Ralph Pistoresi. Farm Bureau members since 1970.
My Labor Day Thoughts
“The wealth of a nation is in its labor force” is the opening sentence in Disraeli’s book ‘The Wealth of Nations’. We, in production agriculture, especially in California specialty crops, realize the truth behind these words. When I look back over the decades of farming that I have done I realize I could not have accomplished much if not for all those individuals who were willing to make farm work their lively hood.
As I travel back in my mind and see their faces and hear their voices I relive all of what we went through together pruning vines, picking grapes, or rolling raisins before a thunderstorm in the middle of the night. So many of my most treasured memories of accomplishment in the work aspect of my life are directly tied to the people working with us to make it all happen.
Agricultural farm work is not easy. It is not glamour’s. It does not offer status as a perk. It often starts before the sun rises and ends when the job is done. It does not even have the respect of the Department of Labor Statistics as farm jobs are not even counted.
A doctor, a dentist, a policeman, a lawyer, how often do we need these people on a daily basis? Maybe a couple of times a year. In no way do I diminish their impotence but every day our stomach growls for food, we realize we need the farmer and his capable employees far more.
Through urbanization and the modernization of an efficient food distribution system a disconnection between mainstream Americans and their source of food has occurred. That disconnect extends to us as farmers, farmworkers, and related people tied to the agricultural industry and our urbanite cousins.
Is it then any surprise, when projects such as High Speed Rail designs there rail lines across prime agricultural land and operations with little regard? Even when less intrusive choices are available through already existing corridors. Is it any surprise when environmental laws can curtail the use of land for the higher purpose of food and fiber for mankind so it can protect man made created extinctions of fairy shrimp or a flora or fawns on some rock.
Our importance will not be appreciated or understood until food gets so expensive or so scarce, that the growling stomach starts asking the brain some questions.
Maybe most Americans don’t know who is responsible for the food on the grocery shelves. But the American Farmers do. He realizes that without the farm worker, those tractor drivers, irrigators, and field hands, foremen, mechanics and truck drivers he cannot accomplish anything.
The other thing we need to come to terms with is that many of these people that are responsible for you eating today were not born in this country. Many of them crossed a desert for 3 days by night full of rattlesnakes, scorpions and bandits that would rob and kill them with little thought. They come looking for a better life, as your grandparents did or as our pioneer ancestors did.
Our country is fortunate to have such people of grit here. They will make us better if we learn from them that to want a better life, for ourselves we must be willing to risk, sacrifice and work hard for it. And like them, not wait to be cared for by a government.