The insanity of industrial agriculture

There was an article in this morning’s Melbourne Age that made me choke on my mueslii.

I can’t find the article at the Age’s website to link to, so here’s the gist of it.

A farmer in the Victorian Mallee is growing corn instead of wheat for the first time this season (for overseas readers, the Mallee is an area in the north-west of the state; hot and dry and traditionally wheat-growing country).

Those of you who’ve grown corn in your veggie garden know it’s a hungry and thirsty crop—needing lots of fertiliser and lots of water (I haven’t grown it for the past 2 years for that reason).

The farmer (let’s call him Joe Bloggs), has planted 50 hectares of corn—almost 4 million plants. Joe says that whereas wheat might have cost him $2000 to put in, the corn seed cost him $20,000. In addition, it needs 450 kilos of fertiliser instead of the 100 kilos for wheat. Insanity #1.

The corn receives 10 long watering sessions in the growing season. The article says the water is irrigation water. That probably means Joe Bloggs has permission to take it fom the nearest river. Forget ecological flows. Farming takes precedence over river health every time.

Oh, and this isn’t sweet corn, this is maize corn—the stuff that’s grown for stockfeed and processing to modified starches and high fructose corn syrup for the food industry—in other words, used to make confectionery, snack foods and soft drinks. The sort of stuff that’s contributing to the obesity epidemic worldwide. Insanity #2.

The positive spin in this article has to be seen read to be believed:

The evening light brings out the best in (Joe Bloggs) corn crop. The softer sunshine gives it a golden tinge, the abundant leaves look healthy and green, and when the breeze picks up they create a rustling chorus across 50 hectares.

No mention of the waste of water; the poisoning of the soil with chemical fertilisers (probably there’s chemical spraying involved, too) and the human health-destroying properties of the end products.

In my view Joe Bloggs isn’t a very responsible farmer. I’d love to meet him and give him a piece of my mind.

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2 Responses to “The insanity of industrial agriculture”

  1. notsomethingelse Says:

    And I would like to be there when you do.

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  2. narf77 Says:

    Its funny how we could care less about something until it enters our personal sphere of interest. Up until we started using permaculture principals to regenerate our property I had the vaguest of ideas about farming and what it constituted. I had lived on farms in my childhood but a few cows in a paddock and a bit of grass reared beef wasn’t an education. After cramming my rss feed reader with blogs that share information about the negative impact of big business I kept getting posts about how detrimental farming on an industrial size has been to our environment. The madness of our governments on all levels to push profit over preservation is incredible. Here in Tasmania they are ignoring the beauty of the Tarkine to give a few Tasmanian miners a job for a few years so that they can turn some of this gorgeous pristine wilderness into a giant slagheap that you can see from space…smacking of a desperate need to keep one’s job I think politician’s cant see the voters for big businesses smoke screens! Joe Bloggs needs more than a piece of your mind Bev, he needs a big protest and a Public kick up the derierre for his stupidity! Scientists are all starting to align in agreement (whether they like it or not) about the fact of Global Warming and here we have a farmer being lauded for wasting water, fertiliser and soil for a crop that is going to promote human misery? Where is the logic in that!
    Lucky I don’t eat muslie for breakfast or mine would be all over the monitor :(.

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