By Colin Tudge
We can’t put agriculture on a secure and stable course unless we also create an economy that is sympathetic to sound farming, instead of one that, as now, makes it well-nigh impossible to farm sensibly without going bust. But is this really possible?
Yes, is the answer – but not by the methods now advocated and foisted upon us
by the ruling oligarchy of corporates and governments, and their chosen intellectual
and expert advisers.
For more articles and information on agriculture, be sure to visit our Agriculture Articles site for frequent updates.
We need to begin again from first principles
One essential – the sine qua non indeed – is to ensure good food for all, produced in ways that do not wreck the biosphere and wipe out our fellow creatures.
Why Livestock is Crucial
Herbivore animals can derive nourishment from most common plants, which means that they can at least survive in most environments, and positively thrive in warm and rainy seasons when the plants are flourishing. So people who keep the right kinds of herbivores in the right proportions can survive in the most hostile landscapes. Even when the plants are dying and the livestock are hungry and losing weight, they still can be killed for meat. Omnivores are traditionally raised on leftovers – food wastes and crop surpluses. Hence they supplement the overall economy.
Furthermore, pigs in particular are great cultivators, eating weeds and digging up the soil and fertilizing it.
Nor are livestock kept only for food. They are the source of textiles (wool) and leather, of fertility, of fuel (cow dung), and their bones are used to make tools and furniture and even sometimes for building.
What are we doing wrong?
“Modern” industrialized farming of the kind that is anomalously called “conventional” has rejected diversity in favour of monoculture. In“modern”systems, livestock is not kept to balance and supplement the crops. Increasingly, animals have become the raison d’être . Meat output continues to increase so that by 2050, on present trends, livestock will be consuming enough of our own staple foods to feed 4 billion people.
What’s to be done?
The real task is not to maximize output but to acknowledge that enoughs enough – and we already produce enough. When you think it through, you see that agriculture that really was designed to deliver all need and to go on delivering requires mixed farms, basically organic, with plenty of skilled farmers – all of which leads us to favour farms that are small to medium sized. The grand aim is to bring about an Agrarian Renaissance, an across-the-board shift in the practice, organization, and control of agriculture, and in the underlying science, and in our attitude towards it. Nothing less will do
Explore The Meat Crisis: Developing more Sustainable and Ethical Production and Consumption for vital information on livestock, crop productivity and sustainability among other key agriculture topics.
This article was cited from The Meat Crisis: Developing more Sustainable and Ethical Production and Consumption, by Joyce D'Silva and John Webster (2017).