By Nicholas G. Sileo, Princeton University




At the founding of the United States, Thomas Jefferson is said to have imagined a nation of gentleman farmers tending to the land of the nation through their work and civic involvement. Writing to George Washington, he reflected, “Agriculture . . . is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals & happiness.”1 But the system of corporate welfare that has grown a part of American agriculture is much closer to “government. . . wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them”2 than any sort of Jeffersonian democracy.

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