American Agriculture tells the story of farming in American from contact between Native Americans and Europeans to the present. Agricultural historian Mark V. Wetherington provide a narrative overview of significant historical trends explored through specific crop regions and their emergence over time. He traces the decline of the family farm that at one time formed the backbone of America’s agrarian culture and the emergence of large industrial farms that overproduce subsidized commodity crops. American Agriculture provides a narrative overview of significant historical trends explored through specific crop regions and their emergence over time. It is interdisciplinary in approach and places the major themes and topics within the broader context of the nation's history. This book will be essential reading to anyone interesting in the past, present, or future of American farming.
Mark V. Wetherington is a historian and a writer. He served as the director of historical societies in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Kentucky for thirty years. Holding a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, he writes on rural and environmental history as well as the Civil War and Reconstruction. His books The New South Comes to Wiregrass Georgia 1860-1910 (1994) explore longleaf pine deforestation, landscape change, and the expansion of the cotton South onto the Coastal Plains during the late nineteenth century, while Plain Folk's Fight: The Civil War and Reconstruction in Piney Woods Georgia (2005), explored the home front experiences of yeoman households during the 1860s and 1870s. He is the author of numerous articles and book reviews. His current research interests focus on the ways environmental change altered the relationships of farming families to landscapes and markets in the longleaf pine and wiregrass South. He has received a Mellon fellowship at the Virginia Historical Society, has served on Agricultural History's Vernon Carstensen Memorial Award Committee, and served on the editorial board of the University Press of Kentucky.
Wetherington has decades of experience as a historian and is currently director of the Filson Historical Society in Kentucky. Here, he takes a broad historical look at the central role agriculture holds in life in the United States. He tracks his theme of “control, consolidation and chemicals” from precolonial America and Native American farming to the modern dominance of large farming businesses. Wetherington provides social, political, environmental, and economic contexts for his explications of the changing landscapes, crops, and farmers over the centuries, tracing the shift from family farms to corporate agribusiness. He concludes with a look to the future, offering ideas for changing industrial farming to help make it more equitable and sustainable. This thorough and elucidating work is filled with details and demographics about people, land, crops, and legislation. It will find its best audience with those with some knowledge and experience of agriculture but could be rewarding for casual readers who want to understand how American history and society are tied to the changing landscapes of agriculture.
This is more than just a history of agriculture. Wetherington weaves farmers’ lives into the fabric of American history by exploring the myriad issues that make up farming itself, from the environment and labor to public policy and the economy. With clear writing and a narrative that moves quickly, this is a book to either read straight through as one compelling American story, or to use as a reference to any single part of the farming story.