There are perhaps only two ways: Through alternative local services like CSA or other
forms of direct or more direct sales (roadside stands, farmers markets, sales to
restaurants etc. - what most of you are already doing) but organized into county, state
and a national organization (i.e. the National Association of - whatever fits) in order to
achieve a stronger voice relative to county, state & national policies and legislation.
The other alternative involves organization at the mass distribution level and the
difference lies in the quality of the product. The consolidation would occur (probably
through co-operative arrangements between growers and others who would represent them),
but the product would be significantly different in many cases - as it should be, so a
market would have to be created for it.
The organic market may be the right one for this task but I've found little difference in
dealing with those in that market and the conventional, except for the speech mannerisms
and length of hair maybe.
Additionally, I think there are technological alternatives as yet undiscovered or
unimplemented - often very simple things that nobody bothers to do - that could make a big
difference in quality. I say this because I was (and still am) involved in such a scheme
and the difference in quality proved striking - and people are more than glad to pay extra
We're still talking about cutting out a lot of middle men and brokers who provide little
(and take less risks) in terms of service, in relation to the benefits they accrue
(charge). And the only way to cut through this mafia is to consolidate - retailers MUST
be able to count on product all year long from their sources and harvests are seasonal, so
consolidation and / or collaboration is a practical & necessary matter (see what
follows). This will not be easy when large numbers of fiercely independent people are
involved and the same abuses may still arise when those at the hub aren't up to the task,
but this is something that needs to be done, especially for those too far from population
centers to develop CSA type operations. Both of these scenarios need to be done.
I myself have been working for some time on the second option and significant progress has
been made. (This is why I now have a Texas office, where I expect to be again soon).
Here's the rest of what I excerpted from John's post:
"As most of us have limited resources to address these issues, what deserves the most
attention in regard to trying to save independent agriculture and independents in the food
system, policy, direct marketing or local production initiatives, promoting sustainable
production, something else?"
In short: Organization, according to a well planned scenario carried out by experienced,
committed and passionate participants. (Too many even in the organic market lack the
latter - the kind of vital interaction divulged by Cass in her recent -Tomato post).
Being more specific is a delicate matter, because the strategic battle plan must remain in
friendly hands. But I sure WOULD like to collaborate with the right people. Anybody
John Fawcett-Long wrote:
> I agree with the previous posts that increased concentration and consolidation in the
> food system is reaching disastrous proportions. This is not just a rural agriculture
> production problem, but we see concentration happening with food coops, food brokers,
> retailers, processors, input suppliers, etc., rural and urban alike. Many economists
> argue that this is just a matter of efficiency. Yet others have shown that
> communities thrive better with more farmers involved in production (Goldschmidt). I
> wonder at times whether the sustainability movement gets this. It seems often willing
> to ignore this type of economic issue, not just the economic viability of an
> individual farm or business, but the economic and community health of the structure of
> agriculture and of the food system. USDA's Small Farm Commission addressed these
> issues, but how can the rest of us make a concerted and strategic attempt to address
> this. As most of us have limited resources to address these issues, what deserves the
> most attention in regard to trying to save independent agriculture and independents in
> the food system, policy, direct marketing or local production initiatives, promoting
> sustainable production, something else?
> John Fawcett-Long
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Douglas M. Hinds, Director General Centro para el Desarrollo Comunitario y Rural A.C. (CeDeCoR) (Center for Community and Rural Development) - (non profit) Petronilo Lopez No. 73 (Street Address) Apdo. Postal No. 61 (Mailing Address) Cd. Guzman, Jalisco 49000 MEXICO U.S. Voice Mailbox: 1 630 300 0550 (e-mail linked) U.S. Fax Mailbox: 1 630 300 0555 (e-mail linked) Tel. & Fax: 011 523 412 6308 (direct) e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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