Fed Farmers Need to Flush in some new Thinking

If the speech summary of Federated Farmers President Katie Milne is anything to go by, the farming lobby group needs a bit of radical thinking. Ms Milne effectively laid down a challenge to the government to allow land use to continue as before.  No change. “This is what we do.  There is no other way.”  All our past senseless Lincoln-borne industrial maximise-production mediocrity, where each failure is rationalised using selected metrics as justification to stay on the treadmill.

Stagnant pond Fed Farmers

Katie Milne’s rhetoric was wrapped up in clichés of “certainty,” “properly thought through,” “solid evidence,” “sound analysis” and “the business of farming.”  Many of us bridle at those so-often poorly thought through, unsound and empty phrases.  And life isn’t certain.  We can either delude ourselves that it is and strive to develop some soulless machine of perfect fragility – or we build those capacities that make us resilient within our communities, enterprises and farm landscapes.  Resilient to inevitable change; the drought, the flood, the fertiliser price leap, the commodity price crash.

Resilience and scope are the new paradigms, replacing fragile commodity and the delusion of factory scale efficiencies.

Her comments that the government’s recent decision not to permit mining on DoC land as “a surprise announcement and policy made on the hoof,” beggars belief.  If that comes as a surprise, so I would presume will be the next drought.

The currently prevalent view dominating all the discussion within land use is to make us all cogs of course; all ‘efficient’ producers of lots and lots of cheap stuff on bigger and bigger land holdings run like corporate businesses, processed though large centralised factories, to “feed the world.”  And, naturally, without having to worry about things like water pollution, climate change or the effects of those trends on community and local economy.  The mechanical construct will support the delusion of certainty.

Let the treadmill keep spinning, ever faster.  Never think of getting off.

Where does “evidence-based” fit within that particular model?  There is no ‘objective’ framework outside a particular worldview, a paradigm gold fish bowl where the fish don’t see the water within which they swim.  If Katie Milne’s comments are anything to go on, Federated Farmers are still very much in the economies of scale, cheap production paradigm dominated by corporate and colonial thought.  With all land rightfully open to extractive practices — including DoC – so never mind building creativity and realising a world where healthy commerce, community and environment can co-exist.

Federated Farmers need to change their water.  The stagnant backwater of thought over which they preside is part of the reason their membership is dropping.  They do not represent the viewpoints of all farmers, for which we ought to be eternally grateful.

Their corporate view of farming is a culture in crisis.  It isn’t working. We face vulnerabilities in our markets and our business structures because discerning markets want safe, quality food.  Our farms are aggregating, farm families are leaving, real prices are in long-term decline, our large processors lack imagination, we marginalise the ‘scope’ within our landscape systems, the potential of our marketing structures, the creativity of our people and the value potential of our processing chains.  A focus on scale ‘efficiencies’ destroys our potential to reduce costs, increase enterprise options and provide the market narrative to dictate a premium price.

In the light of our potential future, Ms Milne’s comments that “there are very limited mitigation measures farmers could take,” is very far off the mark. Let us be specific.  A farm can mitigate green house gases by reducing energy inputs particularly of nitrogenous fertilisers – many of which are at levels far above optimum profit and risk – and by building soils, establishing wetlands and adding woodlands.  We can do this for climate change and make more profit and lower risks and lower costs and increase enterprise potential and enhance the environment and provide the narrative for market premiums.  Think scope, not scale. Think systems, not machines.  Think knowledge intensive, not energy intensive. Think soil systems, not hydroponics.

Of course, many will see that as “not what we do,” perhaps even a bit hippy or greenie.

And that is the problem.  New ideas that fundamentally challenge the structure of that faith in the “feed the world ever cheaper” mythology, with all its wariness of a tree or a wetland spoiling the monochromatic symmetry of grass, are marginalised.

It is not the potential within our agricultural landscapes and enterprises that is limiting, it is the dominant mindset within land use that we must only think and act as we have always done.

Accepting a little uncertainty would go a long way.

