The excerpt below is from a recent interview with Mr. Berry from Dissent Magazine. I, of course, recommend you read the whole thing:
One crucial thing to consider is what Wes Jackson [Land Institute Founder] calls the “eyes to acres” ratio. If you’re going to take care of the land well you need to have enough people caring for it and watching over it. In industrial agriculture, a few people “farm” a lot of land with big machines and a lot of chemicals—with the results I’ve just described. That’s the large-scale farming some people think will “feed the world,” the billions of people now mostly in cities. It’ll feed them for a short time. But we need to feed them for a long time. My side of the argument says it’s possible to have a more complex, long-term structure. It’s possible to have a farming culture in which everything helps everything else—following the example of nature. A good farmer I know used to say, “It’s good to have nature working for you. She works at a minimum wage.” Nature is a powerful ally, if you respect her and her ways.
If you work against her, as we are now doing, she’ll work against you. The penalties may be severe.
The agri-industrialists have what they think is a rhetorical question addressed to my side: “If you farm by your principles, who’s going to decide who’s going to starve?” We could put that question back to them: “Who’s going to decide who is going to starve when you get done polluting and eroding the arable land, and destroying all the world’s cultures of land husbandry?”
Side note: Wes Jackson, a good friend of Berry’s and the primary author of the 50 Year Farm Bill to which Berry refers often, is speaking Thursday, March 29 at Butler University. I have a family commitment that I don’t think I can skip, but I would love a report back from anyone that can make it. I heard Jackson and Berry speak together last year, and Jackson is not to be missed!