American Agriculture traces the very beginning of agriculture in America from the earliest days of settlement well into the current giant agribusiness outfits that control the vast majority of American farmland.
This is not, however, just a dry recitation of facts and figures and graphs about farming. Wetherington also goes into social, economic, and political considerations that trailed along ag (and later, Big Ag), through periods off boom – wars, foreign markets -and busts – Dust Bowl, collapsing markets, and movement of rural people to cities, looking for work off the farm.
We also get to see how the addition of heavy machinery, subsidies, and chemical pesticides helped boost production per acre to astronomical levels, to better feed the US and the world. On the downside of that, if the market for a particular commodity collapses, the government can and does step in to help offset the losses farmers experience and to make it worth their while to simply not plant the next round of crops.
If you’re curious about the evolution of agriculture in the country, or how it affects people and policy, it’s a good read.
A solid four out of five stars.
Thanks to Rowman & Littlefield and NetGalley for the reading copy.