 

Chris Perley
Thoughtscapes

Chris Perley is an affiliated researcher at Otago University’s Centre for Sustainability with a governance, research, management and policy background in provincial economies, rural communities and land use strategy.

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20 Responses to Fed Farmers Need to Flush in some new Thinking

  1. Ed Scott says:

    Thanks Chris, almost as bad as Nicks, we won?? Delusional, Damn, NZ has to get a rapid change of direction, Climate Change is picking up such a speed, think we are going to get run over. Believe hemp & its oils etc, maybe soil cleansing too? Definitely have to break the mould.

  2. seekaweb says:

    Certainly Katie is coming across like a bucket of proverbial from the 1960’s. But there is always a wide range of opinion within the farming sector. Given that we (The greens) are part of government, I think we need to come up with a set of policies that progressive land users will support (And there are a surprising number of these once you start to look. As soon as Katie senses an opinion shift, she will change her tune. Bet your boots

  3. Mr E says:

    Some conflicting statements:

    Chris Perley
    “Ms Milne effectively laid down a challenge to the government to allow land use to continue as before”
    “Let the treadmill keep spinning, ever faster. Never think of getting off.”

    Katie Milne
    “There’s no argument – agriculture has had an impact on rivers. But we also know you can’t live anywhere on the planet and not have an effect. What’s important now is the get the word out on farmers’ determination not to produce less, but to maintain those export earnings vital to the nation while at the same time shrinking farms’ environmental footprint.”
    “The Feds strives to get legislators and regulators to see our thinking is the best way forward – science-informed, practical and catchment-based programmes harnessing all the new technology coming our way.”
    “Let science inform us both of what has worked and what has failed so we can adjust direction and strive forward again.”
    “Good practices that we have taken for granted or not implemented at all should now become normal practice.”

    The entire basis for your article seems to completely conflicting with what was actually said.

    I am trying to nut out – if you only hear what you want to hear? Or if there is a comprehension issue? Perhaps it is simply that politics gets in the way of the truth?

    • cjkperley says:

      Read the whole thing. It’s placatory. Entirely within a particular goldfish bowl of thinking. Business as usual with tweaks. All ‘new technology’ within the same paradigm of productivism.

      • Mr E says:

        The difference between Katie and you is the rate and extent of change expected. You seem to want a complete overhaul. Like Greenpeace you seem to fail to understand that NZ systems are some of the most environmentally sensitive on the planet.

        The world population is growing at a rate where soon starvation will be a common issue. Sustainable food production is an absolute necessity unless we want to be part of a population that neglects life. A population that sits back and watches death occur whilst sipping on organic Lattes eating free range organic cheese.

        The challenge to all farmers is to do more with less. And this is where ‘good management practice’ is slotting in well. There are a lot of things that farmers are doing that are having an impact.

        A classic example is the Pahau river. Where despite more irrigation, Nitrates and Ecoli are declining.
        https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/99163800/north-canterbury-river-rated-most-improved-in-annual-awards

        Farmers are very aware of the need to improve. So is Katie. And it is happening, sensibly and practically. Without the need for over reaction.

      • cjkperley says:

        So your paradigm is food production? A few facts. 2 Billion people live in less than $US2 per day. NZ farmers would go bankrupt supplying that food under their current industrial model. To even mention food production as a rationale for continuing our current paradigm is frankly a nonsense. It completely demonstrates the gold fish bowl thinking I was pointing out. We produce enough food for at least 9 Billion. We waste 25 to 35% between farm gate and plate. Many of the Nth American & industrial European systems are currently literally converting oil to food. That industrial factory scale agribusiness failure is currently advocated by N intensive irrigation interests. NZ needs that direction like a hole in the head.

        Food security is a function of geopolitics and ability to pay. Food availability is dependent on world scale trade costing energy. Most food in the world is local (look at Asia, etc.)

