Crisis, argument, and agriculture

Scholarly critics such as Wendell Berry, as well as the popular media, frequently refer to problems associated with agriculture as the agricultural crisis or the farm crisis. Despite the identification of a problem or problems as symptomatic of this crisis, scant attention is paid to why the situation is a social crisis as opposed to a problem, tragedy, trend, or simple change in the structure of agriculture. This paper analyzes the use of social crisis as applied to the state of modern agriculture and, by extension, other crises such as those in legitimation and morality. It concludes that, although important social values associated with farming as a way of life may be in danger of being lost, the crisis we may be facing with respect to agriculture is more properly understood as a sociopolitical crisis that has broader implications than simply the loss of farms or traditional farming values. Indeed, what is in danger of being lost is our ability to affect a secure and sustainable political-economic system.
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