Still, farmers farm the way they do because their choices have seemed to
work in the past. Break that "chain" of management thinking and you'll
inject risk of failure. Changes on "innovator" farms are daring, but are
probably buttressed with some superior understanding of the science that is
being applied. Changes on "early adopter" and "majority" farms are not so
daring, but instead are calculated, weighed, and done in incremental steps
(taking longer). It is in these operations that risk represents the biggest
stumbling block, but it is in these operations that the truly big acreage
is worked. Widespread acceptance of something different must be somehow
rendered "risk neutral" for the "early adopters" and "majority" producers
or they won't chance it even if it saves costs and/or saves the environment.
I don't work on the edge of innovation where the eagles fly. I have always
worked with the rest of the flock, shepherding them in proven, valid
directions as far as I can understand them. Trust issues are critically
important here. When a sensational expose breaks into the news about some
dangerous chemical, we want to do the right thing and learn to get along
without it. But when the initial reports turn out to be false or critically
flawed, (as in the case of Alar for apples), we begin to mistrust the
watchdog system. Unfortunately, the majority of agricultural producers have
had to become more cautious in the deceit that is passed out by a
Yeah, there is more than economics involved in agricultural
decision-making. Management choices may be getting harder to make rather
than easier because economics has been over-ridden by emotionally-charged
>The premise of my post is that practical information on
>sustainable agriculture practices is abundant, yet there is a
>lag time between existence of some practice or technology
>and adoption by a wider percentage or farmers. Why is this?
>Jim Quinton says it is a basic economic thing. Risk.
>The economic risk factor most likely accounts for at least 50%
>of the decision making reasons, but my sense is there are many
>other factors too...........
>Which brings to mind another thread altogether... that the economic
>system within which we live -- capitalism -- is fundamentally flawed.
I emphatically disagree with the notion that capitalism is so flawed. It
has its weaknesses, but it seems to outlive every alternative. What has
been superior to capitalism over the long run?
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