[permaculture] NAFTA and Mexico's Agrarian Apocalypse

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lflj at intrex.net
Sun Jan 27 06:14:42 EST 2008

Keith Johnson wrote:
>   *NAFTA and Mexico's Agrarian Apocalypse 
> <http://www.counterpunch.org/ross01152008.html>*
> *Zero Hour*
> John Ross
> Counterpunch.org
> January 15, 2008

More disturbing news - (you've seen this elsewhere KJ)
[Fwd: Monsanto, Pollution & GM Food Politics]
Monsanto's PCB pollution of Anniston, Alabama (and GE's PCB deliberate pollution
of the Hudson River in NY state).

Time for a reality check. You can say what you want about agriculture economic policy but
at the same time have a good look at the sheer scale of modern broadace agriculture.

 From the beginning accomplishing feeding mankind, large numbers of people,
was an enormous effort, truly epic in scale, and it required cooperation from just about everyone,
down to the level of the smallest community. Just look at terrace farming in Asia and you can see that clearly.
Now, more is done, involving greater acreage, by less people using massive inpputs of equipment, and unfortunately
massive amounts of fossil fuel and chemicals. You are talking huge farms operated by a very small number of people
using huge, advanced, precision equipment and precision methods. I am surely preaching to the choir for all you have to 
do is drive through the US midwest and California to see this firsthand.
I got a closer look tonight, from Chapel Hill, at an operation in California. Once an 8ooo acre farm, now a 600 owned, 
400 rented family farm operation. Father/son farmed the 8K acres, now son and small crew farm the 600 + 400. They grow
grain and seed for the feed and cropseed trade, mostly under contract. They are major stakeholders and take great 
financial and environmental risks. For the environmental, drought and flood. For the financial, an insect infestation
cost them a single $300,000 crop one year. I found a machinist's chat room, newly started by a fellow PM'er and decided 
to give it a go. Mike, the farmer in California was in there at the time. I knew him from PM forums and had seen some 
pix of his farm and knew he had a large operation. He happens to live 15 miles away from an organic rice farmer I buy 
from mail order, Massa Organics, an anti-gmo activist I read about in the sanet-mg forum from year to year. I asked him 
if he could farm sustainably and stay in business, that is, without pesticides (never mind without chemical fertilizer), 
and he replied, no, not and still make a profit. Here is a huge farm run by a few highly skilled and experienced people,
who have done it all their lives, an operation scaled up to meet the demands of the mainstream agricultural marketplace,
compete and make a good profit and keep doing this every year. Among other crops he produces corn, cotton, wheat, rice 
for seed and feed and vineseed (anything that grows on the ground on a vine) for the melon seed market. That is a small 
glimpse of large scale farming and its importance to the marketplace, the world food supply, the international economy 
and to the perpetuation of industrial farming. Like it or not, problems and abuses notwithstanding, that's the way it 
is. The question and answer: "can you switch to sustainable farming and stay in business" and "no, not and make a 
profit". Now if you can show that farmer how to produce his crop sustainably and make it work for him so he can make a 
profit and stay in busness you will have made a significant contribution to mankind. If permaculturists were to try and 
meet this challenge, what would they recommend doing and how would they recommend going about it? You're talking huge 
output to meet the demands of a gigantic industry putting product in the hands of way over half the world.
Here is a video of harvesting cotton on his farm:
As for Mexican and American small to micro farmers and subsistence farmers, staying in business for them is part of 
building community and cooperation within that community, pure and simple. They _can_ do it and they _can_ make it work.
Read my previous suggestion for a local, regional, national product and services production and marketing network.
Use the Web and make your system work, create your farming plan and make it work for you and all other participating 


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