As much as I love history, I’m also usually the first to say, “you can’t live in the past” or “the good ol’ days weren’t necessarily better.” Memory, I’ve found, is selective and usually “selects” to remember only the good and not the rough patches.
I also love to read speeches (yeah, I know, I’m “word geeky” like that). I even have a folder on my computer hard drive where I collect college commencement speeches. Why? I have no clue. Pretty sure I won’t ever be asked to give one, but usually around this time of year, I open a couple speeches and reread them for my own inspiration.
So when I was browsing our archives to write a “90 years ago” blurb for our “Read It Again” feature, an item on our front page from May 28, 1926, caught my eye.
A student of Ohio ag history should recognize the name of L.J. Taber. He hailed from Barnesville, in Belmont County, but also made his home in Columbus, and served as Ohio’s director of agriculture, master of the Ohio State Grange, and then the National Grange, which was the strongest farm and rural organization in the late 1800s and early part of the 1900s.
In 1926, as National Grange master, he traveled to Rome as a U.S. delegate to the International Institute of Agriculture, and was selected to represent the English-speaking delegates at a banquet. Farm and Dairy reprinted part of his remarks — and they are worth repeating 90 years later.
• • •
“Agriculture is basic and fundamental; without it, there is neither food, fiber nor the hope of continued civilization. The farmer is the foundation upon which rests the whole superstructure of the world’s civilization. Our happiness, our prosperity, our future are dependent upon food and the product of the farmer’s toil.
“Our greatest minds must, within the coming 100 years, be directed towards seeing that mankind may have its daily bread.”
“If we study the increase of the world population in the last 200 years, and even project it through another century, we must recognize that the wisest statesmanship and the most far-seeing vision of our greatest minds must, within the coming 100 years, be directed towards seeing that mankind may have its daily bread.
“There is much that governments can do, much that education and scientific agencies can accomplish and there is much left for individual organizations; but in the final analysis, the feeding of the nations is dependent upon the toilers in the fields, the farms, the gardens and the forests of the inhabited portions of the earth.
“Organized agriculture is bringing into being a new consciousness of the relationship of the farmers to their vocation and their larger responsibility to civilization. …
“… Organized agriculture must lead the farmers, the business world and the financial world to a realization of their interdependence. Our interests are in concord and not in conflict. We will go forward or slip backward all together.
“Four major goals should have the hearty support of us all: Through education and scientific assistance to increase the efficiency of the individual producer; Through cooperative and collective action and through sound business operation to enlarge the financial reward of the farmer; To increase the efficiency and reduce the costs of government, because heavy taxation is a grievous burden to agriculture throughout the world; To conserve the fertility of the soil and of our natural resources for generations yet unborn.”
• • •
Taber was a great wordsmith, but he was also a very wise man. His words ring true still today.
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