Sunday, November 17, 2013

David vs. Goliath

In one corner of Agriculture, you have the huge industrial farms, cranking out animal products with little care or concern for their well-being.  There are the “pesticide pushers” and “anti-biotic pumpers” making more, more, more processed food that they are forcing on the populace.

In the other corner, you have the bucolic small farm, where the animals frolic happily in ever green pastures, man and nature are always perfectly balanced so that there is never so much as a whiff of a chemical and nothing (not even a bug) is ever harmed.

Wait a minute!

Just who writes this crap?  
(okay, I did...only because I am trying to make a point)  

But, there are people who actually believe this kind of stuff. 

They think it's an "all or nothing" kind of deal.

From another perspective …

The big farms are the most efficient, effective portion of agriculture.  Utilizing the very best in science, technology, machinery and man-power (woman-power, too) they make it possible for approximately 1½ to 2% of the population to feed the rest of us…and the world, for that matter. Big Ag is the only way to go.

Small farms, on the other hand, are just hobby farms…couldn’t ever make a living from that little bit of nothing…totally inefficient and of course their prices are ridiculous!

Now, just a dag-gone minute, folks! 

I am so tired of hearing “small, sustainable, family farms” bash the “big guys”.  

And, I get just a little more than irritated when some of those in “big Ag” refer to us as an Air-quote farm. You need to read this!

Here’s the real deal.

Large farms across this nation are an integral part of our economy, our way of life, as well as the source of our food, fuel and fiber that make up the fabric of our daily lives.  For those who think they could make it without farmers…think again! It’s a great (and very necessary) thing that there are farms that can send out tractor trailer loads of corn, soybeans, wheat, cattle, tomatoes, carrots, milk…and so on.

But, the small farms (like us) are important, too. Diversity of farms allows us all the freedom to make very personal choices when it comes to our food. While I am certain that if we shut down tomorrow no one would miss us, (oh,I know some of our customer-friends would be sad for a while, but they have to eat…so they’d find someone else and get over the loss) the very fact that we offer something different is important.

As direct-marketing farmers, we are on the front-line of the food debate and discussion.  We have to be educated on the food concern issues of the day, we have to make that connection with the consumer, we have to be articulate and thoughtful and engaged or we don’t make the sale…and we would have no income.

I know we can learn a lot about science and technology and farming practices from those “big guys” out there. (we have on a number of occasions) But, the human connection that is so essential to the small farm’s success is one that larger operations often overlook.  I honestly think that large operations could learn a little from the “little guys” about connecting with the public and putting their minds at ease.

Size is not a determining factor of good/bad.  Every farm is working to be sustainableFamilies are the backbone of all types of farming. And…Industry refers only to A specific branch of manufacture and trade”. It has nothing to do with belching smoke-stacks and those horrifying factory farming images. (perhaps a few vocabulary lessons are in order)

No, it shouldn’t be David vs. Goliath.  It should be David AND Goliath. Did you read this one?

Mammoth farms and minuscule farms (and every size in between) are all essential to the food choices that we all take for granted.  There is a place for everyone.

And, while I would be the last person to ever suggest that we all hold hands and sing Kum-ba-ya, we (the various factions of Ag) do need to work at getting along and educate the folks who have no idea what farming (of any kind) entails. Because, it isn’t that the public doesn’t KNOW their farmer anymore…for the most part they don’t even know A farmer.

It’s up to us to gently (and truthfully)educate them…together.

…and a note to consumers…don’t be so quick to believe all the David vs. Goliath rhetoric. It’s hurtful and divisive and quite often not factual.

 Link up with Holly Spangler here.

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  1. Thanks! A sane approach to this debate. I think all of us with this point of view need to become more vocal before the 2% who are very vocal convince the general public that most of the food we eat will kill us.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Farmer Sam!
      You are right that we need to become more vocal. Have you visited the Blogging for Agriculture page on Facebook? There are over 200 blogs listed there!
      While I honestly don't think we can eradicate the fear-mongering marketing that is so prevalent today, it is encouraging to see so many folks willing to share their stories and grant access to those who have no real experience with the business of growing food.
      Thank again ...and have a great day!