Re: Farming at Risk Because of Growth
Rich Molini (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mon, 29 Sep 1997 17:50:57 -0500
Marian Buckner wrote:
> Can you help with answers to any of the following? I am gathering
> info for a possible small research project.
> This proposed project would research bringing in new rural
> infrastructure or support services to help make farming continue to be
> viable. A few of our agricultural support services have left because
> not enough of an agricultural base was left for their particular
> business to be profitable. Our rural area is very threatened by
> growth, but still holding its own for the time being.
> Here are my questions:
> 1. Do you know of anyone that has done such a study? Or anyone
> researching the area of rural infrastructure and agriculture support
> businesses or industries?
> 2. Do you know of books or journal articles that discuss this subject?
> 3. Do you know of any related experiences in other areas--successful
> or unsuccessful?
> 4. Please comment on the following ideas I've received from others:
> * Attract a county-based storage facility to our new industrial park
> (they're looking for high-tech businesses for the most part) that would
> process grains on the premises (eg, flour mill or oil extracting
> Question: What about nuisance aspects (noise, dust, trucks)? How
> does one find out how large an agricultural base is needed for such a
> facility to be profitable?
> * Attract farm equipment dealers with a diversified line for both
> farmers and suburban customers--lawn and garden, snowmobiles).
> Question: Will farm equipment dealers resist this because they want
> their farm equipment to be primary?
> *Create a marketing group that could buy and sell blocks of grain from
> a number of farmers and lock in on better-priced markets.
> Question: Will farmers buy into this? They tend to want to be
> independent and act on their own.
> 5. Do you have other suggestions for "farmers on the urban edge"?
> Thanks! Marian Buckner
I have already read David Sullivan's reply to your inquiry, and I
believe there are numerous success stories like those that he relayed
and I hope to see many more. However, there are thousands of failures in
this arena, because if we really don't address the root cause there is
The root cause of rural decline is the loss of producers. When it
becomes necessary to farm 1200 acres in Central Indiana to make a living
growing and selling grain, there are too few producers and too many
doing the same thing, in this case growing grain to ship off to some
remote location to feed livestock or make oil. What many suggest you
need to ensure the continued viability of the rural communities is 10 -
120 acre farms engaging in diversified activities. Ten farm families
will repopulate the countryside and produce markets for all kinds of
goods. These 10 farms however cannot only produce corn and beans. They
have to produce real food products like beef, milk, chicken, eggs,
jellies, jams, or produce. They have to add value to their products much
like the pasta producers mentioned by David. Markets exist in this
country for wholesome, nutritious, and healthy food, and people are
willing to pay a premium price for beef, pork, or chicken that has taste
or eggs that have color or apples that are crisp and fresh or real
peaches that weren't designed to withstand a 5 foot fall.
The added plus is that real food is produced understanding and
respecting the natural ecosystems. Real food is grown organically and
sustainably. Monsanto adds no value to an organic crop. No herbicides
were needed to control undesirable plants. Cargill sold that organic
producer no fertilizer where the money would return to headquarters and
serve the executive committee. When you put sweat equity into
cultivation and cover crops and a quality rotation to control pests the
money stays in the community and Dow wonders why you didn't need their
Produce, sell ,and consume your food locally that is the key to the
rejuvenation of rural America. When the consumer knows the folks who
produced those eggs and they know that those folks did not foul the air
or add atrazine or Roundup to the creek they will repect and compliment
them with a premium. They will build a relationship of trust and that
trust will be contagious so that the local hardware store will remain
because that 20 cents less at Walmart will not make a darn bit of
difference. Think globally and shop and chew locally.