I have before me a recent issue of a dairy publication that I still take despite trading in my rubber boots for.....rubber boots.....some years ago. This particular publication is old and respected. I particularly enjoy reading the articles that highlight how a small group of individual farms handle various management challenges that come along in any sort of farm business. But my blog today isn't about any of that.
The editorial in this magazine exhorts the dairy industry to address some of the rhetoric put forth by some of the organic buying groups operating in the US. Fair enough, some of it needs to be addressed and frankly some of it very much is rhetoric. But the lengthy part of the editorial that stated "If we all followed this mantra then food prices would rise and more of the world would go hungry and this would be a bad thing" got my goat today
Let me state right here that I won't be signing up to drink Kool-Aid with either the editorial staff at this magazine or with anyone in the organic industry any time soon. I also don't want anybody to go to bed hungry. But the irony of their statement is that a few pages before the editorial in the very same issue of this magazine is a page long article comparing dairy farm numbers from 1992 and last year entitled, " Fewer Dairy Farms Left the Business". In the past twenty years the number of dairy farms in this nation has shrunk by 61 percent. Having participated in said industry for a number of years and in a number of ways I can state with some assurance that the reason for such a precipitous decline is that there isn't much money milking cows.
My first duty as a farmer isn't to feed the world and it isn't to worry about folks going to bed hungry. It's to run my business in such a way that that I provide a good living for my wife and family so I don't have to worry about *them* going to bed hungry. As such, higher farm gate milk prices would be very welcome were I to decide to start milking cows.
To read that continuing to produce cheap food is exactly what needs to happen in a farm driven, farmer read magazine where the potential readership has declined by 60 percent in the past twenty years mainly due to economic conditions tells me all I need to know about the writer. I don't know who's side he's on but it sure ain't mine. In my mind the cheap food cult in agribusiness is as anti-farmer as they come. I wonder if we really would be better off if we ditched industrial agriculture and tried a different route.
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