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Northeast farming: One person’s viewNortheast farming: One person’s view

Higher Ground: The evolution of farm operations is called progress, but that does not mean it is right.

June 9, 2023

2 Min Read
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by Ed Westfall

I was on the road for 40-plus years for business, and I traveled though farm country.

One of the most striking changes I observed was a family farm where there was a covered entrance to the barn hayloft intact, while the barn itself had collapsed to the ground. The older farmhouse was now obviously deserted.

I also observed a similar property with a more optimistic result. The house and barn were intact but had not been maintained. On a subsequent trip, I saw that the grounds were more carefully groomed. Some paint on the buildings was evident. Down at the edge of the barn, an Amish buggy was ready to go. The farm now had the care of a family that had a plan to return it to its original purpose.

I regularly traveled by a corporate farm, which was the consolidation of many connected small farms. Newer facilities were obvious. The efficiency was impressive.

It may seem that the large corporate approach to farming is the key to success. But not always.

On one farm site that I regularly passed, the conversion was completed to the corporate dairy farm system. This site was 10 miles south of the successful farm noted above. All seemed well for three or four years.

Then, activity stopped. All was abandoned. It was obvious that the surrounding land was sold or leased to smaller farms.

I concluded that the size or the implementation of a corporate approach to farming was not the key to success.

While my observation of Northeast farms continues to hold my interest, I have read a book about farming processes and the people who execute them. The book is called “Talks to Farmers,” written by Charles H. Spurgeon.

The book covers farm operations, from land preparation to the storage of finished products. In each chapter, the book reviews the success factors of executing each phase of growing crops, and God’s creative powers that make that phase a success — even from the assignment of the care of crops as delegated to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Much advice is offered and verified by statements and examples from the Bible. The theme of the book is addressed to farmers, but there are many references for educators, pastors and business workers, too.

Many times while reading the book I recognized conditions outlined and noted to myself their relevance to current situations and lifestyles. I would then have to note to myself that the situations noted and advice given in the book was written 150 years ago.

If you believe that your lifestyle does not provide time for extensive reading, I’m here to assure you, this book is written in relatively short chapters.

I encourage you to take a look at this book as we all observe the direction of the agricultural industry and its participants today.

Westfall is vice president and secretary of the Mohawk Valley Chapter of Fellowship of Christian Farmers International.

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