Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rural America becoming irrelevant after farm dustup

The defeat of the Republican agenda in the wake of its abandonment of ecological and environmental responsibilities has marginalized the party.

Iowa is under fire from the Environmental Protection Agency. US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack blasted his home state for failing its people:
For the first time in recent memory, farm-state lawmakers were not able to push a farm bill through Congress in an election year, evidence of lost clout in farm states. Vilsack criticized farmers who have embraced wedge issues such as regulation, citing the uproar over the idea that the Environmental Protection Agency was going to start regulating farm dust after the Obama administration said repeatedly it had no so such intention. "There's a huge communication gap" between farmers and the food-eating public, he said. He said they also need to embrace diversity because it is an issue important to young people who are leaving rural areas. --Mary Clare Jalonick and Jennifer Agiesta, AP
Bake a man a pie and he'll learn to divide by seven. Teach a man piety and he'll crucify the apples then say they died for his sins.

Woster photo.


Bill Dithmer said...

All the links were good reading and do show what we already knew.

We have to diversify when ever we can
We need to do a better job of recovering those resources that we depend on for sustainable agriculture.
And we need to come to a better understanding of the relationship of the land and what we can do with that land without continuing to hurt our bottom line.

Most in agriculture are trying to do these things within their spending range. The problem is that whenever they have money to spend on something they have to justify that expense as a way to turn a profit and that is getting harder to do all the time.

All of the articles were basically saying the same thing. The farmer is at the bottom of the food chain. No truer words were ever spoken, but the remedies listed wont work either. It isn't the farmer that is broken its the commodities laws and practices that are broken. While the farmer has the ability to sell his crops he doesn't have the ability to control a big enough piece of the pie to effect the price he is going to get for that crop with any degree of certainty. While at the same time there are giants that can affect the cash returns of everyone that is below them on the commodities ladder.

For the most part these traders have never had a hand in the growing of any crops or livestock. It funny that a market that was formed to give those in agriculture an easy way to add value was quickly manipulated by these people in such a way as to marginalize the very people that it was designed to help.

Now rumors have a more direct effect on the prices that a farmer gets then does actual conditions of crops or the environment. As long as the commodities rules are what they are there isn't a whole lot that the people in agriculture can do that they aren't already doing. I sure don't see those rules being changed to benefit the ag market anytime soon so nothing will change.

Diversification is a great idea if you have the time and recourses to do it after the rest of the work gets done. The only way it can work is if, the diversification is related to what is already being done on the farm, "application" or getting completely away from the farm itself and do something in town. Either way it is only marginally useful and has very little to do with the actual day to day farm expenditures. If you have to work off of the farm to make a living it is no longer a profitable business, its a sideline that you are engaged in so that you can afford to farm.

The Blindman

The Blindman

larry kurtz said...

Great read, Bill. West River is likely less prone to suffer as so much ground has been left untouched by humans: East River is clearly not so lucky.

Only the cataclysmic failure of modern farming practices will change anything there.

freegan said...

Bill Dithmer said...

Larry there are far more acres that are at risk in western South Dakota then you realize. Even here on this ranch we have land that is still trying to heal itself from the leister ridges of the plow that started in the early teens of the twentieth century to sometime in the 1930s. Some people just didn't want to admit that this land was never intended to have the sod turned.

I have hunted much of the ground in western SD and you would be surprised at where you will find these ridges. They will show up out in the middle of nowhere, some even in the badlands where people tried to force the ground to grow something, anything.

Now with the advent of chemical farming and new technics it is possible to farm these same areas that were mutilated before. Some people never learn do they? You can fool mother earth for a while but sooner or later she is going to decide enough is enough and kick you and your growing techniques in the ass.

I mean no disrespect in the things that I say here because I understand that people have to make money to survive. Because of global warming time is no longer on our side. We lived through a few years that had above normal rain and snowfall and it prompted many farmers to try the money crops, beans, corn, and flowers in this dry ground. For some it has worked ok but their time is running short again. Now this is only my opinion, but I think that the only thing keeping those farmers in the game is the development of seeds that continue to cut the time to maturity from planting to harvest. And of course GMOs.

Bill Dithmer said...

Now I'm just one dumb blindman but I am going to give my prescription for healing this land. Surprisingly it still involves farming in a way. HEMP.!

Ya that's right something so simple yet a plant that has been proven to heal and rebuild the very land it is planted on. We have highly erodible land out west here. Hemp has the root system to stop that problem by holding that valuable dirt together. Why aren't we using it to slow, or stop, the top soil we still have from going to the Missouri? There shouldn't be a single flood zone in western SD that isn't planted to hemp.

Hemp is a highly self renewable crop. If it is not harvested it will continue to regenerate itself with every generation getting stronger and having a higher resistance to both disease and the environment.

This was brought to my attention twenty years ago south of Norris SD when we had a big hail storm go through. It got everything. We drove around to look at some of the fields in the country and saw wheat and corn that was knocked flat and shattered. In a draw where we knew there was hemp it was also flat on the ground. I hunted that same ground a month later and that hemp that had been laid flat was standing back up again heavy with seed.

The more I study this plant the more respect I have for it. It can rebuild soil that no amount of heavy machinery could ever help. It can feed more people and animals per acre then any plant known to man in this part of the country. And it is possible to produce enough fuel to make it close to a zero energy product. If you combine that with the hundreds of products that can be made from it that are being marketed RIGHT NOW, and the CDBs used in medicine and you just have to wonder what the fuck our government is thinking.

We in western SD were never really a part of the big hemp revolution the first time around. They didn't consider our soil valuable enough to worry about. They were planting it in fields that had the best soil that they could find, just like for corn and beans. It doesn't need that kind of soil to make it grow. It just needs dirt and a little water, no chemicals, no fertilizer, and in fact once its planted no humans at all until harvest.

That is real diversification people. An old plant that can be go from planting to harvest in less then a hundred days. A plant that stops the erosion that haunts this part of the country. A plant that already has a world wide market as soon as it leaves the farm. And a plant that can grow the energy source used to farm it.

I know I'm a long winded SOB but I also know that we live in a country that seems to be full of the dumbest people there are. Those scared of each other, those scared of nature, those scared of the truth , and those that are just plain scared of change. Id like to think we are better then that.

The Blindman

larry kurtz said...

Had breakfast in Santa Fe yesterday with a Clay County farmer fleeing to SoCal for a few months, Bill. He insists that if he didn't use Roundup® his neighbors could sue him.

When hemp becomes legal to grow expect Monsanto to compel producers to raise GMO crap.

Bill Dithmer said...

Larry your friend from Clay County was probably right. Its hard to go against something that has made you a mountain of money in a short time. The only way to win a war of ignorance is with education or in South Dakotas case,"edgicacion."

Monsanto knew right from the start that their GMOs would eventually loose their resistance to Roundup. What do you think is going to happen when it does?My guess is another round of GMOs to take the place of the ones that already have patents. What I'm wondering is do those patents protect both ways or only in Monsanto favor in a court of law?

Life goes on
The Blindman

freegan said...