Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1993


Published in Great Plains Research 3:2 (August 1993). Copyright © 1993 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


John Fraser Hart knows farming. His near half-century of scholarship on U.S. agricultural regions is extended to the general reader in The Land That Feeds Us, an uncompromisingly direct geographical expose on the challenges and dilemmas facing American agriculture.

Hart is concerned with major questions of the future of American agriculture: from over-specialization and the reality of foreign competition to convoluted farm policies that regulate production and encourage dependency on federal subsidies. Without a long term plan, he argues that to be competitive, U.S. farmers have little choice but to cut expenses and increase production by expanding their farm size.

The lessons of overexpansion come hard, as southern Plains wheat farmers found in the 1930s. But how are we to protect ourselves in a global economy where space continues to be annihilated? Hart points out that answering this question requires that we first admit the existence of a problem. Shrewdly, and perhaps so as not to scare the reader away, he reserves the final two chapters for his solution. The body of the book is a collection of essays on the agricultural regions of the eastern United States.