Questions about the Amish and Agriculture

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  1. Why do Amish revere farming?
  2. Do all Amish like farming?
  3. Why are fewer Amish farming?
  4. Is Amish-grown food organic?
  5. Do Amish farmers use pesticides?
  6. Are the Amish “green”?
  7. Why do some Amish raise tobacco?

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Why do Amish think so highly of farming?

Farming is often revered as the “best occupation” for a family, even though farmers are in the minority in many communities today. Agriculture is a way that fathers can remain at home and work together closely with the family, rather than leave home daily to a factory or manufacturing job.

Farming also involves working closely with God’s creation, an aspect which resonates with Amish who see stewardship of the Earth as part of their mandate.

Do all Amish like farming?

No. In fact, some Amish greatly dislike farming. Thankfully, not all Amish have to farm. Many go into any of a variety of businesses or work for non-Amish employers in factories and other jobs.

Why are fewer Amish farming?

While the total number of farmers has perhaps increased, the percentage of the Amish population in agriculture has certainly decreased over the past few decades.

Reasons include farmland becoming too expensive or scarce, large families making providing farms for all sons (a traditional practice) difficult, and the popularity and development of various businesses among the Amish, including construction, woodworking, and manufacturing.

family-farm-holmes-county

The family farm has a special importance in Amish society. Pictured: Holmes County, Ohio community.

Some Amish have started low-acreage, intensive produce farms as an alternative to the traditional dairy. Others raise a variety of animals, including poultry, deer, and hogs. Read more.

Is all Amish-grown food organic?

No. In fact, most foods raised by the Amish are actually not organic. This often surprises outsiders. However, organic farming, while it has taken hold in recent years in some communities, is not the way Amish have traditionally farmed.

Conventional fertilizers and pesticides were used by many present-day Amish farmers’ parents and grandparents, and so they continue the same practices today.

Do Amish farmers use pesticides?

Yes. Most Amish farms are conventional operations, meaning pesticides and fertilizers are used.

Are the Amish “green”?

While some Amish farming practices may align with trends and beliefs seen in today’s “green” movement, most Amish are not primarily motivated to farm the way they do due to overriding environmental concerns or a desire to “save the planet”.

Additionally, most Amish farms are not organic, though organic farming is a growing niche practice among Amish, in part due to financial reasons.

Why do some Amish raise tobacco?

Most Amish farmers don’t raise tobacco. However, some Amish, particularly in Lancaster County and related settlements, have a tradition of tobacco cultivation.

Tobacco is a cash crop which can help pay for expensive farmland. One Amish tobacco farmer says stripping and sorting the tobacco leaves provides a valuable family activity in the fall. Not all Amish agree with tobacco farming.

More questions on the Amish? Get answers to 300+ questions in 41 categories at the FAQ main page.

References:

  • Kraybill, Donald B, and Steven M. Nolt. Amish Enterprise: From Plows to Profits (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.
  • Kline, David. Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal. Wooster, Ohio: Wooster Book Company, 2001.
  • Kline, David. Scratching the Woodchuck: Nature on an Amish Farm. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999.
  • Kraybill, Donald B., Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt. The Amish. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.
  • Olshan, Marc A. “Amish Cottage Industries as Trojan Horse.” The Amish Struggle with Modernity. Kraybill, Donald B., and Marc A. Olshan, eds. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1994.

To Cite this Page: Wesner, Erik J. “Farming.” Amish America. Erik Wesner, 29 Jan. 2015. Web. [Date Accessed]. <http://amishamerica.com/farming/>.

Images: Plowing- Ed C.