I, Farm: an ag update

I, Farm. Not I farm — although I do a bit of that — but I, Farm.

In 1958 libertarian economist and activist Leonard Read penned a now famous essay telling the story of a pencil, from the pencil’s point of view.

I, Pencil goes into great detail in telling its entire heritage, looking at the world and the economic benefit that the pencil creates.

Made mostly of cedar, lacquer, graphite, a metal ferrule, vegetable oil, pumice, wax and glue, no one person is really able to make a pencil. It is made by an entire world of folks. In turn, it helps to drive a global economy.

Read’s is a good read: not very long and makes some sharp points.

His intention was to show that central government planning was inept at driving an economy. Ideology, other than his own, should not be the basis for government, and the invisible hand of the market should be left to its own devices to create products and value in the economy.

Read’s essay is inspiring, causing one to consider all of the businesses and jobs that exist because of a single industry and how these are interdependent.

At our recent farm show, Ag In Motion, I was once again struck by all the people who make their livings from farming but don’t actually farm.

And events like those are tips of the iceberg. As one who visits the labs, plots and greenhouses of the seed and chemical companies, the engineering and factory facilities of the farm machinery industry, the milling, processing, slaughter and port operations, as well as the grocery store, it is an awesome thing, farming.

Think about all who live by the cycle of agriculture, and how, if one were a farm, how it would describe itself.

Harvest is underway on the Prairies, and with every fill of diesel, trip to town for parts and each pass of the feeder chain that will eventually fail and need replacement, the farm feeds the world, backward and forward.

Too few farmers and the local economies fail. Too many and they fail. Too few grain companies and the invisible hand of the market becomes the Black Hand.

Read failed to look at all the good that government does, but at harvest time it is a good, short read that can be inspiring, if one ignores the ideology. To read Read’s essay, visit bit.ly/wp_ipencil.

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