The growing popularity of farmers’ markets and organic produce are evidence of a recent shift in public thinking over our nation’s food production.
Although only wealthy progressives like Gwyneth Paltrow are able to afford such produce, the fact remains that we are more interested than ever in where our food comes from. We want to know exactly how crops are grown, whether genetically modified food is safe and sustainable, and whether chickens prefer to spend their days wandering outdoors in the cold rather than nestling in cosy battery cages with 10,000 of their nearest and dearest.
At the same time, it is also true that the global human population is expanding rapidly. As of late 2016, there were 7.4 billion of us. On current projections, there will be an additional 4 billion mouths to feed in 2100. World leaders rightly worry that it may not be possible to produce enough food to sustain humanity. One mooted suggestion is to cull around 7 billion humans so as to fall in line with the recommendation of the Georgia Guidestones. Since this proposal has proved largely unpopular so far, we are forced to cast the net deeper for alternative ideas.
With both a burgeoning interest in food production, and the need to produce more, it seems to us that collective farming offers a solution that will suit (almost) everyone. In general, collective farming is a cooperative association of farmers who work land owned by the state but who own most of their own farm implements. At the moment, too many farms are owned by private individuals and families; however, this is neither the most efficient nor politically-desirable structure. As most mainstream economics experts state, the greatest efficiencies and economies are derived when resources are shared, the land given up to the state and production planned centrally. Collective farming is a model that has been applied almost worldwide from diverse countries such as China, the Soviet Union and Israel. By working the land together, people cooperate naturally and form the strongest of binds.
Given the obvious advantages of collective farming, it is surprising to find a number of critics. As might be expected, most criticism comes from greedy private landowners. These individuals argue that they will personally gain nothing from giving up their land to the state, and lose everything. This is clearly a selfish argument as it fails to consider the collective gain and centers only on private wealth. Another type of criticism is less straight-forward to deal with as we explain below.
Some historians claim that collective farming has a chequered past and suggest, for example, that Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin was less than entirely successful in implementing his vision. Others point to Chairman Mao’s alleged failure to derive maximum benefits from collective farming.
In our view, whilst there was some level of attrition during the leaderships of Stalin and Mao, these are historical accidents where the exception proves the rule that collective farming is the natural way of producing food. Science and technology have evolved hugely since the earlier collectivization experiments were conducted. Crucially, the existence of large merged corporations such as Bayer-Monsanto means that the state has important allies in its efforts to return people successfully to the land with only minimal attrition rates.