Organic Farming: How to Bring Organic Farming to America

One question that is necessary to answer is how can organic farming benefit America? Reading Food and Agriculture Organizations Of United Nations, “Organic Agriculture: What Are the Benefits” explains organic agriculture takes a proactive approach as opposed to waiting for destruction or treating problems after they occur. In many agricultural areas in the US, pollution with groundwater courses with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is a major problem, however if there was a switch to organic farming, synthetic fertilizers are not allowed, but instead organic fertilizers (manure) enhancing the soil and water infiltration. In terms of global warming and climate change, organic agriculture contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming through its ability to sequester carbon in the soil. Many management practices used by organic agriculture increase the return of carbon to the soil, raising productivity and favouring carbon storage. Organic farming also positively effects biodiversity, eliminates GMOs, and encourages interactions within the agro-ecosystem that are vital for both agricultural production and nature conservation. In order to raise awareness

Cuba’s transition into organic farming was a necessity. However, it has proven success in their homeland and has allured other countries like the United States. In an interview with Judy Woodruf, Jeffery Brown, and Miguel Salcines, Miguel Salcines is the founder for Vivero Alamar Farm, which produces and supplies food for about 80,000 residents around the community. This is one of the 10,000 urban organic farms in Cuba that has received attention from Americans. Miguel says that his farm is almost like a school. People from all around the world come to this farm just to understand their processes and about urban farming.

However, a difference between Cuba and America is that Cuba was not worried about their carbon foot print or the negative externalities of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but that there were none of those resources anymore. Cuba stopped using the chemicals because there were no more chemicals. The idea did not come from idealism, which is what America is facing, but rather Orlando Lugo Fonte, President of Cuba’s National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), explains, “necessity gave birth to a new consciousness” (Craftsmanship Magazine).  Jason Reis, who owns an Organic Farm in Brooklyn, New York says when he looks at the organic farming in Cuba he sees a great example of permaculture and organic farming practices: interplanting, natural insecticides, marigolds to attract pollinators. He says and its not a “it’s not a monoculture. It’s not a field full of corn or soy like we see in the U.S.”

In another interview, Fernando Fues Jr. talks about his own local farm and the advantages of organic Farming. With organic agriculture, with agroecology, “we are able to produce healthy food in order to grow healthy people in the cities and in the whole country. And when we have this kind of system, then we can also assure that we have enough labor for the people in the countryside and better expectation for them to live better from their work.” The organic farming helps not only the livelihood but the work force. With the switch, while scaling back pesticides anywhere from 55-85 percent across a range of crops, peasant farmers produced 85 percent more tubers, 83 percent more vegetables, and 351 percent more beans. This is not just corn or soy like mentioned before as seen in US, there is a variety of agriculture, which is super beneficial to the natural world.

Despite these impressive statistics, and the success in Latin America countries, there is no agroecology movement in the US. These food revolutions are connected to the social movements of La Via Campensia. Even in Berkley California, where there is an increase of organic and sustainable farming and development, “they take the ecological principles, but strip it of its true social importance” says Miguel Altieri, UC Berkeley professor of agroecology. The social context has as much to do with democratizing food systems as with farming techniques. To change this and widened organic and sustainable farming in the US, two things need to happen:  access to land (particularly for younger farmers), and public investment in small-scale sustainable farming. In the U.S., the bulk of US farm subsidies benefit large-scale industrial farms; in Brazil, by comparison, national agricultural law requires the government to purchase 30 percent of small farms’ harvests, Altieri explains. “Can you imagine if that happened here?” Those laws happened because social movements brought pressure.

We have two paradigms that are clashing,” says Altieri, “the industrial model and the ecological one. Humanity has to make up its mind which way we want to go. The question for the US is, do we wait for the agricultural system to collapse before we make a change?”

Works Cited

Cook, Christopher. “Cuba’s Harvest of Surprises.” Craftmanships Magazine: January 15 2015. http://craftsmanship.net/cubas-harvest-surprises/

“Organic Farming Flourishes In Cuba, But Can It Survive Entry Of U.S. Agribusiness?” Democracy Now Newspaper: June 2 2015. http://www.democracynow.org/2015/6/2/organic_farming_flourishes_in_cuba_but

“Organic Agriculture: What are the environmental benefits of organic agriculture?” Food and Agriculture Organizations of United Nations. http://www.fao.org/organicag/oa-faq/oa-faq6/en//.

“What Can Cuba Teach America About Organic Farming?” PBS NewsHour: June 19 2015. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/cuba-can-teach-america-farming/.