        And read the international reports. It is not industrial energy-intensive agriculture that feeds the world – only 15%. Olivier de Schutter – UN Rapporteur on Right to food. 2010 report to UN GA. need a paradigm shift for environmental, social, local economic & food production reasons. Yes, agroecology (which uses multi-functional scope to actually increase production using less inputs *while* improving quality, environment, rural poverty etc).

        This isn’t politics. Please don’t make that mistake. I do not write in order to get votes. I wrote in order to question the world and its current machine focus which is destroying us economically as well as socially & environmentally. It is an argument about where we go in our world. Look at Morgan Williams 2004 report Growing for Good on the need to structurally redesign our agricultural systems. It is even more urgent 13 years on.

        Frankly both you and a Katie Milne are locked in to a failed paradigm. Leonard Cochrane’s ‘Technology treadmill’ of every more technofixes and scale increase to increase yields and decrease overhead costs and shift costs over the fence to the environment & community & local economic decline (while also destroying landscape scope potentials *and* resulting in yet more real commodity price reductions). And then we repeat the process and never think to examine the water in which we swim. Have a look at Middle America. Look at the social, environmental & economic problems with the wealth extracted to wherever the owners of the agribusiness corporates live. We are 20 or 30 years behind that picture and really trying hard to catch up. It is pure madness.

        What is so needed is that the mainstream mechanical paradigm we were taught at Lincoln be replaced by the systems thinking we need. The margins need to become the mainstream, and the mainstream the margins.

        This is my profession, not my politics. The former determined the latter, not the other way around. Please be prepared to face up to the reality of the need to change. If you researched it, and lived the nonsense of spreadsheet worship to rationalise stupid operational decisions, and thought about it, you would never be a supporter of our obvious vicious circle to a very uncertain future.

  4. Mr E says:

    In proposing NZ produces less food but taylors for the elite, one misses one obvious simple endless and unavoidable issue. Human morals.
    You see NZers wont be happy sitting back singing kumbaya, bowing to the elite food requirements of the globe, whilst the rest of humanity starves and dies through nutritional genocide.
    Humans don’t like watching others suffer – especially while they live in some self made nirvana. Humans feel a social an moral responsibility to play some part. I hope you agree. I Hope.

    In 2012 the FAO predicted that food production needed to increase by 60% from 2005/2007 to 2050 to meet the needs of the growing population and food expectations by 2050. The current world population is 7.6billion people and the FAO predicts it will reach 9.1 billion by 2050 and UN says 11.2 billion by 2100. Interestingly enough the estimates suggest it took all the way to 1840 to get to 1 billion.

    The predictions of the FAO are that the globe would be capable of sustaining the food demand increase. That is of course on the basis of the following:
    Land not used for food production is freed up. They identified 1.8billion hectares capable of achieving suitable food outcomes.
    Water – some 180 million hectares globally are irrigated to increase productivity.
    Intensification of yields is achieved particularly at a local and regional level for those that need it the most.

    Now lets recognise quite quickly that environmental extremist like none of those things. Not irrigation, not the freeing up of land for food production and not intensification of yields. So the very things that FAO say are necessary to feed – are incompatible with the nimbys of society.

    Often I here the arguemnt that food distribution is the solution. However in 1996 the World summit adopted targets of reducing the number of people undernourished. By 2012 nothing had changed.
    And the FAO predict that the average dietary intake by people will increase from 2770kCAL to 3000.

    The reality is we can all wish for people to share better. But it doesn’t happen.

    I pose the solution lies with what farmers want. More money, from more food (increases at a decelerating rate), from less inputs. Sustainable Intensification you might call it.

    It is either than or find a way to regulate out morality.

