An article was published the other day in the New York Times in the Opinion section detailing the crumbling structure of small farming in the U.S. It is titled “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers”.
You can find it here.
Being a recent college graduate myself, I enjoy the impending anxious conversations with my parents about making $500 a month as an apprentice. Our head spaces couldn’t be any different. I am trying to change the inequalities in our society through Permaculture; they are trying to impress financially secure qualities in me. I understand it of course, there is a monthly nut I need to be able to cover as I find myself in a more independent adulthood.
But I am too crazy for that.
The article suggests that there should be loan forgiveness for young farmers. This is a brilliant idea. If you can believe it, farmers are less valued than teachers. I mean hegemonically of course. Politicians will pine for votes on platforms of improving teachers salaries, but there is nothing about farmers. This is systemic. The truth is we’re in the same sinking boat, but farmers are slightly lower on the crow’s nest pole. The difference is teachers, in their relatively self sacrificing occupation, benefit from eventual loan forgiveness federally. This means that a teacher may find relief after a decade of service. Not too shabby if after a Master’s degree one finds oneself to be $35,000+ in debt on the basic principle, not to mention interest (or usury depending on your views). Though honestly, what kind of loan is that? Pay me more than I loan you to teach our populace. Joke.
The question we have to ask ourselves is “do we want less educated farmers?” That is the implication I personally see here. This is inequality. We’re living in the wealthiest empire ever to exist (yes empire) and we cannot even provide policy for food growers to be savvy philosophers to boot, without crippling them in debt peonage.
I consider myself to be an educated small farmer. I want to do Permaculture design but it is tough without another source of income, one I wish to find when I go back to a community college for graphic design. But the fact of the matter is that an Anthropology B.A. shouldn’t cost as much as the business B.S. This is not to mention the asinine view of a critical thinking discipline as an art and business as a science, lacking any real body of theory about the natural world we live in. An anthropology degree is of lower market value than a business degree, but the critical thinking and writing skills are essential for everyone to have access to without indebtedness. Why is the price the same?
Provide legislation to give loan forgiveness to farmers. It will provide farmers like myself with the freedom to pursue valuable polyculture research and to bolster local economies. It will provide a more educated populace equipped with the tools to break down inequality. And quite honestly, I think we can afford to give 1% of the population providing a need we have every single day a way to better themselves without unsheathing a double-edged sword.