Trends are often weak predictors of the future but in this case the trend line reminds us that folks are finally trying to wrap their minds around the fact that we are locked in a struggle between the interests of big old companies that are used to making things happen and used to getting their way spewing toxic compounds in their wake and a new breed of capitalistic venture that honors the three legged stool model for their business. We have all been taught that the most stable structure is a tripod and the business model that is based on people, profit and the planet has the power to change our world significantly.
I tried running a few numbers to try to understand the 10% growth curve.In 2011, 35 billion dollars were earned by farms and businesses bringing organic products to the marketplace. For perspective, the top five oil companies in the US made 135 billion (and received 10 billion in subsidies) If the trend line continues for organic producers, within five or six years, their economic impact will grow to nearly 70 billion dollars, over half what the oil companies are raking in. There are 17,600 registered organic farms across the US. Even though they are only .0015% as profitable as the oil companies, their hiring of workers has been running about 4% higher than the national average. Last year, more new young farmers went into business than at any time in out history. This tells me that there is energy afoot that might just nudge the trend line higher.
For grins, I imagined a world in which the subsidies for oil companies would be revoked. Most folks who are used to having wealth realize that investments that pay off over time are critical to their continued success, and I don’t think oil companies are any less astute than other corporations, so imagine just taking away the subsidies for five or six years, excluding the portion that comes back to them over time bearing “interest”. In actual fact, the subsidies we have paid in the past are still paying dividends and income from investments, as we have all learned is taxed at a lower rate. If we just take ten billion off the top for five or six years, we begin to see a sort of parity between what we spend on organic food and what the big oil companies make from selling us fuel. Keeping all things equal for just six years and eliminating the 10 billion in subsidies for oil companies, by late in 2016, both industries would meet somewhere around 75 billion dollars. The biggest difference would be that the oil industry would divide their profit amongst five major corporate players but if the organic farms held steady on their production per farm, nearly 35,000 farms would be required to keep up with demand. Roughly twice as many as today. At this level, over two million dollars ($2,142,857.10) would be the average production per farm.
Building a new culture that honors and respects the natural systems that have fed us since the beginning of time seems like a safer bet than continuing to deplete water tables, contaminate the groundwater we don’t suck up and sterilizing dirt that had formally been organism filled soil. Those of us that have held dirt from a “conventional” modern, industrial, farm in our hands and compared it to organic soil that is managed for biodiversity know the difference. With a bit of luck and a lot of education, we can close the gap between the right thing to do and the way we do things today. I urge each and every one of you to educate, lobby, write your representatives and not only vote your heart on these issues, but vote with your dollars to stop the rape of Mother Earth, the poisoning of her waterways and do whatever you can to stop the corporate interests who have forgotten about the people and the planet in their quest for our cash. It seems that the only thing the big corporate dogs understand is the green-backed dollar.