Flathead Beacon: Founding Farmers

More than 200 years ago, the political convictions of our founding politicians were based in agriculture. Not only did former Presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison all believe that farming was a noble occupation, they were also avid food growers.

The first presidents helped craft a nation of laws but were reportedly happiest thinning carrots and digging potatoes. They were able composters, acknowledging the worth of soil and sustainability.

But that was when 97 percent of the labor force was involved in farming. Today only 2 percent farm, but a growing number of those in middle class homes are gardening. And Americans still want to make food choices, three times a day.

There only a couple of working farmers left in the U.S. Congress Sen. Jon Tester of Big Sandy is the most notable. Tester admits the worth of a day’s work by returning home on weekends to his 1912 farmstead to tend chores. He indicates that farming is his first love and it helps him to maintain his sanity to return from Washington to work for Montanans.

Tester is a well-known food advocate as appreciated in the 2008 Farm Bill. But more prominent is how Tester stood with small farmers in the recent federal food safety overhaul.

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