>>AS EVERY FARMER KNOWS, EFFICIENCY IS AN
IMPORTANT EQUATION THAT YOU CAN’T IGNORE. BUT I THINK THERE ARE A LOT OF MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT EFFICIENCY. WE HAVE THIS NOTION SOMEHOW THAT THE BIGGER YOU GET, THE MORE
EFFICIENT YOU BECOME, THAT THERE’S THAT ALMOST
LOCKED-IN RELATIONSHIP. AND SO IF YOU AREN’T GOING TO
GET BIGGER, YOU ARE GOING TO BE LESS EFFICIENT AND THEREFORE
YOU ARE NOT GOING TO SURVIVE.>>SOMETHING THAT’S EFFICIENT HAS LITTLE WASTED MOTION AND PRODUCES AN OUTCOME
WITH MINIMAL EFFORT. THE GOAL OF THAT IS TO CONSERVE
ENERGY AND AVOID WASTE. BUT THE EFFICIENCIES THAT ARE GAINED IN THE ECONOMIC SYSTEM ESPECIALLY IN THE FOOD SYSTEM
HAVE THE REVERSE EFFECT.>>AND I STARTED TO THINK ABOUT, CREW KNOW, SOME OF MY FRIENDS WHO FARM, WHO NOW ARE
FARMING 25,000 ACRES. WELL, IF YOU GOT THAT, YOU OUGHT TO REALLY BE EFFICIENT, RIGHT? BUT AT LEAST ONE QUARTER SECTION OF ONE OF MY FRIENDS WHO
FARMS 25,000 ACRES IS AT LEAST 100-MILES FROM THE FARM. IT TAKES A LOT MORE ENERGY AND TIME, ETC., TO PLANT AND HARVEST
THAT SECTION THAN THE ONE THAT’S NEXT TO THE FARMSTEAD. SO YOU START TO LOSE EFFICIENT
SIS AS YOU GET LARGER. — LOSE EFFICIENCIES
AS YOU GET LARGER.>>THE PROBLEM IS
NOT TECHNOLOGY. IT’S OUR USE AND OUR PHILOSOPHY OF TECHNOLOGY THAT THERE IS NO LIMITS TO WHAT WE CAN DO. SO IF WE HAVE A PROBLEM, WE WILL JUST APPLY TECHNOLOGY AND
OVERCOME THAT PROBLEM. ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY CAN MEASURE COST BENEFITS IN ECONOMIC TERMS. BUT SOME OF THE COSTS AND
BENEFITS THAT WE HAVE TO CONSIDER ARE NOT ECONOMIC AND
THEY CAN’T BE QUANTIFIED. FOR EXAMPLE, HOW DO YOU
KNOW IF SOMEBODY IS HAPPY? HOW DO YOU MES MEASURE THAT
IN QUANTITIFIBLE TERMS? HOW DO YOU MEASURE THE VALUE OF THE WORK THAT EARTH
WORMS DO IN THE SOIL? WHAT IS THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF THE BEAUTY OF A NATIVE PRAIRIE?
