Kansas Senator Calls Small Farmers GQ-Reading Shrimpy Dilettantes

Slide show of working small farmers, many over 5'-2" from the Ethicurian

When Secretary of Agriculture candidate Tom Vilsack went before the Senate Agriculture Committee and was asked a question about organic agriculture, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas popped in his definition of a "small family farmer":


dilettante hedgie quant on hobby farm reading GQ from Ethicurian
"That small family farmer is about 5′2″ and he's a retired airline pilot and sits on his porch on a glider reading Gentleman's Quarterly — he used to read the Wall Street Journal but that got pretty drab — and his wife works as stock broker downtown. And he has 40 acres, and he has a pond and he has an orchard and he grows organic apples. Sometimes there is a little more protein in those apples than people bargain for, and he's very happy to have that."

Now outside of the obvious heightism, to which I am particularly sensitive, he is also pointing out the attitude toward farming that built the corn-based agricultural economy that Michael Pollan says is killing us. Roberts continues, defending his kind of farmer:

"That person is in Iowa. He's got 2,000 acres and he farms and he farms with his dad. Two brothers are gone because they can't really sustain that on the farm. His counterpart in Kansas, in my part of the country, has 10,000 acres. And his tractor costs about $350,000. It's amazing, in terms of the costs. But these folks are the folks who produce the food and fiber for America and a troubled and hungry world."

A lot of people weren't crazy about an ethanol-loving, GMO enthusiast Vilsack as a choice, but at least he isn't rude to small farmers and short people.

More on the Ethicurian.

More Corn on TreeHugger

Opening Today in Theaters: King Corn
Where Corn is King
George Monbiot on the Pleasures of the Flesh
Review: King Corn- You Are What You Eat
Michael Pollan : The Government Makes You Fat
The Silence of the Yams

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