UPDATE! Future of Our Food and Farms Summit
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.
88741 Torrence Rd.
Noti, Or. 97461
cgrowers at pond.net
Quality Produce & Pastured Poultry
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