>> I think they are considered expendable by the public who
>> want cheap food and do not want to subsidize farmers.
> I think this is where we disagree about what it's all about.
> The public does not want "cheap food", the public wants tasty,
> healthy quality food at reasonable prices....
I don't think we disagree very much about that, although we probably
disagree about the general quality of food in the market. I believe typical
food in the supermarket is inexpensive in a historical sense, and the
quality strikes me as good in general.
> Corporate agriculture reduces everything to the yardstick of $$.
> "Quality" means standardized to fit into industrial processes.
I toured a sweet corn cannery, and a frozen food processor a few years ago.
I got the feeling they were very quality conscious (quality in the sense of
flavor and wholesomness). The (industrial) vegetable breeders I know are
always working on improved flavor, color and vitamin content. The only
obvious quality problem I regularly see in the supermarket is poor quality
fruit from picking too green.
> They want a "global food system" where you don't know anything about
> what's in what you eat, just buy the stuff.
The important effect of the global food system is the creation of a market
power asymmetry, in which growers tend to get the short end of the stick.
> The public *is* willing to 'subsidize' farmers, that is, to
> pay the necessary, fair price for tasty, healthy, quality
> food grown under ecologically sane and socially just conditions.
This kind of "subsidy" does not work well because the price commanded by
value added in the form of enhanced quality tends to be captured by larger
entities in the system who have more market power than the farmer.
The public in the US and Canada decided several years ago to eliminate
direct subsidies. Now both countries are backtracking because farmers are
hurting so bad. Rather than this oscillatory behavior, it might be better
to keep some level of direct subsidy in place for the long term. Isn't this
what they do in Europe and Japan?
> I don't think decommodifying grain will do the trick. We need to
> decommodify farming, especially farmland. It should all be put in
> trust and leased cheap to people who agree to farm it sustainably.
Private land ownership may be an incentive to take care of the land.
Putting management decisions in the hands of a centralized bureaucracy to
make sure they "farm it sustainably" might be a mistake.
An alternative approach would be formation of cooperatives to gain market
power. This might be more feasible than it used to be due to: a) the
smaller number of farmers b) efficient, inexpensive communication.
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