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Michael Fields Agricultural Institute logo
At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

A Letter to Industrial Agriculture

Dear Industrial Agriculture,

It’s been a great experiment – a social, political, climatic, public health, and agricultural experiment, but I think it’s time for us to break up.

A lot has changed, and I don’t think we’re a good fit for each other anymore. We had our “Get big or get out” moment in the 1970’s, when you planted commodity crops, like corn “from fencerow to fencerow.” And then there was the Dust Bowl back in the 1930’s, where 8 years of desiccated soil and destitution caused by a severe drought combined with farming methods that did not include crop rotation, fallow fields, native grasses, wind-breaking trees and hedgerows; soil turned to dust and eroded away. Industrial Agriculture, as I travel past your mega farms where monocultures of corn & soy have been harvested and I see bare land without cover crops and your topsoil blowing in the strong wind, I feel pain seeing a precious resource like soil being treated like dirt.

And then war technologies were brought to farms. Corporations who produced tons of nitrogen for bombs, found a new way to get paid, first through chemical fertilizers, then chemical weed killers all sold to you, Industrial Agriculture. In the early 1990’s corporations discovered that even more money, more profit could be made with a chemical weed killer that would kill all the plants in a field except the crop itself. This crop would have to be resistant to such a powerful poison. This crop would be made by scientists in a laboratory by splicing genes from viruses and bacteria, and we now have GM (Genetically Modified) seeds, plants, and animals. This ain’t God’s country anymore, it’s a science experiment.

And now, Industrial Agriculture, now you are contributing to the destruction of planet Earth; climate change, deforestation, pollution, and environmental degradation. It needs to stop. We need to make drastic changes. We need to keep the soil covered as much as possible. We need to stop clearing forests for cropland. We need to reduce emissions from fertilizers, cattle, and rice. Industrial Agriculture, you are much of the food supply; how nice that your fields are weed and pest free, but what a terrible price the people, climate and Earth are paying.

We need to return to small family farms. We need to embrace urban agriculture. We need to return to a way of agriculture that respects people and animals, soil and water, community and life. We need to welcome small family farmers, organic farmers, alternative agriculture, biodynamic farming, regenerative agriculture, community supported agriculture, grazers, local food systems, sustainable agriculture, permaculture, rooftop gardens, urban farmers, community gardeners, backyard gardeners, forest gardening, foraging, and perennial grains.

Industrial Agriculture, we are done. Finished. Reestablish hedgerows, return to a diversified system of agriculture, get rid of monocultures, protect your soil with cover crops, treat animals and humans with dignity, grow food from natural seeds, treat your water as if your children needed to drink it, and eliminate poisons from our diet. We need to return to a form of agriculture that does not rely on chemicals designed for war.

Industrial Agriculture, it’s not me, it’s you. I might sound selfish to you for protecting my children, soil, air, water, plants, and animals, but that’s just the way it must be. You have been raging war on Mother Earth, now I rage back.


Mother Earth