Barnyards and Birkenstocks: Why Farmers and Environmentalists Need Each Other

Excerpt from Chapter 16, Page 242

“A new farm-environmental alliance will generate attention and political clout simply by virtue of being so positive and so unexpected.  When the presidents of the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Sierra Club suddenly sit down together at a Congressional hearing and testify in favor of the same legislation, whatever that legislation is, members of Congress will happily pass it.

“As their alliance matures, these groups will come to wield remarkable power simply because they so dramatically cross today’s left-right, blue state-red state, conservative-liberal political divide.  As farm-environmental divisions heal, we might move on to other, similarly contentious disputes.  Farmers and environmentalists might find themselves leading by example, if not by design.  The very existence and success of such a coalition could help weaken entrenched positions of similarly situated groups throughout our society.  Moderate politicians might find new ways to reach deeply into their opposing party’s political camp on crossover issues.  We might begin eroding some of the divisions between cultures, classes, and urban versus rural landscapes that have grown up in recent years and are today stalling our political system.

“The political, social, economic, and environmental worth of such an outcome would be incalculable.”