The size of farming

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Farms in the western world and we include in this term the Antipodean countries, and such places, are becoming bigger and bigger and we are being told that we have to accept this trend as this is the only way to go forward.

Keeping in step with this growth pattern farm machinery, that is to say tractors, combines, sprayers, etc., also are getting every bigger and more and more sophisticated. The latter to such an extent that the driver of today's modern farm tractors and combines is just becoming someone who inputs the data and them monitors the operation. The machines can plow, etc., via satellite. Great for straight lines, but what if and when technology finally fails.

A great majority of farms in the USA, in Canada, in the UK, Australia and a couple of other such places, nowadays fall more and more under the term “factory farm”, for lack of a better expression, and the big old farming estates of Europe and such are not even close in size and operations. In fact many of the old large estates in Eastern Europe are still worked in almost the same wasy as before World War II.

With the ever bigger machinery and scale of operations, highly dependent of fossil fuels, especially petroleum products, and not just for running the machines, I just wonder as to how people think that this is going to continue with petroleum products becoming more and more expensive on an almost daily level. We are running out of cheap and abundant oil and thus it will get more and more expensive.

The huge farming operations are not sustainable and, in fact, do serious harm o to the environment, our health and the Planet as a whole.

Chemical fertilizers, based, predominately on petroleum products pollute the soil and the water and rob the soil of its ability to support life. Herbicides and pesticides pollute the environment, and us, directly and through the food that we eat and the water that we drink and even the very air that we breathe.

Use, or should we better call a spade a spade and say overuse, of antibiotics in animal farming is making us all sick and is creating superbugs, including MRSA and such like. Things have to change and they must change pronto; ideally now, this very moment.

To think that we can continue to grow farms and their operations more and more and bigger and bigger, as our governments, the farming lobby, and the general powers that be so, is absolutely ludicrous. It is not sustainable and the attempt is just to purposely destroy the (small) family farms, which is the very aim, in fact, methinks.

However, you do not have to have all the huge machines and run your farm like a factory and farming as an industry.

Instead of bigger and bigger our farms in the “developed” world – I sometimes really wonder about the “developed” bit – must be brought down to size again and everyone also must do his part in food growing.

We must return to the small, family-owned and -operated, or to community-owned and -operated, farms.

Small is beautiful also and especially in the farming sector and the Amish farms can stand as an example of this is the modern world. They are the only farms in America that don't just break even; they actually make a profit and a very handsome one at that.

© 2012