Jul. 6th, 2013

mahogany: (Nina)
Insomnia continues. Now that I have found my sister, my internet searches tend to revolve around agroecology, and food sovereignty. Several months ago, I read Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel, and it really opened my eyes to some of the real issues surrounding food sovereignty on a global scale, including some promising developments such as the Via Campensina movement and Cuba's transition into organic farming. Since then, I've been trying to educate myself. Most of the papers are about the same stuff - the way we farm is not sustainable, agroecology is the answer, the government needs to stop subsidizing industrial agriculture, and blah, blah, blah. Same shit. None of it is changing anything. Very few papers are looking at the barriers to entry, or at solutions that don't involve a shift in governmental policies. Personally, I think that pissing and moaning about how stupid the government is, and impotently wringing out hands waiting for the government to make changes is utterly pointless Governments are impervious to evidence, and are vulnerable to special interests. Waiting around for a top-down policy least effective road to change IMO.

I have this idea that has been brewing for a while, and it has changed several times since its initial iteration, several months ago, but my thinking around it is still really muddy. Initially, it revolved around fair trade abroad, but in its latest form it focuses on farming here in North America. In this particular paper (which is current, excellent and worth reading), Professor Altieri argues that the solution to world hunger lies in the south, and not in the north (it's near the end of the paper) http://www.agroeco.org/socla/archivospdf/Rio20.pdf. For the most part, I agree with his rationale. None-the-less, I think that considering the damage our agricultural practices are causing here in North America, we need to be part of the solution. Perhaps not THE solution, but part of it.

So my idea is still pretty hazy, but the basics are thus: Fix the problem one industrial farm at a time.

- Use crowd funding for a forgivable zero interest loan to be used to purchase large scale farms as they come up.
- Facilitate the formation of a farming co-operative where all individuals working on the farm are equal shareholders.
- Facilitate the access of the farmers to education in best practices in agroecology, regenerative farming, etc., and facilitate the adaptation of those methods to the local area.

Wash, rinse, repeat. Once the loan has been repaid, ideally, those funds would be re-used for the purchase of additional farms.

Obvious problems are:
- The small number of large scale farms for sale
- This is a very time intensive process - we are looking at several years before the farm is fully transitioned
- The amount of crowd funding required would be in the millions of dollars just for one farm
- The local knowledge of what works is essential, and due to the secrecy of many farmers, gaining access to that information can be difficult
- The nuts and bolts mechanism of keeping track of the donations/repayments etc., sounds tricky
- Finding farmers who would be interested in this sort of proposition
- I personally have no experience in any aspect of this, other than a deep personal interest, and so have nothing to contribute.

-On the plus side, I think it could work.


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July 2013

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