Roberto Verzola wrote:
> At what scale of operation, roughly, would you say herbicide use
> becomes really necessary? (Perhaps one comment might be such scale of
> farming isn't itself ecologically sustainable anymore...)
That's exactly it. Scale is an important part of sustainable. The current
thinking is bigger is better and that we need to replace human labor with
machines and chemicals. This has led to food corporations integrating from
the farm to the store, leaving the former farmers as machine operating and
chemical spraying employees. We can't have all those independent operators
out there demanding a living wage! ;>)
Farms of the size that can be operated without these toxins vary in size
accrding to the skill of the farmer, soil, crops... The size I call "human
scale." Gene Logsdon wrote a wonderful essay on this called "Get Small or
Get Out" for "New Farm" magazine some years ago. He talks about the
flexibility and multi-use facilities of small farms.
> If herbicides are toxic to human, to soil life and presumably other
> animals, they obviously don't fit the ecological sustainability
> criterion. However, they might fit - by your description - the
> financial viability criterion (for which some people use the word
> "sustainability" too) although they do it by passing on certain costs
> to others (ie, externalizing them).
And there's the other part. We keep trying to say that farms need to match
the economic criteria of banks and other corporations. Return On Investment
seems to be the measuring stick for economic sustainability. Why invest in a
farm that returns an ROI of 2% when trading stocks or playing the commodities
market can get you 10-20%? The problem with holding an economic
sustainability standard up to farming is that it's not parallel to banking
We, as a culture, need to recognize clean food air and water as given rights
and honor and support those who preserve these ideals. And redirect those
who abuse these basic rights of us all. That means ecological farms should
be supported by the community, not the other way around. We "externalize"
costs because we're trying to justify our pillage of our natural resources.
We hold ecological farms to every cost in the name of "sustainability" and
ignore the real "cost" of toxic agriculture and industries.
> I also find interesting your note that MOST extension programs require
> the use of Roundup to participate. I wonder if others can confirm that
> this is truly the case, as I find it an amazing example of the biased
> context under which organic farmers work, which subsidizes
> anti-ecological farming but makes life very difficult for organic
> farmers. I wonder what is the ratio (say in dollar terms) of extension
> programs that require Roundup to programs that require organic
> methods? Any idea?
That may have been a misstatement on my part. What IS true as that most of
these programs require some chemical use, including Roundup and manufactured
fertilizers. And a great point about the subsidy of toxic agriculture by the
Ag institutions by you. They put their money where their mouths are, or
should I say they put their mouths where their money is.
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at:
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Jul 03 2000 - 12:00:38 EDT