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How has consumer demand changed agriculture?

Robin Smith, Attorney at Law and former Assistant Secretary, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources

Robin Smith, Attorney at Law and former Assistant Secretary, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources

It is easy to view the issues around large industrial farming (animal waste, non-point pollution) as a problem concerning corporate profits and greed. Of course, it’s more complicated than that. Please discuss how consumer demands have changed over the last 20 years and how the demand for virtually unlimited, convenient and inexpensive food has changed the way we practice agriculture in America.

Robin Smith: This is a bit of a chicken and egg question (sorry), since food product companies initiated a number of campaigns to increase consumer demand for certain agricultural products. Market expansion and a desire for greater efficiency led some food product companies to create integrated supply chains. That was one of several factors that drove the trend toward fewer, but larger, farms. Some of the environmental problems that people associate animal agriculture in particular came from that transition. Larger animal operations require more intensive management and some farmers who were part of the rapid swine farm expansion in N.C. in the late 1980s-1990s weren’t prepared.

 

Tommy, Vivian

Tommy Porter operates a 900 acre farm near Mt. Pleasant NC in Cabarrus County. They raise cattle, hogs, and chickens and have won numerous environmental and conservation awards for their farm practices.

Tommy Porter: Science and technology have changed the way we farm today to meet the food demands of the world. We now have the most abundant, safest and affordable food supply in the world. As to large “industrial farming,” environmental concerns are addressed and strictly monitored more than ever before, with less impact on the environment than ever before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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