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How Regenerative Agriculture Could Be Key to the Green New Deal

How Regenerative Agriculture Could Be Key to the Green New Deal

Alison Rose Levy

With the 2018 mid-term election and the prospect of 2020, people are finally beginning electing more climate realists over fossil fuel apologists. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her band of newly elected progressive congresswomen, and Bernie Sanders, the most popular politician and likely presidential candidate, have proposed a Green New Deal. This paln would put the government’s economic resources behind a definitive move to renewable energy and an end to fossil fuel dominance.

None of this is really new. Much of these farming methods were used before and were displaced when the pursuit of money and profits become the main reason Food was grown. Food is not being grown to provide sustenance. It is being grown to generate profits.

This pretty well how the economic system has been compromised. As example, there absolutely no reason for there to be homelessness or people unable to afford shelter. The only reason it exists is homes are not being built as shelter , but to generate profits.

There no reason people should not have full health care access. The only reason this does not happen is profits have become the primary focus of health care.

Wars are not being waged in defense of “freedom and liberty” They are being waged to generate profits.

Beware of false profits. They are killing us and everything around us.


Isn’t growing organic food more profitable than chemical monoculture?

If looking at food as a source of profits , yes and no.

YES when considering there a number of people that can afford to pay that higher cost for Organic food.

NO when considering the fact there a whole lot of people that can not afford that higher cost for organic food.

There a whole lot of food grown in the US and Canada that exported (such as soybean to China) that only profitable because of economies of scale. Were the land used to grow Soy converted to growing Organic foods there would just not be enough of a market to sell it all. Added to that were there suddenly a flood of organically grown food , prices would drop for the same and it would become less “profitable”.

Artificial Scarcity has been a reality in the so called “free market” for a long time. While the Grapes of Wrath deemed a work of fiction , the part of the book where Fruit Growers were burning excess fruit so as to ensure there demand was very real , this even as the pickers of the fruit went hungry.

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The real question is , why if we produce ample food for all to eat , do people, in the hundreds of millions , die of hunger and malnutrition?


Prolonged applause for Alison Rose Levy’s very welcome insights. It is wonderful to see this crucial understanding become more prominent in political discussion.

Without meaning to dampen enthusiasm for a Green New Deal, regenerative agriculture is a much bigger, much more vital question and opportunity than any single political or governmental program, however welcome. Among other things, it is the only way to continue to have food: no one can continue to take from a system indefinitely and not allow it to regenerate.

As a more immediate political point, this is one standard by which we might judge the authenticity of a Green New Deal and the veracity of its proponents. Do they bother with regenerative agriculture or do they even discourage it? How do they manage it?

For what it might be worth, were this to be done well, it might unite a surprising range of factions. It requires both restricting or reducing subsidy to factory farm operations and loosening or removing restrictions on smaller operations. In keeping with the principles of FDR’s New Deal, it might involve further subsidy to smaller operations using regenerative methods.

This could be welcomed by very many rural communities that currently provide a great deal of Republican support and get very little for doing so. It could be a boon to corroded inner cities, decaying suburbs, and rust-belt areas where human and other resources go to considerable waste. It can be part of communities in pretty much all climates and starting from most any social condition.

The methodology to do this is established; there is nothing particularly experimental about it.

Well, hallelujah. Would we could go straight to training people and implementing solutions.


Not necessarily, not in the short run, not if you are counting in dollars and cents, as people do. So, for instance, in some places at some times, a farmer can destroy his land with lots of biocides, pay off all or most of a mortgage, and then sell the dead land for housing. That is a lot of profit gained and a lot of value lost.

Eventually, all that is a losing proposition, but that loss need not be reflected in the quarterly statement of a particular individual or business.

This is a major problem with letting market economics determine decisions.


Well, that’s one real question.

But another one is “Why, if we can raise the food that we need indefinitely while regenerating our ecosystems, why do destroy what supports us instead?”

It seems to me that the reasons fall into a couple of significant camps.

A simple one is that many of us do not know any better. A proof of this is that when we teach people how to farm or garden regeneratively, many do–usually with some learning curve thereafter, depending on what sort of experience they have to begin with.

A more complicated and resistant problem is that many people who have access to resources because of extensively concern themselves with keeping and extending that access. So they attend to money rather than keeping the land–and if they do not, they are apt to lose that land, which of course accomplishes nothing. So they act to garner profit in the short term rather than to maintain or extend value in either the short or the long term. They move to maximize payment for their wares rather than to maximize distribution of their wares.

People who applaud the market tend to present these as coterminous. In fact, they are not similar.

And then there are just other complications introduced by all this profit|loss stuff. I spoke with an organic grower working just outside of Fresno–not necessarily regenerative, per se, but far more so than most, and someone who has managed to stay in business while making a clean product. He is retiring within a couple of years, and says that no one will be able to follow in his footsteps because it takes his forty-some years of active experience and also his connections to stay in business. He points to a plot next door where someone had pulled up a field of 5-year old Zinfandel grape plants. Now, that’s a telling thing: those plants should just be coming into fairly strong production after five years investment of care, so this indicates a dead loss for somebody.

The problem was that the price of the wine made with those grapes had dropped, so that the owner could not get by selling the wine even with a good harvest. Someone had crunched numbers and decided that the company would do better not putting the water and work into grapes that year.

In terms of ecology, of value, or of supply to a population, the decision is abysmal, and that does not begin to address the problems of the people who had thought to tend those grapes or harvest them. But it was at least arguably reasonable in terms of a standard cost benefit analysis to the owner of the land.

Meanwhile, along the side of the field were rows of prickly pear cactus that the farmer’s hands had planted, with chile and tomatoes sprawling in their shade. I mentioned the idea of growing such things, but the farmer dismissed it: “The people here eat that alright, but I have no idea who I would sell that to.”


Great comments, bardamu. :slightly_smiling_face:
Agree 100% .

Is there any truth to this?