Future of Agriculture in US

southeast, NE

My dd is majoring in Agriculture Education. I actually find it kind of scary. I try to remain positive and she loves working with kids and I know she will make a good teacher.

After reading the posts on Genetically Modified food, I am wondering what are you thinking about the the future of agriculture (good and bad)?

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Stan and I were talking about this yesterday at dinner. He has a very pessimistic outlook, he thinks that it will come to the point where large global corporations will provide gm seeds, animals and feed and the farmer will own nothing, grow only what he is told to grow and the public will have only industrially raised food to buy.

I asked him what he thought about those of us who are doing it the old-fashioned way, and he said we won't exist. I was pretty bummed hearing this from the man who has declared himself as the last small farmer standing when all of the selling off of our neighbors is done. we've watched kids that went to school with our kids sell off and it's discouraging to think that as we head into our 50s that we are still on the "young" side of the average age of farmers! There are still a good number of small farms in this area, but the annual spring sale season hasn't started yet, and we know of more than a couple who are in trouble.

Makes you wonder if there is anything we can do, and if after all the hard work, if what we have done has made a difference. Ah, well, at least I know my children know how to survive when the tough times come and that they are and will teach their children how to raise an animal and grow a garden and all the other self-sufficient lessons that they learned growing up here. I guess there isn't much else you can do.

Kathleen

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Well, my DH and I are planning to spit in the wind, then.

We're in the 3 year count down to leaving the city, suburbs and craziness and move to the country. DH wants to spend a year appreticing on a farm before we actually purchase our own - we're two years away from that - and it seems like forever! Hopefully, with the land/home prices here in CA, we hope to be able to sell our home and buy close to 100 acres out of the state. As organic and low-till as we can get away with, with a small heard of cows, a few pigs - raise our own feed as much as possible, and use good pasture rotation management. Can it be done? Well, we're going to bet that it can.

We're both hard workers, hard headed, and like a challenge (the only thing tougher than a Marine is... his wife!). Hopefully we're also smart, have good luck and good neighbors who can help us when we stumble!

Philadelphia, PA(Zone 6b)

I think science and big business will take over agriculture, leaving the small farmer as a financially-burdened hobby enthusiast, sadly to say. Geez, I'm already seeing ads/news for cloning your dead pet..what will this world come to next..test tube corn?
Trish

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Trish - it's already there!
K.

Chatham-Kent, ON(Zone 6a)

Agriculture has been gutted due to consistently LOW COMMODITY PRICES for the last 50+ years . There is just no decent economic return to be had unless you can find that odd NICHE product to grow . The Euro Taxpayers subsidize their farmers so they can live / survive on a 25 acre farm ....that is totally crazy .....no TAXPAYERS should have to subsidize us farmers . The wholesale purchasers of grain just need to share the profits properly ; if it takes legislation for this to occur so be it . I will continue to operate as the small hobby farmer on our 78 acre family farm until I die . There is little $$$$ return , but it is the greatest place to live in the world.

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Kathleen, I hope Stan is wrong but I think he's probably right.

Maybe all farmers need the read 'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand for an epiphany of their real power. Who is John Galt? (I know the answer)

P2

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Pete2,

He hopes he's wrong too, but the evidence keeps building in that direction.

John Galt - I should know this, I'll have to get back to you.
Katleen

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Did you read the book, Kathleen? That's one of my favorite books of all time. That reminds me. I need to read it again. It's been a couple of years since the last time I read it. It sure does seem to fit in nicely with what we're talking about...the producers (givers) and the non-producers (takers) of the world. It sure would be nice if everyone would wake up to the truth just like they did in the book.

Terri

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

You got me - that one I haven't read. Too much time in the poetry section. I have a MA in Creative Writing : Poetry, but a Literature challenged public school education. Long story - no bachelors degree, sneaked in with some "life experience" credits! I'll check it out (literally!) and get back to you.
Kathleen

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

'Atlas Shrugged' sure wasn't required reading in high school or college but I think it should be. That book had such a profound effect on me. It really did. I read it for the first time when I was in my 20's and have read it over and over again ever since. It's the kind of book that you pick up on something new each time you read it. It's quite thick. In paperback, it's about 3 inches thick. No kidding! The beginning of the book is kind of slow but stay with it. Pretty soon it takes off and then you're hooked and can't put it down. Ayn Rand wrote it in the 1940's which is truly amazing. It's almost like she could look into the future and see how things are today. It's the 2nd greatest book I've ever read. The Bible is 1st. :)

Terri

southeast, NE

If you want to see a good example of people wanting "perfect" food and, in my opinion, what is wrong with our grocery buying public, check out the following post called "blood in eggs" at the following site:

http://www.thathomesite.com/forums/cooking/

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Jewel,
Makes you want to cry - Good Lord, blood in eggs and meat!! Where do they think that stuff comes from???????

