Issues: Media Reports

Dr John Ikerd and Industrialized Agriculture

Dr John Ikerd speaks the truth about the dirty business of CAFOs.

"According to Dr. Ikerd, virtually every program that has come out of the USDA during his career has in one way or another subsidized specialized, standardized, and consolidated production. Consumers ultimately pay the cost of the risks inherent with these types of operations. We also pay for subsidized credit that allows farmers to expand their operations.

“I think it was all intended well. When I was out here talking to farmers about specialized, standardized, “get bigger or get out,” I really thought it was for the basic good of the consuming public, because what we were told, and what we believed, was that we were going to make good, safe, and wholesome food affordable for everyone. We were going to bring down the cost of agriculture production. It would bring down food costs to the point where everyone could have access to enough wholesome foods to support a healthy, active lifestyle. But we didn’t do that.”

Today, we have a higher percentage of people who are food insecure or go hungry in the US than we had in the 1960s, before widespread industrialization started. About 15 percent of Americans are now classified as being food insecure. More than 20 percent of American children live in food insecure homes.

So while the industrialization of agriculture lowered production costs, and to some extent made certain foods (read processed foods) less expensive, the system has completely failed to secure food for all. Forty percent of the US corn crop in the last several years has in fact gone toward producing ethanol rather than producing food for hungry people.

As Dr. Ikerd notes, "that's the part of that industrial agricultural system that's driven by the economic bottom line — the system I promoted. I look back now and I see the flaws in that system, but it took me a while to realize that not only was this system not good for the animals, for the farmers, for the land, and for the whole community; it wasn't even good for consumers. The problems we're creating pose real public health risks for the consumer."

Read the article here.