Barley & Beer in LDS Southeastern Idaho

Notice this letter to the editor in our local paper.

Bruce Hansen writes,

I have been asked, ‘If I am a Mormon, why do I grow malting barley?’  I am a farmer, not an activist.  I produce commodities not as a hobby or to pass time, it is my profession.  I seek opportunities to grow alfalfa, potatoes, wheat, barley, oil seed, etc.  I look at what I am able to grow most profitably given my resources and the markets.  Yes, I would rather grow wheat and feed the world than grow malting barley, but ultimately it is my family that I must feed.  True, we believe that alcohol ‘is not for the belly.’  We would like if others would abstain too, but you see, we also believe that people should be free to make their choices, that passing laws or otherwise forcing people to not drink is wrong too.  Not only is alcohol against my religion, but after having seen its destructive forces in so many lives, I have developed a passionate hatred for alcohol.  Regardless of personal economic consequences, I would stop growing it in a heartbeat if even one person would stop drinking, if in any way this world would be a better place to live.  But, you see, if I relinquished my contract, nothing would change except my ability to feed my family.”

What do you think about the reasoning of some of our LDS farmers?


  1. So, poppy farmers in Afghanistan who produce heroine for world consumption simply because, “it is the only way they can feed their families” is justifiable as well?

    Tell that to the soldiers who die in combat because the profits of the drug trade fund international terrorism. I wonder what Bruce Hansen thinks about that.

    If mormons are against caffein and alcohol, then don’t participate in the production of these things.

    His argument is not valid…it’s hypocritical.

  2. “We would like if others would abstain too, but you see, we also believe that people should be free to make their choices, that passing laws or otherwise forcing people to not drink is wrong too.”
    where do you draw the line on that one? Should people be free to make their own choices and kill someone? Should we not have speed limits becauseforcing people to go a certain speed is wrong? should Cocain be legal becausepeople should be free to make they own decisions?

  3. I agree with the Mormon barley farmer. People of all faiths have to respect the reality that others have different beliefs. Yesco (Young Electric Sign Company) has also been criticized for allowing strip clubs to advertise on their billboards in Las Vegas. It’s not their business to ensure that their customers conform to the moral guidelines of the LDS church. Likewise, a Mormon who doesn’t support laws that prohibit drinking, smoking, or drug use is not a hypocrite. It’s simply someone who respects individual choice and accountability. The best way to protect your own freedom is to protect those of your neighbor, even those you don’t necessarily agree with.

    And some of the money used in the drug trade may be used to fund terrorist activities, but so does some of the money from the sale of petroleum. Drug-lord Pablo Escobar spent millions of dollars earned from his cocaine industry to build parks and schools in Colombia. Some of the money for the lottery is also used to fund our children’s education. Does that suddenly make gambling a moral enterprise? In reality, money gained by immoral or illegal means permeates our economy, so we’re all directly or indirectly doing business with drug dealers and prostitutes.

  4. And yet, profiting oneself while enabling others does not make things justifiable.

    If this farmer believed his own word about not forcing others to abstain, would he still grow malted barley w/o payment? Just something to think about.

  5. I agree with Pam, the only reason this guy grows barley is because of the Almighty $$. I hardly think he would grow it if it didn’t make him money. Additionally, if his desire was to simply “feed” his family, he could grow a crop which can be consumed for sustenance. Instead, he not only wants to “feed” his family, but feed them very well. Why, because barley helps him to make more $$ than wheat or potatoes.

    Concerning the oil, or the lottery, these are completely out of the context I was talking about. Do americans know that depending on the oil company that they purchase from they can choose where their oil comes from? Believe it or not, some oil companies are not driven by the Almighty $$ and do not purchase their oil from terrorists. Additionally, just because a casino or a lottery makes money for schools, it actually makes other people rich. If you want to help schools, get off the slot machine, and put down the lotto card and go buy a computer for a school. This kind of reason is the completely un-ethical problem with this country.

    I know, maybe gay marriage should be legalized so that the money that the govt. makes off of the marriage licenses can go to help drug addicts stay addicted to heroine by giving financial hand outs (I realize that this is a stretch, but similar concept). What about that? There is much corruption in politics and civics. Praise God that he redeems us, not according to what we do, but according to the riches of His mercy and grace. I am so thankful that my eternity is not dependent on anything that I could do, otherwise, I simply couldn’t make it.

  6. Pam and beauhawk, I have to disagree. The unpleasant truth is that it’s the Almighty $$ and margin of profit that keeps our families clothed and fed. Farmers, like the rest of us, work for financial gain. To accuse them of growing barley for profit is irrelevant because financial gain is the primary motivation for almost everyone who is employed.

    Your main argument, as I understand it, is that it’s immoral to profit from enabling others in the pursuit of their vices, especially vices that are not condoned by their religion. Following that logic, it would be immoral to work at a hotel because it would enable some people to commit adultery. It would also be immoral to work at a convenience store where one can purchase alcohol, tobacco, and/or pornography. In fact, working for a large-scale printing company would also be enabling if your employer has a customer like Playboy. A Jewish person couldn’t work in a meat store if they sold ham. You can also scratch off working for video stores, music stores, or retail stores because they all sell products that enable people in their vices. Simply put, it’s an unrealistic expectation to place on anyone, including the Mormon barley farmer.

    Concerning the oil and lottery, the point of my previous post wasn’t that using money for a good cause justifies the means of obtaining it, only that the means of making money can not be judged as ethical or unethical based on how that money is spent. They are two separate issues.

    Finally, this brouhaha over Mormon barley farmers is comparable to those who spoke against Jesus and his disciples for picking corn on the Sabbath. It’s both petty and hypocritical. Instead of judging others for not living their religion as WE think they should, it’s much better to focus on living our own religion in the best way that we can.

  7. Beauhawk: So beer and illegal drugs carry the same weight to you? Do you understand what would happen if the beer industry fell apart? Thousands upon thousands of people would loose their jobs. A depression would result from this and others outside of the industry will also being to lose their jobs.

    Patricia: People do have their own agency to choose to kill others. It is the consequences that they do not get to choose. The speed limit comment is quite hilarious considering that about seventy percent or probably even more of people don’t follow the speed limit in the first place. There are rules and laws in place to protect everyone. Those that do not wish to follow them are free to make that decision and face the consequences of their actions. This particular farmers choices are grow barely for beer and be able to feed his family or grow something else where the potential of going into debt or bankruptcy is rather high.

    Pam: If the farmer was not being payed for the barley he wouldn’t grow it. His whole reason for growing the barely is to support and feed his family. If there was no payment for the product he was growing he wouldn’t grow it the whole thing would be pointless. You should have been able to reason this answer and not have written your question in the first place by reading the farmer’s own statement.

  8. Ok how about marijuana farmers? There’s a huge growing market that would surely feed your family. Would you be comfortable taking President Kimball through your grow site?

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