Published on December 27, 2007
Organic Farming:An economic controversy: Organic Farming: An economic controversy Christina Prestella APEC 100 Slide2: Organic Can you tell the difference? Organic Farming: Organic Farming To be considered “organic”: must be produced without synthetic pesticides, fungicides or herbicides Can not be grown by use of genetic engineering Bans use of sewage sludge as fertilizer No irradiation of food to preserve it No use of hormones and/or antibiotics in organic meat and dairy products. Organic Farming: Organic Farming To be considered “organic”: must be produced without synthetic pesticides, fungicides or herbicides Can not be grown by use of genetic engineering Bans use of sewage sludge as fertilizer No irradiation of food to preserve it No use of hormones and/or antibiotics in organic meat and dairy products. Strict farming methods = costly production Organic Farming: Organic Farming As a general rule, organic agricultural systems should minimize energy and resource use by recycling resources within or near the farming system (1). Effective soil and water-conserving methods include: the use of cover crops, mulches and no-till practices Biotic activity in the soil is promoted by addition of organic matter (manure and compost). Crop rotation provides nutrient recycling and encouragement of biological control avoids the need for pesticides (1). Organic Farming: Organic Farming Methods of farming: crop rotation (cover crops) Manure and compost in place of synthetic fertilizers (2). Results in the need for more land for farming practices. organics may not be economically feasible, thanks to the costs of growing and transporting organic foods. organic farming produces lower yields, requiring more land under cultivation to produce the same amount of food (2). Organic Farming: Organic Farming “principal of collective action” societies tend to have the policies that favor the few, large corporations over the many small groups. large corporations offer organic as well as commercial goods, at different prices Meet organic demands are also able to market to the low-income families who get more value out of cheaper goods, which are not produced organically large companies may get more of the demand then the many small organic farmers Organic Farming: Organic Farming Table 1. Comparison of number of acres used for organic farming of vegetables, fruit, and total cropland in the United States, in 2005. Information gathered from USDA data sets. Organic Farming: Organic Farming the fewer larger corporations are still using most of the cropland to produce inorganically number of acres used for organic farming is slowly increasing Slide10: Figure 1. Bar graph represents change in organic farming over the decade for a select group of vegetables. Figure shows that organic farming has a slight trend upwards, over the years. (USDA) Organic Farming: Organic Farming So, what is keeping the organic industry from increasing more rapidly? Organic Farming: Farming organically has externalities associated with it. Organic Farming So, what is keeping the organic industry from increasing more rapidly? Organic Farming: Organic Farming Soil quality can be lost due to production problems that affect more than just the producer (farmer). To protect soil quality, fewer chemicals can be used, but more land is needed. This “cost” to society is due to production decisions of farmers. Slide14: Pland Q Supply of land for agricultural purposes is fixed. S DLand (for food) = Pfood * Yieldfood Qland Shaded area shows landlords’ rents from land use. Slide15: P Q S decreases Overuse of land leads to soil erosion Slide16: P Q Sland decreases If soil depleting and eroding practices are used less land will be available for agriculture Sland landlords gain as their scarce resource becomes more scarce without a policy. Slide17: P Q S Dland land owners also gain when people are willing to pay higher prices for organic food: Pfood rises DLAND rises Organic Farming: Organic Farming Landlords have no incentive to better their practices since consumers will be willing to pay, no matter what the price is. This conflict allows producers to ignore the fact that they are depleting resources. They have no economic reason to use more expensive practices when using cheaper methods of cultivation do not hurt them Organic Farming: Organic Farming Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) put into action in 1997. From 1997-2004 about $2.5 billion was obligated under the program to pay farmers “for conservation efforts on working lands, in terms of obligated funds”. These payments are distributed based on Federal, State and local priorities to protect environmental resources such as water quality, water conservation and soil conservation. Organic Farming: Organic Farming Consumers can put in their vote by purchasing organically if portions of the purchase are directed towards this research. Demand could drive the few large corporations to begin to assess better ways of growing foods. Organic Farming: Organic Farming Today, purchasing organically is more of a choice. Present day value of land is lower than its future value. By spending more now, consumers could begin to provide a greener future with higher soil quality and organic production for future generations.