Monday, August 19, 2013

Cody's Corner  

Rights To Your Food

 Police raid on local farmer
Do you believe you have the right to eat what food you wish to consume?  Can you decide whether or not you go to the local grocery store chain and buy major brand processed foods or to your local farmer and buy his eggs, milk, hamburger and garden tomatoes?  Are you allowed to feed your own children in your own house what food you choose versus what some governmental agency requires you to feed?   Can you drink the milk you take out of your own cow on your own farm when you choose to?  Can you invite friends over to your own house and serve them food from your own garden?  Can you take the left over garden produce, like the tomato seconds that aren't quite so perfect and throw them over the fence into your pig pen for tasty treats for your own pigs being grown for your own dinner plate?  Depending upon where you live in these United States all of these things are deemed illegal and people are sometimes being prosecuted, fined and sometimes sent to jail for these very simple, natural food practices.  And the number of incidences seems to be increasing as more and more of the population are exposed or become more aware of how food is produced in today's modern agribusiness model.  This is because each year more people opt out of the major, processed, antibiotic fueled, chemically sprayed, pasteurized to oblivion, irradiated, hydrogenated, genetically modified, pesticide soaked, arsenic drenched, fecal contaminated products that are now being substituted for human food.  And some of these concerned citizens are finding their own personal farmer, visiting his farming practices, asking the right questions, learning, and buying more and more real food directly from the farm in order  to have a more pleasant eating experience as well as searching for a more nutritionally balanced, and safe food supply.   The percentage of concerned food eaters is growing and the big food companies and their allies, the USDA, FDA, and even sometimes the local health departments, are coming unglued.  The pressure these big entities can put on our judicial system, local, state, and Federal governmental agencies, and ultimately the individual can be beyond belief.  
 I am quite sure that most of our customers probably are not even aware of most of the battles that are fought at the farm level just to keep this ball rolling.  Real Farm Foods as well as a large group of similar farmers nationwide belong to a legal group known as Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.  This is a legal organization designed to help us farmers and individuals fight some of these battles as they come up.   Many of our friends both local and across this country have and are being bullied by one or more of these type agencies for doing some of the very basic food production methods mentioned above.  It is quite common that when big agribusiness pushes and the small farmer winds up in court defending some of these quite basic farming practices, a very large group of his customers also follow him into the courtroom each day this nightmare goes on for him and his family.  In many of the cases where the farmer has this great support from his customers in the court room, the farmer may win.  In one case of this manner most recently the jurors were the same as lied to by the judge and prosecutor and then after the case was over and the farmer was acquitted, the jurors became trusted new customers.  And remember it was a judge who most recently declared in his courtroom that "Americans no longer have the rights to choose what food they wish to eat".   
Food is the largest single enterprise in the world.  It is also the only thing we cannot live without next to water.  This makes food and all its components including farmers extremely subject to coercion, deceit, corruption, bribery, better known as lobbying, and puts food as the biggest coin of international trade and therefore extremely political.  
Without good, nutritious food it is impossible to obtain and retain good health no matter how many doctors tell us differently.  In almost all these cases the political and/or economic positioning is disguised as concerns for health and food safety reasons.  When, in fact, the factory farms, agribusinesses, and even the health care system that are supported by these organizations are profiting from this substandard production of so-called food and feel threatened by each one of us small independent farmers.  This is even more so particularly when you, our grand customers, speak your mind and vote with your food dollar in an educated fashion.  We all should know that health insurance is not equivalent to good health care.  And when good health care is wrapped in with good nutrition, expensive and hard to find good health care providers or health insurance becomes less and less of an issue.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cody's Corner

Profitability in Farming

After about 40 years of farming in Southern Missouri I have a fair handle on the economics of at least the business of grazing livestock.  By a large percentage most of the people that I have known over these years who were once in the business have now moved onto other business endeavors.  I believe this is because of the very low economic return most receive in this business of farming.  It is not unusual for a family cow/calf ranch to have a current value of two million dollars or more.  This being the size of ranch large enough to support even only one family may have a return on assets of less than two or three percent.  With this kind of return we are not going to see many new large homes and barns built in the generation that is building this business enterprise.  There is simply not the kind of net income available for such non-essentials on the ranch once all expenses are paid each year.

