Farmland Is a Mildly Propagandistic Doc on Young Farmers


A fourth-generation poultry farmer in Georgia (one of six twentysomething agriculturalists flattered by this mildly propagandistic doc, “made with the generous support of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance”) gives a workplace tour to schoolchildren, who are delighted by cute baby chicks and seemingly oblivious to their inevitable slaughter.

If you, too, have no idea where your lunch came from — not a restaurant or your mom, but the callous-handed toilers growing and raising the ingredients — then you deserve the holier-than-thou tone taken by filmmaker James Moll and his subjects.

These farmers and ranchers’ chief concern and generalization is that everyone perceives them as American Gothic grumps with hay in their teeth (one exhorts, “We’re not hiding anything, but what do you want to know?”), yet there’s no drama illustrating the thanklessness of their jobs, and potential wisdom about fiscal instability, animal welfare, or GMOs waft by without much argument.

Perhaps if Moll offered less of the static sit-down interviews and more fly-on-the-grain vérité, viewers might feel some new, intimate connection between the farmers and the nourishment that unites us.

Without that, the film’s only other thrust is a plucky heartland score that unfortunately just signals that the stars of City Slickers are about to herd a cattle drive.