Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Visit our blog about a 20-day field trip from May 12 to May 30 for a class at the University of Connecticut. The class is a new one entitled “US Agricultural Production Systems”. The objectives of the class were for the students to: 1) meet with farmers and operators of farm support businesses to discuss their businesses, and the challenges and opportunities of large scale farming; 2) comprehend the vast scale of agriculture in the US; and 3) understand how farmers are one part of an enormous and complex integrated system of food production.

The course started in the spring semester with a weekly seminar where the students researched and presented information about the many components of grain and livestock production systems in the US. The course culminated in the field trip, where 6 students and 2 professors visited 9 farmers and 13 farm support businesses as we camped our way from Connecticut to Wyoming and back driving 5,900 miles in a 12-passenger van.

The grain and livestock farmers we visited cultivate a small piece of the 220 million acres of corn, wheat and soybeans grown in the US, and they raise a small piece of the beef, milk, pork and chickens. Examples of farm support businesses we visited included the John Deere combine factory, the Iowa Soybean Association, the Rodale Institute’s Farm, a grain elevator and fertilizer plant, Monsanto’s plant transformation facility, and three university research stations.

Browse our blog to meet the farmers and operators of farm support businesses who kindly took time from their busy schedules to explain their operations and lives to us. We thank them for their thoughts and abundant hospitality. Our lives were enriched and transformed by our meetings with these people who produce our food.

Please email Tom Morris at if you have comments or questions. If you are a student at UConn and you are interested to enroll in this class for the Spring 2015 semester, email Tom for information.