    • cjkperley says:

      I’m always fascinated by arguments that we are morally required to feed the world,

      … even if it means we go bankrupt doing so,
      … even if it means continuing to push the energy-intensive model that has the least productivity (output/Input) relative to a finite resource (GHG producing fossil fuels),
      … even if it means continuing degradation of local ownership as corporate ownership concentrates and powerful countries landgrab around the world,
      … even if it means less biodiversity function, poorer soils, poorer waters, and all those other planetary boundaries we keep pushing against that will destroy all life,
      … even if it means yet more of the nonsense of ripping out wetlands and woodlands in order to “free up” land for food production that reduce the economics and the environmental functionality of the farm,
      … even if it means we ignore the research that you can both safeguard the environment, raise the wellbeing of people, and cater to those who cannot afford transnational food supplies, as well as having far better productivity http://www.srfood.org/en/report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food
      … even if it means we continue to exacerbate the same inequitable geopolitical forces (corporate power concentrating at the expense of ever more poorer people – who cannot afford food) that make poverty and population growth inevitable,
      … even if it condemns our farmers to continued commodity real price reductions,
      … all of which plays into the hands of agribusiness mega-corporates and those who event new technofixes associated with the same productivist paradigm.

      The argument that we need to feed the world is arrant nonsense. To claim it is moral is trite. Distribution and the ability to pay are the major constraints. I’d suggest you lobby the right wing parties of the world and their corporate backers to be generous and change income distribution and improve the lot of the international poor before you think that any one farmer in New Zealand has some sort of moral duty to go bankrupt and wreck his local economy, environment and community on such a spurious quest. Better to look at those with the means to help, as well as those (the same organisations as it happens) that contribute to the cause of food scarcity and inability to pay.

      It is the type of trite nonsense that GE advocates use.

      It is the argument from within a gold fish bowl that the agri-‘culture’ is best seen as a factory. I have written so much about this. Check out the Land Use section of my blog. I don’t feel like repeating all the arguments and evidence. I do not expect to convert any fundamentalists, but raising the debate will at least create the opportunity to realise some much needed change as the policy momentum inevitably shifts.

      And we have to get off the idea that more money comes from more food. It doesn’t. Beyond a point production has a negative effect on profit, risk, environmental outcomes, ownership patterns, and the food quality market narrative we need to maintain or achieve a premium price. Of the qualities/metrics – gross production, productivity (O/I – especially relative to the limiting resources), market position, profit, per unit cost, risk, resilience, environmental quality, social capital, etc. – we ought be focusing on price retention and productivity well before gross production. Read about Leonard Cochrane and the technology treadmill. I’ve written about it in other blogs.

      And btw, I am not a latte supping, tie died, sandal wearing, urban, vegan, anti-hunter, pot smoking ‘environmental extremist’. The arguments against the paradigm we are wedded to are absolutely nothing to do with uninformed urban-myths. The only extremism on display are from those who think the land is a machine that can keep being treated the way it is, with the same old accelerating consequences.

      • Mr E says:

        Has moderation been switched on? Are we not debating in a healthy way?

        Here is where all of you arguments fail.
        .
        … even if it means we go bankrupt doing so,
        NZ is one of the few countries where farmers are largely unsubsidised. In the UK sheep farmers get their income over doubled to survive in the form of GOVT handouts.
        NZ farmers are the envy of foreign countries, particularly in the UK were NZ farming models (genetics and materials) are being adopted in order to achieve what we achieve.

        even if it means continuing to push the energy-intensive model that has the least productivity (output/Input) relative to a finite resource (GHG producing fossil fuels),

        You missed were I said more from less. But lets dig into that. NZ farmers have been compared to the UK by Lincoln University in terms of energy use and Carbon emission. In 2007 they found “The study found that due to the different production systems even when shipping was accounted for NZ dairy products used half the energy of their UK counterpart and in the case of lamb a quarter of the energy. In the case of apples the NZ source was 10 per cent more energy efficient. In case of onions whilst NZ used slightly more energy in production the energy cost of shipping was less than the cost of storage in the UK making NZ onions more energy efficient overall.” Saunders etal. 2007
        The point is our open market system has driven farmers to efficiencies that other countries desperately want.

        https://researcharchive.lincoln.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10182/4317/food_miles.pdf

        … even if it means continuing degradation of local ownership as corporate
        Corporate ownership can be local.
        NZs largest corporate (Landcorp) – has won many many environmental awards. Corporate is not some big scarey monster. It is amalgamation of smaller farms that have at times become too inefficent for locals to run. I predict that will get worse as increased regulation from the likes of the Green party makes is impossible for small scale farmers to keep up. There is an increasing written regualtortory requirement that is increasingly impossible for many small scale farmers.

