A new documentary, The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, misses the real story on U.S. farming productivity, says Bruce Edward Walker in this week’s Acton Commentary.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the bulk of the film’s running time ignores two-thirds of what, for me, makes Berry so special – his fiction and poetry – in favor of what renders him more of a curmudgeon, which is his activism against industrial agriculture. Somebody cue up the mid-1980s John Mellencamp and rally the Farm Aid troops, because tobacco farms in Berry’s backyard are struggling. According to the film, some tobacco farmers – gasp! – have been forced to diversify their crops, or increase the amount of acreage farmed in order to optimize expensive new equipment while eking out miniscule profits.
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