5 U.S. Presidents Who Started Off Farming
In honor of Presidents Day, we’re highlighting five U.S. Presidents who were farmers, some even using sustainable farming methods, before taking office as President of the United States.
More than chopping down a Cherry tree, George Washington was an accomplished farmer and was well-known for his efforts to better American agriculture. Like many farms in Virginia, Washington grew tobacco but switched to grains for sustainability reasons. Due to the harsh impact tobacco has on a farm’s soil, Washington made the switch in the 1760’s.
While serving as George Washington’s Vice President before becoming the second United States President, John Adams used Washington as a resource for maintaining the fertility of his family farm’s soil. On top of writing many horticulture columns for Boston newspapers, Adams focused on practices that bettered the fertility of soil and even experimented with composting.
Often seen as one of the country’s early agronomists, Thomas Jefferson had many contributions to agriculture. Jefferson believed that one must work in harmony with the environment of the farm and protect a farms future assets. According to the University of Virginia, Jefferson was a leader in promoting contour planting and 7-year crop rotation plan. In addition, he advocated for planting grasses and legume crops to protect the soil from erosion.
Abraham Lincoln used his experiences from working on his family farm to lay the groundwork for agricultural programs he established while in office. Some of these programs have had a long-lasting impact on the American people. For example, Lincoln’s Homestead Act opened government-owned land to small family farmers, or homesteaders. Many were able to establish farms on a 160-acre piece of land after five years, while others were able to buy the land outright after six months at $1.25/acre.
While in office, Lyndon Johnson always kept a close on his cattle in Texas. What started off as a 250 acre ranch left to him from his widowed aunt, became a 2,700 acre ranch that he still ran while in office. He used the ranch to give tours to Political friends and guests followed by a stop at the Texas White House. Johnson signed over 300 bills into law dealing with environmental protection and resource conservation.
To learn more about former Presidents who farmed, read Crop Science’s article here.