Make the Right Choice the Easy Choice!

Make the Right Choice the Easy Choice is one of Energize America‘s core principles.  When it comes to energy, all too often, there are bureaucratic, financial, and other factors that inhibit the right choice being the easy choice for government, businesses, and individuals.

Sadly, this is not limited to energy issues.

Just today, listening to NPR, I learned that there is a twist to agricultural insurance that serves as a barrier to good, sustainable, organic agricultural practices.

In the Morning Edition reported Organic Farmers Face Higher Insurance Costs

Organic farmers face a cost that’s been eating into their profits. … Organic farmers don’t use pesticides. … When you don’t use pesticides, you pay more in insurance.

Organic farmers pay a five percent surcharge on Federal Crop Insurance “because the government believes that organic farming might be risky”. Believes?  

So, because there is a belief, which will take perhaps six years of data to determine as to fact, organic farmers need to pay $100s more each year in insurance costs.

Right now, according to the report, 85% of agricultural land is insured while just 9% of organic certified food is covered by crop insurance. Now, there could be many reasons for this (including difference in types of crops), but is it possible that that five percent cuts into organic agriculture’s insurance coverage? Does that five percent make organic farming more tenuous? More expensive?

Organic already costs more, in part because farmers need to pay significant sums for getting their farms certified (and monitored).  “Certified Organic” has that added burden cost of getting certified.

Now, a core societal imperative is, in my opinion, to figure out how to move from Cost to Buy to Cost to Own in our practices, from individuals to government.  We need to consider Cost to Own, not Cost to Buy, in our decisions as much as possible.

America has developed a 99-cent shopping obsession that has turned Benjamin Franklin’s axiom “a penny saved is a penny earned” on its head. A price of $100 gives us pause, but a price of $99.99 seems like a bargain. Combined with easy access to revolving credit and our culture, our focus on purchase price overshadows the total cost of many of our purchase decisions. We tend to focus on the “cost to buy” rather than the “cost to own.” More often than we care to admit, we are — to trot out another axiom that predates Franklin — “penny wise and pound foolish.”

So began Cost & Benefits of Going Green, an article published earlier this year.  We need to figure out how to become less “pound foolish” as a society.NPR reported that the Farm Bill wending through Congress calls for a repeal of the five percent surcharge unless and until the Department of Agriculture can show that there is added productivity risk with organic farming due to the non-use of pesticides.

On first blush, this might seem reasonable. Becoming less pound foolish.

Why is Cost to Buy or Cost to Own relevant for this discussion?  Well, consider the equation?

Should we consider agriculture solely in terms of the cost of the tomato, bushel of corn, or orange to produce? Or, is there a larger cost in terms of energy usage? Do organic calories have get eaten closer to where produced, and thus have lower food miles?  Should we consider pesticides’ impact on the environment and the relationship of pesticide poisoning to human health (and health care costs)?

Even if Organic agriculture merited, in the stove-piped vision of “crop insurance”, a five percent surcharge, the societal benefits derived from having ever more organic (and sustainable) agriculture are far greater than this surcharge on crop insurance.

If we really considered Cost to Own, when it comes to agriculture, pesticide users would have to pay a fee for the damage that that pesticide causes to the environment and for the risks (costs) it has for human health.  Level the playing field and make full-cost accounting and cost transparency the guiding vision.

If we — as a society — adopted true full-cost accounting and had cost transparency, many progressive issues would skyrocket in priority.

How does the equation of value change if one shifts from “cost to buy” to “cost to own” for arenas like the following?

  • Head Start (education, writ large)
  • Rehabilitation programs for prisoners
  • Living wages
  • Universal Health Care
  • Environmental protection
  • Global Warming
  • Renewable Energy
  • Organic agriculture

In these and so many other arenas, the progressive agenda can appear as a higher “cost to buy” while, in truth, being the far lower “Cost to Own” society.

The Conservative agenda is, therefore, “penny wise and pound foolish” at its core, focused on narrow definitions of costs and benefits.

The Progressive agenda, however, asks society to be pound wise.

Thus, back to organic agriculture and insurance for a moment. Perhaps it is pesticide users that should be paying the surcharge since they almost certainly create greater societal risk and damage.

And, well, if it cost more to apply pesticides to crops, that might help lower overall pesticide use. That might help

Make the right choice the easy choice.

That would be good for all of us.

Ask yourself:  Are you doing
your part to


Are you ready
  to do your part?

Your voice can
… and will make a difference.



One response to “Make the Right Choice the Easy Choice!

  1. Pingback: CCAN Blog » WashPost Allows Mine Executive to Peddle Falsehoods

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