Value of Information
Charles Benbrook (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sat, 04 May 1996 12:14:09 -0400
I find this exchange depressing. This is a free list, no one is forcing
anyone to read the messages posted here. I for one hope lots of people can
make money of anything I might pass along. The list is not a place for
repeated commercial postings, ala additions to an online catalogue, but it
is a place where I can find about Willie's latest book, and where I will
tell the group in a couple of months about my new book on pest management
which is almost done, and will be for sale by Consumers Union (my client,
the people that paid me to write it).
Sus. ag is information and human-skills and experience dependent.
New tools/mechanisms are needed to augment the coffee shop, meetings, field
days, etc. SANET is a part of those new tools. The sus ag community has
got to accept that farmers have to make money, and most professional
"helpers" also will have to make money if they are going to persist in their
trade, and hence gain that incredibly valuable asset -- experience.
There is a powerful trend toward privatization of information and
expertise, and hence public media like SANET are of growing importance. It
is a way for people not a part of the AGBIZ system (including its
cooperators in academia) to reach out to and benefit from the experiences
and insights of others.
We all need to confront the inability/unwillingness of the current
ag system, and most producers to pay for technical info and services that
are needed to move toward more profitable, safe and productive bio-based
farming systems. Over time, by experience, they need to be shown info-based
services pay, just like 20 years ago they had to be convinced weed control
in a can works. The same can be said for financing systems-based
participatory research, which is demonstrating wonderful results and yet
still is only receiving crumbs left over from conventional res. priorities.
I bet the nation has spent 10 times more money on research to try to
understand/make resistance issues go away with Bt and herb. tolerant plants
than spent on sus ag, even bio-intensive IPM in the last 5 years or so. Who
benefits from that set of priorities?
And so, we collectively need to change some of the money flows
underwritng the development of information, education, its exchange, and
applications on the farm. A growing portion of the above is going to be
privately financed, and the opportunity to make a living (and for private
business people, that really biols down to profits) is an essential
ingredient. I for one am all for working together to bring change to the
money flows that, whether we like it or not, define what kind of agriculture
we have in America.