Building Food Security and Resilience in a Food Insecure World

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The Curse of Mankind

“I’m as old as the first man … I devastate cities and countries and continents … I laugh at barriers and bars and bolts … but, I can be banished …”

From Tom Giessel, Larned, KS – Printed in one the local newspapers towards the end of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919.

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Fantasy Land or Things of Intrinsic Worth?

July 20, 2020

By Gilles Stockton

Just who is it that is living in “fantasy land,” the Democrats in the House Climate Crisis Committee or Representative Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota? Let us put aside the politically charged term “climate change” and instead talk about “climate instability.” If you have not noticed that the weather is increasingly unpredictable than you are not in production agriculture. What to do about it – that is the tough question?

As suggested in the article Correcting the Climate Crisis – Part II: Taking out a Mortgage in Fantasy Land (WAR July 16, 2020), I read the offending House Committee report and found a lot of good intentions, some of which are naïve. What should be preferred, the opportunity to discuss what needs fixing or just more top-down control by Big Meat, Big Grain, Big Ag, and Too Big to Fail Banks? We know that things are not as they should be in agriculture.  Will denial change anything?

“This past spring, we have certainly experienced how much the beef packing cartel values the people who calve out the cows and cut up the meat.” 

Congressman Armstrong is quoted as saying: “We have some of the best and most successful ag producers all across the country running on razor-thin margins.”  Which, if we are laying all of our cards on the table, we should add that this success depends upon government handouts and subsidies. “Successful” is a deceptive term – “survivor” is more accurate.  If you have survived in production agriculture then by definition you are successful.

“Razor-thin margin” is the important clause in Rep Armstrong’s statement. Are we to be proud to have survived on razor-thin margins, given that our communities are blowing away like tumbleweeds and our children are scattered all over the nation? That does not look like the definition of success to me. This past spring, we have certainly experienced how much the beef packing cartel values the people who calve out the cows and cut up the meat.  So, what kind of allegiance should we owe JBS, Tyson, and Cargill?

The most exciting thing that is happening in agriculture today is the “local foods” movement and the discussion that has been created between producers and consumers. Granted, this is currently a niche with room for just a few. The bulk of production agriculture remains tied to the industrial controlled market.  But, to steal a line from Poet Lariat Wally McCrae, this is a discussion about “things of intrinsic worth.” If this country’s farms, ranches, and bountiful food are to survive in an era of climatic uncertainty, it is an important discussion to have.

“In finance, the intrinsic value or fundamental value is the ‘true, inherent, and essential value’ of an assett independent of its market value.”

We can just all retreat into our political biases, as Rep Armstrong would like, and blame environmentalists and for some inexplicable reason Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York for inflicting costly regulations on our heads.  However, as vexing as regulations and environmentalists can be, they have never cost me as much money as has the beef packing cartel. Then too, I must admit, that burdensome regulations are nearly non-existent if you don’t sign up for the government checks.

But how many of us have survived because of CRP payments? Pipelines to water tanks in remote pastures have been welcome. Cost-sharing on irrigation infrastructure hasn’t hurt either. Is Rep Armstrong saying that feedlots and confinement hog facilities should be allowed to let their manure run into the rivers?  Do we really want to see thousands of dead hogs floating downstream following the next hurricane? Should fields in flood plains be planted right up to the water’s edge because requiring a buffer zone is too burdensome?

There are “things of intrinsic worth” and we should take inventory of just where we are. If we, as farmers and ranchers choose to stay tied to the market dictates of industrialized Big Ag, then survival will continue to be the measure of success. Our communities, our land, and the consumers of food, will they also succeed or just merely survive?

