Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Columnist: Green activism threat to U.S. farming

American farmers are under assault from "urban aesthetes and green activists who hope to impose their own Utopian vision of agriculture," writes Forbes.com columnist Joel Kotkin. He says this vision includes shutting down "large-scale, scientifically run" farms and replacing them with "small organic homesteads and urban gardens" despite the ever increasing world population and its need for food.

As "the assault" moves into the policy arena, water cut-offs, stricter rules on pesticides, prohibitions on the caging of chickens and a growing movement to ban the use of genetic engineering in crops account for the most troubling facets of the green movement, Kotkin writes. Despite the vision of agriculture as an industry of small family farms being promoted by authors like Michael Pollan, Kotkin says American agriculture, dating back to the early 19th century, has always been big business.

Kotkin describes the notion that the U.S. is running out of land, one justification for subsidizing urban farming, as "fanciful at best." The green arguments, which Kotkin characterizes as ludicrous, have still had a major effect on President Obama, he argues. "The Obama administration remains influenced by green groups and is the cultural prisoner of the lifestyle left, with its powerful organic foodie contingent," Kotkin writes. "That leaves farmers and the small towns dependent on them with little voice." (Read more)

1 comment:

Zev Bachmeier said...

Small-scale farms employ more rural people than large, concentrated operations. As Michael Pollen is adept at pointing out, the food grown on diversified family farms is also more nutritious by nearly any measure of the word. As someone who grew up on a small farm and who hopes to continue the legacy one day, I think it's the people who believe ridiculously scaled agribusiness can continue without destroying our communities and environment who are dreaming.