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U.S. independence and agriculture
Dr. Victor Martin

With the Independence Holiday, this is written before the drought monitor report came out this week. With the rainfall, at worst conditions remain the same but likely improved for areas that receive significant rainfall over the last week. Here in Barton County conditions shouldn’t have changed dramatically. They have south of here as you head towards Pratt and the Southeast. The six to ten-day outlook (July 8 to 12) indicates a 33 to 50% chance of leaning below normal temperatures and normal for precipitation. The eight to 14-day outlook (July 10 to 16) indicates a 33 to 50% chance of leaning above normal for temperatures and normal to slightly below normal precipitation.  

As we celebrate Independence Day, have you considered the role that agriculture has and continues to play in our country’s independence? At the time of the Revolutionary War, almost everyone lived in a rural area and farmed. The Minutemen and the vast majority of soldiers had an agrarian background. They were used to hard physical labor and most knew how to shoot. And let’s not forget the wives and children staying behind who continued the farming operation. During the Civil War, we were still an agrarian society and the majority of the Union Army was again from that background. Rural states of the Midwest overall supplied a greater percentage per capita of troops than more developed states. Even though we think of the Confederate States as primarily agricultural, and they were, the farms of the Union were able to not only provide troops but food and clothing to the army. 

We are no longer an agrarian society with only two to three percent of the population directly involved in food, fiber and fuel production. So, how has American agriculture helped us maintain our independence? By area and population, this is the third largest country in the world with many natural resources from fossil fuels and minerals to farmland. The total acreage of arable land, combined with technology, has played an important role in our independence.

• Our ability to produce an abundance of food with fewer people allows us to invest people time and money into a variety of areas technologically to develop the society we have today. It keeps us food secure and allows us to export food to many other parts of the world. All of this provides security within our borders and in other parts of the world.

• Our agricultural system in theory allows us to be independent of the need to import food for basic needs. We import food, not because we have to, but because it allows us to enjoy a wider variety of fresh foods year-round.

• Agriculture also helps the economy in terms of the import/export balance sheet. Billions of dollars are generated exporting grain and meat to other parts of the world.  

• And while inflation has certainly caused an increase in food prices, we still overall spend a smaller percentage of our income on food than most other developed and developing countries.

All of these items and more have helped keep this country independent for over two centuries.

Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207, or