Conventional versus organic

When it comes to conventional versus organic yields, it seems the only consensus is that the subject generates a good deal of commentary from WP readers on social media.

Last week, WP Brandon reporter Robert Arnason looked at whether organic agriculture, if properly supported with research and extension, could produce a sufficient volume of grains and oilseeds to feed the world.

Arnason gathered available data from crop insurers in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The reaction from WP readers online was as swift as it was divergent.

An online reader named “Richard” was among the first to comment:

“I wonder if it ever occurred to the author that the most experienced organic growers have nothing to do with crop insurance. Unlike their conventional peers, they have high equity-to-debt ratios and they don’t require quasi subsidy programs to validate their practices. Furthermore, it’s not how much you grow or even the unit value of what you produce, rather how much sticks? And the facts are well known among serious organic growers that three-to-five hundred dollars per acre, net, are very common. Of course, this flies in the face of the apocryphal innuendo on display here complete with cute graphics, but the fact remains you never hear an organic farmer complaining about the price of grain.”

“David Kucher” was quick to reply:

“Has it ever occurred to the respondent the most experienced conventional growers also have nothing to do with crop insurance?”

Online reader “Ed” had a much more dire view of the situation.

“This is a very interesting line of logic. It may look somewhat encouraging to those buried in the mythology of ‘conventional agriculture,’ as we refer to it these days, but upon closer inspection it is a complete disaster that is leading to a state of misery and multiple malfunctions in our safe food systems.…”

There was a great deal more back-and-forth between camps, but I thought the aptly-named “Happy Farmer” summed it up best:

“Here we go again. Organic bashing conventional, conventional bashing organic, each of us that farms is doing what we see as the best for us to make a living. Our opinions should pertain to our operations and not be of a political nature, where we talk how the ‘other’ farmer is doing it wrong. I can’t see myself farming organically due to the evidence in my area, but as I said, I will not speak against organic farmers that are farming the way they want to.… So farm the way you want, enjoy it and don’t bash anyone farming differently than you. After all, we all want to make a living.”

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