>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.
I think we are forgetting low input, low cost agriculture. What is wrong
with family farms supporting themselves with commodity production
agriculture? Are you suggesting some other source of income? I'm very
proud of the fact that I support my family off from 100 acres with pasture
hogs. I don't see very many non subsidised operations(off farm income or
>We see this at the country level where incomes are dependent on
>extraction of minerals or agricultural commodities. Why should a farm be
Sustainable farms don't have to be mineral extractors.
>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.
No argue here on budgeting. That was the point of my post. Even if I had
100% return from a soybean crop I still wouldn't come close to the income
producing potential of pastured hogs. Pastured hogs over the average cycle
hog cylce will NET more per acre than crop farms GROSS per acre. And the
last time I checked, neither one right now are paying very many bills.
Beans at the elevator around here last week were down to $4.60/bushel.
>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.
STRONGLY DISAGREE. There can be a huge difference in producers costs of
production. Especially if we want to start talking about grass based
livestock production versus confinement! The current markets tell me that
they are willing to abuse both livestock and grain producers. I do agree
that global markets don't appear to be a long term stable answer.
>The only solutins that farmers have found is by expansion through
>consolidation or association and value added production as individuals
The only solution the conventional farmers have found is expansion. But is
it really working? Agriculture is parting ways. Its headed towards
corporate agriculture and low input sustainable agriculture. The latter
paradym doesn't necessarily have to jump on the expansion, heavy metal,
depreciation band wagon. I could give you plenty of examples of "small"
farms that are doing just fine. We might be complaining about the prices
but we will still be here the next time the market chooses to abuse us.
>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.
No magic poems here. However I am not ready to count out the ingenuity of
the "small" farmers.
>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?
Are you saying the conventional agriculture is headed in a sustainable path?
Or are you saying that pasture based livestock production isn't a
sustainable path? I'm not sure.
>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.
Yes, I think we need long term solutions. Fair and competitive markets.
Systems that are based around low inputs. Selling sunshine with the use of
livestock as the harvestors are an excellent example. Producing exactly
what the average producer does with enough green paint in the shed to
impress the neighbors doesn't appear sustainable to anyone other than
Gunthorp's Pasture-ized Pork
LaGrange, Indiana (a stones throw from Ohio & Michigan)
visit our farm at www.grassfarmer.com
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