Thanks for your comments. I am really amazed ... and overall quite pleased
.... with the number of responses to my comments. I have read them all, and
am sorry that I have not been able to reply to each one. I think most of
the arguments have a lot to offer, and have represented honest differences
of opinion. It is good to shake the tree once in a while. While that was
not my intent, it has created some interesting dialog.
I know Dennis Avery's ideas are sometimes a bit overstated, often probably
to help stimulate response. There is no perfect answer to the peaceful
co-existence on growing population, natural resource conservation, wildlife
habitat protection, and a range of farming systems that put pressure on all
of the above.
My comments may have come across as a promoter of big-scale, corporate
farmers, and technology at any cost. That is NOT my position. I share your
concerns for maintaining a balanced system that feeds the Holsteins and
encourages the meadowlarks. I think we can and MUST work toward that. My
training and experience working in agriculture with a wide variety of
farmers in the Midwest (and to a limited extent in other parts of the world)
has given me a strong belief in the careful application of science to help
make this happen. Science and technology do not have to mean corporate
farms or destruction of wildlife habitat.
I do not have confidence that we can switch to a low-input agriculture, nor
that there is any practical way to return to a system where a large
percentage of the population can grow their own food. Our agricultural
system works pretty well, and if we can encourage farmers to incorporate the
best management systems that research in universities and industry have
developed. Farmers have to be able to make a profit to be able to adapt
practices that they know they should use.
Many of the comments received on this discussion have referred to a new
world view, one that transcends science. I am not sure I fully understand
that concept. I am afraid it is more philosophical than real, but I am open
minded enough to keep it on the table for consideration. That is not to say
that philosophy isn't a key part of sustainable production systems. But the
final analysis still comes down to dollars and cents. Philosophy doesn't
keep the farm operational. Economics also gets in the way of the
application of the best science.
In any case, this has been an interesting discussion and I appreciate the
thought and passion that has been behind the responses. Whether we ever
reach a common understanding, the debate is valuable and in the long run
will hopefully in some small way contribute to a better agriculture.
Dr. Harold F. Reetz, Jr.
Midwest Director, Potash & Phosphate Institute
Vice President, Foundation for Agronomic Research
111 East Washington Street
Monticello, Illinois 61856-1640
PPI Home Page: http://www.ppi-far.org
Site-Specific Project: http://www.farmresearch.com
From: Laura K. Paine [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, May 15, 1999 9:19 AM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; Harold Reetz
Subject: Conflicting views
Hello Dr. Reetz and everyone,
I hope, Dr. Reetz, that you choose not to sign off the list. It wouldn't
be much of a discussion if we didn't represent differing points of view
with our comments.
Having said that, I'd like to take issue with your comments about Dennis
Avery's vision of agriculture. [REST DELETED]
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