“And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed” (Deuteronomy 28:23-24).
Here is a recent quote for the Wall Street Journal. “As another severe drought takes its toll in California, some farmers are backing away from one of their most profitable crops: almonds.
For years the nuts have been one of California’s star crops, exported in bulk and used in food products throughout the supermarket. Now, farmers in parched parts of the state are bulldozing thousands of acres’ worth of almond orchards that cannot be irrigated, and dropping plans to plant more as they confront what farmers say could be a hotter, drier future.
The drought, which began last year, has spread across nearly all of the western U.S. Combined with looming restrictions on groundwater usage, it is prompting a reckoning in California’s $6 billion almond industry, which grows about 80% of the world’s supply. The situation is reshaping the state’s food sector, forcing farmers to reassess which crops they will have the water to produce and where. It is also challenging food-company executives tasked with keeping grocery store shelves filled when reservoirs or wells run dry.”
This may well be just the beginning of sorrows, but for growers in the Californian Central Valley, the lack of water is changing (and challenging) the way the land is farmed. What is probably not appreciated by most observers is that much of what is happening has additionally been caused by human factors. In simple terms, in a world where there are two main ways of life – give and get – modern agriculture is based on get. In biblical understanding, it is called “forcing” the land.
It is fascinating to read the Jewish historian Josephus’ account of Cain’s approach to the land. “But Cain was not only very wicked in other respects, but was wholly intent upon getting, and he first contrived to plough the ground … Now Cain brought the fruits of the earth and his husbandry … gotten by forcing the ground” (Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter 2).
The San Joaquin Valley is a very good example of forcing the soil. Certainly, water is important, but most of what is grown is fertilized with chemical fertilizer. Monoculture dominates, and the natural fertilization produced by livestock and rotational grazing is virtually non-existent. You can drive the length of this large valley, and it is a rare pleasure to see animals grazing. Most are jammed into feedlots and kept separate from the soil.
The current approach to agriculture is based on the way of get. This is opposite to God’s intended nurturing and caring stewardship. Man is not living in harmony with God’s laws – including His laws of agriculture. The land Sabbath and Jubilee, if obeyed, would prevent monoculture and forcing of the land.
God’s withholding of the rain is just one factor in the current agricultural crisis. Man has many lessons yet to learn.