Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Organic vs. Conventional Farming

I'm trying to write an article as a possible guest commentary for our local newspaper on agriculture practices of Organic vs. Conventional Farming practices. Although I won't submit this as a whole, bits and parts of it will make it into the articles submission. Here are my unabashed thoughts – so sorry if it is long, but if you value keeping food on your table that is produced in the USA or as a consumer having the choice on where to purchase your food, then it this may be worth the read….

Sustainability, Farm to Fork, Urban Farmers, Organic Farming, you see these buzz words splashed around the media in varying forms and the articles behind them are usually depicting the American farmer in a less than favorable light. This has been a wake-up call to the producers to begin telling our story. If the American Farmer doesn't tell their story, then agriculture opponents will tell it for us and that is never a good option. Fifty years ago, most people either came from a farm or were related to someone who did, but that is not the case now. Many Americans are out of touch with where their food comes from and this is a good breeding ground for groups preying on consumer ignorance. There seems to be a mystery of who supplies the food to the grocery stores. As a farmer, I welcome the growing demand from consumers who want to know where their food comes from, but what I do not welcome are the "Luxury Food Extremists" who, through their well organized and financed initiatives, call for unrealistic regulations to be imposed on the way farmers and ranchers make our living(not to mention feed the world). These luxury food extremists are trying to turn their food choice into food law! It is amazing to me to think that someone who is not a producer is telling us how they think we should be conducting our business of raising crops or animals. Tactics* used are being fueled by emotional filled claims of livestock mistreatment or reckless endangerment of the environment. They claim that "corporate agriculture farms" are the source of these bad practices, but most corporations are family owned and operated. Farmers live on their farms, raise our children here and we eat what we produce, so where do they think we get our food from? There is room for both the organic farmer and the conventional farmer to co-exist. Let the consumer make his or her own choice of where to purchase their food and what they want to pay for their food. Let them choose between organic or conventional production, it is only fair.

Currently, the average American spends around 10% of their income for food compared to 18% in 1960 and about 25% in 1910. Ignorance on the part of the average American consumer will cost them more out of their pocket on food costs if proposed legislation on food production is implemented. Some of the proposed legislation I'm referring to are bans on sow crates and limits on hen cages, just to mention a few. Look at what California did to the Ag industry by passing Proposition 2 (Standards for Confining Farm Animals). The United Kingdom is also a prime example of how these elitist attitudes changed one of the most productive agricultural countries from a net food exporter to a net food importer. The more the Ag industry is burdened by encumbering laws, the less competitive our country will be within the global market. So the question is, do you want to depend on foreign food sources to feed you and your family if unrealistic demands put the family farmer out of business? Look at our dependency on oil; does anyone like paying $3.00 per gallon for gasoline? Just imagine what your food costs could be not to mention unsafe food practices of foreign countries if we must depend on outside sources to produce food. Nowhere in the world are farmers under more stringent laws and regulations than in the U.S.

Again, it is worth saying, there is room for both the organic farmer and the conventional farmer to co-exist. The organic farmer feeds those who seek those products, while the conventional farmer feeds the rest of the world. I saw a saying that said a "hungry man does not know right from wrong, he only sees hunger". A third of the world goes hungry every night, let us do our job and feed the world. *For some interesting reading, click on this http://www.consumerfreedom.com/news_detail.cfm/h/4111-federal-racketeering-lawsuit-stuns-hsus .




  1. Let's go back to the basics. What we need to do is support the soil in a "healthy way" so that it provides an ongoing base for raising "healthy food". We need to provide a diverse seed stock, one that is abundant and sustainable in a specific microclimate. We need animals that are provided a "natural" source of food. We need to grow food that supports happy, healthy bodies. We need happy farmers to provide us the crops, meat, dairy to sustain nations.

  2. Thanks for your input. In our region we are blessed with the gifts of productive and healthy soil. Some microclimates do not support all types of crops, for instance grain grows well for us, where vegetables do not. As farmers we are very protective of our soil as it is our precious resource to help feed the world.
    We use crop rotation and direct seeding methods to build soil health as well as utilizing technology to optimize precision application of nutrients and crop protection products. The food we grow will support healthy & happy bodies if consumed in moderation. We support neither gluttony nor lethargy which contributes to the obesity problem.