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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lauch Faircloth, July 16, 1999. Interview I-0070. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Technology and modern agriculture

Faircloth celebrates the advances made by modern agriculture, which have brought cheap food to many Americans, and looks toward the future of the industry. He sees extensive consolidation and continued technological advancement.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lauch Faircloth, July 16, 1999. Interview I-0070. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Any concerns about the cutting edge of agricultural science and technology today? You begin now to hear, for example, the European Union--. LF: Genetic engineering, yes. It's absolutely common. The people that are posing it are as antiquated as anything can possibly be. They are as ridiculous as the laws that were passed in most counties at the turn of the century that you had to have somebody walking in front of a car waving with a flag when it came down the street so it wouldn't frighten the mules. Do they want to go back to before we had hybrid corn when you could make twenty bushels to the acre? These people are so opposed to any advance, yet they considered themselves highly enlightened people. [They think] any advance is bad. Why not produce a soybean that you can go over one time and spray a chemical on and eliminate all weeds and not damage the soybean because it has been genetically engineered to be resistant to the chemical? Would they like to have thousands and thousands of people out of Chicago come down with a hoe and weed those soybeans? Is that the way of the future they see? It is so ludicrous. JM: What's the next big change that's coming? LF: A big change? JM: Yeah. LF: Advances in agriculture. You can buy a turkey today frozen and dressed, ready to cook at any supermarket in this country cheaper than you can buy a turkey in 1931 in the depth of the Depression, not counting inflation. A turkey was six and seven dollars, an absolute luxury food that rarely could ordinary people even begin to think about eating. You could buy the same turkey today for five dollars or six [and it’s a] hell of a lot better turkey. So [they’re] against advances. They focus on one thing. Cows give eighteen to twenty gallons of milk a day. You can buy a gallon of milk cheaper today than you could in the '40s because of these advances. They want the price down. How much would a gallon of milk cost if the average dairy cow in this country gave a gallon and a half of milk as it did in the '20s? How much would a gallon cost today? JM: Where are the folks looking down the road for agriculture today starting to spend their money on? What are the trends to bet on? [What are the] new things beyond what's there now? LF: There will be many of them, but there's going to be a massive consolidation of them. There has been, and there's going to be, more and more of it in agriculture. Regardless of the government trying to stop it, it is a business. Business people will be running it. It's a business and not a way of life anymore. It was a subsistence. It was a way of life. But as I said, World War Two and the event of the tractor. I don’t mean the tractor was invented, but it the advent of the tractor, and of hybrid seed, herbicides, and insecticides, totally changed the [agriculture business]. And these advances have continued. To get the insects off of plants, thousands of children would crawl up and down the row in the hot sun and pick the bugs and put them in a jar. You tell me that to spray a chemical on it is not an improvement. To put thousands of children from five years old on, crawling up and down the row in a hundred degree sun. That's the way it was done. These people are just naysayers and have no idea of what they're talking about. I run into them all the time and I simply just grin and move on.