Defending America's Farmers is a 'Dirty Job'

Published online: Jun 16, 2010 The Hand That Feeds U.S.
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Defending America's Farmers is a 'Dirty Job,' But Someone Has to Do It If you watch the show "Dirty Jobs" on Discovery Channel, you know the name Mike Rowe, the host who shadows people doing jobs most folks don't see on a regular basis. What you might not know is the respect he has for the American farmer, as shown in an editorial recently posted on his website at In it, Rowe writes about how the modern farmer's technology rivals that of Silicon Valley, yet no one seems to notice. He also speaks of the importance the American farmer can play in producing food for the globe. "What's more important than feeding a hungry planet and supporting the people who grow our food?" Rowe asks. "Every year we demand more and more from our farmers. More food from less land. More food from less energy. More food from less labor. And every year our farmers deliver." He also talks, with some frustration, about how the term farmer has evolved into a stereotype most of the public doesn't connect with. "How is it," Rowe writes, "that 300 million Americans-all addicted to eating-have become disconnected from the people who grow our food? "Most people like food. The problem is work. We've spent decades trying to distance ourselves from traditional notions of work. And who embodies work more than the American farmer?" Offering one of the best summaries we've ever heard of the importance of agriculture, Rowe writes: "All jobs rely on one of two industries-mining and agriculture. Every tangible thing our society needs is either pulled from the ground, or grown from the ground. Without these fundamental industries there would be no jobs of any kind. There would be no economy. Civilization begins with miners and farmers, and polite society is only possible when skilled workers transform those raw materials into something useful or edible." Thank you, Mr. Rowe. You've really helped show that supporting and learning about the people producing our food, fiber, and fuel is no dirty job at all. Visit