That was the subtitle of an interesting article in the Washington Post. While I do not agree with all the premises of the article, it does a good job debunking the notion that small size is the same as sustainable.
Size, as they say, isn’t everything. As shorthand, the big-equals-bad equation is convenient. But it obscures an inconvenient truth: Plenty of small farmers do not embrace sustainable practices — the Amish farmers I know, for example, love their pesticides — and some big farmers are creative, responsible stewards of the land. “Tony’s is a fantastic operation,” says Helene Murray, executive director of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. “And he just happens to grow a lot of corn and soybeans.”
Thompson’s farm is not organic as he once dreamed it would be. Indeed, after studying the scientific literature, he finds himself mostly comfortable using genetically modified seeds. The rewards inherent in herbicide-tolerant soybeans outweigh the risks, he says. While he does have some concerns about GM corn, he says, “the prevailing technology is a good path, maybe the best available at the moment. This will change. We will learn.”
Still, Thompson has many tools to improve his farm’s environmental sustainability.
In my experience, Thompson is not all that unusual as a farmer - most are continuously trying to find ways to make food more abundant while making sure they leave healthy vibrant farmland for their kids.