Conflict and resolve

June 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

“The most tragic conflict in the history of conservation is that between the conservationists and the farmers and ranchers. It is tragic because it is unnecessary. There is no irresolvable conflict here, but the conflict that exists can be resolved only on the basis of a common understanding of good practice. Here again we need to foster and study working models: farms and ranches that are knowledgeably striving to bring economic practice into line with ecological reality, and local food economies in which consumers conscientiously support the best land stewardship.”      – Wendell Berry, “Hope,” The Fatal Harvest Reader

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I just want to add: yes. And you know, as far as we have to go, in my experience there are already many moving in this direction. Berry’s essay was published in 2002. Ten years later, I’ve come across an encouraging number of farmers who want to work with conservationists, and conservationists who are working to understand the needs of farmers. Have we adequately defined “a common understanding of good practice”? Oh, no. That will long be a conversation in progress, a dynamic and region-specific process. But to begin to agree on some fundamental principles of good practice, alongside an awareness of what humans need to survive both in the present and long-term, is a foundation that, I think, many have begun to build. And we’ll keep on building it, as more and more of us realize that we must.


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