The Helpful Gardener
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Commercial Agriculture Will Fail

I am worried that F-san didn't have all the facts in hand for this chapter...

He did not know about the genetic modification craze that would be sweepiong the industry, one that assured that these "organisms" woudl requirte less pesticide (which has turned out to be patently untrue; the RUR crops are using three times as much pesticide as they used to). The adoption of so-called "no-till" sytems are improvements on maintaining soil carbon, but again do not work without chemical interdiction. In much the same way the the "Green Revolution" staved off the Malthusian disaster of overpopulation (completely ignoring it's effects on the environment or the societies it "saved", we are seeing another plateau of food production in tons that again delays the realities of diminishing returns (Vandana Shiva's [url=https://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Harvest-Hijacking-Global-Supply/dp/0896086070]Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply[/url] is an eye opening view into what I am talking about).

While we almost wish for the kind of collapse that F-san talks about, the industry will not go gently into that good night; witness tobacco's fifty year long retrograde action. While we have companies not wanting to simply dominate a sector of agriculture, but looking to own the entire realm of food, natural farming will have natural enemies with great power and resource...

It is reliant on we the people to shift the meme, to make that sort of agriculture unprofitable. It is economic warfare, and the ammunition of choice is consumer dollars. Be careful who you give your ammo to...

HG
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rainbowgardener
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The trouble when agriculture becomes agri-business is that then necessarily the business must care centrally about profit and when it becomes big business, then stock price and shareholder profit.

Once that is true, then they cannot care about quality of product (food becomes product!) except in so far as that affects profit. If they can make more profit by selling lower quality product (e.g. flavorless tomatoes with less nutritional value that ship and store better) that is necessarily what they must do.

Family farms needed to make a living and support themselves, but they had a different orientation and pride in the good food they produced (and ate themselves).
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gershon
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"It is reliant on we the people to shift the meme, to make that sort of agriculture unprofitable. It is economic warfare, and the ammunition of choice is consumer dollars. Be careful who you give your ammo to... "

What a great analogy which could apply to all the uses of our money.

lily51
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Anyone I would ask in this rural neighborhood of farms would say they've always been about profit, even when the farms were just 80 acres, even 100 years ago (not uncommon to have the same families farming here that long or longer) It includes grain farms immediately around us to family owned truck farms just north of here. That's how they make their living and raise their families.
And that would include many Menonite families who have been in this area 40 years.
There's really nothing evil about it. (making a profit) :)

You may be referring to the huge, corporate owned places , like the gigantic dairies which are like the Walmarts of the farming business. We don't have those here and hope that local families can continue the farming way of life.

gershon
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This sentence from the book seems to his definition of commercial agriculture:

"The farmer would do much better by growing the food he needs without thinking about making money." It seems to me he defines commercial agriculture as people growing food for someone besides themselves.

This may be a case of stating an extreme case to contrast it to another extreme case. Growing everything for ourselves has already failed. In fact, according to Jewish literature, it probably failed in the time of Noah who was said to invent the first plow. It certainly failed when everyone had to run off to Egypt to get food.

Maybe it even goes back to Adam and Eve who rebelled against being in the garden. (There are many ways to interpret this story.)

At the present time, I see commercial agriculture which includes organic agriculture as a safety net and a supplement to what I'm able to grow in my garden. In that, it's a success and hopefully will continue to be a success.

The place I think it has failed is in subjugating the farmers to the rest of society. Farming isn't the only area this has occurred.

Keep in mind, Buddha started out rich, chose poverty, and ended up with moderation.

My definition of moderation is to grow what I can which will likely work out to half my vegetables for the year. I'll have to buy flour, rice, ketchup and a lot of other things. I'm thankful there are people producing that for me.

When possible, I'll buy directly from the farmer. When not possible, I'll buy in places where the employees seem happy.

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Alan in Vermont
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Re: Commercial Agriculture Will Fail

The Helpful Gardener wrote:While we almost wish for the kind of collapse that F-san talks about, the industry will not go gently into that good night;,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

It is reliant on we the people to shift the meme, to make that sort of agriculture unprofitable. It is economic warfare, and the ammunition of choice is consumer dollars. Be careful who you give your ammo to...

HG
I for one, don't think of commercial agriculture as the big bad Boogie Man. I'm not overly happy with some parts of it and I will admit that the products are of lesser quality than what we can grow ourselves. But, and that is a big BUT, IMO, if you took the ability of commercial ag to produce a huge quantity of edible goods out of the supply chain where would the shortfall of crops be made up? Wring your hands and compalin all you want about the horrors of commercial ag but we're not going to replace that output with three tomato plants on every terrace or back porch. The hunger that gets so much attention now would be small beans (no pun) indeed if commercial ag disappeared.

The American Consumer has already voted with their $$ and cheap food has come out ahead. F San has taken the position that anyone who raises crops beyond their own needs is part of commercial ag. It gets to be very close to a full time job for a family to raise enough to feed themselves completely. If everybody was playing subsistence farmer who would be able to supply out other needs.

Some form of currency/barter has to exist for any level of trade to support those needs. 200 years ago we were a lot closer to that Nirvana than we are now and there still was a measure of commercial ag involved. We were carrying a much smaller population on what was thought of as unlimited land. From the earliest times people grew more crops or caught more fish/game than they needed so they could sell or barter the excess. That's the way it is, just the scale of it has changed.

From the times of hunter/gatherers there were advances made in food production. Virtually everything we have in our lives now was made possible only by having adequate food produced by part of the population so that others could study/experiment/build. That allowed advances in those things that let us be well fed, fairly healthy, and enjoying our current level of creature comforts.

Wish for what you want but keep it for yourself, not all of us want to be involved in your concept of Nirvana.

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farmerlon
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I don't have a problem with "commercial" agriculture, but I am concerned about the environmental impact of "chemical" agriculture.

Regardless of each individual's idea of "Nirvana", and whether they even want a Nirvana or not... I think the environmental consequences of chemical fertilizers and pesticides negatively impacts us all.

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