Comment: Give a farmer a market, and he will meet that market

It's not quite as simple as 'plate to paddock' for most Australian farmers. Source: The Feed

Dan Tarasenko is one of the co-founders of Crowd Carnivore and shares his perspective on the advantages of organic farming.

For many decades, farmers have been meeting markets. Increasingly, the market has been after cheap, convenient food. To meet that market, farmers have to standardise their methods and their inputs. Consumers expect their food to look, taste and cost the same as it did the last time. (How boring!)

My personal food philosophy, is that food production is entirely market driven. Give a farmer a market, and you can bet your bottom dollar that he'll meet it. Take the Angus breed, for example, where consumers now ask for Angus by name, driven by the marketing power of the breed to produce something unique, consistently. Where you used to see whiteface cattle you now see Angus. Because the farmer met that market. 

A farmer doesn't look at a block of land, land that has likely been in his family for many generations, and ask himself what the fastest way is to deplete the nutrients in the soils, to lower the water table, and decimate species of grasses that have been growing for centuries. A farmer wants to improve the land. He wants to improve his methods. He wants to improve the health of his animals. But he also has to meet a market, a market of which has been primarily focussed on convenience and lower prices. 

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This adds pressure to the land. Farmers bring in grain to supplement their feed because the pastures cannot support their stocking ratios. Farmers might take a job in town because they can't earn enough from their land, which means they set stock their cattle instead of rotationally grazing and resting paddocks. It's methods such as rotational grazing that adds organic matter to the soil and improves carrying capacity, preparing the farms to better handle the dry season. And if there's not enough capital, not enough time, and not enough incentive, farmers aren't investing in structural improvements to their farm. Things such as fencing off riparian zones to allow our river systems to recover. Planting more trees and wildlife corridors to increase biodiversity. Investing in earthworks activities such as pushing in swales to slow water flow. None of it gets done. 

Our topsoil is being depleted. But we can build it back up. Carbon is climbing in the atmosphere, but we can sequester it. The less nutrient dense profile of grain fed cattle is wreaking havoc on our cattle, and on humans, but we can reverse it. Nutritionally speaking, we're sicker than ever. We're larger than ever. But we can fix it. If we show the farmer the market is there.

We can fix it, by showing the farmers there is a market demand for better. We can make better choices. We can take better care of our health. We can lessen food waste, by using more of the animal. We can buy local wherever we can. We can plan ahead, and rely less on cheap convenience. We can cook like our grandparents used to. We can improve our environment by supporting those who seek to improve it. We can reject fast food grown with poisons and chemicals. We can slow down and wander the farmer's markets. We can improve our fragile food production system, we have the technology and the network to do so. We can support a farmer. 

Crowd Carnivore is our attempt to show farmers there is a market demand for better food and better ecology. We've sourced farmers and stewards of the land who recognised that changes had to be made for a sustainable farming future, and have already made those changes. Our goal is to show more farmers that it's worth their while making the switch to more sustainable methods. 

Give a farmer a market, and he will meet that market.  

Dan Tarasenko and Zachary Sequoia are the founders of Crowd Carnivore.

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