by Brewster Frusher, BS Agriculture – Sustainable Plant Systems 2014
I want to have a small farm of my own: this month, I completed a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in sustainable agriculture; I have no aversion to rising before the sun and falling after it; I have had a job throughout my time in school and have farmed the last two summers. Despite my efforts, my dream of having my own farm seems more and more like a fantasy.
Like most humans, I was not born into a family with wealth or land. When I hear fellow students talk about their family’s 500, 1000, 2000 acres of soy and corn, I become frustrated. Not at them or their families necessarily, but at the system that has contributed to this centralization of wealth and land.
Like all expensive innovations, Green-Revolution technologies such as Genetically Modified (GM) seed, chemical inputs and the fuel needed to operate over large tracts of land, have centralized wealth and land holdings while further marginalizing the less fortunate. Those who have the money to adopt new technologies see greater profits and expand their land holdings to further increase production and wealth. Those not born into wealth are left out as land prices increase.
Green-revolution technologies incentivize large-scale monocultures and mechanization. These inherent characteristics of the Green Revolution leave our food supply vulnerable to both disease and increases in the price of energy, respectively. It is the dependency on a smaller number of farmers, crops and energy sources that necessitate a change in our food system.
Supporting smaller, local, more diversified farms will lead to an increasing number of smaller, local, more diversified farms, building a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable food system. The article linked below examines some of these issues at the global scale.
This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor