AmericanFarm.com

A paper turns 40 (Editorial)

(March 3, 2015) How has agriculture changed over the past 40 years? The answer: A lot.
And we’ve been there to record it.
Forty years ago this week, an eight-page monthly newspaper supplement which was to become, two years later, The Delmarva Farmer, rolled off the presses in Easton, Md.
Soon, it became evident that a newspaper devoted to agriculture could not be confined to eight pages once a month and so there appeared a more aggressive newspaper — now once a week and destined first to cover all of Delmarva and then to reach across the Mid-Atlantic, as “the voice of the farmer.”
Its 40th year of publication begins, today, Tuesday, March 3.
The newspaper, in its content, its coverage and even in its appearance and makeup, has changed significantly over those years in direct response to the enormous and evolutionary changes in agriculture.
Here, in the Mid-Atlantic, three major — let’s call them “themes of change” — have emerged: They are intimately intertwined.
• Production , from the “no-till revolution” into the “Age of Agricultural Technology.”
• A full-blown environmental movement; and
• The “Age of Agriculture Ignorance” and dragging along with it, the “Fear of Food.”
In it early editions, as venerable readers will recall, the front pages of The Delmarva Farmer were dominated by a full-page photograph, and under the photo, three headline reverences to the top stories inside.
That sort of casual presentation changed when we could no longer surrender a page for a picture when the news inside demanded front-page exposure.
The character of farm news was changing. The process of growing corn, wheat and soybeans was forever altered by “the no-till revolution” — a name given it by this newspaper — which demonstrated a new way for farmers to get a crop without “tearing at the bosom of Mother Earth” and echoed today in the GreenSeeker, no-guess seed placement and tractors which steer themselves across the field.
From the early days of concern about the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the environmental movement has moved inexorably through both government policy and non-governmental organizations to dictate how farmers farm and, ultimately, to rid the Bay of animals (cow farts) and poultry (chicken poop) agriculture.
The passion with which the environmental activists pursue their various causes finds a home in The Age of Agricultural Innocence where there are no memories of a childhood on the farm — how many generations are we from those memories: Three? ... Four?
Food now demands a lineage, an accounting of its ancestry, along with a certification of its “purity.”
Try this on your kids — or better yet, on their teachers. What’s GMO stand for?
The only constant of all of this is food.
Food is the constant denominator of the human race. It demands someone to grow it. They are called “farmers.”
It has been a mission of The Delmarva Farmer to be the farmers’ “voice” across the Mid-Atlantic. The mission continues.
Hang in there. We’ve got your back.