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weiliwen  
#1 Posted : Thursday, July 6, 2017 11:05:07 AM(UTC)
weiliwen
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Amish Farmers Square off Against Big Organic

This article speaks about Amish farmers in Kalona Iowa. I wonder what it's like in the Driftless...

By the way, I have never seen an Amish farmer drive a tractor, but for all I know they do it all the time...
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
West Branch  
#2 Posted : Thursday, July 6, 2017 2:56:49 PM(UTC)
West Branch
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Kalona is part of my stomping ground, and this subject is a complex, interesting one. The University of Iowa Press has just published the PhD dissertation by my good friend Brandi Janssen in book form that deals with this very issue. Not that many years ago the definition of "organic" was still a bit hazy. Small organic producers, in conjunction with government ag officials, worked to define terms like "all natural" and "organic" as the big boys saw an opportunity to jump on the organic food bandwagon and make some money. The fear was that Big Ag would create their own definitions and label their food however they wanted. What was once the province of hippies flying kites and their Amish neighbors has become mainstream big business. It's no wonder that rules are bent when big dollars are at stake.

The Amish and Mennonite communities around where I live have long been advocates for healthy food and personal habits. Market forces, however, are powerful and have a tendency to override things like philosophy and belief. Many Amish farmers are surprisingly savvy when it comes to doing business with the "English," but are perhaps not as nimble in adjusting to changes in commodities markets as corporations staffed with whiz-kid advertising execs and professional bean counters. Marketing is at least as important as production in the food business, and it's not a surprise that rural folks--many of whom still don't have electricity--lose out in the race to capture "lifestyle" dollars.

As I pointed out to (now) Professor Janssen, some of us just can't afford a lifestyle. Much as I'd like all my food to be grown and processed by 13-year-old virgins who are pure in thought and deed, there's something about grocery store chicken breasts at 89 cents a pound that keeps me away from the high-dollar organic alternative. As I said, this topic is a bit of a mine field with many issues that get more complicated the closer you look.

As for Amishmen driving tractors--well, thats a bit complex as well. From what I understand, the elders of each congregation meet to determine what technologies are acceptable for their members. Some avoid using motorized farm equipment altogether, while others are allowed to use tractors as long as the tires are studded steel rather than rubber. Some congregations point to the increased efficiency of more modern farm implements as a good reason to adopt things like rubber tires. In my woodworking business I have a couple of Kalona Amish customers who are some of the more streamlined, modern Amish. They occasionally poke a bit of fun at their old-order brethren who sometimes act as if the wheel hadn't been invented.

If anyone is interested, Brandi Janssen's book is entitled "Making Local Food Work." Even though it was her PhD dissertation, it doesn't read like an anthropology text book. She's an old farm gal from southern Missouri who writes so even I can understand.

Edited by user Thursday, July 6, 2017 4:42:23 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

NE IA Drifter  
#3 Posted : Thursday, July 6, 2017 4:37:26 PM(UTC)
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I can't believe you think a big ag corp would bend the rules to make an extra penny or two!!!LOL

http://www.denverpost.co...milk-may-not-be-organic/

The organic and non-gmo world is filled with contradictions but the yuppie Whole Foods crowds continue to eat it up (no pun intended)!
s.t.fanatic  
#4 Posted : Friday, July 7, 2017 5:20:25 AM(UTC)
s.t.fanatic
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NE IA Drifter wrote:
I can't believe you think a big ag corp would bend the rules to make an extra penny or two!!!LOL

http://www.denverpost.co...milk-may-not-be-organic/

The organic and non-gmo world is filled with contradictions but the yuppie Whole Foods crowds continue to eat it up (no pun intended)!



And who didn't expect it to happen? There has never and will never be any real enforcement of the regulations that the ag industry is supposed to follow.
West Branch  
#5 Posted : Friday, July 7, 2017 5:56:52 AM(UTC)
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And ya know what's funny about that? Farmers in my neighborhood complain bitterly about all the regulations.
weiliwen  
#6 Posted : Friday, July 7, 2017 5:59:55 AM(UTC)
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Thanks for the insight, West Branch. It is indeed a very complex subject.
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
s.t.fanatic  
#7 Posted : Friday, July 7, 2017 6:43:19 AM(UTC)
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Farmers are by far their own worst enemy. The regulations don't even come close. Not that it matters, they aren't going to follow many of them anyway. The supply is vastly greater than the demand so the price drops and what do they do, buy more cows to produce more milk.
West Branch  
#8 Posted : Friday, July 7, 2017 8:02:37 AM(UTC)
West Branch
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s.t.fanatic describes the situation so well. If (as farmers are quick to tell you) I lose money on every gallon of milk or bushel of corn, why in the world would I try to produce MORE of the stuff every year. We have local products in search of a market that doesn't really exist.

So much for markets being self-regulating. Could it be that schools have quit teaching basic math?

This actually does have a lot to do with trout fishing if we connect the dots a little bit. Sometimes these issues are tough to discuss without ruffling some political feathers, so I'll stop now.
weiliwen  
#9 Posted : Friday, July 7, 2017 11:24:24 AM(UTC)
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West Branch wrote:
So much for markets being self-regulating. Could it be that schools have quit teaching basic math?


Certainly not economics! I thought that farmers learned about the business side of their operations these days, but I guess not.
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
s.t.fanatic  
#10 Posted : Friday, July 7, 2017 11:47:12 AM(UTC)
s.t.fanatic
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West Branch wrote:
s.t.fanatic describes the situation so well. If (as farmers are quick to tell you) I lose money on every gallon of milk or bushel of corn, why in the world would I try to produce MORE of the stuff every year. We have local products in search of a market that doesn't really exist.

So much for markets being self-regulating. Could it be that schools have quit teaching basic math?

This actually does have a lot to do with trout fishing if we connect the dots a little bit. Sometimes these issues are tough to discuss without ruffling some political feathers, so I'll stop now.


It sure does have a lot to do with trout fishing. It's harder to tell now but just a short month ago before the crops were high enough to block out the elephant in the closet you could drive around the driftless and see what damage all the tillage did to the area with the hopes of maximizing yields. If that were corn and beans being no-tilled into a standing cover crop their wouldn't have been hardly any soil and nutrient loss.

I do plenty of work in Iowa and it always pisses me off. While driving around ag country I see a ton of wide,grass, well maintained waterways on topography that is much less steep than it is where I am from. The farmers here if they do put in a waterway it isn't nearly wide enough. Not that it would matter anyway. The guy driving the sprayer usually sprays the waterway and kills the grass anyway.
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