FARMER FOCUS: Organic not economically viable

I am not a greenie. You will not find me stomping around my property in outlandish garb on a full moon’s night chanting some incomprehensible encouragement to Mother Earth.

But, I do not like poison.

Neither do I like concentrated, artificial chemicals parading as fertilizers. The devastation this has caused to birds and wild animals is great and has sometimes shown to be irreversible.

If this is the impact on animals, then why should it not have a similar impact on humans?

I began reading about organic farming and started farming accordingly. Then, I was urged to have my farm organically certified. I was hesitant; it seemed too much like a money-making racket to me.

But, I eventually succumbed and had the farm organically certified.

I sometimes feel it is not the farm being certified, but me being medically certified as having some abnormal trait affecting my judgement. The reason for this is that farming organically and being certified as such is certainly not an economically wise decision.

The additional price for organic products does not nearly make up for the loss of productivity, cost of certification, additional feeding costs and other restraints. This certainly is the scenario in South Africa.

The aspect I like about organic farming is the goal is sustainable farming, not only with regard to the land, but also the animals. When the average of lactations per cow on bigger dairies in this country is now close to 1.7, something feels wrong.

My farm and I have now been certified organic for 10 years. I can honestly testify the quality of my land, animals and the bird life has improved substantially.

The health of my financial state is sadly another matter.

Danie Schutte runs an organic dairy farm consisting of 90ha in the east of Pretoria, South Africa. Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year

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