Monday, February 04, 2008

Make your blood boil?...

Well, I should say! Consider this article title: How Brazil Outfarmed the American Farmer
A classic example of this upscaling of commodities, Klinefelter says, is the bagged-salad industry. Fifteen years ago few stores sold packaged salads; lettuce was available only in heads. Today salad-in-a-bag is a $7 billion industry, the single biggest-selling fresh product in U.S. grocery stores, according to the United Fresh Produce Association. Born of high tech as surely as the iPod, packaged salad is cooled in the field, trimmed on an assembly line, triple-washed and air dried, then sealed into "equilibrium modified-atmosphere" packaging - which contains altered levels of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen to keep the leaves looking fresh - and then quickly trucked or flown to the rest of the country. "Brazil can't do this like we can," Klinefelter says. "Growing specialized versions of food on a large scale is something that we have an advantage in," because the U.S. still has a better infrastructure and a more educated workforce.

Unfortunately, he says, U.S. agriculture is so highly subsidized that the industry is slower to move than it would be "if the market was pure - our farm programs keep excess resources in agriculture and in some cases maintain operations that are not as efficient." That delay could be dangerous. "We've had a lot of cases in which U.S. industries thought they were on top of the world," Klinefelter says, "and then suddenly they weren't." [More of a must read for anybody who thinks they will be farming in 10 years]*
We can do this the hard way or we can do it the really hard way, but consolidation is going to happen in industrial agriculture. However, in many areas agrarian farming will continue to grow to serve its particular upscale market.

And while we ignore that and fuss over subsidies, other farmers are taking the lead.

*Also consider who reads Fortune.

1 comment:

Ray from NC said...

Stop reading those Journals!! Tongue in cheek,of course, however there is also a little truth in it. Years ago when I was young, we finished around 1100 hogs from nursery to packing plant each year. We thought we were doing pretty good, until we read about a farmer in Ill. who was feeding out 2500 hogs per year, and farming 3000 acres at the same time. Our brother in laws solution---"stop reading those magazines"!:>)

I'm guessing the EPA folks will beat the farmers, not the farmers from Brazil or anyother country. Stricter regulations on animal and land tilling will put some farmers out of business. We see this to some extent in NC. Farmers have to jump through a lot of hoops before they can plant ie how much fertilizer they are able to apply, animals are not allowed access to streams etc. Some folks are attacking confinement buildings for livestock. It could get interesting in a few years.

Ray from NC