5 New Papers on Web Site; John Ikerd
Thu, 20 Aug 98 13:13:17 CST
We have just placed five new papers on my web site. A brief summary
of each paper is provided below. We are in the process of
highlighting the new papers, but you will find them at the bottom of
the list of "Recent Papers," regardless of whether they are
The papers can be found at
Feel free to use the papers as you see fit.
Some Missouri Farmers Perspectives on Sustainable Agriculture:
A summary of the results of a survey of Missouri farmers concerning
their understanding of and attitudes toward the concept of sustainable
agriculture. The farmers in this study are still uncertain regarding
what the sustainable agriculture issue is all about. However, there
was a general consensus that economics viability is essential to
sustainability and a high level of agreement on the necessity of
environmental soundness. Farmers also agreed that viable family farms,
healthy rural communities, and a desirable quality of life are
necessary for agricultural sustainability, but had not yet identified
these elements with a "socially responsible" agriculture.
Farmers were asked to self-identify themselves as "conventional" or
"sustainable." A number of different characteristics, as indicated in
the survey responses, tended to distinguish between members of the two
groups. Farmers who are more likely to have had greater exposure
sustainable agriculture information indicate more clearly defined
differences between what they consider to be "conventional" and
Sustainable Agriculture as a Rural Development Strategy
This study builds on previous work at the University of Missouri in
evaluating the potential impacts on rural communities from shifting
from "conventional" to more "sustainable" farming systems. The study
compares the potential impacts of five different scenarios for farming
on thirteen rural Missouri Counties. The "conventional" scenario is
based on county data from the 1992 Census of Agriculture. The
remaining four were developed to reflect various changes in farming
systems and procurement patterns for farm inputs that might be
associated with shifts toward more sustainable systems of farming.
The conventional farming scenario supported just under 770 average
households per county -- 400 farm households and 370 non-farm
households supported by farm related activities. A modest shift
toward more sustainable farming systems could support an additional
300 households per county. If changes in farming systems were
accompanied by a changes in input procurement patterns, favoring more
local purchases, the increase in number of total households supported
could double compared with changes in farming only-- resulting in
1,370 households supported by agriculture compared with the base
estimate of 770. Even the more modest "transition" and "expectations"
scenarios resulted in 300 additional households supported per county
as a consequence of pursuing sustainable agriculture as a strategy for
community economic development.
Large-Scale, Corporate Hog Operations; Why rural communities are
concerned and what they should do.
This paper begins with my top ten reasons why people in rural
communities should be concerned about large-scale confinement hog
operations -- available in another paper at this site. The discussion
then moves to developing the case for agricultural sustainability as a
challenge to the common practice of allowing market economics to
dominate land use decisions -- including the location of large-scale
confinement animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Free market allocation
of land use ensures that non-renewable inputs will be used up at
faster than long economic optimum rates and that solar energy, the
only truly renewable resource, will be underutilized -- ensuring the
eventual reduction if not elimination of future production
possibilities. This result is based purely on long run economics --
without any consideration of environmental and social impacts of short
run economic decisions on rural communities.
Large-scale corporate ownership of CAFOs precludes their having
concern for protection of natural resources and concern for people in
local communities that are not consistent with the innate corporate
objectives of maximum profits and growth. Thus, sustainable community
development dictates that short-run economic interest not be allowed
to determine or dominate land use decisions -- including location of
CAFOs. People in rural communities must claim their collective
ethical and moral rights to determine-- by means other than economic
-- how land is used in their communities if they are to attain and
sustain a desirable quality of rural life for themselves and for those
of future generations.
Economic Impact of Increased Contract Swine Production in Missouri --
An Alternative Viewpoint.
This paper contrasts two systems of hog production in Missouri: one
based on published estimates of hog production under contract
production arrangements and the other based on actual records of
Missouri hog farmers. The comparisons indicated similar returns to
labor and management under both systems. However, the family hog
farms require nearly three times as many "people" on-site as the
contract operations in producing the same number of hogs.
If one is concerned about producing more hogs with fewer people,
contract operations appear to have a clear advantage. On the other
hand, if one is concerned about providing the maximum number of
quality self-employment opportunities for people in rural communities,
the advantage clearly goes to independent family hog farms.
The core analysis outlined in this paper is included in chapters in
two new books:
"pigs, profits, and rural communities," Kendall M. Thu and E. Paul
Durrenberger, editors, SUNY Press, Albany, NY. 1998. ($17.95
"The industrialization of Agriculture: Vertical Coordination in the
U.S. Food System," Jeffrey Royer and Richard Rogers, editors, Ashgate
Publishing, Aldershot, England, 1998. (due out this fall).
The Case for a Bill or Rights for Sustainability
This paper is a follow up to an earlier paper; "The Economics of
Sustainability." The U.S. Constitution does not include an "economic
bill or rights" because, at the time, it didn't seem that one was
needed. Adam Smith's invisible hand appeared then to ensure that the
public welfare could best be promoted by letting the markets work.
However, few of the logical assumptions of the market place in the
1770s are logical today. Today, an out-of-control, corporate
dominated economy driven by greed and short-run self interest is using
up and degrading both the natural and human resource base at an
alarming rate. Life, liberty and the long run pursuit of happiness
today are in peril.
Both Jefferson and Paine advised Americans that the Constitution would
need to be revisited and updated from time to time as human society
progressed to higher levels of understanding and knowledge.
Provisions for amendments and constitutional conventions were written
into the constitution for this purpose. If Jefferson and Paine were
drafting a constitution today, they undoubtedly would include a bill
or rights to protect people from the tyranny of greed inherent in a
free-market, corporate dominated economy -- just as they sought to
protect us from the tyranny of political oppression in the late 1700s.
They would also see the wisdom of ensuring the rights to future
generations through constitutional protection of the natural
environment. The sustainability of human civilization may well depend
upon us, we the people, having the courage to carry out the work of a
"living" constitutional government as envisioned by Jefferson and
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