Kathleen

I thought that red stuff that collects in my plate of rare steak was some kind of juice inserted by the meat processing company. Blood!!!?!?!

You mean my steak actually came from an animal, that is now dead and I AM EATING IT!!?

;-)

Philadelphia, PA(Zone 6b)

Better yet..we eat our chicken's fresh eggs here. My friends and family reply..you eat those...ewwwwwwww. I'd rather buy them in the store!...go figure.
Trish

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Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

I've been known to purposely freak people out by saying, while munching on a lovely steak, "Boy, Cocoa sure is a good one!" I have one friend who loves our dairy beef, but says if I tell her supper's name she'll, well, never mind what she said she'd do. Suffice it to say I don't tell her names anymore!

Kathleen

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

LOL

Knowlesville, NY

A rule on our farm--pets get cute names, farm animals get food names. We recently butchered 3 chickens by the names of Crispy, Tasty, and McNugget :)
Scott

Knowlesville, NY

Chooch
Keep fighting the good fight on your farm! The greatest loss in all of this mess seems to be the farm community. That close-knit, locally interdependent network of farm families is gone.
Scott

Hamburg/Pinnebog, MI(Zone 6a)

The future of farming is going to be in big trouble for awhile and then eventually come back to reality just like in Russia, but until then we are going to have to learn the hard way. If you listen to the economists they celebrate the following statistics (1910 - $1.00 spent on food, 41 cents went to the farmer,59 cents to marketers and input providers combine. In 1997 - 9 cents went to the farmer, 91 cents went to marketers and input providers combine)because fewer farmers can grow more food at a lower price. But the real costs have been the decline of once vibrant rural communities and the increased dependency on far-off,profit goal oriented sources. We forget that the price for never-ending economic growth and material prosperity has been spiritual and social impoverishment,psychological insecurity and loss of cultural vitality.
In case you didn't know 1.5 out of every 4 fruits & vegetables distributed in today's systems never make it to the consumer's table,because it spoils during shipment or on grocery-store shelves.
Agriculture today is set on a disaster course around the world,just like the 1800's Irish potato famine,we're doing the same thing except on a world wide scale. Eager to find superspecies that can resist pests and microbial enemies,farmers are relying on dwindling numbers of carefully designed seed species. These monocultures are genetically stable which means that each seed grows into fruits and vegetables similar in size,color,taste. these crops enable farmers to achieve ever-larger yields at lower costs so today's farmers and economists are being blinded by short-term success. but while these crops remain the same,year after year, pests and disease are mutating,evolving,catching up and spreading. The dangers of monoculture farming though will never be reflected in the free-market before it's too late,
it will not be until one or two monocultures fail on a massive scale,causing millions to die, before we realize what we have done to ourselves.
Please vigorously promote and support local agriculture! there are bright spots out there,but more consumers need to continue to prefer food grown,raised,processed,packaged and sold by LOCAL farmers and communites. If you want/need suggestions please contact me for more info. or I might post them here if its ok!

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Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

It's too bad that we NEVER learn from history, inspite of the old quote about those who don't being destined to repeat it. I've used the Russian farming system failure a couple of times in comparison with the present direction that American farming is headed in and I get angry denial back. I'm told that even thinking that is unAmerican. I think not thinking that is just plain stupid. We are being sold out for efficiency and the bottom line and there are many things in which those two goals are counterproductive, farming and medicine immediately coming to mind.

I an NOT saying that progress should be halted or ignored, but I think we should consider whether progress is really necessary or good in each case. Just because we can do something, doesn't necessarily mean the we should.

Kathleen

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New Paris, OH

Any one here read Acres USA, the magazine for ecoagriculture? It has a lot of discussion about the future of farming and a lot about where farming has been. basically it has been taken over by corporations whoi could care less about the farmers as long as the food keeps coming. if farmer's won't farm machines will. Everything about farming today is about profit and efficency. The farmer is just one element in the cog and not worthy of profit sharing. Soon the American farmer may well be replaced bu both robotics and third world cheap labor.

I hope the future of agriculture will include consumers that know and care where their food comes from and how it was grown but for now that citizen is a real rarity. Did you know that US citizens spend under 10% of their income on food and over 12% on health care?

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