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Prophetic Statements

First Presidency

Our primary purpose was to set up, insofar as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self-respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership. 1

Brigham Young

We want men to labor in every mechanical pursuit that they can; for I believe that the time will come when we shall have to depend upon our own resources; and I pray the Lord to so hedge up the way and shut down the gate, that we may be compelled to depend upon our own manufacturing for the comforts of life. 2

Wilford Woodruff

“The day will come, when, as we have been told, we shall all see the necessity of making our own shoes and clothing and raising our own food. . . .” 3

Joseph F. Smith

#1:

I believe there is no labor on earth more essential to the well-being of a community or more honorable than the labor which is necessary to produce food from mother earth. It is one of the most noble occupations. And next to it is the tending of the flocks of sheep and cattle. This is another noble occupation, if it is only carried on properly and righteously. These are the foundation of the prosperity of every community in the world. When the farming community is prosperous, when the Lord blesses the earth and makes it fruitful, then the blacksmith, the carpenter, and those who follow other pursuits, will also be prosperous. But when the earth refuses to yield of its strength for the good of mankind, then all other business is stagnant and will languish. Therefore, let us till the earth; let us cultivate the soil; let us produce our own living out of the earth, by the blessing of God, as far as we possibly can, always keeping in mind that we have entered into solemn covenant with God, which is an eternal covenant, and from which he cannot depart or be moved, and in which we can only fail by ourselves transgressing that new and everlasting covenant and turning away from it. 4

#2:

Our trees aid the precipitation of moisture and store it away for its gradual distribution during the hot summer months.  The time is not distant in Utah when people will be compelled to grow their own lumber, just as they grow other products of the farm. . . .

It is the business of presiding authorities in the stakes and wards of the Church to study thoughtfully and to forward the interests of the people. It is to be hoped that these authorities will look into the matter of establishing the forestry industry, and see if something can be done in their sections of the country to inaugurate the planting of trees on private estates for the supply of lumber in years to come. It would be commendable in the highest degree to the Latter-day Saints if they would set apart here and there a small acreage of their land to tree culture. If this matter is taken up in priesthood meetings and some united action agreed upon, future disaster may be averted.

The Latter-day Saints ought not to be governed by purely selfish motives in the use of their landed inheritances. The number among us who have converted a single acre of our farms into forestry must be extremely small, and yet it is a duty which we owe to ourselves and to those who have the right to rely upon us to give this matter our earnest consideration. The cultivation of timber lands will in time be remunerative; but we are so accustomed to look for immediate returns that we insist upon an early harvest for all that we do. The policy of living for today is not only destructive of our material interests, but it begets a selfishness harmful to religion and discreditable to patriotism.

No ward or branch of the Church can long remain free from a public interest without endangering its spiritual life and the spirit of progress. Public interests are necessary to protect us against the elements of social and material decay. Evidences of the truth of these principles are abundantly manifest in those communities where public spirit has been wanting and public improvements have not been undertaken for years. The wise and active president of a stake or bishop of a ward will not fail to appreciate the value of a public spirit and a united effort in the accomplishment of some necessary and commendable public undertaking; and if there is not something immediately at hand, he will look about to discover, if he can, a means for calling out in a united and patriotic way the energies of the people. We here therefore suggest that one of the public duties which every Latter-day Saint owes to the Church and to his country is the extension of valuable timber forests upon both private lands and public domains. 5

Joseph Fielding Smith

[The pioneers] were taught by their leaders to produce, as far as possible, all that they consumed, and to be frugal and not wasteful of their substance. This is still excellent counsel. 6

Ezra Taft Benson

#1:

At the April 1937 general conference of the Church, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., of the First Presidency, asked: “What may we as a people and as individuals do for ourselves to prepare to meet this oncoming disaster, which God in his wisdom may not turn aside from us?” He then set forth these inspired basic principles of the Church welfare program:

First, and above and beyond everything else, let us live righteously. . . .

Let us avoid debt as we would avoid a plague; where we are now in debt, let us get out of debt; if not today, then tomorrow.

Let us straitly and strictly live within our incomes, and save a little.

Let every head of every household see to it that he has on hand enough food and clothing, and, where possible, fuel also, for at least a year ahead. You of small means put your money in foodstuffs and wearing apparel, not in stocks and bonds; you of large means will think you know how to care for yourselves, but I may venture to suggest that you do not speculate. Let every head of every household aim to own his own home, free from mortgage. Let every man who has a garden spot, garden it; every man who owns a farm, farm it. (Conference Report, April 1937, p. 26.)

For the righteous, the gospel provides a warning before a calamity, a program for the crises, a refuge for each disaster.