Gilles Stockton, Grass Range, Montana

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Shawn Baker interview with Mike Callicrate – MeatRx Community VIP

“This is perhaps the most important podcast@SBakerMD ⁩ has ever put out. If you care about the quality of your food, and the safety of your food supply, this is required listening.” – Philip Mason

Mike Callicrate – MeatRx Community VIP MeatRx

Nutrition

Mike Callicrate is the owner of Ranch Foods Direct, Callicrate Banders, and Callicrate Cattle Company. He is an independent cattle producer, business entrepreneur and political activist, who serves as an outspoken leader in addressing the rural, social, and cultural impacts of current economic trends. Since the mid-1990s, Mike has been active in social and political efforts to improve the welfare of family farms and to restore effective publicly regulated markets. He was a founding member of several farm advocacy groups including the Organization for Competitive Markets, R-CALF, and the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association. He also was a lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the world’s largest meatpacker, IBP, now part of Tyson Foods, alleging unfair and discriminatory marketing practices. In recognition of his efforts, he has received the “Westerner of the Year” award from Western Ranchers Beef Cooperative; the first-ever Legacy Award from the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association; and the Carl L. King Distinguished Service Award from the American Corn Growers Association. Mike has been an advisor for the films Food Inc. and FRESH, and is cited in several books including The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation. He is revered as the “go-to expert” for understanding the negative consequences of trends in the modern meat industry. You can find Mike at http://www.mikecallicrate.com/, FB: https://www.facebook.com/mikecallicrate/, Twitter: @MikeCallicrate, and Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/MikeCallicrate.

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Meatpacker Theft Sets All-time Record – Our Nation’s Food Security is Gone

The May 20th, 2020 USDA retail beef value was reported at $7.58 per pound, up $1.41 per pound from a year ago. Live cattle slaughter weights were reported at 1,370 pounds. Retail beef yield from a 1,370 pound steer or heifer will be around 575 pounds (42% of live weight). $7.58 per pound x 575 pounds retail weight = $4,358 per head retail value. Live cattle sales were reported at $1.02/cwt. A 1,370 pound live animal x $1.02 = $1,397 per head or 32% of the price consumers are paying at their retail grocery store. This low producer share of the consumer beef dollar is unprecedented and is around half of the amount producers received in 1970 when big meatpacker concentration was 25% and the markets were competitive. So much for efficiency and economies of scale!

“It’s a captured and corrupt government that allows the criminal Batista brothers full access to sell their stolen and rotten meat in every state in our Union …”

The calculation doesn’t include the meatpackers $99.32 per head drop credit, or the freight cost to the slaughterhouse for the cattle, normally paid by the cattle feeder.

Those stubborn cattlemen that have refused to give their cattle to the big meatpackers as captive supplies are being hurt the most as they continue to feed their now grossly overweight cattle with no kill date in sight. Sonny Perdue and USDA continue to ignore the problem and Congress is failing to act.

“This low producer share of the consumer beef dollar is unprecedented and is around half of the amount producers received in 1970 when big meatpacker concentration was 25% and the markets were competitive”

Legislative efforts to support effective and real state-inspection programs to remove unnecessary barriers to the market, like onerous, abusive, and ineffective USDA inspection and elimination of laws restricting market access like interstate sales of meat (allowed to cross state lines), should be passed and implemented immediately.

Wyoming recently passed legislation allowing the retail sale of cuts of meat, rather than whole animal sales, but only within the state.  This is important, not because a rancher no longer has to sell the whole live animal, but because the rancher can sell meat at the retail value, rather than the depressed live animal price, thereby capturing the lost retail share back to the ranch, where it belongs. Consumers will be happily paying for the actual weight of the meat they’re getting and not wondering what happened to the rest of the animal when they had it processed themselves. Ranchers should still continue to sell the whole animal, or shares of the whole animal, to better meet income and cash flow needs. This also helps the small plant process more animals per day using a standard bone-in cut. The bone has nutritional value and improves the retail yield of the animal by around five percent.

“Consumers will be happily paying for the actual weight of the meat they’re getting and not wondering what happened to the rest of the animal.”

There shouldn’t be any complaining when consumers find out they can buy directly from a farmer or rancher at the same average price they pay at Walmart – less the 12% added solution and without the Pink Slime added to the burger, not to mention how many fewer animals are represented in their pound of ground beef.

It’s a captured and corrupt government that allows the criminal Batista brothers full access to sell their rotten and stolen meat in every state in our Union, but a citizen livestock producer can’t sell a cut of meat to a neighbor, or to a customer a few miles away across the state line.

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