UPDATE! Future of Our Food and Farms Summit

Aaron Silverman cgrowers at pond.net
Tue Nov 14 15:08:08 EST 2000

>When he says "sustainable agriculture" it doesn't mean the same thing it
>probably does to most people on this forum.  Meanings are in people, their
>agendas, and their experiences.  Dennis A. gets paid very well for his
>constructed approach to sustainable agriculture.

I would like to second much of Del's assessment of Dennis Avery, and the 
Hudson Institute. About 5 years ago I attended a large meeting in Vermont 
where Avery was invited to be a member of a panel of speakers to discuss 
sustainable agriculture, and how farmers can make a transition towards 
more environmentally and financially sustainable systems.

This was just after the publication of his book, titled something like 
"Pesticides and Plastics Saving World Agriculture." Six months earlier I 
had to represent his viewpoint on "Sustainable Agriculture" in a 
university class (comprised of farmers, extension folks & students). I 
read just about everything he and the Hudson Institute published to that 

The panel was one of the more balanced ones I've ever seen for the forum 
- extension agents, conventional dairy & christmas tree farmers, organic 
dairy & vegetable producers. And Dennis Avery. The farmers and extension 
agents were about exploring all the systems, to pick out the better and 
more applicable facets in order to apply them in a conscientious and 
deliberate manner. As the individuals on the panel introduced themselves, 
everyone was very careful to keep the attacks and rhetoric to a minumum. 
Watching the crowd, heads nodded for every speaker, and eyes rolled for 
each as well.

However, I've never seen as diverse a group be so united by annoyance and 
disbelief as when Avery began to speak. He immediately, and unabashadely 
termed Organic Agriculture "Low-Yield agriculture." He cited figure after 
figure of the increase of land, energy, & other resources organics 
require, along with reduced yeilds figures. People were shocked - it was, 
of all people, on of the more "frowned upon," larger scaled dairy farmers 
who stood up and blasted Avery for his "low-yeild" title. "Who," he 
asked, "is farming for less yeild?" The farmers around his dairy that 
produced organically, dairy and vegetables, had comprable yeilds, and 
seemed to have lower costs and/or higher profitability - this was what 
had led him to attend and examine the possibility of transitioning to an 
organic production system.  Avery was reduced to spending his time making 
personal attacks on the organic and sustainable advocates, and 
reiterating his misleading and often very dated statistics and figures.

Dennis Avery is an important figure to keep tabs on. It is well worth 
going to any forum he is participating in. He is a dangerous figure, not 
only for Organics, but rational sustainable change in any form. This is 
not because he is some demogauge, as some like to paint him, but because 
he is extremely intelligent and articulate. Many of his ideas have merit, 
although I would submit that his conclusion is only reached by very 
biased leaps of logic and faith. Countless Organic producers utilize many 
of the technologies he points out in his latest book - high tech 
species-specific pesticides (regardless of their origins), plastic 
mulches, plastic drip tubing and tapes, high degrees of specialization 
and mechanization, etc.

Go see him. Listen to what he says. Read what he publishes. Expose his 
hypocricy with understanding, not just with emotion.


Creative Growers
Aaron Silverman
88741 Torrence Rd.
Noti, Or. 97461
cgrowers at pond.net
Quality Produce & Pastured Poultry

More information about the Market-farming mailing list