In a meeting with Italy's National Federation of Farmers on Saturday, Pope Francis renewed his call to protect the Earth while denouncing a culture of waste that has caused "misery and suffering for many families."

The Holy Father met with the members of the federation who are celebrating their 70th anniversary. In his address, the Pope highlighted the important work that farmers carry out in cultivating the earth.

"The verb 'to cultivate' brings to mind the care that the farmer has for his land so that it may bear fruit, and it is shared," he explained; "How much passion, how much attention, how much dedication in all this! You create that family relationship and the earth becomes the 'sister' land."

Calling the work of farmers a "true vocation", the Pope stressed the need for an increase in funds towards agriculture which he said was diverted to other activities that perhaps seem more profitable. "Even here the god of money dominates," he lamented. "It is like those people who have no feelings, who sell their family, they sell their mother, but here is the temptation to sell mother Earth."

The 78 year old Pontiff highlighted the important role that agriculture plays according to the Second Vatican Council. "The Second Vatican Council recalled the universal destination of the goods of the earth but in fact the dominant economic system excludes many from their correct use," he said.

"Absolutizing market rules, a culture of waste and waste that in the case of food has unacceptable proportions, together with other factors, cause misery and suffering for many families. Therefore, the system of production and distribution of food must be rethought."

The Pope went on to say that this cultivation of food participates in some way in the sacredness of human life, and for this it cannot be treated solely as merchandise."

Reminding those present of St. Francis call to rediscover the love for the earth as a mother, the Pope said that the faithful are called to care for the earth so that it may continue to be as God intended it to be: "a source of life for the entire human family."

Concluding his address, Pope Francis thanked the members of the National Federation of Farmers, expressing his hope that their work may be adequately regarded and appreciated.