Some, perhaps many, of those who have tried to argue, convince, or
otherwise sway by example their friends, neighbors, or others to
switch to pasture (from confinement) or to organic (from
inputs-based) farming are dismayed and eventually discouraged because
of their low apparent success rate. This leads me to your enquiry,
however, because I am increasingly convinced that only a small
subsector(s) of the industry is actually capable of change, and
further, that we should be narrowing our focus to this group(s)
rather than gauging our success on the whole sector.
So, why is it that some are willing and able to consider a switch and
others not? Some of it is clearly economic - no question about it.
For pasture, I don't waste my time on people who have just made a
major equipment purchase, or are of an age that their existing
equipment will get them to retirement, or who don't have children who
want to farm. I also don't try my hand with people who are
blessedly happy with what they are doing (N.B. this does not mean
they are making money, just that they are convinced they are "right"
and the only culprit is price, and if and when those greenies (or the
EEC, or the US, or whomever they chose to blame for the low price)
will just smarten up, everything will be fine).
But other factors also are relevant. I am convinced that only some
people have the kind of mindset that will allow them to embrace
holism, per se. Most of us, as taught and reinforced by pretty much
everything in contemporary western society, think linearly and
mechanistically and are thus incapable of grasping the sense of, or
developing confidence in, the precepts of organic or grass-based
farming. Both organic farming and grass-based livestock systems
demand both a mindset that can fathom holism, and an awareness of and
respect for nature. It is, after all, natural processes that we are
attempting to channel to human ends.
Now, how do you detect such people? In my own consulting practice,
if I go out to a farm and the producer stops by the tractor, gently
stroking the fender, I don't go back. Conversely, if s/he stops to
chat by a cow, absentmindedly patting a bony hip, or in a field,
scuffing the soil with a bootheel or grasping a handful of grass (or
wheat or whatever) to show me something, then I see an opening.