Sunday 9 November 2014

Blog  13  Part 2 The politics and economics of food

I finished that last blog with the thoughts “drink raw milk”.  The principal needs to be explored further, and so we will do in the different aspects it encourages. If you remember, the last article we talked about Sam who brought in the white stuff into America – sugar – and Dave who brought in the white stuff drugs,  and compared the returns from the two of them.  Now let’s talk about the third amount of white stuff – milk.  We will pretend that Mike is a dairy farmer producing this white agricultural substance called milk.  Let us say Mike has thirty cows and sells his milk to the local coop, such as Formost or Dairy Farmers of America. He gets about $10.00 per hundred weight  for his milk, which is less than what farmers received before WWII.  In order to maximize his return he has some other Holstein cows and feeds them lots of grain.  So he has modern Holstein  190 hundred weight per year from each cow which works out to a total yearly income of $57,000.00 yearly, most of which is eaten up with feed and vet bills.  His wife has to work to bring in some cash and obtain health insurance. They live just above the poverty line. If they had gone into debt and the prices dropped even a little bit, or the cows produced less than unexpected they would lose their farm. Let’s now  look at what Mike’s income would be if he had grass based dairy and sold milk directly to the public.  He would use Guemseys, or Jerseys or some other old fashion breed because these cows do better on grass.  He would get only $100 hundred weight per cow per year, about half as much, but if he sells milk at $4.00 a gallon he would get at least five times as much for his milk. Actually,  some farmers are getting $8 or $9 per gallon for their raw milk, but let us be conservative. He could sell it at $4.00 gallon and  an equivalent amount for butter at about 10.00 a pound, and  cream about $9.00 per quart that makes about $50.00 per hundred weight rate. If he makes a good cheese, he can actually make more per pound per hundred weight. In France, the value added product that brings the most to farmers is not wine but cheese.
At $50.00 per hundred weight he grows his grosses $5000.00 per cow every year.  With 30 cows his gross income on the milk alone is $150,000.00.  But there is more, because  Mike makes butter, cream and cheese he will have  whey and skim milk as by-products which is free food for pigs and chickens. So in addition to milk and milk products, he can sell eggs, chicken, turkeys, pork, bacon or lard as by-products.  The male cows go for veal or beef. Depending on how hard he wants to work, he can put his manure to good uses  by growing vegetables  or fruit. He may produce maple syrup or honey,  so let’s say for the sake of argument add  another$50,000.00 which is conservative to total but bringing  us to $200,000.00 gross income for a farm with 30 dairy cows and something like 100 acres, if they sell all that  they are able to produce.  Of course there are capital investments and the cost of land  to consider. This is going to be the same no matter what Mike was getting for his milk, but his operational expenses are much lower because he is bringing in a minimal amount of food from outside.  His vet bills will be very low, the fertility of his animals will be high and his cows will live a long time.  While this is a lot better than Sam does with sugar, or may even better than Dave does with his white agricultural product (not to mention the occupational hazards attached to producing illegal drugs), actually the best thing to do for the opium poppies and a legal way to consume them is to give them to cows.  I am not making this up, the best cheese in the world in my opinion is was a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese from Italy which is made from cows fed poppies so that they are more contented and produce the wonderful milk to make  the cheese. This cheese sells for $15.00 per pound which is equivalent to about $500.00 for hundred weight of milk.   The farmer may only get one fifteen of this but that is $75.00 per hundred weight. That is an incentive.
The whey left over from making this cheese  fed to the pigs which is the source of the wonderful Prosciutto ham which sells about $30.00 a pound.  This explains why  the most delicious ham and most beautiful clothes, shoes handbags and furniture come from this region  of Italy, here is tremendous disposable income from these kinds of locally made products.
Returning to the US what does these numbers do for the local communities and local employment If just 10% of the US population bought raw milk, raw  butter, raw cream and raw cheese directly from farmers and other products produced on the farm, we would need about 75,000 100-acre farms  each with 30 cows.  If each farm generates an annual income of $200,000.00, the total revenue is 15 billion, year after  year, much of which stays right in the local community. If the whole country drank raw milk the total would 1.5 trillion or 8% of the current gross national product. You see now why the original and source of wealth is cattle. Cattle are the stock of the stock market and the word capital is derived from the Latin for heads of cattle.
