A lovely thoughtful well written article from the CBC was:
Having spent six years on the prairies immersed in agricultural communities working directly with farmers, I agree with every aspect of this article.
The trick is to make it economically worthwhile for farmers to do this on behalf of society. It’s going to be a really, really hard sell to get farmers to change their ways without changing their economic realities.
The way things are, farmers are squeezed financially between multinational big business input costs – fuel, feed, supplements, seed, fertilizer, herbicides, farm machinery – on the one hand and national, big business marketing regulations on the other – marketing boards, farm gate restrictions, storage costs, transportation costs, variable quality sales assessments, etc. Both sides are squeezing the farmer for “best prices” with the banks lining up to fill the breech in between with added financing costs. All of us love to eat every day although plant-based farm produce has a one or two (at best) annual crop cycle. Animal husbandry (except for milk and eggs) similarly has 1 or 2 crops per year cycle and the farm income is once per crop – period. But the farm costs go on every day. Farm families have learned to live with this by supplementing their economic status by putting the kids to work at a young age and also with off-farm income.
I’ve worked a lot with farmers; as a breed of people they are very willing – but until the vice like squeeze between input costs and farm revenues is relaxed the kinds of initiatives described in this article are not likely to go very far and not very fast.
When farmers see and believe there is an economic benefit to them and their families, these kinds of changes will go viral quite quickly because they make sense … the kind of sense farmers can understand – because it’s rooted in the history of agriculture.
It’s nice to know this kind of research is taking place – but it doesn’t address the real problems.
The corporate intentions of big businesses seem to be to drive multi-generational farm families off the land and replace them with corporate agriculture. The likelihood that corporate agriculture will be more efficient and more concerned about the health of the soil than multi-generational farm families have been, is close to zero.
How can we at CACOR take issue with farm input costs and farm sales. This is where the fastest, most valuable progress will be made for the health of the soil and for the impact of agriculture on climate change.