        … even if it means less biodiversity function, poorer soils, poorer waters, and all those other planetary boundaries we keep pushing against that will destroy all life,

        All regional councils have been taking steps to halt negative impacts of farming. The likes of Horizons, Ecan and ORC have put limits in place to stop all of the things you are fearful of. What we are now seeing is multiple regional councils reporting improvements in water quality across a broad range of pollutants. And although a games of finger pointing is occurring I think the same can be said of urban centres.

        … even if it means yet more of the nonsense of ripping out wetlands and woodlands in order to “free up” land for food production that reduce the economics and the environmental functionality of the farm,

        Every year more and more QEII convenants are established. Over the last 40yrs farmers have willingly spent 1.3billion to protect these special sites.

        Pre Maori some 80% of NZ was covered in Native bush.. When Europeans arrived only 50% remained as a result of Maori clearing the land. Now approximately 7.8billion ha of native bush remains our of 26.7billion ha. Or around 30%.
        The biggest forestry removers in NZ were pre European Maori.
        Between 2008-2012 0.08% of our natural forest was lost. One might call that a fraction of a fraction.
        Conversely wetlands increased by 1152ha over the same period.

        The point is Land use is not changing as you suggest. And as FAO suggests it needs to, to feed the extra billions of mouths. The extra 60% of food required to satisfy the need.

        … even if it means we ignore the research that you can both safeguard the environment, raise the wellbeing of people, and cater to those who cannot afford transnational food supplies, as well as having far better productivity …….

        In 2010 Allan Barber conducted a study of 23 farms conventional and organic. The conclusion found that “Organic farms, which were less intensive in terms of resource inputs and stock density, had significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions per hectare. However organic and conventional farming systems had almost identical GHG emissions per unit of milk production”

        So in order to for organics is not better per unit of product. So essentially if NZ were to switch to organic we would product less emissions – but not per unit of product. Sadly the laws of demand and supply mean that the gap in the market would be filled by someone else. Maybe UK farmers that are 50% less efficient. Undoing any benefit and resulting in a net increase in emissions.

        Somewhat critically the organic dairy farmers only produced 585kgMS/ha vs 982kgMS/ha from conventional. That is 60% of what conventional produces. To offset the lost income from this the premium payment would need to be $9.70/kgMS compared to a $5.80 payout.
        In 2016-17 the price lifted for organic milk to $9.20/kgMS up from $5.65/kgMS. So even at its highest price it is still not high enough to offset the income loss from lower output.

        The extra wealth you think is there – aint.

        … even if it condemns our farmers to continued commodity real price reductions,

        Breaking the commodity cycle requires investment. Only achievable by making more money from trade per unit of product (negotiations), producing more product, from less inputs. As described. above.

        … all of which plays into the hands of agribusiness mega-corporates and those who event new technofixes associated with the same productivist paradigm.

        Back to your anti corporate agenda. Refer to above.
        Regarding your ‘techofixes” comment. I presume you are talking about science? That is an interesting stance by you. Anti science? That would explain the Anti GM stance.

        The argument that we need to feed the world is arrant nonsense.
        You don’t need to feed the world. But farmers do. That is what they do. You might suggest NZers don’t need to – but as food becomes increasingly scarce I think that view will become increasingly morally repugnant.

        And we have to get off the idea that more money comes from more food. It doesn’t.,

        See the problem is you connect more food with less money as some simple demand and supply function. But we can’t keep up with demand. As the FAO say we need to free up land, water and intensify to meet the demands. But most of those doors are closed to NZ farmers
        There is no more land
        There is no more irrigation (thanks to new Govt)
        There is controlled environmental limits.

