Focus on natural capital costs in industrial farming

By August 8, 2016Feature, Trends

By Dan Mitchell, independent journalist, Green Biz

It is nearly impossible to calculate the real costs and benefits — including the externalized or invisible costs — of any human activity: growing soybeans; making car tires; cooking dinner for your family. When growing soy, for example, it’s easy enough to calculate the total price paid for inputs such as fertilizer or pesticides and the price received for the finished crop.

But accounting for the total costs and benefits — such as environmental damage from fertilizer runoff or the social benefits of putting land to productive use — isn’t something we tend to do as a culture.

For example, the true costs of producing a Quarter Pounder with cheese are borne not only by McDonald’s, but also by all of us who have to deal with, among other things, environmental degradation caused by industrial farming and the bad public health outcomes of eating such meals.

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