What Is ‘Farming?’

Double speak by the media is distorting the very identity of “farmer” for the average American. In fact, most of our food production – the food chain we’ve become so dependent on and can’t do without – is controlled by only a half dozen “chemical corporations.”

Who owns the seed, owns the farmer.
Who owns the seed, owns the farmer.

(Get a PDF of this image, and zoom in for the details.)

The distortion is no accident, but the corruption of our family and farming institutions and the concentrated packaging of propaganda over the last sixty years, has turned the traditional language of farming into something we no longer understand.

The entire system of agriculture Thomas Jefferson envisioned has been replaced by our modern industrial food economy. Even the farm as depicted by Wendell Berry and Louis Bromfield is a literary invention. So no one has the true take on “natural farming.”

We don’t need a traditional model. What we need is something that uncovers the criminal behavior, the damage, that chemical/seed companies like Dow, DuPont, Syngenta, Monsanto, BASF, and Bayer, have brought upon the world – and the American public.

There isn’t one simple kind of farming that is going to repair the damage that the chemical corporations have done to our health and the environment. And we don’t know how the stresses of climate and population are going to effect our future needs.

But we do know that in a civilized society, our farming must get back to being humane, that it must strive to improve the health of our people, that it must function to increase biodiversity and restore natural ecosystems, that it must grow out of supportive social structures, that it must be viable in an equitable sense as a new ecological economics, that all its employees must be treated fairly, and that it must be collaborative and distributional.

The problem isn’t deciding what farming model will do all these things. The real challenge is how to rid ourselves of the industrial evil that has befallen us and restore moral integrity to our food system as a whole.

Talk to a factory food producer these days and compare the conversation to one with a farmer who grew up on the land before the end of World War II; and they’re still on the land in places. Note the difference in values, the language, and the respect for the animals and the land. In this sense, it’s not the engineering but the moral principles that count.

It takes only a few years to build a bridge but generations to form the right farming character. A “good farmer” always gives something back.

Huffington Post published The Difference Between a Farmer and a Global Chemical Corporation, saying:

The intentional blurring in the difference between farmers and the global corporations that use Hawaii as a testing ground for their new technologies demands some clarity.

Consolidation and concentration in the seed industry has been rapid — in 1995 the world’s top 10 seed companies controlled 37% of commercial seed sales; today 10 companies account for 73%. Through mergers and acquisitions, the stockpiling of patents on genes and traits, and unprecedented cooperation and collusion, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta, Monsanto, BASF and Bayer — the “Big 6” — have rendered competitive markets in seeds, biotech traits and agrochemicals “a relic of the past.” Together, these markets provide them $50 billion per annum in sales. Since they took ownership of the market, seed prices for US farmers have more than doubled as their options have narrowed.

Beyond controlling the market, the agrochemical/seed oligopoly also largely determines the worldwide agricultural research agenda, accounting for over three-quarters of private sector R&D in seeds and pesticides. Public sector research is marginalized and distorted by the dominance of their funding, and their gene monopolies severely thwart critical scientific inquiry and innovation. Farmers’ rights to innovate, share and save seed, and cultivate the agricultural biodiversity upon which we all depend is also supplanted by the new corporate rights to privatize what has always been considered “common.”

What is a farmer? Clearly these are not “farmers.” A farmer is NOT a global chemical corporation!