Bet the Farm
5 x 8
5 x 8
Beth Hoffman was living the good life: she had a successful career as a journalist and professor, a comfortable home in San Francisco, and plenty of close friends and family. Yet in her late 40s, she and her husband decided to leave the big city and move to his family ranch in Iowa—all for the dream of becoming a farmer, to put into practice everything she had learned over decades of reporting on food and agriculture. There was just one problem: money.
Half of America's two million farms made less than $300 in 2019. Between rising land costs, ever-more expensive equipment, the growing uncertainty of the climate, and few options for health care, farming today is a risky business. For many, simply staying afloat is a constant struggle.
Bet the Farm chronicles this struggle through Beth’s eyes as a beginning farmer. She must contend with her father-in-law, who is reluctant to hand over control of the land. Growing oats is good for the environment but ends up being very bad for the wallet. And finding somewhere, in the midst of COVID-19, to slaughter grass-finished beef is a nightmare. The couple also must balance the books, hoping that farming isn’t a romantic fantasy that takes every cent of their savings.
Even with a decent nest egg and access to land, making ends meet at times seems impossible. And Beth knows full well that she is among the privileged. If Beth can’t make it, how can farmers who confront racism, lack access to land, or don’t have other jobs to fall back on? Bet the Farm is a first-hand account of the perils of farming today and a personal exploration of more just and sustainable ways of producing food.
Chapter 1. The Simple Life?
Chapter 2. Land Rich, Cash Poor
Chapter 3. The Land of Corn and Cattle
Chapter 4. The Price of Sustainability
Chapter 5. Privilege to Farm
Chapter 6. Money Matters
Chapter 7. What about Subsidies?
Chapter 8. The Cattle Runaround
Chapter 9. Keeping Up with the Jones
Chapter 10. Everybody Does It – Off the Farm
Chapter 11. A New Narrative
Chapter 12. Self-Care is King
Chapter 13. Co-farming and Community
Chapter 14. Sharing the Pie
Chapter 15. People and Policy
Chapter 16. Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
About the Author