I seem to detect a hidden belief that the world owes farmers a living. An earlier comment in reply to one of Dale's postings suggested an efficient business that resulted in others going out of business might be considered "cancerous". So, do we set up a system to pay growers for what they grow regardless of how technically efficient they are?
David and I both mentioned the problem of externalities; the problem of overt and hidden subsidies is equally distorting -- and the majority of economists that I know not only don't support them, they are quite vocal in their oposition to them!
I disagree that farmers who took advice to expand have (by implication, all) gone out of business. Further, the majority of corporate farms are incorporated FAMILY farms. Why is it assumed that big=non-sustainable? A successful ecological farmer -- one who puts high-quality, competitively-priced products in the markets, has the potential to expand to the limits of his management capabilities --> why do some folks seem to think this is bad? Should we aim for total self-sufficiency in food for each individual family? Should there never be "hired hands". The hidden social agenda in a lot of this discussion is mystifying --> I also think it clouds the issue of what kind of agricultural structure and content can be ecologically and economically sustainable.
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