A TAXONOMY OF ETHICAL PRINCIPLES OF FAMILY FARMING
[ Forming a Consensus on the Mutual Ethics of Family Farming]
I. PRINCIPLES WHICH SECURE THE ENDS OF AGRICULTURE:
1.) The dedication of land, water and other
resources critical to farming is fitting in nature and to
be presumed moral unless, in special cases, circumstances
2.) The dedication and preservation of resources,
mainly fertile land and water, for farming must be as permanent
as the human needs they serve
3.) The conditions of farming for farmers and
farm-worker must be rewarding and healthy enough to assure
that the vocation will not be abandoned or seriously damaged.
4.) The economic conditions of farming must
encourage the preservation of agricultural resources.
5.) The economic and regulatory conditions of
farming must protect the cleanliness of the soil and the safety
of its crops.
II. PRINCIPLES WHICH GUIDE THE MEANS OF AGRICULTURE:
A) Farmers and Workers:
1.) Rewards for the work of farming are to be
justly shared by all who work at it in proportion to their
time effort and responsibility and in consideration of the
needs of a decent human living.
2.) Due to its ability to secure the knowledge
and caring needed for good farming, continuity of time and
place of farmers, whether owners, renters, managers or laborers,
is to be preserved or encouraged as far as possible.
3.) Other things being equal, local farm ownership
and local owner management has benefits so extensive as to
endow it with moral preference in policy.
4.) The social needs of farm labor, such as
community, church and school continuity, are of such importance
that farmer/community collaborative efforts to provide permanent
residence where possible are morally laudable.
5.) A moral obligation exists for farmers and
their communities to unify for the purpose of gaining the
power to act ethically without severe consequences where that
power is out of their hands as individuals. Futile individual
heroism is not a moral principle.
B) Impacts on Animals and Other Living Systems:
1.) Although used and even consumed in production,
natural beings, plants and animals are the sacred gifts of
Creation, given for our use, not abuse. They are worthy in
themselves of being treated with respect. Their diversity
and the harmony of their coexistence is prima facie good and
should be protected.
2.) Serious harm to nature's balance in both
wild and cultivated states and serious suffering imposed on
animals must be measured with humble estimates of the importance
of the human utility achieved.
3.) A moral obligation exists for farmers to
be open, consultative, and supportive of each other in seeking
advice in finding alternative production methods which can
reduce harmful side effects.
4.) Because of their gentleness on the environment
and sustainability, solar, biointensive and other regenerative
technologies enjoy a prima facie ethical superiority
5.) It is morally abusive to regard trivial
increases in human utility as a justification for serious
harm to nature.
6.) It is morally unacceptable to cause serious
suffering to animals for trivial reasons.
7.) Any form of animal agriculture about whose
animals we must say; "They would, from their birth on,
have been better off dead" is morally shameful.
8.) Freedom from inhumane pain and pathological
stress should be sought for animals.
9.) Serious and long term suppression of animals'
freedom to express natural functions and movements is not
justified by non-essential economic advantages.
10.) Burdens and the costs of limits placed
on farmers to preserve nature's balance, variety and elements
of wildness for the public heritage are justly to be shared
by the public.
11.) Diversity in cropping systems and the integration
of animals into farming systems have values great enough to
justify a prima facie preference for them.
C) Farmer to Farmer Relations:
1.) Friendship based forms of competition must
replace destructive forms.
2.) Collaboration in shared information, experience
and labor should be cultivated.
3.) A moral obligation exists for the community
of farmers (and non-farmers)to assist in the making the established
reliability of more benign farming alternatives, such as organic,
biological, ecological, regenerative systems, known and acceptable
among other older methods.
4.) Innovators in the direction of more benign
alternatives must be treated with honor and with tolerance
for the inevitable early mishaps.
5.) Collaborative efforts by farmers to return
the power of ethical decision making to farmers must be cultivated.
D) Farmer /Community Relations:
1.) Community based policy making in general
has benefits which favor it morally in policy.
2.) Collaborative, friendship based, forms of
environmental protection which are respectful of the community
and the needs of farming are morally superior to more distant
or coercive forms.
3.) The economic stability of both the community
and the farms which surround it should be the common goal
4.) Wherever possible agricultural production
decision making should be communally sensitive and community
supported and be characterized by a tendency to share benefits,
circulate wealth and employment opportunities in the community.
5.) A moral obligation exists to reduce harmful
side effects of farming on the community
6.) Environmental policy makers must recognize
that poverty and economic hardship in the country-side is
a cause of environmental damage. Economic justice for farmers
must be pursued for protection of the environment which farmers
and communities share.
E) Farmer /Consumer Relations
1.) Forms of marketing and purchasing which
restore a friendship-like relationship between farmer and
consumer are to be preferred where possible.
2.) Institutions and practices which enhance
consumer awareness of the nature and needs of farming are
to be encouraged.
3.) Institutions and practices which increase
farmer awareness of the food needs and concerns of consumers
are to be encouraged.
4.) Free market forces as a means to produce
and market food must be frequently guided and limited by the
moral demands of justice and basic human needs as well as
other values of the means and ends of farming. The free market
must be kept as an instrument of human good.
5.) It is morally appropriate to guide free
market forces by the communally determined needs of local
consumers and local farmers.