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South Central Farm Shows Alternative to Industrial Ag's Monocultura

by Save southcentral farm from destruction!! Sunday, Jul. 06, 2008 at 7:17 AM

The farming methods using crop diversity were evidenced at south central farm prior to the destruction by the L.A. Sheriff's bulldozers. SC farm's 'milpa' method is our escape from dependency on increasingly toxic petrochemicals used by industrial agribusiness monoculture plantations.

Though i have never physically visited south central farm, the photos shown on laimc prior to the destruction by the L.A. Sheriff's bulldozers indicate a diverse crop similar to the milpa farming methods of Mexico and Central America. The milpa is a small farm that includes many different species of crops of varied heights, including trees, maize and squash. Due to intrusive agribusiness corporations and loss of protective tariffs following the passage of WTO/NAFTA free trade agreements, many of the milpa farmers were driven out of business by cheap subsidized grains from U.S. and have lost their land. In addition, the imported U.S. corn is genetically modified (GMO/GE) and the pollen from GMO corn plantings has contaminated the unique varities of corn (maize) found throughout the Mexican milpas..

from Organic Consumers;



"The "milpa" Morales refers to is the traditional planting of corn, beans and squash in the same fields, the basis of the Indian diet throughout southern Mexico. "Without the milpa, our communities cannot survive," the Zapotec farmer warns, furrows forming on his broad brow. Farther up the twisty mountain highway, Nicolas Jimenez Jimenez, a toothless farmer from Azuni, leans up against a roadside storefront. Yes, he admits, he has heard of the "transgenicos," but only on the radio. "They say the gringos brought them here," he laughs nervously.

The recent and dread confirmation of contamination of native corn by genetically modified varieties in this sierra has long been in the wind. Last year alone, Mexico imported 13 million tons of basic grains from the U.S. and Canada; half of it -- 6 million tons plus -- was corn, a third to two-thirds of which is thought
to have been genetically modified.

Transgenic corn began flooding into Mexico five years ago under new import rules spelled out in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These imports are fast excluding Indians and other small farmers from Mexico's internal market.

In the U.S., 25 million acres are growing such genetically modified commercial corns as StarLink and BT-YieldGard (both designed to combat caterpillars) and Roundup-Ready (resistant to
the herbicide Roundup), so it was just a matter of time before the modified corn crept across the border and into the Mexican milpa."

article cont's @;

The current system of industrial agribusiness in the U.S. is destructive to the ecosystem as monoculture crops cannot restore the soil like the diversity of the milpas' crops. The monoculture crops of industrial agribusiness also does not allow for any habitat for beneficial predator insects, and thus depend upon increasingly toxic doses of petrochemically derived pesticides and herbicides in their attempts to create a sterile growing environment. The GMO crops are worse as they either include the pesticide in all their cells (Bt corn) or are resistant to the pesticide (Round-up Ready), thus allowing increasingly larger doses of toxins to be applied without killing the crops. However, the ecosystem, farmworkers and the consumer are all exposed to larger doses of toxins as a result. Needless to say, soil sterility from excess toxins is not helping with nutrient availability for the crops, and also increases industrial ag's dependency on petrochemically derived pesticides..

The political process pushes small farmer's off their land and welcomes large corporate farms in their place;

"How to Feed the World: Small, Sustainable & Organic Farms"

Small is Bountiful

By George Monbiot, June 10, 2008

"Peasant farmers offer the best chance of feeding the world. So why do we treat them with contempt?

Though the rich world's governments won't hear it, the issue of whether or not the world will be fed is partly a function of ownership. This reflects an unexpected discovery. It was first made in 1962 by the Nobel economist Amartya Sen(2), and has since been confirmed by dozens of further studies. There is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per hectare. The smaller they are, the greater the yield.

In some cases, the difference is enormous. A recent study of farming in Turkey, for example, found that farms of less than one hectare are twenty times as productive as farms of over ten hectares(3). Sen's observation has been tested in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Java, the Phillippines, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. It appears to hold almost everywhere.

The finding would be surprising in any industry, as we have come to associate efficiency with scale. In farming, it seems particularly odd, because small producers are less likely to own machinery, less likely to have capital or access to credit, and less likely to know about the latest techniques.

There's a good deal of controversy about why this relationship exists. Some researchers argued that it was the result of a statistical artefact: fertile soils support higher populations than barren lands, so farm size could be a result of productivity, rather than the other way around. But further studies have shown that the inverse relationship holds across an area of fertile land. Moreover, it works even in countries like Brazil, where the biggest farmers have grabbed the best land(4).

The most plausible explanation is that small farmers use more labour per hectare than big farmers(5). Their workforce largely consists of members of their own families, which means that labour costs are lower than on large farms (they don't have to spend money recruiting or supervising workers), while the quality of the work is higher. With more labour, farmers can cultivate their land more intensively: they spend more time terracing and building irrigation systems; they sow again immediately after the harvest; they might grow several different crops in the same field.

In the early days of the Green Revolution, this relationship seemed to go into reverse: the bigger farms, with access to credit, were able to invest in new varieties and boost their yields. But as the new varieties have spread to smaller farmers, the inverse relationship has reasserted itself(6). If governments are serious about feeding the world, they should be breaking up large landholdings, redistributing them to the poor and concentrating their research and their funding on supporting small farms.

