The family farm lies at the heart of our national identity, yet its future is in peril. Rick Hammond grew up on a small ranch, and for forty years he has raised cattle and crops on his wife's fifth-generation homestead in York County, Nebraska, in hopes of passing it on to their four children.Read more...
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The family farm lies at the heart of our national identity, yet its future is in peril. Rick Hammond grew up on a small ranch, and for forty years he has raised cattle and crops on his wife's fifth-generation homestead in York County, Nebraska, in hopes of passing it on to their four children. But as the handoff nears, their small family farm--and their entire way of life--are under siege. Rising corporate ownership of land and livestock is forcing small farmers to get bigger and bigger, assuming more debt and more risk. At the same time, after nearly a decade of record-high corn and soybean prices, the bottom has dropped out of the markets, making it ever harder for small farmers to shoulder their loans. All the while, the Hammonds are confronted by encroaching pipelines, groundwater depletion, climate change, and shifting trade policies. Far from an isolated refuge beyond the reach of global events, the family farm is increasingly at the crossroads of emerging technologies and international detente. Following the Hammonds from harvest to harvest, Ted Genoways explores this rapidly changing landscape of small, traditional farming operations, mapping as it unfolds day to day. This Blessed Earth is both a concise exploration of the history of the American small farm and a vivid, nuanced portrait of one family's fight to preserve their legacy and the life they love.
- ISBN-13: 9780393292572
- ISBN-10: 0393292576
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
- Publish Date: September 2017
- Page Count: 240
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.88 pounds
An elegy for a way of life
When perusing the endless variety of foods lining the shelves of grocery stores, it’s easy to forget where it all comes from. This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm by Ted Genoways offers insight into the farming process, which has experienced significant changes over the years.
Genoways follows Nebraska farmer Rick Hammond and his family over the course of a year, providing an in-depth look at the obstacles farmers face today, including climate change, dwindling underground water supplies, oil and gas pipeline encroachment, market price fluctuations and the always unpredictable weather. There are also successes, such as President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline in 2015—but the challenges seem to outweigh the triumphs.
A Nebraska native, Genoways tells the story with genuine honesty and historical awareness, explaining how the “American farm underwent a period of unmatched innovation in the early twentieth century” with the introduction of gas-powered tractors and harvesting combines. But big corporations have now taken over, forcing cross-pollination “to produce robust seed corn” and promoting pesticide-heavy crops, which are more resistant and have higher yields.
Genoways delivers a close-up look at what farmers face today and their efforts to accomplish their goals.