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Essay on Analysis of an Argument - Any thoughts? [#permalink]
23 Sep 2011, 11:19
It's one of my first tries at this, and I would like to know your opinion on this. Thank you, and please don't hold back!!!
The following was excerpted from an article in a farming trade publication:
“Farmers 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.”
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.
The author of the article says that farmers who have switched from synthetic to organic farming have had financial loses over the last year due to declining crop yields. He also says that another switch is financially impossible for them. Then, he suggests that the losses from this switch would be far below those expected over the coming years in the crop yields continue to be so low, and that he believes the farmers should switch back to synthetic, as he suggests that organi farming is in general financially unwise, and is chosen on no financial reason at all. This logic is flawed, as I will demonstrate below. I will also suggest ways in which this logic can be further solidified.
First, the author claims that the farmers are in no financial position to make the transition back to synthetic farming. Then a contradiction occurs; he suggests that they switch to synthetic farming, claiming that the loss of this action would be far inferior to the expected losses if low crop yields persist over the next period. He fails to take into account that, firstly, it is impossible for the farmers to switch, and secondly, that since organic and synthetic farming are two different fields, with different application of equipment and labor, it is a mistake to assume that they will both immediately produce the same results, either of crop yields or profits. He also fails to recognize that as happens with most other fields of farming, it takes time for the farmers to extract the maximum out of their fields. He also fails to recognize that a switch back to synthetic farming might not have the same results as it once had.
Second, he claims that synthetic farming is financially unwise because it is motivated not by economical, but environmental reasons. That is an assumption he fails to back with any sort of proof. It is a fact, however, that in general products of organic farming, due to their relative scarcity and difficulty in production are more expensive that those of synthetic farming; hence their market value and price are higher also. He also fails to recognize, that even thought these products have a higher price, their demand is driven by a market that seeks better food, of higher quality and production values, something that synthetic farming can in no way procure for this market.
However, this argument could be solidified in a variety of ways. For example, the author could produce evidence, if that exists, of the crop yields being at the possible production limit, thus rightfully suggesting that farmers that continue in the production of organic products will continue to sustain losses. He could also base his opinion of organic farming on reason such as it being a section of the market too small to produce long-term profits, backing this with the corresponding numbers, of course.
In summary, the authors befalls the fallacy of assuming that organic farming can never produce profits for these farmers, as well as that organic farming is bound to economic failure due to its being driven wholly by environmental reasons. He should include numbers and examples to solidify those positions, as well as follow a reasoning that is broader in perspective.