Re: Help Please@ Wheaties:Farmer 5,Tiger Wood

From: tom abeles (tabeles@tmn.com)
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 11:43:40 EST


This seems to have started with Roberto, who is in the Philippines and finally
responded to by Laura who is on the faculty/staff at the University of Wisconsin-
a spread in distance and cultures, even in a wired world.

Roberto's premise was that a farmer should grow his/her own food to hedge against
low commodity prices and still have security with food to eat. The issue across
cultures is complex and not straight forward, but worth pursing for global
understanding.

1) In the United States, most farmers have a large amount of debt against the
land and the equipment. And they borrow money to pay for the inputs for the farm
operation. One might suggest that some are essentially indentured to the bankers.
Growing food becomes a non issue when the note comes due at the end of the year
and more money is needed for the following year regardless whether or not one had
a garden and a pig or cow for food or hunted deer for supplemental meat.

2) A survey of farmers in the eastern part of the US showed that they wanted to
have the same food that city mouse was able to get- this included frozen foods,
fast food and fresh strawberries in winter. In essence, the wired world has
created a demand across cultures whether it is city mouse/country mouse in the US
or folks in Manila eating at McDonalds.

3) Because of current pricing, food in the US supermarket is often cheaper than
the cost/hour for a person to plant the same food and preserve it. The purchased
food can even be imported- So the market distorts food prices- cheap food is
needed for the urban areas and filters to the rural areas in the US, particularly
in regional centers with "Big Box" super markets

The situation outside of the US may be different and it would be interesting to
exchange ideas on this so that we can see how farmers, globally operate and deal
with the pressures of consumption, ownership and management.

thoughts?

tom abeles

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