Factory Farms vs. Sustainable Production

Discussion in 'Politics' started by elijah_lives, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. elijah_lives

    elijah_lives
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    Gold Dragon,

    In response to your PM, I have started another thread to responsibly discuss "sustainable development" and what it means.

    I don't have a codified opinion on this, it is more of a common sense philosophy. As a cow/calf producer (i.e., a commodity producer), I am market driven to be as efficient as possible. The market rewards high-volume producers, because the tendency is for overproduction of commodities in an attempt to capture even more profits; the result is low margins that drive low-volume producers out of business. Over time, producers consolidate, and attempt to vertically-integrate their operations (owning all steps of the production process), because this minimizes input prices (feed, hay, etc). Producers get larger and larger in order to compete, and margins get smaller and smaller because of competition. This is true for all commodities, whether they be beef cows or chemicals like ammonia.

    Notice that this model absolutely ignores what is best for the environment or for economies. As I alluded to earlier, a neighbor announced his intention to build a 6,000-sow (120,000 pig) hog confinement facility, commonly called a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feed Operation) two-miles away from my 100-acre farm. There is no state or local regulation of this facility. The business model itself will further drive independent hog producers out of business, depopulate the county (CAFO's buy their supplies in bulk from wherever they are cheapest, not necessarily local), devalue property within 3 miles by up to 50%, and (if history holds up) pollute the air and groundwater.

    Our farm will end up being worthless (who wants to live next to a "factory farm" that daily produces the waste equivalent of a city of 30,000 people?) and, since we drink well water, if we stay we will have to purchase and truck in water for both my family and livestock. The farm lobbies and state farming agencies support CAFOs, because they allegedly bring in jobs (they don't -- there is a net job loss), and when the CAFO is sued over the odor, flies, and air/water pollution violations, they will aggressively defend the CAFO in court. For years.

    Contrast that to an independent producer, who is satisfied with a lower margin production model. I don't produce thousands of head o f beef cattle. I produce 30-40 head, which brings an income I am satisfied with. I don't maximize yields at the expense of the land. I try to get multiple uses out of the same land -- hundreds of fruit trees (we use Leviticus 23-25 for guidance on growing them), hay or grazing on grass between the trees, the promotion of wildlife habitat, the elimination of erosion, etc.

    I have voluntarily (and at my own expense) taken 30% of my farm out of production, and have planted thousands of trees on it (walnut, oak, elm, maple, evergreens). I won't see any profit on the 30 acres being reforested (my children might), but it is important to me to stop erosion, rebuild the soil (forests are best for this), and return a little to the land that God has gifted me with. My children and I sometimes take a whole day and build brush piles for small game. We have established trails throughout for recreational access (and future sawlog extraction). The land has an incredible amount of wildlife living on it, just since I moved here 6 years ago (including a bald eagle).

    We harvest 10-12 cords of firewood from our 15-acre mature woodlot, and this amount is easily replaceable (sustainable) every year from natural growth. We heat our home entirely from this firewood, minimizing the use of coal-produced electricity. We harvest sawlogs by hand from walnut, oak, ash, and red elm trees, cut them into rough boards with a chainsaw, plane it smooth in the shop, and air dry them for a year. They become tables, chairs, and cabinets in our woodworking shop. We plant far more trees than we harvest, for future generations.

    On our fields, we use no outside fertilizer. We spread manure on some, and sow nitrogen-producing clover on our grass fields. This not only eliminates the need for petroleum-based fertilizer (and annual spreading costs), but the legumes provide protein for our cows to graze. We raise poultry in both of our barns, and they eagerly devour the maggots and flies that tend to gather around livestock. We have no flie or odor problem.

    Our income is spent locally, in higher property taxes (for well-cared property) and in needed supplies (hardware store, food, etc.) The CAFO model results in depopulation, so there are a lot of empty, deteriorating houses surrounding them

    I could go on and on, but I hope you see how a smaller producer can be a better steward of the land, and produce an adequate living at the same time. The larger producers can't do this, because they don't have the labor or time to wait. They want profit yesterday. Environment is a dirty word. They use "employees" to rape the land, instead of "owners" who care for the land.

    I don't know how to specifically define this system, but it seeks to work with the land, instead of using it. Perhaps you can better elaborate it. In the meantime, my very existence as an independent is threatened by this factory farm soon to be built, and we will most likely end up in bankruptcy, leaving this land for another place to live. There's no way we can live 2 miles next to such an environmental polluter!

    [ February 22, 2006, 11:48 AM: Message edited by: elijah_lives ]
     
  2. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon
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    Thanks elijah_lives.

    I think your story will help some understand the very real problems of a purely profit oriented economic system that does not account for some of the values found in sustainable development which aim to sustain economic, social and environmental growth for future generations.

    I really like your modern application of the Land Sabbath found in the Pentateuch.

    Bible Tools : How do the Land Sabbath and Jubilee Years work?

    This is a funny and over-the-top video I found that explains some of the issues.
    The Meatrix
     
  3. elijah_lives

    elijah_lives
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    Poncho,

    I'm not trying to exclude you; I'm trying to avoid argument. Gold Dragon was more interested in a discussion of practical models as opposed to UN globalist agendas, I think. Not that there isn't room for that, because there IS a UN globalist agenda.

    My loss will be their "gain", because they can come in and buy my land for a fraction of it's original value. I guess I was meant for a simpler, earlier age where one's hands actually created economic value, instead of machines and people pushing paper around.

    Actually, I agree with you on many of these threads. I'm just getting too old for argument, my friend. I welcome all posts that contribute to a discussion of the issues, and sincerely apologize for offending you.
     
  4. poncho

    poncho
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    No problem EL. There are only two types of people in this world my friend. Those that create value and those that destroy it. Unfortunately for those of us that try to create value those that destroy it have won the people's confidence.
     
  5. elijah_lives

    elijah_lives
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    An argument for more local control, I think. The system corrupts, and otherwise good people lose their heads when they go to Washington, D.C., or even to the state capital. Somehow, the money in it has to come out. Common sense seems to prevail more at the local level.
     
  6. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon
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    I did a little digging into this source and it appears to be written by an unorthodox Christian group that is non-Trinitarian and Sabbath observing.

    I'm having trouble finding a concise and well written orthodox Christian article summarizing the topic so I'll just go right to the source and quote scripture.

     
  7. billwald

    billwald
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    >How do the Land Sabbath and Jubilee Years work?

    They neved did "work." God sent the people to Babylon because they neved did follow the rules.

    The rules were impractical because it was impossible to plan past the 7th year. As the 7th year approached the people stopped making business deals. They tried to get around the rules by transferring assets to the Temple.
     

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