On Wednesday, July 28, Dennis Avery and Joel Salatin will be debating
modern agricultural practices and policies on the "Valley Farm Forum",
hosted by WSVA radio (AM 550) in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
These gentlemen are two of the most widely known and respected
agricultural speakers in North America, if not the world. They both
travel extensively throughout the year addressing the concerns of
farmers and the industry of agriculture; however, they are as
diametrically opposed in their viewpoints as anyone can possibly be when
it comes to modern agricultural practices and policies.
Dennis Avery is Director of the Center for Global Food Issues, a
project of the Hudson Institute, and is a former senior agricultural
analyst to the U.S. State Department. He is author of the 1995 book
entitled "Saving the Planet With Pesticides and Plastics: The
Environmental Triumph of High-Yield Farming." Dennis Avery resides with
his family at their farm in the tiny community of Swoope, Virginia.
Joel Salatin is an active farmer, producing and marketing poultry,
beef, pork and other farm products directly from his farm to a loyal
customer base of four hundred families and twenty white tablecloth
restaurants. He was one of the founders of an organization called the
Virginia Association for Biological Farming, and has written three
books, the most recent entitled "You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide
to Start and Succeed in a Farming Enterprise." Joel resides with his
family at their farm in, yes, the tiny community of Swoope, Virginia.
I would like to solicit questions from this list-serve for either Mr.
Avery or Mr. Salatin for possible use on the radio program.
Preliminary prototype questions include:
*Mr. Avery, you've written in the past that the most important benefit
of modern farming is higher yields per acre. You say that not only do
higher yields cut costs, but they leave us with more room for nature.
You've also said that you are not certain that high-yield agriculture
can feed everyone and save all the wildlife habitat. But, you say that
you are certain that low-yield agriculture cannot. How did you arrive at
*Mr. Salatin, you say in your most recent book that, as a young
agricultural writer for the Staunton newspaper several years ago, you
had the opportunity to get deeply in touch with the agriculture
community and with farmers. You say that you heard story after horror
story, saw sick animals, bankrupt middle-aged farmers, and countless
young men who had inherited farms, and then lost them. You say that you
saw behind the (quoting here) "curtain of the charade" and you realized
that for all the promises and posturing of the agri-industrial complex,
it is a dead-end street. How did you come to such a dramatic conclusion?
*Mr Avery, you wrote in a Hudson Briefing Paper in 1996 that the "large
increase in world food needs during the next fifty years will amplify
the consequences of any policies and practices that lower farm
productivity." What sort of consequences are you speaking of?
*Mr. Salatin, you've gone on record as saying that farmers sometimes ask
the wrong questions, and that since our paradigms define the limits of
our questions, our paradigms also define the limits of our creativity.
For example, you say that while the organic community runs around
trying to figure out how to have a certified organic cattle feedlot,
they should be asking "Why have a feedlot, Why feed ruminants grain at
You say that while the sustainable ag community is tripping over itself
with Integrated Pest Management to reduce pesticide applications, they
should be asking "Why grow corn?"
If we don't feed grain to our cattle, and we don't grow corn, where
does this leave the American farmer?
Please submit your questions by e-mail to: email@example.com
Also, if there is sufficient interest in a printed transcript of the
two-hour live broadcast, please indicate your interest as soon as
possible. Price will be at our costs.
Farm Director, WSVA Radio
P.O. Box 752
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
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