About 40% of the land in the United States is used for agriculture. It’s a massive industry that has undergone drastic changes in the past decades.
Fr. Daniel Sedlacek grew up on a farm and now ministers to farmers in the Diocese of La Crosse. He joined Morning Air® to share the struggles that farmers are facing today and how we can support them in their work.
“In a certain sense, farmers have gotten really good at what they do and so can produce a lot more with a lot less. But unfortunately, that means they don’t need as many farmers out there and so a lot of farmers have been struggling to make ends meet. The cost of production is higher than the prices that are out there on the market today,” said Fr. Sedlacek.
The values and camaraderie that come from traditional farming communities are at risk of being lost as small farms close their doors. “Kind of the bigger loss, other than that economic loss, is that human community and family formation that typically has happened in our country in the agricultural and rural life,” said Fr. Sedlacek. Even with agricultural life changing in our country, we can continue instill those values in our own families, wherever we may life—values like hard work, helping your neighbor, and making family and God a top priority.
As farming families struggle, how can we—in the cities and rural areas, on the coasts and in the mountains—support our agricultural communities?
“That human and community support is really important for farmers—it’s what they’re lacking because there’s fewer and fewer of them to support each other. But to have the broader support of your parish community, of your local community is incredibly important,” said Fr. Sedlacek. “So I encourage people to definitely learn—because there’s different agricultural industries in all different parts of the country—so to find out … who are the farmers in my part of the world, what do they need, what are their struggles? And then to ask the question: what can my community or my family do to support them?”
Fr. Sedlacek suggests praying for the farmers and agricultural workers in our country or local community. Nature-centered devotions can be especially powerful, such as the seasonal Ember Days of prayer and fasting that coincide with the changing of the seasons and harvest.
“It’s a vocational call for all of us to keep the earth, to care for the earth. Because modern man is so removed from the means of production and from the land, that we often don’t really realize how much of an impact some of the things that we do have on creation and upon farmers,” said Fr. Sedlacek.
Saint Isidore, patron saint of farmers, pray for us!
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