        The environment is seeing a big turn around. In 10yrs time I predict activism will be focused around the dead, dying starving and needy. People will hold up signs that say “more cows – or don’t you care”

        Don’t close the one door on what we have left to do the right thing by the population. To play our part in feeding them.
        Don’t conflate money with this issue. Food will be increasingly scarce. Money will happen regardless of commodity state.
        Don’t conflate the environment. Limits are in place for water and the true opportunity for emissions is science.
        Don’t conflate corporatism or scale. Corporates are better for NZ than small businesses that can’t keep up with regulation.

      • cjkperley says:

        Organic isn’t agroecological. Good night

      • cjkperley says:

        And I have no interest in living in a corporatocracy of polluting irrigators maximising production so their outsider owners get more dividends while justifying their actions because ‘we feed the world’ while all the family farms go and our communities become more and more like middle America.

        That is a dystopian and frankly senseless future advocated by those entrapped in a bubble. ‘Do the right thing’? You have to be kidding.

  5. Mr E says:

    Chris,

    I think you have been misled to think corporates are bad.
    I think you have been misled to think that irrigation is bad.
    I think you have been misled to think that production gains.

    None of those things are intrinsically linked to social, environmental or financial degradation.

    Truth is there is a loose connection between irrigation and environmental degradation. That connection seems to be irrigation water to convert to dairy often causes and increase in groundwater nitrate. (depending on land use change)

    But there are many other helpful uses on irrigation that results in environmental improvement.
    One only needs to visit regions like Southland, and Westcoast where the irrigation falls naturally from the sky to seen the social, environmental and financial benefits.

    And one can also see that irrigation behaviours are rapidly changing to mitigate and reduce the Nitrate to ground water issues.

    I think it is easy to listen to all those doom merchants that use lots of emotive language to describe perceived issues. However in my experience the arguments are often hollow, lack real examples and are based on shallow unscientific understandings.

    I know you to be more thoughtful than that. Which is why I am engaging here.

    • cjkperley says:

      I’ve written extensively about the well known difference between economies dominated by large corporates relative to local firms. The research is conclusive. I’ve also written about economies that extract (and pollute) relative to those that create. I’ve also written about how a mechanical industrial view focused on increasing bulk production is bad economics as well as detrimental to both the environment & society.

      There are case studies around the world on industrial approaches to large scale irrigation contrasting with decentralised and multifunctional approaches that relate to building local community, environmental and enterprise functionality.

      I’ve also researched and written about the consequences of gross production on land, community & local economic health. I’m only following what Leonard Cochran’s, many rural sociologists, novelists like Annie Prouxl and Jane Smiley as well as thinkers like Wendell Berry have documented.

      There is no question in my mind that high energy (various forms of fossil energy) corporate structured, disconnected from the land & community, production maximisation, agribusiness large-scale irrigation models are not good in any sense.

      Which is why I advocate shifting to new thinking.

      Have a read. We need to change our land use approach. My whole life and work has led me to that conclusion. And I continually come across people who only see our current world view as the way to go.

      Here is a link to one article. From there you can link to others. https://chrisperleyblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/looking-after-local-enterprise-and-life-part-i/

  6. Mr E says:

    It seems your ‘thinking’ seems to be based on someone elses thoughts. People like Cochran, Wendell, Prouxl.

    You are not using science and knowledge of the local situation to back up your view point.

    Instead it seems you are applying a macro understanding of socialism. And that simplistic application fails to recognise a sensible outcome in my view.

    Lets take irrigation for example. Irrigation is just water – it is not an evil. Used in the right way in can help communities farmers to grow food, employment, diversity, the environment and overall wealth. Used in the wrong way it can increase ground water nitrates and reduce river flows below ideals.

    It is reasonably easy to see that in the likes of Canterbury ground water nitrates have increased and this is partly as a result of Irrigation. And a simplistic reaction might be – lets not irrigate.

