Monday, December 3, 2007

Agriculture Supported by Customers— not by the Government

George Vojkovich
and a side order
from Skagit River Ranch

If you become complacent about the quality and the source of your food, you won't have the choices we have today. And with industrial organic, we barely have any access at all to animal products and produce cultivated under proper conditions. As the demand for organic increases, we find more and more ways to reduce the quality in order to increase the profit until the word organic becomes meaningless. The Farmer's Market isn't just a way to salvage nutrient density, it's a way to preserve the wisdom in the natural order of things that defies mass production and for very good reasons. When I was buying eggs on Saturday, I asked George if I could reprint this post from his website:

It is said by year 2020, we will have 1.2 billion more people in the world. Yet, do you know in 2005, the world produced less food for human consumption than it did in 1984? The agricultural productivity is going down, not up. Why? Two thirds of the natural resources in the world are used up. Our past ignorance and greed are destroying the plant support system; ocean, rivers, forest, atmosphere and lakes. I am convinced more than ever that if we are to have a future for our children, we all have to grow “nutrient dense” food through sustainable, non-toxic farming that would produce more yield than the conventional method. There was a sustainable system of agriculture called “Terra Preta” that supported millions of people in Brazil before the mid-16th century. “Sustainable” farming is nothing new, and will work for us today if we try. Economically, spiritually and environmentally, food must be produced sustainably if we expect to leave this earth in tact for our future generations, and the right choices must be made today.

Sadly, here is the U.S. agricultural policy in a nutshell. You hear politicians talk about the Farm Bill? The Farm Bill was supposed to protect farmers, but it actually hurts small farmers like us. Each year, something like $24 billion goes to subsidize farms in the mid-west that grow corn for a few Mega Agri corporations. 75% of the U.S. agriculture is raising feed corn (and now ethanol) in the mid-west. Now that the corn price doubled in 2006, these farmers are making the biggest profits ever. They need no subsidies, but with government’s free flowing money, secured by the powerful agri-corporations, they have no incentives to change their chemical driven farming methods to more sustainable, less harmful ways. Their subsidized feed is so cheap-- “below” cost of production, making it impossible for small farmers like us to compete on a level playing field. Now we, west coast farmers are now competing not only with foreign countries, but also with subsidized U.S. farms. So how do we survive?

The only way that I can think of is to have customers who understand the situation, share the same desire to make this earth a little better place for our children, and are willing to pay the higher price for clean, locally & sustainably grown organic food. When I was listening to Michael Pollan speak about his new book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” last fall, he said that where we spend our “food” dollars is not yet regulated by the government while everything else seems to be. And he is right. As a tax payer, I don’t have a right to prevent my tax dollars going to big Agri-corporations without going to jail. But the government won’t arrest you for supporting a farmer like me through your purchases. So, Eiko and I thank you, all of our faithful customers, for your support and making this style of farming possible.

Here is the newest article by Michael Pollan on “Farm Bill”…. Please read it and tell others… Nobody can explain it better than he can .