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“…Shyamasundara explains that the annual Farm Conference is very practical—it gives devotees a chance to see what people on other farms are doing, and the knowledge to implement new initiatives on their own farms. But it’s also a very important event for rejuvenating devotee farmers, for leaving them feeling that their project is important and an essential part of the ISKCON mission. For, unfortunately, it seems that they don’t get that inspiration much elsewhere.

“ ‘Recently, when I did a tour of all the European farms, it became clear that temples are not supporting agriculture or cow protection—and ISKCON leaders are not talking about their importance anymore,’ Shyamasundara says.

He explains that this is because of an unrealistic expectation of farms, which also stunts the growth of farm projects in ISKCON.

“ ‘Leaders are not getting behind farms because they’re trapped in the idea of farmers living in mud huts and not earning anything from their work,’ he says.

“ ‘Even though you can’t have farming in today’s times unless people can make a living from it. And temples are not buying the food that ISKCON farms produce, because it’s double or triple the price they’d pay in supermarkets, and comes with some dirt and insects on it, some natural elements. The same goes for milk from protected cows—it has a naturally higher cost.

“ ‘So farms can be very successful, and do wonderful preaching as they are in Hungary—but only if ISKCON leaders accept the naturally higher prices of protected-cow milk and homegrown food, and tell the temples to buy it. It would also help if they spoke more about farms during their regular preaching tours, which would support and energize the farmers.’ …”