Monday, August 24, 2009

Against Industrial Farming (?)

. Monday, August 24, 2009

A few weeks ago, I posted an article in defense of industrial farming and hoped that it would spark some discussion about agriculture policy. There wasn't much, but here's one article from an "agri-intellectual". He doesn't rebut much of the first piece, instead trying to reframe the discussion:

I’ve said for a while that I see three big challenges for the sustainable-food movement as it scales up: 1) soil fertility—in the absence of synthesized nitrogen and mined phosphorous and potassium, how are we to build soil fertility on a larger scale?; 2) labor—sustainable farming requires more hands on the ground; who’s going to work our farm fields, and at what wages?; and 3) access—in an economy built on long-term wage stagnation, how can we make sustainably grown food accessible to everyone?

Hurst’s essay begins to engage these questions—sort of. I don’t have the time or energy right now to take it on point by point. But I will say that the discussion would be much richer if he acknowledged a few serious questions about the industrial-farming model he champions.


The rest of the response is mostly about climate change, which is also a major concern for "scaling up" sustainable farming, and worries about "ecological blowback". As are yields, of course, and costs. In short, the response was disappointing. Some of the comments are better, tho.

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Against Industrial Farming (?)
 
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