May 17, 2022 1:17 pm

farmers and ranchers

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When I see those protest demonstrations by farmers mounted on their huge tractors, mowers and other agricultural machinery, I am reminded of the lesson that a Brooklyn College Literature professor gave me, shortly after arriving in the United States, who had not heard before and have not heard since, despite being full of common sense. “American wealth does not come from its industrial might, as most people believe,” he told me. “We have, yes, an impressive automobile industry, we dominate aeronautics and we were able to build a ship every day during the Second World War. Our pharmaceutical industry is also at the forefront, and more patents are registered in this country than in any other. However, our wealth

is agriculture and its derivative, livestock. It is no accident. This country was created by immigrants who arrived especially from Europe, where the land belonged to some lords and they could only cultivate it as their subjects. Here, on the other hand, those immigrants had all the land they wanted and set out to make the most of it. If you go to the weekend markets in the interior of the United States, you will find not only all kinds of tools, but also seeds chosen to produce the best fruits, cereals and legumes. The same happened with livestock to produce animals with the highest quantity and quality of meat. The money earned in the field was invested in machinery to mechanize it, so that a single man could do the work of an entire crew and multiply their production. This is how our agriculture industrialized, at the same time that the industry lived off the countryside, and we turned the city of Detroit into the automobile capital; Chicago, in the one of the slaughterhouses, and, if you push me, Hollywood in the one of the cinema, because the ‘westerns’ were the most popular films».

I have remembered this masterful lesson when I saw our farmers and ranchers come to demonstrate in the big cities in order to survive. The countryside is what has changed the most in Spain in the 20th century. More than half of the country lived in it, but what it produced was barely enough for those who cultivated it. Today, when we have industrialized the countryside and turned Spain into the garden of Europe, it turns out that it is not profitable, paying more for its products than it costs to produce them. Something that is not logical, nor social, and cannot continue. I don’t know what’s wrong, but I hope that the famous European reconstruction funds distributed by the Brussels authorities remember our farmers and ranchers, to whom we owe so much. I admit I’m not sure about it.

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