Agricultural prosperity “has established banks, made better homes and helped to make the farmer a citizen of the world.” Corn is valued at $1.7 billion, more than all the gold, silver coin and bullion combined in the United States, and earns the American farmer $15 million a day. Cotton is the second most valuable crop, followed by wheat, and then cotton lint and seed. Farmers are seeing unprecedented profits from their bumper crops, and their efforts are making a mark on the business world.

That was from the Secretary of Agriculture’s report in November of 1909, in the same month President Taft resolved a heated controversy between the Navy and the Army and selected Pearl Harbor as more defensible against any threats from the Japanese than the Navy’s suggested base site in the Philippines. Times change.

Since then, combines and successful light tractors were introduced, fertilizer consumption skyrocketed, more mouths were fed per labor hour due to new farm equipment, frozen foods became household goods, and, for the first time, in 1954 the number of tractors on farms exceeded the number of mules and horses used to farm. Then, in the 1980s, farmers began to accept and implement Low-Input Sustainable Agriculture techniques, or LISA, on their farms in order to decrease the amount of chemicals they had to use. LISA is known today as sustainable agriculture, which is a belief system that says humans should take care of the environment in which they live.

From 1909 to now, our nation is beginning to complete the full circle of farming. Large scale farming and enormous fertilizer consumption is bowing in popularity to small farms and sustainable agriculture. People are increasingly trying to conserve the earth’s non-renewable resources, use water wisely, and preserve or improve upon soil and air quality for the next generation.

This Christmas of 2009, 100 years after agriculture made a significant mark on the business world, environmental conservation is making a significant impact on the agricultural world. During this Christmas season people may ask how Christians can be environmentalists. Catch phrases such as “environmentalism”, “green living”, and “eco-conservation” among others describing environmental conservation have become highly politicized in recent years. The mention of some of those phrases can shoot a hot flame down the nerves of some people, and some view “environmentalism” as a misguided religion.

While eco-extremists can be found, the act of caring for the world that the Lord gave humans is a blessing to current and future generations. God created the earth, atmosphere, water, and animals. Conserving water, using gardening and farming methods that can limit or eliminate toxic chemicals, and curbing air pollution are just a few ways humans can give a Christmas gift to this earthly home and its inhabitants. Let one of the marks of this generation’s Christmases be of environmental stewardship. Maybe somebody will write in 2109 that 100 years ago humans chose unprecedented stewardship of their planet.