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"Get Big or Get Out"!

written by

Ben Simmons

posted on

July 20, 2021

"Get Big or Get Out" is a quote from then Sec. of Agriculture Butz in the mid 1970's. In 1974 the MS Ag. Commissioner encouraged cattleman with his slogan "A million more in '74"!

And when you challenge farmers to do something they work hard to get it done. The sad result was devastating and ruined many a family farm when the market collapsed.

Unfortunately, Sec. Butz' mindset has carried on and continues to be spoken by many in agriculture especially the government side.

Wendell Erdman Berry is an American novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer who debated Sec. Butz about what was wrong with his push. The following is what he later wrote about the family farm.

"The idea of the family farm is conformable in every way to the idea of good farming-that is, farming that does not destroy either the farmland or farm people. The two ideas may, in fact, be inseparable. If family farming and good farming are as nearly synonymous as i suspect they are, that is because of a law that is well understood, still, by most farmers but that has been ignored in the colleges, offices, and corporations of agriculture for thirty-five or forty years. The law reads something like this: Land that is in human use must be lovingly used; it requires intimate knowledge, attention, and care.

The practical meaning of this law is that there is a ratio between eyes and acres, between farm size and farm hands, that is correct. We know that this law is unrelenting-that, for example, one of the meanings of our current high rates of soil erosion is that we do not have enough farmers; we have enough farmers to use the land but not enough to use it and protect it at the same time.

In this law, which is not subject to human repeal, is the justification of the small, family-owned, family-worked farm, for this law gives a preeminent and irrevocable value to familiarity, the family life that alone can property connect a people to a land. This connection, admittedly, is easy to sentimentalize, and we must be careful not to do so. We all know that small family farms can be abused because we know that sometimes they have been; nevertheless, it is true that familiarity tends to mitigate and to correct abuse."

If you are not familiar with Wendell Berry let me encourage you to search him out and get to know him. He has written numerous books-perhaps his most famous book is titled "The Unsettling of America" written in 1977.

Maybe one of the best ways to get to know him is through a 2016 movie titled: Look & See, A Portrait of Wendall Berry. It is about the value of local culture and small family farms. It follows Berry's lifetime work observing, describing, and advocating for the natural world and those who try to live in harmony in it.

Sometimes, we need to STOP, reflect on where we have been, who we are, and think about where we are going vs. getting caught up in the go, go, go culture around us. That is one of the gifts Wendell Berry's writings have blessed me with. I hope you enjoy as well.

New SALE Items:

1) Beef Ribs - have been marked down $2 from $7.50/lb. to $5.50/lb. Save 26%

2) Pork Shoulder Roast/Boston Butt - marked down $1.25 from $7.25/lb. to $6.00/lb. Save 17%

3) Pork Custom Halves - My latest feed price is up 40% year to date. So, pork will very soon go up in price. This is an opportunity for you to order a custom half before prices increase July 26th. Don't delay if you are wanting to add some fresh pastured pork to your freezer now is your best opportunity.

As always, we thank you for rewarding our hard work with your trust and support.

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