Consumer power driving change in US agriculture

A typical Arizona desert landscape.
A typical Arizona desert landscape.

Farmers markets in the United States are reflecting the strong growth in consumer demand for naturally produced foods.

These include grass fed beef and dairy products made with milk from non-BST treated cows. A case in point is the Fiscalini Cheese Company, based in Modesto California.

“The business makes a selection of high quality artisan cheeses from a proportion of the milk produced by its herd of Holstein and Jersey cows,” explained Fiscalini’s Mike Green.

“These are then sold at farmers’ markets throughout the South West United States.

“There is a growing demand for high quality cheese made from BST-free milk. This, in turn, reflects the wish of consumers to have their food produced in the most natural way possible.

“As a company we are striving to deliver an eating sensation which builds on our commitment to natural production methods. In fact, Fiscalini cheddar performed tremendously well in a recent international cheese competition, held in London.”

Green made these comments while attending a New Year farmers’ market held in Phoenix Arizona. Significantly, all of the beef suppliers there confirmed a commitment to rearing cattle, using pasture as the main source of feed. Hormonal implants are not used at any stage of the production process.

Meanwhile, there is increasing evidence that US consumers are becoming more interested in the long term sustainability of their farming industry as a whole.

Michael Olson, a member of the management team at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, told Farming Life that water conservation is the biggest challenge facing agriculture in the South West United States.

“There is a growing trade-off between the needs of the growing human population in the south west and the fact that irrigation is the only way of guaranteeing satisfactory crop yields in this part of the world,” he said.

“Members of the public are also telling farmers that they must act to conserve as much of the natural landscape and desert heritage as possible.

“It’s all about working with nature, rather than against it.”