Farms and farming
On this page are links to articles about farms, farmers, and farming from feed grains to forestry, about the strip-mining and reclamation of prime farmlands, about polluted runoff from farm fields, about agribusiness and federal ag policy, and about the farm economy and rural Illinois.
I came from farm people, that is, people who farmed or sold machines to farmers or lent money to farmers or bought and sold the things farmers made. I grew up in in a state in which city folks are as perfectly surrounded by farms as Hebrideans are by water. The first two pieces I sold to national magazines were about farming and farmers, and I've continued to write about both.
While I was busy at my keyboard for 40 years, the family farmer became the agribusinessman, the grain-and-hog farm became an outdoor factory, and agriculture completed its evolution from growing food for people to producing feedstocks for industry—much to lament, in short, but more happily for the journalist, much to write about too. My pieces gradually became more critical and my prose more pointed but that had no effect on public debate whatsoever. Farming still enjoys a privileged place in Illinois culture and politics that I think the industry is less and less entitled to.
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On the fraud of corn-based motor fuels
Illinois Issues October 2007
A “typical” family farmer of central Illinois in the 1970s.
Across the Board September 1978
"Breadbasket or Dustbowl"
This is the first part of the six-article series on soil cpnservation that appeared in Illinois Issues magazine between September 1981 and February 1982. The series was another of that magazine’s examinations of pressing environmental issues, in this case funded in large part by The Joyce Foundation, with the assistance of the Illinois Department of Agriculture's Division of Natural Resources. The articles were later published as a 48-page booklet titled Breadbasket or Dustbowl. (See Publications.)
The distance between Eden and the desert
Illinois Issues September 1981
“Improving” Illinois land
Illinois Issues October 1981
The costs of sedimentation pile up
Illinois Issues November 1981
The rebirth of soil conservation in Illinois
Illinois Issues December 1981
"The land is going! The land is going!"
Illinois Issues January 1982
Saving the farm—until it's time to sell
Illinois Issues February 1982