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US family-run farms battle big corporations and Mother Nature - photo series

Family farmers

(NaturalNews) The modern American farmer is faced with many dilemmas such as poverty due to an ever-changing industry and fluctuating weather patterns. Amazing portraits by photographer Elliot Ross from his series The Reckoning Days show how a lush field of wheat can become barren overnight.

Based in New York, Ross stayed at the home of Jim Mertens and his family for three weeks in Colorado, where his childhood was spent, to document their daily lives as farmers in the US. He devoted a year to establishing a mutual trust with the Mertens before moving in during the summer harvest.

Not a documentarian, Ross has used the images to create a poem that touches on biblical themes, according to Feature Shoot. The photographs taken by Ross paint a similar picture of those taken of farmers during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

He hopes to shed light on the hidden strife of keeping up a farm in the 21st century and hopes his photos will inspire Americans to help solve the problems of farmers and other working class citizens. "Ultimately," Feature Shoot reports, paraphrasing Ross, "solving the riddles of our country's future lies in part in recognizing its heritage, the centuries of labor, of risk, and of the sweat-drenched brows that have long since faded from the forefront of American consciousness."

Rising costs of farming competing with huge corporations

Ross said that he hopes his photographs will bring to light the struggles that farmers endure such as the rising price of cars and other mechanical gear. For instance, the price of wheat now is even lower than when Mertens started out in the1970s as a boy. At the same time, the price of equipment and the necessities needed to farm have gone up substantially. For a pickup truck today, the Mertens would pay 10 times the amount they would have paid for a comparable truck a generation ago.

While millions of dollars go into growing and reaping each year's harvest of wheat, if the weather doesn't cooperate, all can be lost in an instant. Spring brought floods to the plains of Northeastern Colorado. The outcomes were divided; "on one hand they threatened homes and flooded low lying fields but at the same time nurtured the best crop of wheat in living memory," Ross explains.

The Martens also have to compete with gigantic corporations with endless resources.

A family affair of faith and support

Despite the stakes of working and living on a farm, Ross was amazed to find that the farmers he met remained stoic and unintimidated by heavy rains, putting trust in God, their land and the infinite number of hours from dusk til dawn they worked on the farm.

"Women often times are the bedrock of farming families," Ross points out, "offering support and comfort through the long hours and intense stress while still performing their daily tasks."

"Shifts are taken by the men in the field, ensuring that the combines never stop harvesting," Ross notes.

The farming families also have strong faith. With many farming families in rural Colorado, "the Bible offers guidance and assurance through tough times," Ross said.





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