month long journey around the state of Iowa.

We're doing screenings for thousands of young people interested in agriculture.


About 50 students packed into the smallish room. The students are in graduate school at Iowa State, studying “Sustainable Agriculture”.

We screened one chapter of our documentary- What Happened to Curlew?

It's about the disappearance of Curlew, Iowa. Larry Ruppert reminisces about a time when Curlew thrived, and when family farms were everywhere. As hog operations got bigger and bigger, less and less people were able to keep their farms going and had to move to cities to earn a living. Businesses shut down, families left. The school closed down. Today, the only thing left in Curlew is a post office and a grain elevator.

Curlew disappeared because of the incredible efficiency of commodity agriculture. Every year there's a technological innovation that allows one person to farm more acres. Since one person can farm more acres, it means less people have work, and ultimately- less families have a home in rural areas. Every year, homes get bulldozed down, and corn and soy get planted in their place. The latest invention is the drone tractor. In one month, a tractor will be released that doesn't require any people at all. 

As we began speaking about this development, one woman raised her hand and asked a question:

Why do we need people in rural America?

During the next weeks and months we will be in the heart of rural America, talking to the farmers who raise the food all of us eat. We'll start conversations about farming, and about this very question. 

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published this page in Ruminations 2012-07-18 10:38:30 -0400