the importance of agriculture and how it has evolved throughout the past century

Agriculture, the process of cultivating the land in order to produce plant and animal products, is the foundation of civilization as we know it because it provides us with food and the raw materials essential to a modernized society.

Traditionally, agriculture has been an integrated part of communities, as well as the source of sustenance for the majority of the population. However, technological advancements and changes to agricultural and economic policies have resulted in massive population migrations to urban areas and a demand for year-round access to out of season foods. These transitions have allowed industrialized agriculture to become the dominant means of production in the United States. The common model in the United States is managed through contracts which are owned by a small number of corporations that maintain the rights to a significant proportion of genetic, fertilizer and pesticide patents.

However, in more recent years competing visions for agriculture have emerged – some believe that hunger and poverty are social, behavioral, and political issues that must be addressed with “bottom-up” food solutions and some advocate for the use of modern biology and technology to create a centralized, productivist system. The former generally favors polyculture, organic, traditional, and increasingly sustainable agriculture and the latter typically emphasizes industrialization and biotechnologies.