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Organic farming

 
pollinator
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I stumbled upon this article, and found it disturbing.  I wonder how much of it is true.  I also think that if our food was grown and our animals raised organically if they would be more nutrients, causing us to need to eat less.
Article is on technologyreview.com.   Article is  "Sorry organic farming is actually worse for the climate change"
 
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"When Organics Goes Bad"  
 
Jen Fulkerson
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I am far from being an expert, but I watched the video and it seems to me organic is being blamed, but it seems like any type of farming would have similar results.  All crops need water.
I think to some extent things like these are harmful.  Farming no matter how you do it is a very risky business.  I think it has to be so much more than not using chemicals.  So much more must be considered, like water,  not growing a monoculture and many others I probably don't even know.   I wish instead of focusing on the negative there would be more information on what can be done to help organic farming work.  It may be unrealistic of me but I think it can and should be done.
 
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I have a lot of issues with certified organic farming, but not because of how the food is grown, but rather because of the rules that are in place that make it organic.

In short, it should be the shortest farming manual ever..."Grow things without chemicals", but instead it is a 905 page manual that amounts to loopholes for corporate farms so they can get the elevated organic prices...and it is killing the small organic farmer, not helping them.

I just had this conversation with a neighbor who has an organic dairy farm. In the last three years he has really struggled because more and more big dairy farmers have come on board. And that simply comes down to math. Not only does it flood the organic milk market with big ag organic milk, the rules allow for NON_ORGANIC milk to be sold as ORGANIC IF the production is down. Check out the rulebook, it is a loop hole that s included. What the big dairy farms are doing is exploiting the rules. It was designed so that if a small dairy farm has cows that get sick, they can still sell the milk if their production drastically drops, otherwise when a small farmer needs the money the most, they would not have any production causing them to fail. So instead, if they get down to 80% of their normal production, they can substitute non-organic cows to make up the difference...and their farm can survive.

But do the math, if that farmer has 50 cows, that is only 10 non-organic dairy cows pumping out milk.

What the big organic dairy farmer has found is, they can turn their big 5000 cow dairy farm into organic, and yet 1000 cows can be non-organic, and yet still be sold as organic milk. Really what you have is two dairy operations (4000 being organic, and 1000 being non-organic), and yet ALL OF IT is being sold as organic milk and their elevated prices.

So what the National Organic Standards rulebook has ultimately done, is actually make it harder for the small organic farmer to compete. I mean come on, a 1000 cow operation is still a pretty darn big farm!!

It is a double-edged sword. Without rules, anyone and everyone could say their food was organic and there is nothing that can be done about it, but at the same time, establishing standards has allowed people to exploit the rules. I was told that when the NOS came out, but it took a few years for the big farms to realize just how they could cash in on organic farming. It has taken a few years, but the small organic farmer is now being squeezed out.
 
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agree with Travis 100%. Organic represents big money and everyone wants a bite.

These stories coming out against organic (or non GMO, for that matter) seem to come along regularly. Well, sure, if we were to monocrop and spray the crap out of our GMO corn, yields are way higher than if you grow your heirloom sweet corn organically (as many season of losses to the worms have taught me well). More people could be fed, sure. If I am using manual labor to combat weeds instead of roundup, I'm less efficient, and just mathematically I can feed fewer people. But obviously, things are not that simple.

These stories also to me sound so typical of the modern day. Knocking down any potential improvement as impossible, increasing the sense of hopelessness. I'm not sure if the goal is for us to all throw up our hands and go out and buy a case of Twinkies? (i'll be in the garden fighting the corn worms)
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Sad to say, but Corporate America fits us better than United States of America.  
Not that anyone would ever listen to me, but it seems like a contingency put in place to help the small operation should be only for the small operation.  Like if you have I don't know anything about the number of animals, so put an appropriate # in for me. But it seems like the contingency should be  like if you have 500 cows, or less than you can substitute non organic. Seems like a simple fix.  
Unfortunately it seems like the government is doing its best to kill small business of any kind.  My son works for a family business, you should hear some of the ridiculous rules they have to follow.  A four person cooperation.  They work on water pumps etc.  One requirement is to take an hour off for lunch at the office.  No big deal except some of the jobs are hours away.  I don't remember what the loop hole was, but large operations don't have to follow this rule.  We live in California, and it is especially bad here.  It's very sad!
 
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:I am far from being an expert, but I watched the video and it seems to me organic is being blamed, but it seems like any type of farming would have similar results.  All crops need water.



I think that is the point of the video. Some organic farms are no different than conventional farming. The consumer is being duped.

The differences come in when you add organic matter, shading, earthworks, all those things that geoff uses to created sustainable, beyond organic agriculture that does not need water pumped up from the aquifers. That organic farmer is growing in dead dirt. He grows in soil teaming with life.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Tereza Okava wrote:I'm not sure if the goal is for us to all throw up our hands and go out and buy a case of Twinkies?



I think Geoff's goal is to get people interested in permaculture instead of settling for industrial organic.

I buy organic food because I see it as less bad, though not good.  I can't grow all my own food and I don't want to starve.  



 
Tereza Okava
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I think Geoff's goal is to get people interested in permaculture instead of settling for industrial organic.


ha, good point. Geoff has more of a big picture (and, added plus, not the defeatist attitude I was talking about). My snark was more targeting the first article cited.  (https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614605/sorryorganic-farming-is-actually-worse-for-climate-change/ )
 
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there's a huge difference between natural farming and government-approved organic farming.  

One requires we work with what the land has to offer.
The other requires the land change to suit our demands.

I see official "organic" farming as a stepping stone.  It's mildly better than chemical-intense farming but not as good as farming practices that protect and regenerate the soil.  A bit like recycling is good to reduce plastic waste but nowhere near as good as not needing plastic.

Pretty much, I ignore 'organic' farming.  I would much rather focus on ways I can improve the soil and supporting farmers I know that value sustainable (aka, the resource depletion is slower than resource generation - in this case soil fertility and water) farming practices.  
 
Tyler Ludens
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Tereza Okava wrote: My snark was more targeting the first article cited.



I think that article is leaping to the conclusion that the only alternative to chemical farming is industrial organic farming, ignoring all the other "beyond organic" options that, unfortunately, a lot of other people ignore also.  So to me that article is an example of very small thinking inside a tiny box.

 
pollinator
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I do believe Wyoming is the biggest producer of organic wheat. Makes us sound rather idyllic but really the reason no one sprays is because there is so little money and benefit in doing it. I am surrounded by organic wheat fields. You should see how dusty my house is. I swear, I dust. In fact, when my hubs quit his job he rather pompously decided he was going to keep the house way better dusted than I ever did. Guess how long that lasted, a week. The dirt blowing up from all these tilled fields is pretty amazing. I can't imagine how we have any topsoil at all left.

Anyway, that was all of my opinion on it. Travis nailed the rest.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Another thing that bugs me is the "there isn't enough land!" argument which totally ignores all the land that is used for purely decorative gardens that could be growing food (while also being decorative). In the US, lawns and decorative landscaping use more resources than farming does, so there is certainly enough "stuff" available to grow more food.
 
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