> Response to Friend James: The point is not to ensure that everyone
> competes evenly. It is to question why the preference for bigness.
> One could just as reasonably ask why France and some other EEC
> nations have preferentially favored small farmers. We may find it
> silly, quaint, and perhaps even worthy of ridicule - but is our
> opposite approach any more rational or defensible? That is the point
> I am making.
I guess I didn't state my point well. My point is that size may make a
difference, but any farmer who goes head to head with an opponent who has
an advantage is foolish. Let me put it another way. It seems to me some
people are arguing that big and small farmers should both make a living
growign corn. I disagree. I think some farmers can make good money
growing corn, some can make money with a truck garden, and the wise
farmer does the things that are advantageous.
The small to medium farmer who thinks he can raise chickens in
competition with Tyson is fooling himself. That same farmer might make
money raising organic chickens,but the market risk is quite high.
I don't believe that small farmers are the victim of some plot to
bigness. I think small farmers are a victim of failing to adapt. If the
same farmer operated a laundormat no one would be sorry for him if he
refused to offer window service, or special storage, or furs handling or
whatever laundromats do to stay in business.
Government favors bigness for a very simple reason. It's much easier to
regulate or accomodate bigness. It's standard. Big government, big
business, and big labor all are very happy bedfellows.
If I understand our mutal positions right, our main disagreements are
on point of size and how you assign value to an enterprise. I hear you
saying that size should not be an advantage. I say size is only a factor
if people with unequal opportunities are in the same business. If I
decided to make cars, the size of General Motors would be a factor. So,
if size is the decisive factor, it is my opinion that one party is in the
wrong enterprise and they're probably in it because they don't know to
change, are afraid to change, or can't afford to change. We should
address those items rather than the size.
Between my wife and I and our banker, money is at the bottom. If we
don't make enough, we lose the farm. Assigning societal values to parts
of the operation that don't generate a cash flow can lead to pursuing
priorities that are counter-productive because you lose the farm.
Sustainable agriculture must be economically viable. The farmer needs to
choose a product that will provide a living. Size is not the major issue
in this. Government policy slows down reaction and adaption by making
"big" crops viable to people who should be doing something else. Little
people trying to grow big crops overstress the ground. They should be
doing things that are more integrative and sustainable.
Too many farmers that I know want you to give them a good living doing
what they want to do, rather than earn a living growing what you need and
are willing to pay for.
Rational farm policy is hampered by this coddling and by myths about
rural life that aren't true.
Small farmers in France and Japan are potent political forces. Much more
than in the US. That is a major reason they are supported so well.