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The following was excerpted from an article in a farming trade publication.
ďFarmers who switched from synthetic to organic farming last year have seen their
crop yields decline. Many of these farmers feel that it would be too expensive to
resume synthetic farming at this point, given the money that they invested in
organic farming supplies and equipment. But their investments will be relatively
minor compared to the losses from continued lower crop yields. Organic farmers
should switch to synthetic farming rather than persist in an unwise course. And the
choice to farm organically is financially unwise, given that it was motivated by
environmental rather than economic concerns.Ē
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.
In this article the author recommends that farmers who switched from synthetic to organic farming last year should switch back to
synthetic farming as soon as possible. Citing a decline in crop yields as the primary reason for the recommendation to reverse course,
the author predicts that crop yields for organic farmers will continue to be lower unless synthetic farming is resumed. Moreover, the
author argues that organic farming is not a financially viable choice for farmers in any case because it is motivated by environmental,
not economic, concerns. The authorís position is unconvincing for several reasons.
First, there is no evidence that the first-year yields of farmers who switched to organic farming are representative of their future
yields. Common sense would lead one to expect that first-year yields would be lower simple due to the inexperience of farmers
accustomed to synthetic farming methods. Moreover, other factors such as weather or infertile seed stock could be responsible for the
lower yields. Since the author does not address these or other factors that could account for the lower yields, his prediction that yields
will continue to be lower unless a switch is made back to synthetic farming is not well founded.
Second, the author assumes that economic and environmental concerns are mutually exclusive and that only enterprises motivated by
economic concerns are financially rewarding. These assumptions are not supported in the argument. Moreover, there are good reasons
to suspect they may be false in the case at hand. For example, while it may be true that synthetic farming methods produce
significantly higher yields in the short term, it may also be the case that they fail to sustain this yield in the long term, whereas the
opposite is true for organic methods. If this were the case, the financial advantage of synthetic over organic method would be illusory.
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In conclusion, the authorís prediction that yields will continue to lower for farmers who adopt organic farming methods is not well
reasoned. To strengthen this forecast it would be necessary to examine and eliminate other possible factors that could account for the
lower yields experienced. Lacking a full examination of these factors, it is difficult to accept the authorís position. Finally, the authorís
view that organic farming is financially unwise is completely unsupported.