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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Walley

What Ever Happened to The Family Farm?

NOTE: We will be postponing our Sunday meeting this week to celebrate all the moms! We'll be back on May 16th. Details to join and info to be discussed can be found in the Weekly DISPATCH .


In the meantime, perspective from LRNA, Detroit Labor Committee member James Bish, from People's Tribune.


What Ever Happened to The Family Farm?

By Jim Bish


Corporate agribusiness has been displacing the family farm and the local businesses that depend on the family farm. Photo/Free old barn drawings.


DETROIT, MI — It isn’t often that we get a peek into the lives of the elite capitalist class’s economic/ personal/corporate lives, which have had and are having a dramatic impact on us “working stiffs/class.”


The impending divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates, as reported in Yahoo News says: “Bill Gates is America’s biggest owner of private farmland . . . ” This gives us just such a peek into the impact on rural America.


Of the 242,000 acres, the Gates’ own in 18 states, 20,588 acres are in Nebraska, where I grew up in the late 1930s through the mid-1950s.


So let’s look at Nebraska.


Farmland in eastern Nebraska was/is divided (surveyed) into mile square sections of 640 acres. Each section was/is usually subdivided into 4 (four) parts of 160 acres each. Each 160 acres supported a family farm. These farms supported the businesses in the small towns located every 10 to 15 miles apart. The Gates’ Nebraska land alone displaces about 130 family farms.


This process of corporate agribusiness displacing the family farm and the local businesses that depend on the family farm is being replicated across the landscape today. Going back to visit Nebraska, after having been absent for many years, I find it unrecognizable.


At least I have the distant memories, which are also fading with time.


Editor’s note: Jim Bish has been involved in the fight for justice since leaving the farm to join the army in 1955. His involvement intensified after moving to Detroit in 1967, coming under the influence of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers due to his union organizing. He is still in Detroit, continuing to struggle in his old age.



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