The worst of the farm crisis is said to be over, but farmers are still killing themselves. The New York Times reports a rash of suicides in rural Oklahoma—some 100 deaths in less than two years. In Iowa, about 50 farmers have killed themselves each year since 1980. And in Missouri last year, to cite one more grim example of how serious today’s farm crisis is, 82 farmers took their own lives.

Even for farmers not so desperate as to be suicidal, life remains uncomfortable. Current national policy is to save “the” family farm by eliminating thousands of actual family farms. So it is hard for farmers who have survived on the farm to rejoice when many of their neighbors—whose friendship they counted on, whose children they watched grow, and whose parents they helped bury—have left their farms in despair.

Of course, all compassionate people (let alone all Christians) are concerned about what is happening down on the farm. But for most of us, the farm crisis remains emotionally if not geographically as distant as an African famine. This is so because more than 97 percent of us do not live on farms. The closest we get to the earth is our weekend gardens. And though we know better, we are inclined to think eggs are laid by the dozen. What compelling reasons have we to believe the farm crisis is anything more than another fuzzy image on the evening news?

Not A Miracle

The United States consistently stores 12 billion tons of surplus grain annually. Such surpluses largely account for the farm crisis, well-stocked supermarket shelves, and the fact that modern agriculture is hailed as miraculously productive.

We say “miraculously” because today’s farming seems to produce stupendous amounts ...

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