Saturday, December 31, 2011

NY Times and Agriculture on 12/31/2011

The Times has two stories on agriculture today: one on the growth of big organic farms outside the country, drawing down water supplies and exporting organic produce to the US; the other on the conversion of non-ag land to farmland in Iowa, and the expiration of CRP contracts.

The organic piece gets lots of exposure: comments and the top emailed piece. As the article points out, we Americans want our cheap organic tomatoes in December, and Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, and the nations in between, are willing to supply them.  The growth of exports helps those nations, which isn't something the comments note, although the article does mention it.

The Iowa piece reminds me of the 70's, when Earl Butz supposedly promoted fence row to fence row planting.  If the farmer is able to buy the land, he can tear out the fence rows, gaining some acreage and improving the efficiency with which he can farm.  Again, it's the workings of the free market in agriculture.

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