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The Time to End Farm Subsidies is Now

I try to avoid discussing and mixing politics with my posts but frankly it’s impossible when government is so heavily involved in agriculture. The very existence of government subsidies (read tax payer $) is what keeps destructive, corporate agriculture alive and thriving. I see it all the time, other small farmers and consumers calling for equal or greater subsidies to small farmers. The thought seems to be that it’s only fair that if the government is going to help the big guys, the little guys should get “help” too. It doesn’t make the farmers more prosperous, it brings in corporate interests who, like hyenas following the scent of blood from a dying animal, see an opportunity to line their pockets and grow their portfolios. This is how we got the Archer Daniel-Midland, Cargill, Tyson, Smithfields and others.

There are several government programs (tax $) that give small, beginning, and minority farmers money to “help” them get started or to implement practices that are conservation minded. Now when we first got started, I did look into some of these government grants and programs. What I found was just more ridiculous bureaucratic foolishness that wastes money, time and resources. For example, I had a well on the property we were leasing. I wanted to explore the possibility of using that well for irrigation and for watering livestock. Our government would not allow for that, they required that  we drill a new well. Not only did they require a new well be drilled, but that we install a pump that is twice as big as we needed!

I don’t advocate for applying for such programs simply because of how infuriatingly wasteful and inefficient I found them to be, but I came to the conclusion that they are unethical. Several years ago, I met a family who farms as their sole source of income after losing their construction business.  They shared with me that they refused to seek any government funds because it was not right for them to take money that had been taken from fellow tax payers for the sake of helping their farm pay for fencing, seeds, equipment and such. I couldn’t agree with them more. If I want to be a farmer, let it be by my own merit, not by looking for a hand out.

 

But back to the whole ending subsidy idea. There are many who will say that I’m an uneducated idiot for suggesting such a thing and that doing so would force farmers out of business and that the corporations would just get stronger.  Well, they’re wrong and I can prove it. Back in the 1980’s, New Zealand was in a financial crisis. Government spending was 44% of the GDP and the national debt was 65% of the GDP. A newly elected government recognized that some drastic had to be done and one of those drastic measures was to eliminate agricultural subsidies immediately. They didn’t slowly phase them out or put them on some 10 year reduction plan. Overnight the money stopped, cold turkey.

New Zealand’s economy is even more dependent on agriculture than the United States and many predicted a disaster. Well a disaster never happened. The corporations didn’t take over, corporations love welfare and since the government wasn’t handing out any more, small family farms stepped up and the corporate conglomerates lost power. Read the following excerpts with links to articles.

“The removal of farm subsidies in New Zealand gave birth to a vibrant, diversified, and growing rural economy, and it debunked the myth that farming cannot prosper without subsidies. Thus rather than passing another big government farm bill that taxpayers can’t afford, the U.S. Congress should step back and explore the proven alternative of free market farming.”

<a href=”https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1680259″>https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1680259</a>

Today, New Zealand’s farmers are some of the world’s most productive and innovative.

Removing government assistance completely, New Zealand officials say, freed farmers to produce what people really want, and to do so in an efficient way that could turn a profit.

Since the reforms, New Zealand farmers have cut costs, diversified their land use, and developed new products, Clark says.

Additionally, productivity in agriculture has grown faster than the New Zealand economy as a whole.

http://dailysignal.com/2016/09/22/what-happened-when-new-zealand-got-rid-of-government-subsidies-for-farmers/

By 1984, New Zealand sheep farming was receiving about 44 percent of its income from government subsidies. Its major product was lamb, and lamb in the international marketplace was selling for about $12.50 (with the government providing another $12.50)per carcass. Well, we did away with all sheep farming subsidies within one year. And of course the sheep farmers were unhappy. But once they accepted the fact that the subsidies weren’t coming back, they put together a team of people charged with figuring out how they could get $30 per lamb carcass. The team reported back that this would be difficult, but not impossible. It required producing an entirely different product, processing it in a different way and selling it in different markets. And within two years, by 1989, they had succeeded in converting their $12.50 product into something worth $30. By 1991, it was worth $42; by 1994 it was worth $74; and by 1999 it was worth $115. In other words, the New Zealand sheep industry went out into the marketplace and found people who would pay higher prices for its product. You can now go into the best restaurants in the U.S. and buy New Zealand lamb, and you’ll be paying somewhere between $35 and $60 per pound.

https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Rolling-Back-the-Government-Lessons-from-New-Zealand-April-2004.pdf

If you ask me, this is what the American Farmer needs.

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Blizzard 2017

For us in the South, this is a blizzard. Because this is such a rare occurrence, I took a walk around the pastures and climbed up to Cannon Ball Gap where I explored some ruins.

We get some enjoyment from the snow for the first few hours and it stops being fun after the heifer escapes because the electric fence has been grounded out, or the chickens fill their feeder with shavings. Any way, I hope you enjoy the following photos.

Are you a new, beginning or soon to be farmer? Do you have the necessary tools to market and operate your farm business? Is your farm flourishing or floundering? Most new farm operations fail in 2-5 years. This is where we get our helping hand.

Farm Marketing Business Academy – Small Farm Nation – Farm Marketing & Business Courses

https://smallfarmnation.com/academy/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03sJO3kXwb0&feature=share

A friend of mine from way back drove across the country to deliver a very precious package.

Children are our most important product.

Yeah I know, children aren’t a “product”, but of everything that comes out of our farming endeavors, our kids (or the adults the will become) have the highest value. I don’t say that just because they are my kids and I’m biased. It’s a sentiment that is common throughout agriculture. Farm kids as a whole become some incredible people. This didn’t become evident to me until I heard it from a dairyman I was buying a cow from several years ago. He’s the one who told me the most important thing we produce is children.

Even if none of them choose the farm life, I’m confident that we’ll have raised some of the most honest, ethical, and compassionate people.

Here’s a few photos of our kids at work.

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Companion Planting Information and Chart – The Permaculture Research Institute

It’s never too late to start a garden, but you have to arm yourself with knowledge first if you are like me and you don’t have an elder family member to go to who grew up gardening. We’ve gone from a nation of vegetable gardeners, who would never starve provided we have land and seed, to a nation full of lemming-like simpletons who don’t know what to do if left to our own devices. We’ve lost valuable knowledge in the course of a hundred years and now we must seek it out. Below is an excerpt from a good website about companion plants, this is extremely important for a successful garden. Are you ready to get dirty?

An updated chart of basic companion plants we’ve grown successfully over the years We recently received an e-mail from a gentleman in China looking for… … what plants you may have in your garden that you can transplant next to your rose or your apple tree to see how they nurture each other over time. As a result I thought I would post our own updated list of companion plants […]

Source: Companion Planting Information and Chart – The Permaculture Research Institute

A Walk Around the Farm 

Sarah and I took a walk around the farm this afternoon after the rain. 

   
    
    
    
   
Moments like these are priceless.