Let’s talk about local communities – I thought mention these comments as well.
In her life time, she has witnessed first-hand what kind of farm revenue does for local communities.  During the 1960s the time of Healdsburg, California was a dump.  It had been a thriving town before prohibition shut down the local wineries.  But during the 1960s the local farms produced pears and prune plumes commodity crops that were  bought by large corporations which sold the pears fresh and dried the prunes.  Everything was run down, there was no good restaurant in town and much of the buildings needed paint.  Today Healdsburg is hopping, there are numerous trendy shops around the central square, several great restaurants, a fabulous hardware stores, several bakeries and an independent grocery store that does well in spite of the fact there is a big Safeway on the other side of town.  There is even a nice hotel across from the central square, everything is neatly painted and attractive. What caused  the change? It is the rather sudden switch from a commodity crop to a value added one, from prunes and pears to one of grapes and opening the various wineries selling their value added product.  Wine is a rich man’s hobby, grapes are very expensive to plant as it take about 6 years for them to fully mature, then two years for the wine produced from the grapes to be ready to drink. In contrast return from raw milk business is relatively easy.  If you purchase a cow for $1,000.00, sell the milk for $50 per hundred weight you could recoup  your investment within three months.
As for  employment let’s assume that 75,000 farms employs 3 people full time – the farmer, wife plus one older  child or the couple plus one hired person, perhaps the head of another family which lives on the farmer’s land as well.  The total for these farms would be 225,000 individuals.  It is also a multiplier effect usually given as the ratio of 2.7.  That is each direct farm employee  there will be  2.7 independent employees, that is for each dairy employee there will be 2.7 indirectly employees.  Thus the total employment created, direct plus indirect, is 872,500 people, about  the number of unemployed  in the US 2003. If we add to milk farm products other items can and  should be produced locally, healthy soft drinks, bread and other bakery products sausage and broth lacto-fermented vegetables and so forth you would see an unbelievable explosion of local prosperity, a small town renaissance throughout the US we’d see a return of local small clothing and shoe factories, with the right technology we can make paper from hemp locally and in an environmentally friendly way. Craftmanship would flourish, furniture making carpentry, homebuilding, dressmaking, gourmet cuisine, art and music. Medical bills and insurance costs would decline, there would be employment for all. In fact, shortage of labour would result and a decent minimum wage for everyone willing to work.
One major impediment to this picture is the anti-raw milk agenda of mongering, propaganda and compulsory pasteurization laws.  Can you see how compulsory pasteurization has been the major factor in the destruction of America’s local economies? Fortunately, there is a way around these laws with our cow share, herd share, farm share programs. In fact, now that we are rolling back the propaganda and creating more and more customers for the raw milk and related products these pasteurization laws can actually work to the benefit of the farmers.  If People cannot get raw milk in stores, they will make the effort to come to the farm or pay for the service for the   delivery  those products to their door step.  The farm share system also allows you to provide other value added products which health laws prevent you selling directly, that is farm butchered meat, sausage, baked goods and so forth which could ‘provided’ not ‘sold’ to farm share owners. Although we can constantly hear rhetoric explaining  the efficiency of large farms, rising costs and declining prices are rendering these farms more and more untenable. The farm of the future is not the mechanized CAFO or mega monoculture of farms but the 30 cow dairy farm that sells directly to the public or provides products to shareholders.  This model will flourish  because the day is coming when no conscientious couple will dream of starting a family until they are finding sources of pure and healthy raw milk for their children. When no town planners will proceed without first setting aside the most fertile land for their dairy, when no  doctor will omit raw milk as part of his treatment, and when no government official will dare to impede access to any way to raw milk, and other pure foods, and that raw milk will come from small local farms.
