My View From The Country

When It Comes To Nature And The Environment, We Need More Farmers

As people have become removed from the land, agriculture and nature, they’ve lost an understanding of sustainability, and they don’t understand the resilience of nature. 

If everyone in the U.S. were a farmer or rancher, our country wouldn’t be facing near the problems it does today. I don’t contend that the urbanization of America is a bad thing. After all, it was the efficiency of American agriculture that allowed people to move off the land and focus on other creative and value-creating activities.

The bottom line of this migration off the land has been an improved standard of living for virtually all Americans, as well as unprecedented economic growth. Where the majority of the population used to be engaged in feeding the nation, fewer than 2% of Americans do the job today. That makes it possible for the other 98% to focus on other society-building pursuits.

Farmers and ranchers, however, have a unique perspective on the world, and a clearer understanding of key principles that are no longer widely understood by folks long removed from the land. For instance, farmers and ranchers see and experience firsthand the lessons that nature reinforces on a daily basis; and they appreciate the interconnectedness of everything in nature.

We understand, for instance, that antagonisms exist, and we must take a long-term view in our actions. We understand that sustainability and prosperity are not separate entities. We understand that there are cycles, and that by taking the long view, you not only understand the consequences of one’s actions, but take positive steps to effect outcomes in a way that not only benefits mankind but nature.

Unfortunately, as people have become removed from the land, agriculture and nature, they’ve lost an understanding of sustainability, and they don’t understand the resilience of nature. There’s been a growing and disturbing tendency for consumers to see mankind and capitalism as problematic, rather than as guiding forces that not only ensure sustainability but improve both nature and living standards for generations to come.


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Today, profit motives are seen as problems rather than as the means to a solution; and mankind is a net negative to the environment, as technology tends to be harmful. Some believe that socialism is the only way to avoid abuse.

Farmers, however, understand that most resources are finite. But we also understand that we can produce more with fewer inputs, and not only do it sustainably but improve the overall base.

It’s a lack of understanding about nature, her power and interconnectedness that have led to the extreme pseudo-science view of the climate and man’s position in the environment.  Activists no longer use the words “global warming” to expound this belief, as this theory is ironically proving itself to be unsustainable. Rather, it evolved into the term “climate change,” but that also has become problematic. The popular term now is “global climate disruption.”

Change is something that can be dealt with, and doesn’t necessarily mean that change is inherently bad. If more people worked with nature every day, not only would they have a better appreciation for her, they would have a more intellectually solid footing to effect change when it comes to managing food energy and water more effectively.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 4

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 13, 2013

Great job of framing the issue, Troy, but the sticky wicket is "effecting change" in a positive way to those that don't understand modern production technologies.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 13, 2013

I respectfully disagree that the science documenting global climate change is "extreme pseudo-science".

While it's easy to see that the "scientists" funded by the Koch brothers and others in the oil industry just might have a conflict of interest, I've never heard an explanation of why the great majority of other scientists would have some motivation to describe global climate change if it isn't backed up with verifiable data.

on Dec 15, 2013

There has always been climate change. There will always be climate change. There will come a time when mans time will end on this earth because we can no longer survive the climate. This should not come as a shock. Just reading any accurate history of the planet earth tells us our days here are numbered. We will be come a part of the earths history just as the dinosaurs have. It's undeniable, man is not the end game of the earths existence. We're just a tiny snippet along the way.

If we think we're going to control nature, we have a hard lesson to learn.

Thomas Howard (not verified)
on Feb 14, 2014

The science is: In your lifetime, global warming leading to variable climate change and disruption. References to "now called" and "always changing" miss the point and distort the discussion. Those are not pieces of evidence undermining the theory but attempts to change the topic.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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