While We’re Out Enjoying the Farmers Market

Du Pont has more than 800 salespeople out helping farmers improve their yields – with genetically engineered seeds and industrial chemicals. As the Des Moines Register headlines it: In hard times, chemical industry is buoyed by agricultural need.

I didn’t put help in ironic quotes because Dupont’s reps are also offering expensive technology like satellite imaging analysis, something that is genuinely helpful when you’re managing thousands of acres.

The thing that rankles my curd is that farmers aren’t getting more of these benign aids from the government. High tech can support sustainability as easily as it can be a chemical marketing tool.

Given that many independent farmers are currently busting their gonads growing commodity crops to be sold at prices they cannot control, it’s no wonder they make common cause with international agrifactories, lobbying hard for loose regulation, subsidies and mandated corn ethanol.

Without these dubious supports the independents might well go under. A gross income of $250,000 sounds like a lot of money, but it isn’t if you’re spending $190,000 of it on land rental, equipment, labor and, of course, bio-engineered seed and agricultural chemicals.

Who’s getting rich?

” Three guesses,” as my sister used to say, “the first two don’t count.”

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  • ruralway Said,

    LL-There seems to be a lot of dialog recently about big Ag. Specifically Monsanto and their efforts to control ‘organic’ farming through legislation mandating the use of specific fertilizers, farmers in India killing themselves because the promises of genetically engineered seeds not only did not pan out but put said farmer in so much debt that they saw suicide as the only way out. Microchipping ALL farm animals even if you only have two or three all in the name of food safety. It makes me want to scream. Taking a deep breath and taking a step back, I see corporations maneuvering themselves to control the most basic aspects of our lives (seeds, food) to in turn control us. I don’t like it at all. What to do about it and how to fight it is a lengthy discussion for another time. I’m wondering… As you have land in the Catskills are you up to speed on natural gas development in our region and what that all means? I met the publisherof the River Reporter over the weekend at a gas-drilling seminar-she seems to be getting the word out.

  • leslie Said,

    Hi there, RW, thanks for weighing in.

    I’m sure you’re right – There IS a lot of dialog — or rather a lot of speculation and worry and ranting and greenwashing and assorted. Not as much genuine, civilized back and forth as would be good, given the extremely complex, hugely important problems that cry out for immediate attention.

    Being an economic determinist, I don’t think big corporations want to control us, btw. I think they just want all of our money – and to be sure we don’t control THEM in their pursuit of it.

    a lengthy discussion for another day – as you say.

    meanwhile, I’m afraid I’m not really up to speed about the natural gas developments. (We’re well south of the epicenter, and on the east side of the river, practically in CT.) Always good to hear word’s getting out, though (http://www.riverreporter.com). An awful lot of big ticket changes in our environment get permission to proceed before anyone notices and then of course it’s too late.

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