Remembering the Historical Significance of Family Farmers in the Founding of Our Nation


By John Hansen, OCM Director

Howdy friends and neighbors,

Happy Fourth of July.  As is my custom, I send along the Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson to remind us of the historical significance family farmers played in the founding of our nation.  Just as it is easy to not appreciate the importance of water to our very physical existence until the well goes dry, it is also easy to not appreciate the well that captures and produces the water until we become thirsty.  So it is with our nation’s incomparable wealth of foods to choose from, and the family farmers and ranchers that produce it.  Our traditional family farm and ranch agriculture system has been so successful in producing an abundance and diversity of high quality food, that it is easy to take that system for granted.

Our traditional American food and fiber production system of independent family farmer and rancher owned and operated agriculture continues to be the envy of the rest of the world, and for many reasons.

In addition to being the most efficient way to produce food and fiber and increasingly renewable fuels, family farm and ranch agriculture is the most economically beneficial method for our local, state, and national economies in that like baseline manufacturing does, it transforms raw materials into new wealth.  When agriculture is profitable, it is an economic driver that creates new jobs and services, as well as local, state, and national tax revenues.  One in four jobs in Nebraska are dependent on agricultural production, which is the largest single industry in our rural state, as it is in most rural states.  When family farmers and ranchers do well, our economy as a whole does better.

Family farm and ranch agriculture is the most environmentally responsible way to produce food and fiber because they come from the land, know the land, depend on the land, and have a strong stewardship and conservation ethic that causes them to work their entire lives to leave the soil and water they depend on better for their children and grandchildren.

Family farm and ranch agriculture is also a way of life that is the most socially beneficial way to produce food and fiber because of the fundamental values farmers and ranchers have that causes them to be hard working, good neighbors, honest, trustworthy, and community builders.

Lastly, and to the point of the Concord Hymn, it was the family farmers that fired the shot that was heard around the world, and were an integral part of the fight for independence, the authoring of our Declaration of Independence and later, our Constitution, and the creation of our nation.  When family farmers and ranchers go broke, our nation, our state, and our local communities lose more than a pivotal business, they also lose a part of our American heritage.

All the best,

John K. Hansen, President
Nebraska Farmers Union
1305 Plum Street, Lincoln, NE 68502
402-476-8815 Office  402-476-8859 Fax
402-476-8608 Home 402-580-8815 Cell


Concord Hymn 

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

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