"It is a problem. There are no easy solutions." There is only ONE
solution and it is neither easy nor simple. It is simply necessary.
And it relates to the role of government in matters pertaining to the
environment and public health, and within that context (and ONLY within
that context), agricultural production.
The problem has to do with the need for developing economic indicators
that INCLUDE environmental and public health concerns when calculating
the true costs of agricultural production and above all, the need for a
new focus, one which governments are willing to give priority, so that
the legislation required to put things in the true perspective (and
level the field) can be drafted and passed.
Those that consider this concept to be unrealistic, naive or just too
darn hard are doing a disservice to an idea whose time has come - and on
which I dare to say should be supported by everyone on this forum.
Furthermore, I submit that a reappraised and amended OFPA is as good as
place as any to begin - it could mandate Congress to solicit the
necessary studies from the National Research Council and later legislate
on basis of the results of those studies - which of course will take a
few years. A great deal of the basic research for this has already been
done, and a number of foundations that supported earlier studies would
most likely to provide funds the federal government could match.
Is anyone else willing to rock the boat a little? How about breaking
out the oars and let's get rowing!
> At 08:59 AM 11/17/97 -0600, you wrote:
> >Hello All,
> > I'm new to this list and haven't yet waded through the archives, so
> >excuse me if I'm not up to speed on this thread, but I want to interject
> >a thought or two. Forgive me if I'm repeating old info or stating the
> > The perceived high price of organic food is a very real problem and
> >organic farmers have struggled for years against accusations of elitism.
> >But, when discussing the economics of organic food production,
> >particularly when comparing to the cost of conventional products, it's
> >important to understand that we're not comparing tomatoes to tomatoes.
> >When a customer visits the grocery and sees an organic tomato for
> >$1.50/lb next to a conventional one for $.75 they cringe at the added
> >"expense", when, in reality, that conventional tomato is outrageously
> >more expensive. The problem is hidden costs, or what the economists call
> >externalities. Not reflected in that $.75 tomato are very real costs
> >such as public sector research for input-intensive production systems,
> >groundwater contamination from misuse of those products, increasing
> >health care costs and rising health insurance premiums due to toxins in
> >our food chain, soil depletion from unsustainable farming practices,
> >etc. Certified organic products don't incur those costs or if they do
> >(giving credit for the miniscule amount of useful,"appropriate" Land
> >Grant research trickling down to organic farmers) it's a small amount
> >compared to conventional products. The single item which drives my costs
> >higher than conventional growers is labor, primarily for weed control
> >because I won't use "cheap" herbicides. The difficulty, as economists
> >are quick to point out, is that it's very hard to put a dollar amount on
> >those costs and attach it to that tomato. If we could, that conventional
> >tomato would be seen as the exhorbitant product it is and the organic
> >one would be seen as a bargain.
> > Unfortunately I don't see "real pricing" happening anytime soon. In
> >the meantime, the solution for low-resource folks who recognize the
> >value of organic food but can't pay the price is to deal as directly
> >with the farmer as possible via CSAs, PYO, farmers markets and preserve
> >to take advantage of seasonality. A large amount of the cost of
> >products, especially perishable ones, is added after the product leaves
> >the farm. Most organic farmers recognize the importance of getting our
> >products into the hands (and mouths!) of those who need it the most and
> >we do what we can to make that happen. I farm in an economically
> >depressed area of the Ozarks and, in addition to PYO and road side
> >sales, we open our fields for gleaning at the end of the season and many
> >people who couldn't otherwise afford it are able to fill their freezers
> >and canning kettles for nothing but their labor. This not only benefits
> >me by removing produce from the field that would otherwise not be
> >harvested thus minimizing insect and disease carryover, but it also
> >builds goodwill in my community and loyalty among my customer and labor
> >base. That's hidden profit!
> > Best regards,
> > Gordon Watkins
> >Karen Mundy wrote:
> >> >Dear Karen,
> >> >
> >> >Yeah, it's a heck of a quandary. Your friend is lucky it costs her only $10
> >> >per week more! the small store nearest my house is, thankfully, a "natural
> >> >foods" store -- lots of organic produce and dairy stuff, sugar alternatives
> >> >etc. But it is real pricey! Nonetheless, I do 75% of my shopping there.
> >> >
> >> >Two reasons: trying to limit (tilting at windmills) the toxins, chemicals
> >> >and carcinogens that fill my children's bodies, and providing bottom-line
> >> >support for organic farmers and og-transition growers whose produce and
> >> >products I buy.
> >> >
> >> >My struggle isn't how do I justify the extra expense -- it's how do I
> >> >justify my supermarket chain shopping when I do it? We're on a tight income,
> >> >we don't own a home and likely never will, wear worn out clothes and drive
> >> >funky old vehicles. But if I'm not willing to lay my money on the line
> >> >where my values are in the small way I can, what's the point?
> >> >
> >> >It's not easy, these aren't easy times, and to stare down the beast takes
> >> >courage, conviction and determination. But I think the storm our kids are
> >> >headed into is gonna get far worse -- environmentally, economically and
> >> >politically -- than where we are today. So it's the least I can do. And we
> >> >need to validate and support each others choices and commitment every chance
> >> >we get, because it DOES matter and it IS worth it.
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >Betsy Toll
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >betsy toll
> >> > ____________________________________________________________
> >> >| |
> >> >| lowTECH EarthWork USDA Zone 8 |
> >> >| Organic Lawn & Garden Care Portland, OR |
> >> >| |
> >> >| ...because the Earth matters |
> >> >| (503)281-2354 eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org |
> >> >|____________________________________________________________|
> >> >
> >> >
> >> Karen Mundy
> >> Rural Economic Analysis Program
> >> Dept. of Ag. and Applied Economics
> >> Virginia Tech
> >> Blacksburg, VA 24061-0401
> >> 540-231-9443
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> Karen Mundy
> Rural Economic Analysis Program
> Dept. of Ag. and Applied Economics
> Virginia Tech
> Blacksburg, VA 24061-0401
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