Farm Press Blog

It's not just 'industrial ag' that profits handsomely

  • Does whether food was produced conventionally or by organic practices matter to a starving person?



Have you noticed in some cities where folks are planting gardens in their yards? I’m not talking about the well-planned back-yard vegetable garden next to the manicured citrus tree that you can only see if the homeowner invites you back there, but the front-yard garden in neighborhoods that resemble third-world countries because of their dilapidated state of repair.

There is a premise that people can simply produce all the food they need if they would just grow it themselves. We don’t need “industrial agriculture;” we can meet all of our food needs otherwise. Really? Do we want to? What about apartment dwellers?

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Back to the GoodFood World position I referenced in my previous blog that suggests that only organic food is good, GMOs are bad, and industrial food production is bad because companies and people profit from it.

Let’s leave the arguments about organic food and GMOs on the table for another discussion. Instead, let’s look at the premise behind the phrase “industrial agriculture,” or if you like “big agriculture.”

Follow the logic and readers are left to conclude that profit, free markets and the entrepreneurial spirit are also bad. After all, someone made money at someone else’s expense, and that can’t be good, right?

Because the only good food left for America is organic, where pharmaceutical companies don’t play and apparently neither does food processors who also churn a profit, the argument then infers the same thing a child assumes when you try to correct their behavior: “You hate me! I’m a bad person!”

Since most people want approval from their peers, they wind up being shamed into at least tacitly accepting the premise that to eat anything other than organic is to be a bad person.

Since not everyone in America is willing or able to grow a sufficient vegetable garden and raise the kind of protein necessary for a healthy diet without constant trips to the grocery store, someone else is going to have to do that. Why not the good folks touting such premises? After all, they seem to have the knowledge necessary to grow organic, all-natural, non-GMO crops they recommend we all eat.

In the spirit of trashing “industrial agriculture” and the profits they generate, are the promoters of this organic lifestyle going to feed the rest of us and provide us with our non-GMO seeds for free? Have you compared the price of organic food in the store to non-organic food? Somebody’s getting paid for that!

How misguided are the attacks on “industrial agriculture” and the profits of conventional growers when one considers the profit margins built into producing organic fruits, vegetables and various forms of organically-raised protein such as free-range chickens, beef, pigs and organic milk?

My point isn’t to say that organic food production is bad or call for it to not exist anymore. Organic food production is not inherently bad. It obviously has its place in a free market where people willingly pay more for organic food while the farmers who grew it and the rest of the organic food chain profit handsomely from it.


Follow me on Twitter @ToddFitchette

Discuss this Blog Entry 5

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 17, 2014

Another blog from someone with there hand in the pocket of GMO companies. I'm an organic farmer and one thing you might not realize in your fantasy world is that we don't make any more than a conventional farmer. The costs of the food reflect the fact that we pay more for our seed, fertilizer, labor, etc. To then provide a health conscious consumer with food free of Unhealthy chemical residue. Maybe instead of badgering organic we should all support it and as more and more large farms convert we will see prices come down so people can make a health conscious decision instead of a economic one.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 17, 2014

I think that both sides have supporters that are at the extremes. I grow and prefer organic, non gmo, pesticide food for myself and my family food. I also understand that because of a rapidly growing population that standard yields were not going to meet demand. As someone who has watched us, civilization/populations rush from the frying pan into the fire more than once, I think that some fears are worth watching out for. Didn't "we" run from the evils of burning fossil fuels to "cleaner/safer" nuclear energy. Look at what that has caused- 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl and over in Japan. There just needs to be more study and testing done on the GMO subject to determine safety and feasibility as well as sustainability. As someone who's family has been farming for 4 generations in the US, I know that "you", the farmers that plant gmo crops would not do so if you if you felt you were putting your land and families at risk. But be careful with your sources- the companies that are selling you the seeds to plant at a profit or the gov't who has been lying/deceiving/telling half truths to the American public since time began.

on Jan 17, 2014

Todd Fitchette has hit the nail on the head. I am grateful for the so called "industrial agriculture" that has provided us with the highest level of nutrition, the widest available selection of different foods, and the lowest relative prices in all of human history. If people want to pay more for organically grown foods, that is fine with me. That is their choice and right. Some time ago, Harry Cline quoted the rancher who said regarding organic products, "If people want to pay me more for less, I will be happy to sell it to them."

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 17, 2014

When is ag going to sing the same song? Producers have a huge responsibility to feed the masses. Profit is a driving force but the risk involved is huge. By the way, the largest 'conventional' producers are also some of the largest 'organic' producers. To be profitable in these days of increasing regulation you almost have to be 'big' to spread the overhead. Demand should be the driving force to the type of food people eat. let's get over it and get along.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 24, 2014

I am a small farmer that has no gripe with competing with large farms, except where the large farms with their access to cheap Wall Street money that has no long term interest and only wants profits and to hell with small farms or long term commitments to sustaining the land. The consolidation of all productive farm land in the hands of a few banisters is not the right model.

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