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The Small expectations of Regenerative Agriculture

  • , by Jacob Wolki
  • 2 min reading time
The Small expectations of Regenerative Agriculture

On my social media channels I proposed the thought experiment of a pastured hog farm producing 1000 pigs per week. Can it be "Regen/holistic/whatever"? It challenged a lot of biases.

Australia produces approx 5.3million pigs per year and imports 175,000 tonnes of bone out pork. What's that, another 2million pigs? If this space wants to assert a farm can't produce more than 10(?) a week before losing integrity and becoming an outdoor factory farm then we will need a fair few small farmers pulling their weight. 10% of 7m pigs, 700k 700k pigs % 5200 p/a = 1346 farms 1346 farmers raising pasture raised hogs at 10 per week to capture a small 10% of the market.

I, for one, would love more small producers and more descentralised production. Unfortunately it just won't happen in this fiat, inflationary, regulatory system. I've been in this space since 2019, and would propose that it's gained more interest globally in the last 4 years than the previous 20, and still I have watched more small farms close than start. I've custom processed for over a dozen local farms that have closed their doors within the last 4 years.

The other elephant in the room is affordability. I want people to access my food as I believe in it. Is a better label for the current state of Regenerative Agriculture "Boutique Agriculture"? Fancy, marketable, high class and out of reach for 95% of people.

I also believe that people can generally make better choices with this spending to afford better food. But I do know that protein at 2-3-4x the shelf price of bottom barrel competitors is hard to swallow.

Regen fans - like myself - need to challenge our bias. When is big big enough? Maybe when people can afford the food? Maybe when it's fresh on supermarket shelves? Maybe when everyone has access? Maybe when 100% of land is under holistic stewardship? Maybe when Regen can pay good salaries? Maybe when there's easy abattoir access to all producers? Maybe when there's no animals in cages? Maybe when our populations isn't riddled with chronic dis-ease and inflammation? Maybe when seed oil have poison warnings on them?

We are skeptical of scale because we don't like the scale that exists. We won't change the status quo without challenging it in the arena.

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