In the Wake of Roe: What Farming Can Teach Us About Political Action

Chris Newman
9 min readJun 29, 2022

Last week, in a stunning 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court voted to do something it rarely (if ever) does: take away rights, instead of granting them. Roe vs. Wade was overturned and, just like that, a fundamental element of reproductive care was no longer guaranteed as a right.

America’s political right crowed triumphant over a half-century of well-organized/executed political maneuvers culminating in a stunning victory. America’s left, if we’re being generous, is on its heels, stuck reacting to the Roe decision while the right races ahead toward everything from gay rights to segregation. Forget the progressive promised land of universal basic income and healthcare; that coalition is poised to spend a few generations defending and regaining ground it took fifty years ago if something isn’t done.

And what is to be done?

I’m not a political strategist, just a farmer. And as a farmer, the key lesson I’ve taken from the Roe disaster is this:

  • People on the right treat politics like farming.
  • People on the left treat politics like WWOOFing.

Here’s the thing. I have to farm everyday if I, in fact, want there to be a farm. The animals have to be fed and watered and moved, fences checked, gates closed, eggs collected, etc. whether I feel like it or not. Rain, lighting, snow, backache, hungover, angry spouse, uncooperative kids, mud everywhere, flat tire, doesn’t matter. Even skipping a simple, minutes-long routine task will result in days, weeks, or even months of headaches:

  • Don’t take three minutes to check the pigs’ fence that one day. They get out, and now they’re accustomed to breaking through the fence. You’ll now spend at least three days re-training them to electric and waking up super early to make sure they aren’t in the road before dawn. If you’re really unlucky, they get in the road, you’re found at fault, and now you have an insurance claim and higher premiums to deal with for years.
  • Don’t close the nestboxes that one time. Fine. That evening, the hens roost on the eggs. 100% of those eggs are covered in poop, and 10% of them are broken. Your egg wash will take five times as long as usual, you now have nestboxes to clean, and you…
Chris Newman

Building a new, accessible, open, and democratic food economy in the Chesapeake Bay region @ Sylvanaqua Farms