Nibbles: Quinoa, Conference, Genebanks, Dietary diversity, Subsidies

by Jeremy Cherfas on November 26, 2013

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Smaje November 26, 2013 at 10:27 pm

It’s an interesting analysis by Bellmare, though I have to confess having only taken one short college course in economics I’m struggling slightly to get to grips with some of his concepts. On the other hand, as a working farmer I think I can clarify the practical situation thus:

Let:
L=the social living wage
c=total costs of production
R=total farm revenue net of subsidy
s=agricultural subsidy

The typical farm policy environment, P, can then be expressed:

(1) R – c < L

However, with the introduction of a subsidy, the new farm policy environment, P’, can be expressed:

(2) (R+s) – c P , therefore most farmers prefer P’. However, we also want to continue farming because we like it, because we don’t want to lose our land and because we value serving our communities – therefore as we experience the secular policy trend P’ -> P we try to carry on farming as best we can.

Thus, I’m not sure that farmers do anything quite so irrational as trying to equalise the marginal product with the marginal cost of labour. But nevertheless we do have to respond to price signals: here in the UK, s is based largely on farm area, and c comprises largely labour costs, hence large-scale arable farming is preferred, with things like vegetables mostly imported from places where L < L(UK). But food prices, F, are determined largely by retailer behaviour, S, here in the West European Economic Territories (weet), and also by the tax and tariff policies of the government administration, A, leading to our final equation:

(3) R + s = Sweet FA

Reply

Dave Wood November 27, 2013 at 9:41 am

Global Crop Diversity Trust in Chennai: The link is to rubbish reporting from a local news agency. There is a good report in “The Hindu” – a reputable national newspaper.

Reply

Luigi Guarino November 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Thanks, Dave, here’s the link to the piece in The Hindu.

Reply

Leave a Comment