Friday, October 04, 2013

LOCATED: THE FOUNDATION OF CIVILIZATION

PHILOSOPHICAL FARMER SHOWS ME THE GROUND ON WHICH WE ALL ARE STANDING .

An ordinary farmer checking his crop---that's what you would think---that's what I thought.

Meet "Little Charles"---He's very approachable---I hoped for an insight to share with you.  Got much more.

He agrees to show me some of his equipment---I follow him to his storage shed.
He owns two of these giant harvesters---cost about $250,000 each
 
All seems in tip top condition---said he likes it that way.
 
Assorted attachments for assorted crops.  He raises corn, soybeans, rice, cotton
 
He and his Son and an occasional helper farm an incredible 5000 acres.
In my childhood--that acreage would require about 120 families or about 500 people.
 
 
He sits down for an in depth interview and educates me about modern farming.
Here's a sampling of what I learned:
1. CHEAP FOOD IS THE FOUNDATION OF OUR CIVILIZATION.
 2. TECHNOLOGY MAKES CHEAP FOOD POSSIBLE.  For example:
                    a. Land is laser sculpted for optimal water distribution and drainage
       b. Conservation tillage minimizes cost of working the land.
       c. GPS technology guides his tractors--no steering needed. 
                     d. Equipment monitored by satellite at factory--telephone call alerts owner if--for example a water, fuel or oil level is low.
                          e. Weed control is done chemically--no expensive hand labor required.
                         f. Modern harvesters are fast and efficient--can quickly gather the crop---often in a single day--avoiding rain damage.
     g. A small number of people, with technology, can produce
enough food for a vast population.
              3. INSECT CONTROL: is COLLECTIVELY and REGIONALLY MANAGED scientifically---every farmer pays a fee and presto  the cotton boll weevil is defeated by a process too clever to detail here.
             4. CROP FINANCING AND INSURING are highly developed industries that make it possible for a farmer to "go big" and gain the economy of scale. 
             5. GOVERNMENT STABILIZATION PROGRAMS ARE A GOOD AND NECESSARY INTERVENTION TO PREVENT SPECULATIVE BOOMS AND BUSTS.
             6.HI-TECH MODERN FARMING HAS ---SURPRISINGLY---BROUGHT BACK THE FAMILY FARM. A single family can do it.
             7.  FARMING IS STILL SOMETHING OF AN ART---REQUIRING  SHREWD JUDGMENTS AND SOMETIMES GUESSES----WHEN TO SELL etc.  YOU ARE NOT LIKELY TO SUCCEED IF YOU DO NOT LOVE GROWING THINGS.
             8. PATENT OWNERSHIP OF "ENGINEERED SEED" PUTS ENORMOUS POWER AND PROFITS INTO COMPANIES LIKE MONSANTO.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I'm pleased to tell you that this likable farmer is Charles Vining III my Nephew who started with almost nothing but a great love of farming and built his empire to its current status.  Part of his philosophy is "every row counts" and "take pride in your crop".  If from the air he spots an "ugly" area--he will fix it. He knows the dangers of monoculture and is concerned that Monsanto is gaining control of the world's food supply.  I don't know how to react to all that I've learned---except to develop a fresh appreciation for the real foundation of civilization---cheap food---and for those who provide it.

12 comments:

Linda Sand said...

One of my favorite slogans is "Farming is everybody's bread and butter." But, as companies like Monsanto modify seeds to make them more bug and drought resistant they also make them less healthy for humans. Cheap is not always good for us.

Barney (The Old Fat Man) said...

"they also make them less healthy for humans" That is not a statement that I can agree with based on my view of the changes.

Joe and Tracey said...

Maybe "less healthy for humans" is debatable, but for any business enterprise to hold patents on sources of food is worrisome.

Joe and Tracey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

First two inches of top soil and fact it rains are the only reason mankind survives.

Anonymous said...

After reading about your family over the last few months Randy, Its clear that they are very good at what they do. And also explains why you are pretty much the best boondocker around. Its in your blood!

J

bayrider said...

I have great respect for farmers and the technology is ingenious and fascinating. But the subsidies for soy and corn and the resulting flood of cheap and non nutritious calories are outrageous and have resulted in the epidemic of obesity we have witnessed. Those products are used to generate massive profits in unhealthy and incredibly cheap, and yes tasty, processed foods. Since I quit eating processed foods and sugars and grains my health has improved immensely and I have the blood tests to prove it, 20-50% improvements across the board. Yeah, I too was skeptical of claims like this, you have to try it to believe it. Corn syrup is literally poisoning our youth, it's in everything now and it is nutritionally less than useless, it's as ticket to obesity.

NWBound said...

People must learn that the low cost of some food does not mean that they should eat more of it.

I see plenty of fruit and produce at low prices in grocery stores for people who want to spend the time to prepare their own healthy meal and not just load up on junk carb.

Anonymous said...

This Summmer I planted a raised garden, lined with visqueen, of 32 square feet. It is always marvelous to put a
Dead looking seed into the ground, dirt, soil, and see something nitrious evolve.
These raised beds seemed to take about 10 percent of the
water necessary to grow ground based vegetables.
There is a lot of space for individuals to grown some of their
own food, and it is fun.
Bushman

Anonymous said...

Point 6 is totally silly Randy. Factory farming has not brought back the family farm, it has decimated the family farm. I'm not saying that is a bad thing but come one. magor logic flaw.

Randy said...

Thank you Anonymous----re bringing back the family farm: I may have slightly misquoted my nephew---He may have said (or meant) that high tech farming has--IN SOME CASES--made it possible for a single family to run a farm.

Sondra said...

Since Monsanto owns this genetically modified food...its also modifying us...the humans so will we now belong to them? Science fiction or fact?