22 October 2016
On Saturday October 22nd at 7:00 pm, award winning author Wendell Berry and The Land Institute's co-founder Wes Jackson will share the stage at the historic Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in the heart of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. They will hold a conversation about the 50-Year Farm Bill, their work, and their long friendship and collaboration in support of rural communities.
The occasion is the 36th Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures, a tradition that Mr. Berry and Mr. Jackson launched when they spoke to a full house in October of 1981 on the theme of People, Land, and Community. Over the years the Annual Schumacher Lectures have provided a platform for some of the most powerful voices for an economics that supports both people and planet – voices that include Jane Jacobs, Bill McKibben, Winona LaDuke, Van Jones, Judy Wicks, and Otto Scharmer.
Much has changed since the first Annual Lectures. The promise of the global economy has faded in the face of ever-greater wealth inequality and environmental degradation. There is a groundswell of interest in building a new economy that is just and recognizes planetary limits. All of us at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics are delighted that Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson have accepted our invitation to come back and share their perspectives on how far we have come, where we are, and where we believe we should go next.
Expect a warmth, an eloquence, and an intimacy in the conversation between these two friends on October 22nd. Above all, expect to be deeply moved.
A 50-Year Farm Bill?
In their editorial for The New York Times in 2009, Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson proposed a 50-Year Farm Bill that addresses soil loss and degradation, toxic pollution of soil and water, loss of biodiversity, and fossil-fuel dependency. They called for a national agriculture policy based on ecological principles, one that restores the health of our farmlands as well as restores “economic and cultural stability to our rural communities”.
The 50-Year Farm Bill would entail a 50-year schedule by which the present ratio of annual to perennial plants would be reversed, creating an agricultural system in which only 20 percent of crops are annual and the other 80 percent are perennial. Or, as Wendell Berry described in an article for The Atlantic, “Keep the ground covered, and keep it covered whenever possible with perennial plants.”