The Significance of Agriculture

by Sandra R. Riley

Agriculture comes to life by focusing on farming as it exists near our students. Farming was the backbone of New Jersey’s earliest settlements. New Jersey was the “Bread Basket of the Revolution.” The farms depicted in Down Jersey have historical past linked to their geography. Geography is the key to what grows where and why. Agriculture also shaped the early settlements and the development of farming techniques.

Successful farming is increasingly dependent on science and technology. Farming is a business as well as a science and although modern farms are usually very different from their predecessors, the Burcham Family Farm (shown in the film) depicts a unique method that has proven successful and scientifically resourceful from past through the present in regards to land use.

The products grown in the Down Jersey area are as diverse as the uses of the products; examples include: from corn comes starch, gasohol, oil, and corn sweeteners used in most soft drinks, while eggs are used in toothpaste, shampoo, and calcium supplements.

Our agriculture is greatly affected by economics (i.e., supply and demand, pricing, marketing, as well as profitability of selling farmland). Major issues of present day also affect farming, such as soil and water conservation, the use of chemicals and their effect on the environment, land use, and world hunger.

Urbanization has led to the intensely cultivated and specialized farms of today. The American farmer is the most productive in the world; statistics stated in 1990 that one farmer produced enough food to feed 128 people. In the 1700s, George Washington said “I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving agriculture.” About two centuries later, former Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, Orville Freeman, said, “Family farm agriculture has withstood the test of time and competition. It has made this country the envy of the world and American farm production the greatest production miracle in the history of mankind.” In the “Down Jersey” area, there are many family farms that keep those miracles in production, techniques, and land usage happening.