So let us focus on solutions.  We do have a very serious situation in the US, a precarious economic situation that can only continue through a system of theft, not only of American assets, but those of people throughout the world. We need to be aware of this situation, of course, and it is important to put our thoughts in solutions not problems.  Problems dwelling on all that is wrong, on the conspiracies, the worst case scenario and so forth is like eating  junk food, junk food terrible economic and political situation is out there but you don’t have to  put your attention on it just as you don’t have to eat junk  food , and you won’t eat junk food if you realize that healthy food tastes better is more satisfying. By the way I do not agree with Catherine Fitts’  that the decline of the Philadelphia neighbourhood was initiated by drug dealing.  The first step in that decline is the step in which we all carry responsibility, that is that our children buy popsicles  made from sugar, Sam’s commodity.  This is the step that sends the food dollar out of locally community, that makes the body chemistries susceptible to drugs. The fix that initiates the decline of our standard of living is the sugar fix. So let us conclude by painting a picture of the kind of life where we all make this one change, we all drink raw milk, and we purchase directly from the farmer.  We may remember the humourous parody of various economic systems that made its way across the Internet world ideologies explained by reference to cows . For example, FEUDALISM – you have two cows.  Your Lord takes some of the milk.  Socialism – you have two cows. The government takes them, puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers.  The government gives you as much eggs and milk the regulations say you need.  Bureaucracy: you have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them, then it pays you to not milk them, then it take both shoots one milks the other and pours the milk down the drain.  Then it requires you to fill out forms to accounting for the missing cows.  Enron Venture capitalism.  You have two cows.  You sell three of them to a publicly listed company using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank.  Then execute a debt equity swap with an associated general offer so you get all four cows back with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sell the rights of all sever cows back on their listed company.  The annual report says the company owns eight cows with an option of one more.  Sell one cow to buy  a new president of the United States leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public  buys the bull.
Raw milk economics: You have two cows.  One cow is NON- genetically manipulated and produced through naturally breeding who feed on fertile green pastures who produce delicious high fat milk, and carefully milked by you year round, and the milk supports round faced children having naturally straight teeth and wearing pure cotton clothes, clothes colored with natural dyes and produced in the nearby town.  The cows give birth to calves every year and soon you have a herd of 30 cows all producing delicious, healthy milk.  Sam and Dave have retired and their grandchildren are around to help with the milking.  Out-of-work orthodontists gather up manure from the milking shed and distribute it on your pasture where happy chickens run around turning over cow patties and eating bugs to product nutrient rich eggs.  You make naturally yellow butter from the cream and delicious cheese.  You feed the various whey and skim milk to your small herd of hogs which in return turns into bacon and lard for cooking. Reformed FDA officials help you make lacto-fermented juice from the fruit grown in your orchards and pickles and chutneys from your garden produce.  All these products you provide in your on farm store to your farm shareholders many of whom are grateful survivors from the low fat era.  You make more money than you can possibly spend on yourselves so you donate to the town schools, theatre, symphony, orchestra and opera company.  You also build a nice house on another part of the farm where another family lives and you pay this family handsomely to help you on the farm.  This allows you to take a big vacation twice a year and then learn how people live in other parts of the world.  Missionary groups teach raw milk economics to people living in other countries and every year two foreign exchange students come out to help on the farm.   You have two hundred thousand farms all producing raw milk products and providing them in on farm stores or by home delivery.  These farms create an explosion of prosperity at the local level.  Small farms revive and along with them small businesses.  Every town produces a distinctive naturally fermented soft drink and every farm supports several great restaurants.  Fast food places are transferred into local hands. New owners cook the French fries in tallow or lard.  Unemployment disappears and everyone makes a decent wage.  No one uses pesticides on their farm so the chemical companies close down that part of their operation. When the corporate employees are freed up from their system, they will  find better pay and more fulfilling work with the local businesses or on farms.  It will become more profitable to have land just outside cities and towns as dairy farms than houses.  Towns and cities will grow while urban sprawl will  give way to green spaces.  Wealthy farmers and wealthy small businessmen will put their money into local credit unions, the power of international banks wanes and so does their influence in Washington. This new wealth is real so there is no need to wage war any longer to keep the economy afloat.  Health  crises resolve, inner city hospitals are torn down and replaced with intercity dairy farms supplying fresh milk to intercitiy families.  School lunch programs feature raw milk and products of local farms; because the children are eating real food their brains get wired properly. They are filled with curiosity and learn easily.  Teaching becomes a joyous profession once again.  Happy well-nourished children contribute to an artistic flowering music, painting, literature, dance and dramatic arts flourish.   You have two hundred million people who drink raw milk  - and all of them live  happily ever after.
Why not!

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