Presentation on theme: "INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE, ORGANIC AGRICULTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT Jennifer Sumner, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow, Rural Studies Program Presentation for Dr."— Presentation transcript:
1 INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE, ORGANIC AGRICULTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT Jennifer Sumner, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow, Rural Studies Program Presentation for Dr. Mark Sears’ ENVB*2010 class Food Production and the Environment March 1, 2004
3 We do not, and no-one ever will, live in a post-agricultural society. AGRICULTUREthe world’s major environmental interactionbegan thousands of years ago with the cultivation of wild plants and the domestication of wild animalsinvolves not only the production of food and fibre, but also their distribution and the infrastructure for production and distribution at regional, national and global levelsaccounts for 3% of GDPWe do not, and no-one ever will, live in a post-agricultural society.
4 INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE Industrial agriculture refers to large-scale industrialized forms of agriculture that are capital intensive, highly mechanized, use large amounts of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and involve extensive monocropping and/or highly concentrated and intense livestock operations.
5 THE RISE OF INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE Food production, distribution and consumption were radically transformed in the 20th centuryFully incorporated into the market systemIncreased distance between producer and consumerProduction of industrial foodExternalized costs of productionThe emergence of a globalized food system that picks and chooses among producing countriesThe environmental race to the bottom
6 THE CONSOLIDATION OF INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE horizontal integration - the expansion of firms into other geographic areas (e.g., the decreasing number of family farms)vertical integration - occurs when a firm owns several different stages in the food commodity system, which increases its economic powerfarm operators now have massive dependence on all manner of farm inputs and on ever-increasing outputs for foreign marketsindustrial agriculture has functioned more for financial gain than for human need
7 AGRIBUSINESS It’s been a long battle by corporations to turn agriculture into agribusiness.Agribusiness - the sum total of all operations involved in the manufacture and distribution of farm supplies, production operations on the farm, storage, and processing and distribution of farm commodities and items made from themAgribusiness and the state promote particular policies and production techniques favorable to the needs of large corporationslarge use of external inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides and machineryTurning food into agrifood
8 PROBLEMS WITH INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE animal disease problemsmad cow disease, hoof and mouth diseasehuman health problemspesticides, antibiotics and other contaminants in food and watereconomic problemscost-price squeezeincreasing input and machinery costsdecreasing world pricesdebt
9 social problems economic stress affects: fewer family farms the health of farm familiesthe vibrancy of rural communitiesfewer family farmsthe death of many rural communitiesincreasing unemployment and/or increasing off-farm employmentAlmost 90% of American farm household income comes from non-farm sourcesrural depopulationNorth Dakota, Manitoba
10 Environmental Problems Soil and water degradation/depletionLack of biodiversityHabitat destructionDeath of wildlifeExport economyGrowth imperativeHerbicide-resistant weedsGMO’sGreenhouse gases
11 The environment is reduced to a source and a sink because economists cannot value what the environment is worth, merely its value in monetary terms.
12 Food FightsIncreasing consumer distrust of /digust with industrial foodIncreasing obesity problemsIncreasing allergy problemsInternational trade agreements vs. the public goodConsumer-led revoltsSlow foodOrganicsbabyfood
13 Organic AgricultureOrganic agriculture is an holistic agricultural system that seeks to learn from and mimic natural processes in order tochannel nature to the service of humanityavoid problems rather than creating and then solving themintegrate enterprises to capture positive ecological and economic synergiesinternalize costs of production
14 Definition of Organic Agriculture Organic agriculture is a holistic system of production designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agroecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. The principle goal of organic agriculture is to develop productive enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.Canadian General Standards Board
15 Organic Agricultureinvolves a total systems approach - not linear like conventional/industrial agriculturegoalselimination of agricultural chemicalsreduced energy usegreater farm and regional self-sufficiencysmaller farm units and technologyimproved conservation and regeneration of agricultural resources such as soil and water
16 Impacts of Organic Family Farms on Rural Communities EconomicSocialPoliticalCulturalGenderedEnvironmental
17 Environmental Impacts of Organic Family Farming Lowering the chemical burden on the environmentProtecting/stewarding the environmentAn ethic of leaving the land better than they found itCare for the soil like a living beingPromoting biodiversityDomestic/wild plants and animals
18 Organic Agriculture Productivity Smaller farm sizes are 2 to 10 times more productive per unit acre than larger onesAfter transition, organic yields are comparable to conventional yieldsWhat is productivity?Yield – production per unit of a single cropOutput – the sum of everything a small farmer producesVarious grains, fruits, vegetables, fodder and animal products
19 Can Organics Feed the World? Wrong questionFood production has kept pace with population growthThe problem of hunger is lack of access to foodPovertyLandlessnessFood dependence vs food independenceFeeding the community / regionFoodshedFood security and agricultural policyOrganic agriculture as a lens through which to look at food production and the environment