    But the situation is actually very complex. And here is why.
    Water is not the cause of ground water problems. It is a complex interaction between cows or crops, nutrients, stocking rates or intensity, and water. And simply saying lets shut off the variable of water would improve the situation drastically overnight. But that removes all the benefits of irrigation and it also ignores all the other variables and the potential for them to change to influence the outcome.

    For that reason ECAN has put in place N leaching limits and that requires farmer to use a model called overseer to juggle the complex variables in the interaction to meet the limit. Importantly the limits that are set are lower than the average current leachate modelled. So farmers have the opportunity to modify with each setting to influence the outcome. Some of those setting adjustments will be huge as some farmers are a long way from limits.

    That approach keeps irrigation on the table as a tool. But it is only kept there on the basis that farmers manage the complex interaction well. Well enough to sustain and overall improve the environment.

    So as I said the simplistic application of socialism ignores the practical and sensible pathway for communities.

    • cjkperley says:

      Science is but one form of knowledge. And it is not synonymous with wisdom at all. There is so much more. I’m not a regurgitating robot quoting others.

      Which is why I don’t slavishly adhere to the science I was taught. There is a wider perspective. Science works within that, not as some objective seer.

    • cjkperley says:

      Who mentioned socialism?

  7. Mr E says:

    I don’t mean to point out the obvious, but you are failing to validate your points.

    On the other hand I have provided multiple examples of where your opposition to current pathways fails.

    • cjkperley says:

      You have used a normative (ought) to say our farmers should feed the world. I provide logic to refute it (why NZ farmers). And then you bring in arguments of me not being factual/science/positive. You highlight my repeated point. This is not about science, it is about strategy. References to accepting gross production as the metric, or corporations, or irrigation whatever the system effects, or ‘feed the world’ very much highlights that you have a particular world view. Countering that is the realm of philosophy. You’re don’t have to read what I have written, or the references – for instance the reputation of industrial corporate agriculture as in any way the saviour of rural economies/communities/environment – that is your choice.

      Continue to believe in the agronomist approach by all means. I happen to find it far too narrow and technocratic. Very mechanical. Best regards.

  8. Mr E says:

    * I provide logic to refute it (why NZ farmers)*
    Logic? When does logic deny morality?

    Strategy has be guided by science if it is to be effective. Not by simplistic idealism.

    You keep repeating comprehension errors like *accepting gross production as the metric* where I have said more from less.

    I believe that farmers will be the food producers of tomorrow. Not back gardeners, lifestylers, or fairies. Such has been the pathway of regulation to make it increasingly difficult for small landholders. And this will happen increasingly as consumer expectation increases (it never shrinks). Currently lifestylers get very little attention from the labour department and food accreditation.

    As the moral society accepts that farmers will be the best place to produce food, and that more is needed to feed a growing population, things like irrigation, corporatism and sustainable intensification will naturally progress.

    Philosophy is nothing without logic. Logic is stronger when supported by science.

    • cjkperley says:

      Science informs strategy based on the questions that strategy asks it. Strategy is the rudder – Aristotle’s Phronesis. Science is one source of knowledge that can advise on how to sail in the direct strategy chooses. One source.

      Science cannot work outside a paradigm, a world view, a normative sense of life. Else it would measure the grains of sand on 90 mile beach because it can.

      You cannot use ‘science’ to prove or disprove a strategy. It simply doesn’t have that power.

      I have Grassland of New Zealand somewhere. 1951. In the very opening the position of scientist Sir Bruce Levy is adamant that nz farmers must increase grass production – both with the paddock and by extending the paddock. A precursor to the USDA Butz advocating ‘plant fence row to fence row’ and ‘he big or get out.’

      The consequence has been oversupply, the capture of value chains by powerful interests, and real ag commodity price declines. Then add environmental & rural social declines.

      I and others can logically come to the conclusion that something is very wrong with that worldview of a Levy & Butz.

      It’s a paradigm challenge. And like those scientists who continued to believe in their old ideas of chemistry, evolution, continental geology, etc., simply continued to believe.

      So believe away.

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