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I mentioned this sustainable small-farm model in the biodiesel discussion in Jérôme's post on how much biomass went into  creating the oil we burn.

I believe it's possible to evolve towards something of the kind you mention, which could offer the benefits you mention. But it would be a huge evolution -- demanding almost Maoist intervention, in spite of what you say -- if it were to significantly reduce unemployment. What government agency, with what powers, would redistribute land? After all, "40 acres and a mule" came after a bitter civil war...

Perhaps a redefinition of the CAP in favour of small farmers might begin a slide. Currently, the way the CAP works (subsidies are paid per hectare, and based on specific fields contractually consecrated to growing a specific crop) is a thinly-disguised form of pressure towards rapidly-increasing farm size; land prices have risen as farmers borrow to attempt to attain "critical mass". Smaller farmers leaving for retirement are not replaced, their farms are gobbled up by bigger ones. If the CAP subsidized, neither the crops nor the land, but the farmer, there might be a change in the right direction.

Otherwise, I'm all for what you suggest. I was all for it thirty years ago. I just didn't get my 40 acres and a mule!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 1st, 2005 at 02:07:49 AM EST
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