As I travel across this great country I find many large and beautiful barns and farm and ranch homes that were built 100 or more years ago and many of these would have been extremely isolated from major cities in that time.  And I am sure just like today there are some city people who have purchased a farm or ranch with income from off farm jobs and businesses, but not all.  There appears to have been plenty of real farmers and ranchers who were quite prosperous within their own rights.  So now after comparing all sorts of situations it has become quite clear to me why there is so much disparity between farming and ranching profitability of today and say, 100 or more years ago.  
The price of corn on the farm has been a consistent guide and comparison for farm economics for quite some time.  If we look at the price of corn in 1914, about one hundred years ago, it was $.84/bushel.  At today's current prices, adjusted for inflation, that corn would be priced at over $19/bushel instead of its real current price at about $5/bushel.  This is the result of a system put in place to reduce the cost of food to the consumer no matter what the real costs.  One big problem for the farmer/rancher is that even though the current price of corn has not stayed up with inflation, his costs of production and all his inputs, like, land, fuel, livestock costs, etc., have skyrocketed.  The price the rancher currently receives for his animals on the commodity market is also reflected in the same way in this example of the price of corn.  This hold on farm prices used to keep the artificial price of food at or below the cost of production is one of the base causes of our countries' economic and other serious challenges.  Americans pay a smaller percentage of their income on food purchases than almost any time in history.  And in a consumption society like ours, our population is urged to continue this disaster so that more of that income can be spent on really important things like cell phones, video games, basketball and concert tickets, over sized homes, two or three or more automobiles, and, of course, garages to house them in and the list goes on and on.  Even an elementary understanding of basic sociological economics realizes this system is not sustainable.  Everybody cannot stay in the house and play on the computer; someone will have to actually go outside and do some real work. This is only supported by inflation and debt, and even the very wealthy will someday lose their advantage if this continues.

I retrieved the following link from a newsletter sent out by another rancher friend of mine:

The author of the information is Dallas Mount.  His current analysis of the cow/calf business is demonstrated in the attached link.  He provides specific and accurate data demonstrating that this industry costs the rancher about $990 per year for every cow he owns.  The bad part is that the income derived from this cow herd only earns about $800 per cow.  This per animal loss must be made up or the rancher will soon be out of business.  These numbers demonstrate why as we look around our own countryside here in Missouri most of our neighbors own only a few cows if they own any, on average about 19 head.  This might be because this is all the loss they can afford.  It is an expensive hobby.  Another reason why today's total cow numbers have fallen to the same low level they were in 1952 and falling more while the human population continues to soar.  When I look at Dallas' data it is hard to find fault.  His system is based on standard, industry protocol which by design produces food at a cost higher than its production expenses.  It is easy to see this rancher is never going to build a new, beautiful, large ranch home or one of the grand old, giant barns we see mostly in the eastern states from ranching income.  It will be difficult for this rancher to even save his ranch under this real life scenario.
Although this economic system has been deliberately put into place we at the Rockin H Ranch have been practicing a style of ranching that is not based on standard protocol.  I will go so far as to say that if one is ranching by today's standards set in place by the so-called agriculture experts that the corporations and their bed fellows, the universities, have put in place he will also find financial disaster.  I find that everything written and spoken about in standard modern ranching practices will lead one to the same fate.   The profitable rancher of today will be scrutinized as the radical one and will pass on most all of the advice, technology, chemicals, and protocols put forth by these agriculture experts.  Modern methods of agribusiness is, by design, a system that sells its product at a cost below production expenses and is part of a planned system of subsidies paid for by the taxpayer making his food cost actually higher than any time in history.  It is simply disguised by very clever economists.  The first move one must make to become a profitable rancher is to learn and understand this ordeal.  For him to be profitable he will have to also appear by most as another one of those radical grass farmers.  Our Stockman's School for Profit is coming up in September and we will be taking a deeper look at these radical issues and much more.