Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Friday, January 20, 2006

One Farmer Instead of Twenty - A David Engel Song

David Engel of Viroqua, Wisconsin e-mailed me in response to my question in the January newsletter - "What if Rural Mattered?" His response is posted below, with a song that explains David's response to the question "What if Rural Mattered?" On the celebration Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, January 16th, I got to thinking as I posted Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech that day, that perhaps we should be asking what rural Americans dream about, and ask the "What if Rural Mattered" question in a different way. If Rural mattered, what would that look like - dare to dream as Dr. King dreamed - what is your dream for rural America?

In the words in David's song, I hear some of his dream for rural America, and some o I hope you will share some of your dreams too, by posting them here.

Your little bit in the January 06 [Center for Rural Affairs newsletter] What if Rural Mattered caught my eye and reminded me of this song I wrote back in 97-98, can't remember, which more reflects what if rural DOESN'T matter, but, same thing, as you say, the question is presumptuous, either way....!!!

We had just left for our summer vacation and had driven about 8 miles when my wife pointed down a road and said there was a big [dairy] parlor going in down there, four to five hundred cows, and my first thought was, 'Yeah, one farmer instead of twenty.' So we kept driving, and I played with that thought over the vacation.

A week later I was reading where the Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman, was quoted as saying, "I'm not concerned with running out of commodities, I am concerned with running out of farmers." So I thought, 'Boy, great minds think alike...' Then, of course, I rememberedthat fools seldom differ, too.

I guess we will all be fools if it comes to pass that we 'run out of farmers.' Enjoy! Keep up the good work, it is appreciated!!

David Engel
Viroqua, Wisconsin

One Farmer Instead of Twenty

One farmer instead of twenty, to work so hard and give us plenty
Of milk a fruit and corn and beans it looks so good it surely seems
The way it ought to be and all but when that one farmer starts to fall
That one farmer instead of twenty then there could certainly be less plenty
I mean I mean I mean I mean I mean....with no farmer instead of nineteen

A paradox for sure my friend and all the more for if and when
There are so many many folkses who want to eat and yet the joke is
All around there's all this soil and no one who can spin and toil
Yes, a paradox for every nation for us and at least the next generation
I mean I mean I mean I mean I mean....with no farmers instead of nineteen

Keeping the farmer on the land tis so simple to understand
Simply a matter of enough money to make ends meet it's sad not funny
A national policy of cheap food sucks wealth from the land it's lewd
The issue here is one of economics or will we read about us in the comics
I mean I mean I mean I mean I mean....when there's no farmers instead of nineteen

And so it is and so it goes while winter's white turns spring's red rose
Sure it's hard to say just what might be it might not happen so let's just wait and see
And watch these few farmers farm the land with more and more and more hiredhands
That's a lot of work to do the work of twenty as we start a brand new cent'ry
I mean I mean I mean I mean I we want one farmer....or maybe nineteen?

post your dream for rural America here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action


  • At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for posting these awesome lyrics to David Engel's song. He really hit the nail on the head!


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