Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The battle of ecology and economy as seen through the eyes of a hybrid farmer

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Can a small-time cow operation and big-time turkey producer be the same farmer?
  • Standard Kink
  • Can a small-time cow operation and big-time turkey producer be the same farmer?
Fifty cattle that are hormone and antibiotic free roam farmer Chris Boeckmann's land. They share the 185 acres with his other livestock - 50,000 turkeys that he's raising for Cargill Inc.

Harvest Public Media delves into Boeckmann's farm as a way into a discussion of what the farms of the future might look like. The story looks at how the tension between ecology and economy is being played out, not just on neighboring farms but on one farmer's single tract of land.

The piece points to just how complicated it's getting for growers and consumers. Should Boeckmann be seen as a farm that feeds one of the largest agricultural firms in the country or as a vital component of the local food movement in Loose Creek, Missouri?

For his part, Boeckmann admits that he's "playing both sides of the fence," responding to what consumers want on their plates. The article paints him as a hybrid farmer, one who works with corporate food giants and also raises livestock for the hyper-local market. And it ultimately looks at how sustainability and profitability aren't necessarily at odds. In essence, the livestock have become different subsidiaries of the parent company - the farm.

The challenge is whether a farmer has legitimacy if he is not practicing the same principles throughout his entire farm. Do you believe a farmer can be a contract farmer for a large food producer and also sell private-label hormone- and antibiotic-free beef?

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