[NAFEX] Family Farms

miekal and dtv at mwt.net
Tue Mar 18 09:43:35 EST 2003

Personally, I believe that some of the reasons why family farms are 
disappearing are justified.  Where I live in southwest Wisconsin the 
really small family farms are dropping like flies.  The soil has been 
worn out, the USDA subsidized dairy pay price is at the same place as 
1980 (& that is a price propped up by our taxes), GMO & designer 
genetics demand that the farmer buy into a never-ending loop of  
hybridized seed & herbicide regimines.  But the picture out here also 
has a very positive & forward looking alternative to such a doomsday 
scenario.  The organic industry is the fastest growing sector of the 
food industry right now (tho a very small percentage of it, in the US I 
believe somewhere around 1 or 2%.)  As an industry it is growing by 25 
to 30% a year.  The company I work for decided that as a 150 mil 
company it needed to slow down its growth because it is growing TOO 
fast & such growth is not sustainable.  Our pay price for organic milk 
is over $19 a hundredweight while commerical is around $8.  & that's 
for putting a lot less inputs into the soil.  We have farmers signed up 
to get on the truck almost 2 years in advance.  So strategies to shift 
the paradigm of the family farm are quite in place, in fact some of our 
farms have been organic for generations & operating on very local 
scales.  Organic farms are much more likely to be polycultural, having 
plantings of things like fruits & nuts, CSA vegetable gardens, pick 
your owns.  In general tho one of the largest issues seems to be of 
keeping the next generation on the farm so these homesteads are not 
lost.  Whether conventional or organic, farming is a lot of work, long 
days & each succeeding generation has access to a lot of other ways to 
make money that are far easier.  Often they have to leave to come back.


On Tuesday, March 18, 2003, at 06:08 AM, Bruce Hansen wrote:

> Anything worth doing is difficult. The problems that beset farmers are 
> the
> same problems in every living room. Change. Demand more, better. It 
> does not
> always cost more money. Read a book. Eat brown rice. As little as 60 
> years
> ago there was truck farming in Michigan. Now it is five crops all for 
> feed
> for animals; oats, corn, wheat, soybeans and white beans. Every year 
> all
> things remain the same, plow, spray, plant, spray, harvest. Same 
> people,
> same equipment, same rut!
> There is one heck of a lot of blame to go around. I doubt if there are 
> too
> many innocents. Perhaps it is time that the best gift for a friend is a
> mirror.
> Bruce z5 MI

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