Public Square

Can Farmers be Capitalists?



Photo courtesy of Tom Gill

Is economic freedom consistent with environmental stewardship?

For years, many Christians believed that they had to choose between the economy and the environment. But self-labeled “Tree Hugging, Christian, Libertarian, Lunatic Farmer,” Joel Salatin, things that the health of the economy and the health of the environment are perfectly consistent. And Christians who want to be good stewards need to do both.

In an interview with IFWE staff member and Values and Capitalism contributor, Elise Amyx, Salatin said,

Nothing less than Christian authenticity is at stake when we cavalierly dismiss environmentalists as a bunch of tree-hugging idiots. The fact that creation worshippers have taken the high moral ground of stewardship while the Creator worshippers have accepted the low moral ground of manipulators, dominators, and pillagers should be cause not for gaiety and jokes, but for deep repentance in sackcloth and ashes.

In part two of the interview, Salatin discussed the role of government and regulation in environmental stewardship, innovation in farming, and the best way to feed the world. He said,

I do not believe that the U.S. would be technologically backward today had we not invested in NASA or public education. I believe the curiosity of the human mind and the creativity of entrepreneurism would discover and press the limits of understanding whether or not the government ever got involved. I think we would still be better earth stewards or food producers, as farmers, had Abraham Lincoln never decided to put the government in the farming business. Farmers would have banded together to do research in their own private societies like the soil societies of early America.

Salatin claimed that government intervention, crony capitalism, and public ignorance about farming and the environment have kept agriculture from innovating to become more friendly to the economy—and the environment.

Do you agree? Read part one and part two of Elise’s interview with Joel Salatin to understand how capitalism and environmentalism can be consistent. You can read even more about Joel and his ideas at our blog here.

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