I was indeed suggesting tofu as the other white meat. Farmers have
learned to turn their beans into hogs and their corn into alcohol, both
for humans and fuel, and straw into fiber board. As long as a persons
sole source of income is in the commodities arena, the economics will
never work out if they are hoping to rise up on the scale of consumption
of manufactured goods. unless, of course, they grow in size in
proportion to their increased demand of value added products.
We see this at the country level where incomes are dependent on
extraction of minerals or agricultural commodities. Why should a farm be
Take a farm operation and over good and bad years measure your return
per acre. Now take the family over the years and look at the cash needed
to support that family and figure the per acre cost to support the
family. As families live longer, desire to acquire a life style equal to
city dwellers and place other demands for capital, such as a college
education, on the acres, the needs start to rise.
In the commodity business, there is very little flexibility in
production costs. As the recent world crisis has made very clear,
markets which we open up for our commodities also open up for these same
commodities world wide and that world is not an even playing field.
The only solutins that farmers have found is by expansion through
consolidation or association and value added production as individuals
I think it may be somewhat presumptuous, under these condition, to say
to the world that a "small farmer" should be able to make a living on
"x" acres where "x" is some number pulled out of a poet's hat. We see
this in, for example, small corner grocery stores in urban areas which
have yielded to the 7-11's or which are now run by immigrants who work
under different economic scenarios.
It is critical to understand that "sustanibility" is a verb and not a
noun. It is dynamic and changing. It has a time dimension which is
unceertain, in a country that is barely 200 years old, in a country
which has rising expectations and demands being made on the system which
are chainging. What life style is sustainable? And at what cost to
another human being elsewhere in the world?
This is all philosophy, of sorts, and doesn't help farmers who are
hurting this year and maybe next. But even Jean Luc Picard can not just
say "make it so, number one", nor can this conundrum be entered into a
Mensa puzzle book. There may be one solution which will work for a time
and that would be to disrupt the international markets with a preciptous
rise in petrol prices- but that would only be temporary before the
economic world would again was across the commodity plains.
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