Distributist Review: Hard Times in Farm Country

Farmers in Oklahoma are struggling to meet the drought:

The news from Oklahoma is that the drought is “officially” extreme, over half the state, and getting worse everywhere else. The fact that we don’t see giant dust clouds in the air is a testimony to what farmers have learned since the 1930s, but the problems that drought presents to rural producers and communities remain the same today as they were in the 1930s.

Elsewhere, the problem is too much water. Heavy rains are followed by extreme floods. People speak of “500 year flood events” and hundreds of thousands of fertile acres are underwater. There are rumors of foreclosures and transnational financial interests attempting to get control of major tracts of farm land. While a flood can be a bringer of fertility (think of the Nile and Egypt), one wonders about the consequences for farmland of the flooding of a river like the Mississippi in our area, which concentrates the toxic run-offs from a dozen states and thousands of municipalities, to the point that each year there is a growing “dead zone” where the river empties into the Gulf.

Here in Virginia, we’ve had a literal bumper crop of just about everything — tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, tomatillos, beans, peas — you name it.

Of course, there are some who will chalk this seemingly endless river of bad news up to “climate change” without being specific to whether it is man-made or natural.  Insofar as aquifers are concerned, we are certainly doing ourselves harm in a tragedy of the commons.  Nevertheless, the lesson here is to understand that catastrophe is inevitable, and one should be thoroughly prepared for any event.

Of course, the writers here touch on the effects such climate change has on the productivity of the average farmer… or the average person, for that matter:

Every mother cow sold into the marketplace is the destruction of productive wealth. That mother cow will produce no more mother cows or steers. The destruction of productive wealth is not good for farmers and ranchers and it’s not good for rural communities and it’s not good for our urban communities either. It’s called “eating your capital” and is a sign of desperation wherever it occurs.

What happens at your house when there’s less money? What happens if it becomes a permanent decline because some of your productive effort is simply no longer there? What can people in cities do about this?

Read on.  The lessons apply the same as with your household… if not, perhaps, the ends.

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