Saturday, April 17, 2010

All food producers should be respected

It really disturbs me that there is a tendency to bifurcate the agricultural world into bad farmers and good farmers. This mostly occurs amongst food commentators, not so much amongst actual farmers. The attention that is being placed on agriculture is a wonderful thing.
I hope that out of all of this attention a new generation of food producers will be born who will command the respect of their peers and who will help to shape a new culture that respects the land, each and every acre of it. I look forward to this new culture that is in love with the land and the ocean again. I hope that an innovative spirit will be brought to the practical questions of how we derive the most basic necessities from our natural environment sustainably and fairly. I dream of a day that we will see large numbers of highly productive and diverse farms on a human scale that can provide a good living for farmers.
I hope that farming becomes very, very cool. Even beyond that I hope that farmers become regular people again and not the slightly quaint folk that we are considered today. It is a deeply satisfying and incredibly challenging way of life. And however you manage to do it, if you can make it work, then it should be respected. Because whatever kind of farmer you are, at whatever scale, you will only make it work if you very accurately assess the place where you are farming, the resources that are available, the technology that is most appropriate, the presence and capacity of processing infrastructure and distribution channels, and not least, the audience for your product - your market, your consumers. Any farming operation has to be an accurate reflection of what is and what might be.

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