There are plenty of other reasons for defending small farmers in poor countries. The economic miracles in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan arose from their land reform programmes. Peasant farmers used the cash they made to build small businesses. The same thing seems to have happened in China, though it was delayed for 40 years by collectivisation and the Great Leap Backwards: the economic benefits of the redistribution that began in 1949 were not felt until the early 80s(7). Growth based on small farms tends to be more equitable than growth built around capital-intensive industries(8). Though their land is used intensively, the total ecological impact of smallholdings is lower. When small farms are bought up by big ones, the displaced workers move into new land to try to scratch out a living. I once followed evicted peasants from the Brazilian state of Maranhao 2000 miles across the Amazon to the land of the Yanomami Indians, then watched them rip it apart.

But the prejudice against small farmers is unshakeable. It gives rise to the oddest insult in the English language: when you call someone a peasant, you are accusing them of being self-reliant and productive. Peasants are detested by capitalists and communists alike. Both have sought to seize their land, and have a powerful vested interest in demeaning and demonising them. In its profile of Turkey, the country whose small farmers are 20 times more productive than its large ones, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation states that, as a result of small landholdings, "farm output remains low."(9) The OECD states that "stopping land fragmentation" in Turkey "and consolidating the highly fragmented land is indispensable for raising agricultural productivity."(10) Neither body provides any supporting evidence. A rootless, half-starved labouring class suits capital very well."

article cont's @;

There is another good critique and analysis of the problems caused by expanding smaller farms into large corporate agribusiness, though the location is a bit further away, the concept applies to most of the valley regions of CA. This goes beyond the L.A. region, though the suggestion of the author is that smaller more diverse farms like south central campesino farm soon replace the current model of industrial agribusiness..

"Walking the Flatlands:
The Rural Landscape of the Lower Sacramento Valley"

Mike Madison

168 pages (8 x 7.5), with b&w images throughout
Trade paper, ISBN: 1-890771-84-8, $14.95

A Great Valley Book

"Mike Madison delivers a detailed critique of the farmland around him, the land he walks daily. He is immersed in a sea of intricate and interwoven systems; he sees where the soil shifts from black to red, how the wind is battled, and the inevitability of change. He moves from thoughtfulness to heights of lyricism as the love for his home pours from his words. Madison continues the tradition of Wendell Berry and Thoreau, often matching both in rural intelligence and ecstasy."

The south central campesino farm shows people in urban regions what could be possible if farming was reclaimed from corporate agribusiness and left in the hands of the residents and consumers. This is equally dangerous for those who profit from industrial agribusiness, so community farms that value crop diversity are seen as genuine threats to the profiteers of industrial agribusiness. There is always pressure coming from somewhere (ex., Horowitz & his warehouse that can apparently only exist in this farming space!) to bulldoze community farms underneath some other structure or building, as if L.A. doesn't already have enough warehouses!?

From a global perspective, we desperately need more places like south central farm in every town and city throughout the CA valley region and elsewhere. When the peak oil crisis hits the petrochemically dependent U.S. food sector, many of the industrial agribusiness monoculture plantations will fail, and the profiteers will simply take their money and run, leaving the most vulnerable people of the U.S. and elsewhere to suffer from famine following the food crisis. To prevent this tragedy, we need many, many many more south central farms around the nation..

Here's the final warning on food availability from peak oil researcher Jan Lundberg;

"You. Will. Not. Be. Able. To. Get. Food. - report on trends"

Written by Jan Lundberg

Culture Change Letter #189, June 20, 2008

"The empire of cheap food is crumbling.

You. Will. Not. Be. Able. To. Get. Food. Need this be spelled out any more plainly? It is time to consider that the stage has been set for petroleum-induced famine.

We have "innocently" accommodated rising population with greater and greater food production via technology and the profit motive. But now we have run out of room to grow, as biotechnology, for example, has severe limitations -- major ones being petroleum dependence and topsoil loss. The biggest wild card for our existence is climate change, as we see with floods and other extreme weather affecting our food supply.

We are headed for massive shortages of food and other essentials, mainly brought about by the depletion of geological fossil reserves of cheap energy and water. The situation is demonstrated regularly with easy arithmetic based on statistical indicators from the United Nations, Worldwatch Institute, World Resources Institute, Earth Policy Institute, and numerous governments. Usually the full force of the message is offset by predictions of huge rises in future human population growth that are simple extrapolations of historical trends.

No one can say with certainty that the worst effects of today's crisis will occur tomorrow or by any particular date. But it is irrational to assume there will only be gradual tightening of supplies until some solutions miraculously come to our aid. One ought to at least admit that one year ago few people thought we'd be going in the direction we're going in, this fast, today.

Three days is our average food supply around the modernized world, i.e., for cities and their supermarkets. Long-term food stocks have plummeted: "Cereal stocks that are at their lowest level in 30 years," according to Worldwatch institute in its most recent Vital Signs. This is exacerbated by increasingly weirder weather, compounded by the oil price/supply pressure on food. What can interfere with the three-day situation are truckers on strike (as in Europe), extended/repeated power outages, and the inability of the work force to commute to work."

article cont's @;

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sc farm homepage taking back the farm Sunday, Jul. 06, 2008 at 7:37 AM
UPDATED So Central Farm WEBSITE campasina Wednesday, Jul. 09, 2008 at 10:26 AM
UPDATED So Central Farm WEBSITE campasina Wednesday, Jul. 09, 2008 at 10:26 AM

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