The Lord has said that “the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven. . .” (Mal. 4:1), but he assures us that “he that is tithed shall not be burned. . .” (D&C 64:23). He has warned us of famines, but the righteous will have listened to prophets and stored at least a year’s supply of survival food. 7

There are blessings in being close to the soil, in raising your own food, even if it is only a garden in your yard and a fruit tree or two. Man’s material wealth basically springs from the land and other natural resources. Combined with his human energy and multiplied by his tools, this wealth is assured and expanded through freedom and righteousness. Those families will be fortunate who, in the last days, have an adequate supply of each of these particulars. 8

Men should seek honorable employment and do their work well in order to provide for their own. Those who can perform useful skills with their hands will be in increasing demand. Handymen, farmers, builders, tailors, gardeners, and mechanics can and will provide a real blessing to their families and their fellowmen.
9

The Minutemen who fought and won the first battles of our country are most frequently depicted with one hand holding a musket and the other on the handle of a plow. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others of the Founding Fathers were farmers, and proud of it. Jefferson’s writings are full of the idea that there is a direct relationship between farming and freedom. As Jefferson saw him, the American family farmer-master of his own acres, with no landlord but himself-would always be both prosperous and free. This concept of political and economic independence, farm-bred and won by fighting farmers, was stamped on the new nation at its birth. (Freedom to Farm, p. 39.) 10

There is something basically sound about having a good portion of our people on the land. The country is a good place to rear a family. It is a good place to teach the basic virtues that have helped to build this nation. Young people on a farm learn how to work, how to be thrifty, and how to do things with their hands. It has given millions of us the finest preparation for life. 11 12

It will be increasingly valuable to have vocational skills-to be able to use our hands. The most essential temporal skills and knowledge are to be able to provide food, clothing, and shelter. Increasingly, the Lord, through His servants, is trying to get us closer to the soil by raising our own produce. (“In His Steps,” in 1979 Devotional Speeches of the Year 13 14

#2:

There is something basically sound about having a good portion of our people on the land. The country is a good place to rear a family. It is a good place to teach the basic virtues that have helped to build this nation. Young people on a farm learn how to work, how to be thrifty, and how to do things with their hands. It has given millions of us the finest preparation for life. 15

Scriptures

Proverbs 6:6

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

Doctrine and Covenants 42:42

Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.

Supporting Statements

General Welfare Services

The times require that every officer of the Church be uniformly trained in principles of welfare, and that each one in turn train the rank and file until every individual is prepared for the calamities which are to come. I think it not extreme for me to say at this point that when all is written about the events to come, we may have hardly enough time to prepare, even if all our resources, spiritual and temporal, are taxed to the limit. 16

Boyd K. Packer

Do not immerse yourself so much in the technical that you fail to learn things that are practical. Everything you can learn that is practical—in the house, in the kitchen cooking, in the yard—will be of benefit to you. . . .  You can learn about fixing things and painting things and even sewing things and whatever else is practical. That is worth doing. If it is not of particular benefit to you, it will help you when you are serving other people. . . .  Some of you live in countries where most of what you eat and some of what you wear will depend on what can be produced by the family. It may be that what you can contribute will make the difference so that the rent is paid or the family is fed and housed. Learn to work and to support.  17

When people are able but unwilling to take care of themselves we are responsible to employ the dictum of the Lord that the idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer. 18

Keith B. McMullin

A cardinal principle of the gospel is to prepare for the day of scarcity. Work, industry, frugality are part of the royal order of life. Remember these words from Paul: “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”… And, brethren, we lay up in store! Then, “through [the Lord’s] providence, notwithstanding the tribulation … the church [and its people will] stand independent.” … By doing these things, “the Lord shall have power of his saints, and shall reign in [our] midst.” 19

  1. October 1936 General Conference
  2. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 7: 67
  3. Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 166.
  4. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pp. 349-50; April Conference Report, 1898, p. 70
  5. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, pp. 350-51; Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 38, August i, 1903, p. 466
  6. Joseph Fielding Smith, “The Pioneer Spirit,” Improvement Era, July 1970, 3.
  7. Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 267.
  8. Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 269.
  9. Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 270.
  10. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 647.
  11. Freedom to Farm, p. 109.
  12. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 647.
  13. Provo, Utah: BYU, 1980], p. 62.
  14. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 653.
  15. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 647.
  16. “The Training Challenge,” General Welfare Services Committee, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2 February 1977.
  17. Boyd K. Packer, General Conference Priesthood Session, April 2009
  18. President Boyd K Packer, Ensign, January 2010, “Solving Emotional Problems in the Lord’s Own Way.”
  19. Keith B. McMullin, “Lay Up in Store,” Ensign May 2007.

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