Assignment #1 Exploring the meaning of sustainable agriculture through reading profiles of sustainable ag practitioners Read 3 profiles from 3 *different* sources For each profile: 1) Identify the person and profile source 2) Track down contact info 3) Describe several interesting things you learned from reading the profile4) Write 3 questions that you would like to ask the person if you had a chance to meet them.After considering the 3 profiles, your personal experiences, discussion in class this week…etc., explain what sustainable agriculture means to you.
Introduction“Illinois is blessed with many excellent farmers. Thoseappearing in this publication do not constitute a completelist. For the purposes of this book, parameters were placedon the definition of “innovative.” There are many innovativegrain farmers in Illinois. They are characterized by awillingness to try the latest technology, always pushing toimprove their production efficiency, and do an excellent jobof managing their operations. This book is not intended totake anything away from them, but that was not the kind ofinnovation sought out for this project. Instead, the farmersincluded in this publication are engaged in alternativeentrepreneurial enterprises outside of (or in addition to)conventional corn and soybean farming. Most are addingvalue and marketing their products directly to consumers.Most do not have off-farm jobs.”
Jack ErismanCurrently ~ 2500 acresof grains, forages andbeef in Pana, IL
Student from a 4000 acre farm in MO inspects Jack’s air drill
“I think farming is going in the wrong direction” David says. ”My grand father told me, “If you want to stay infarming “you’ve got to diversify” David took thisadvice to heart. Nowinstead of looking to get bigger he is looking foralternative crops andproducts that he can take on to make a living-wage while continuing to farm on a smaller scale.
Hailing from small vegetable farms, largegrain and livestock farmsand even larger ranches,the 60 producers profiled in The New American Farmer, have embraced new approaches to agriculture.They are renewing profits, enhancing environmental stewardship andimproving the lives of their families as well as their communities.
Terry Taylor’scontinuous NT cornw/ hairy vetch system
Now 17 years after the Farm CrisisCenter was established each weekshe still speaks with ~ 18 farmers,mostly in the evening hours. Herphone will ring, and in some casesshe will go to them. Sometimes shewill be the one to take the gun fromtheir hand.
Excellence in AgricultureInterviews with 10 Minnesota farm families who are stewards of the land, edited by LSP founder Ron Kroese, with interviews conducted by Patrick Moore, Doug Nopar and Joe Paddock. 1988 - 105 pages. $5.00
Allison Organic Research Farm Twilight Tour – Fall 2008
The passing of Norman Borlaug in fall 2009 led to an unplanned investigation of his life including contrasting the message in obituaries with his own words in historical interviews
Most farmers are using methods which do not allow production flexibility. American agriculture of the conventional type "works" only when the throttle governing energy and input flows is pulled all the way out. Farmers lack the option of switching-either permanently or temporarily-to an alternate system that performs well when conventional production is not profitable.Paraphrased Robert Rodale quote that caught my attention back in the 80s
Imagine if you got in your car oneday and discovered that it couldonly be driven with the gas pedalall the way to the floor… youmight be able to get to yourdestination really fast… if therewere no curves in the road, nopedestrians out for a stroll, nodeer, no inclement weather…
Student: What is the future of the smallfarm?WIU Faculty: There will always be smallfarms, but it will be difficult to impossibleto make a living from only the incomegenerated from a small farm. Off-farmincome such as teaching or driving aschool bus will be needed to augmentfarm generated income.This is not the way it needs to be!!!
Personal farm management problems vs. farm policy problems • When individual farmers have financial problems, it may be reasonable to conclude that these farmers are poor managers • When most farmers have financial problems, it is reasonable to conclude that there are problems with farm policy
Rather than recognize the failure of 5 million farms as a social problem, US farm policies have been based upon the belief that this was a personal problem i.e., that farm failures resulted primarily from bad management.
Rather than recognize and address the deficiencies in the structure,conduct, and performance of the farm economy, most policies focused onindividual rather than group behavior.
Adoption of new technology by individual farmers has beenemphasized with little regard to implications for farmers as a group.
Get big or get out!! Plant fence row to fence row! The Russians will buy all theEARL BUTZ surplus! God put the worm in the apple… man took it out !!
It is not possible to squeeze the cost of production enough to consistently generate a profit at all price levels.
Policy Problem – Low Prices Persistent below-cost of production market prices for corn and soybeans $12 Soybeans $10 in 1984-86 dollars $8 $6 Corn $4 $2 $0 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 Source: USDA ERS Web site
http://www.measuringworth.com/ $26.32 in the year 2008 has the same "purchase power" as $2.45 in the year 1920.Most valuable bushel of wheatduring the last century