Diversification is a great thing. Under most circumstances, it adds growth, interest and provides new choices and options.
Still, despite calling for diversification in modern-day agriculture, Gary Paul Nabhan’s recently published opinion piece [“Time to break the seed limit,” Nov. 1] left me bewildered. Mr. Nabhan calls into question today’s monoculture agriculture and lauds the local food movement and community-supported agriculture.
Mr. Nabhan isn’t wrong. Consumers need variety and choices; our present systems offer that. Traditional and diversified farmers like myself – those who grow soybeans, corn, wheat and sorghum, and raise livestock – provide grains to feed livestock, supply ethanol producers to use for fuel production and exporters to sell to foreign markets. Some of those end up on consumers’ plates; some provide for consumers in other ways.
Farmers involved in the local food movement and CSAs provide choices outside of those options. Consumers can choose to purchase locally grown foods for their families, bringing a different type of agriculture to their plates.
While CSA’s recently have gained momentum, it is a difficult model to follow to stay profitable. Consumer’s choices and palates are constantly changing, sometimes leaving farmers involved with CSA’s with shrinking profits.
It truly is a decision by each individual farmer as to what they want to grow, what they want to market and which agricultural production model they follow. They are the ones who manage their farms to be like any other business – profitable. How or what they choose to specialize in is their choice as to how it fits their individual farm.
The truth is, we need all types of agriculture – traditional and niche – to be able to provide for a growing population. As a consumer, it’s my pleasure to support both. As a farmer, it’s my duty to support both.