OKAY. WE CAN’T PUT THESE THINGS INTO AN ACCOUNTING LEDGER, TALLY IT UP AND SAY WE HAVE ECONOMICALLY ACHIEVED THIS IN THE MOST
EFFICIENT WAY POSSIBLE. BECAUSE IT CAN’T
MEASURE THAT FOR US. THERE’S NO TOOL TO DO THAT.>>WHERE WE’RE AT RIGHT NOW IS 75% OF OUR TOTAL FOOD AND AGRICULTURE IS BEING PRODUCED BY JUST 195,442 FARMS
IN THIS COUNTRY. AND 30% OF THOSE FARMERS ARE OVER AGED 65 AND ONLY
5% ARE UNDER AGE 35.>>IN AMERICA RIGHT NOW, 2% OF AMERICANS MAKE THEIR
LIVING BY FARMING. SO THAT MEANS THAT 98% OF
AMERICANS ARE IN THE CONSUMER END OF THE EQUATION ON THIS ONE. SO WE’VE GOT A VERY SMALL SECTOR ACTUALLY PRODUCING AND A LARGE SECTOR LOOKING FOR
THEIR NEXT FIX. AND I WORRY OVER THAT, THAT
IF WE DON’T GET MORE PEOPLE UNDERSTANDING AND PARTICIPATING
IN THE PRODUCING END OF THIS EQUATION, THAT ONE OF THESE DAYS WE’LL GO TO THE SUPERMARKET
AND THERE’S NOT GOING TO BE SOMETHING FOR OUR NEXT FIX. AND THEN WHAT ARE
WE GOING TO DO? SO IF WE THINK ABOUT THE ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY OF TWO FARMERS FARMING THE SAME AMOUNT OF PLAN — LAND WITH THE THREE FARMERS USED TO BE ABLE TO FARM,
IT’S MORE ECONOMICALLY EFFICIENT IF TWO GUYS AND TWO TRACTORS CAN DO THE JOB INSTEAD OF
THREE GUYS DOING THE JOB. SO ON A STRICT BALANCE SCALE, OKAY, JUST COSTS, INPUTS,
AND OUTPUT, WE SAY THAT IS DEFINITELY MORE
ECONOMICALLY EFFICIENT. THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE DIDN’T ASK WHAT THE GOAL WAS, OKAY. THE GOAL IS NEVER
ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY. THE GOAL WAS THINGS
THAT MATTER TO PEOPLE. AND WHEN PEOPLE ARE ASKED ABOUT
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU REALLY LOVE OR VALUE ABOUT LIFE, THEY DON’T SAY ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY. THEY SAY THINGS LIKE I WANT TO BE ABLE TO PUT MY KIDS THROUGH COLLEGE, I WANT THEM TO HAVE A BETTER LIFE THAN I HAD, I WANT
TO BE ABLE TO GET TOGETHER WITH MY NEIGHBORS AND LIVE IN A SAFE COMMUNITY, YOU KNOW, I WANT MY KIDS TO BE ABLE TO GO TO
A GOOD PUBLIC SCHOOL. SO WHAT IS THE IMPLICATIONS OF JUST HAVING TWO FARMERS
WHERE THERE WAS ONCE 30? SUDDENLY YOUR KID HAS TO TRAVEL 60 MILES ROUND-TRIP TO GET TO A
TOWN THAT HAS A SCHOOL ANYMORE. YOU’VE LOST 30 FAMILIES
IN YOUR COMMUNITY. SO NOW THE BUSINESSES LIKE THE HARDWARE STORE, THE RESTAURANTS NOW AREN’T ECONOMICALLY
VIABLE ANYMORE. SO THESE ARE THINGS THAT WE DON’T OFTEN MEASURE BY ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY AND WE CAN’T MEASURE. BUT WE NEED TO KEEP THOSE VALUES AND GOALS FRONT AND CENTER AND KEEP ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY IN ITS PLACE.>>EFFICIENCY SUSPECT A MEASURE OF — ISN’T A MEASURE
OF HAPPINESS. IT MAY BE A MEASURE OF THE
OPPOSITE OF HAPPINESS. SO I THINK WHAT WE NEED TO BECOME RATHER THAN TALKING ABOUT EFFICIENT FOOD SYSTEMS IS WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT FOOD SYSTEMS THAT MAKE US HAPPY AND — AND RAISING A GARDEN AND SHARING YOUR PRODUCE WITH YOUR NEIGHBOR MAKES ME HAPPY, AND HAVING A FOOD SYSTEM THAT PRODUCES LOCAL KNEW TELEVISIONOUS FOOD THAT I — NUTRITION FOOD THAT I CAN BUY MAKES A LOT OF PEOPLE HAPPY. THAT WOULD BE MY ADVICE TO
PEOPLE IS GET OFF THE WORD EFFICIENT AND TALK ABOUT SYSTEMS THAT MAKE US HAPPY AND HEALTHY. FUNDED IN PART BY THE NORTH DAKOTA HUMANITIES COUNCIL, A NON-PROFIT INDEPENDENT STATE
PARTNER OF THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES. AND BY THE MEMBERS
OF PRAIRIE PUBLIC

Tagged : # # # # # #

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *