Sustainability in any system is a complicated process and therefore there is no
"one" answer that fits all cases equally. Why? 1) People are different one from
the other, 2) Management abilities are differen, 3) Interest in the crop,
livestock, whayever maybe different from yours or mine, 4) Climate, 5) Soils,
6) Available resources, 7) Micro-climate, 8) Location 9)etc., 10) etc., 11)
Telling someone this is the way to do it and the only "RIGHT" way to do it
would be like telling someone the only way to get to Atlanta from North
Carolina is on Interstate 85. What if you were in Murphy, NC. ? You could
actually get there another way before you could drive to I 85 in NC! And what
about the road from where ever you are in NC. to I 85 ? There may be many
routes to take and, with the recent flooding here, looking at a map may or may
not get you anywhere close!
USDA, the Land Grant Institutions, and Extension Service have promoted
"Sustainable Concepts" for a very long time. Look at old publications from the
80's, 70's, 60's, 50's, 40's, 30's, and further. One thing you will find in
common is an emphasis on cultural practices, proper variety selection, tillage
methods to protect soils, fertility based on type of material, timing and plant
needs. Much of this type of information was refined and expanded upon during
the 70's, 80's, and 90's! Verbal bashing of these institutions is closing the
door on potential information that was developed and promoted before most of us
were even born.
One of the bigest problems many farmers seem to have is in not seeking out more
than one source of information. The most successful, however, do seek out and
QUESTION many sources of information through out the year!
There are no answers if there are no questions, only status quo.
On Oct 21, 7:36pm, Andy Lee & Pat Foreman wrote:
> Subject: organic and extension people and university types
> Several postings recently have spent more than enough time bashing
> university types and extension personnel, and it's really a bit unfair to
> tar all with one brush. I'm sure many of us have attended meetings in the
> past couple of years where extension people were taking a leading role in
> introducing sustainable ag practices in their areas. All across the
> country, extension and university types are helping sponsor farm
> diversification conferences, and co-sponsoring small-farm field days.
> Why must we keep attacking the very ones who are trying to help us? If we
> continue to bash these people, who in many cases are small-scale farmers
> themselves, we will further alienate them and drive deeper the wedge between
> the old paradigm and the new. Yes, I know there are those extension and
> university types who are so set in the old ways they will never acknowledge
> us. But, based on my travels through the country over the past two years, I
> am sure there are more positive than negative agents out there, by a huge
> One recent posting to this list even bashed both the extension AND the
> organicists. In response to that message, no, it was not a search for a
> "ego-boost" for organics that brought USDA into the organic certification
> debacle. It had to do with some 44 independent certification agencies being
> in total conflict with one another. What products and techniques one agency
> would certify, another would not. Yes, the USDA has bungled the process
> horribly, partly because of pressure from agri-business and big-business in
> general. But, given the circumstances and the extreme business and personal
> interests involved, it may have been an impossible task from the beginning.
> Perhaps the outcome will be a totally independent agency to handle organic
> certification, and the USDA will fade from the organic scene. An analogy is
> the residential and commercial building industries, that until the early
> 70's had a independent building code in each town or county. You can imagine
> what a mess that created, when each building inspector had a different set
> of rules, and the builder needed to know all of them. That has now been
> replaced by 4 major building codes, one for each of the major bio-regions of
> the country.
> As for the size of the organic industry, I can assure you that any segment
> of agriculture that has billions of dollars in sales each year, and is
> increasing capacity and sales at the rate of 20% per year, is not "meager".
> And, I think research dollars are definitely needed by this emerging
> sustainable agriculture industry. A case in point is the question of
> nutritional value of free range eggs versus conventionally grown eggs. There
> is no scientific answer, because the question has never been addressed in a
> scientific way. All the evidence we have right now is anecdotal, which is
> certainly good enough for me, but doesn't appease the scientists among us.
> This would be an excellent proposal for a SARE grant application. Let's make
> money available to a farmer and a scientist to find out if the free range
> eggs are hype, or are there truly some beneficial properties in these eggs
> that make them worth the price people are willing to pay.
> Finally, I want to point out that when most of us refer to Free Range eggs
> we are in fact talking about the real thing. Unfortunately, the USDA
> definition says the birds have to have access to the out-of-doors. It
> doesn't say from what age, for how many hours per day, or what type of
> "out-of-doors", or what stocking rate per acre, or what type of forage has
> to be available. As a result, a lot of what are called Free Range products
> are not, period. Same thing with organic certification of eggs that come
> from caged or loose housed layers. This is in my opinion a travesty. Just
> because they get fed "certified organic" feed doesn't make the product
> organic if the birds don't have fresh forage, sunshine, exercise, and
> freedom to move around at will. It's just not an organic system unless the
> whole system is organic.
> Andy Lee
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>-- End of excerpt from Andy Lee & Pat Foreman
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