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why factory meat is so cheap  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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I think the goal of producing grocery-store-cheap meat (particularly chicken) is a misguided one from the start.  Those (illegitimately) low prices are based on vertical integration, crap feed, subsidized grains, and often enough underpaid and overworked (read: exploited) illegal immigrant labor.  Rather than asking why we can't produce food that cheaply, shouldn't we be questioning why that stuff is so cheap?
 
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Our church does a Wednesday Night meal for some kids in a subsidized housing complex that is pretty poor. Without question the best dinner meal (called supper in Maine) these kids get all week, is what we provide for them. And we are not feeding them anything great, the real point is, they are just being fed. It has come to the point where we are doing meal deliveries on school vacations because kids are just going without food. The county I live in is the poorest county in all of New England and it really shows, but at one meal, I overhead one kid say to another, "man I wish we could have this for supper at home."...the sad thing was...it was hot dogs. HOT DOGS. I whined about eating hot dogs when I was a kid.

The ultra sad part is we live in the Permiculture Capital of the world. A major environmental college is here, along with the headquarters of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardner's Association. Organic farms abound, yet only a small percentage of the population can afford their exuberant prices. To me that is just sad. So much good food abounds in such a poor community, yet is being shipped to Boston to those that can afford it, while the poor get caught in the trap of junk food, poor health, high health care...which in all reality is burdened by tax-payers.

I know no one can answer why type questions, buy why can't quality food cost less? It seems to be a challenge no one is willing to address.

 
Wes Hunter
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"Cheap" is, of course, relative.  I wouldn't suggest that we necessarily try to produce food in an expensive manner (though there can be certain benefits to that), but so much food is so falsely cheap that it skews ideas of what it ought to cost to produce good food.

When food is cheap because it depends on subsidies, exploited workers, and environmental degradation, then it is no longer a worthy goal to produce cheap food.  (I'm not suggesting you think those things are worth it.)

As far as very low-income folks, that's a sticky issue that has to do, of course, with so much more than just the cost of food.  And of course, plenty of people who "can't afford" good food are, in actual fact, merely choosing not to afford it.
 
Wes Hunter
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Other considerations...

1.  As a commercial farmer, I need to make enough money to pay bills.  It's a lifestyle, yes, but it's also a job.  We live on a very small budget, but we have to charge a certain amount for our products (read: we have to earn a certain amount of money, one way or another) to pay for things like inflated land and real estate prices, real estate and personal property taxes, and goods and services whose prices tend to follow inflation (whereas food prices tend to lag well behind inflation).  I say this in reference to your comment about farmers shipping products out of the immediate locale.

2.  If I could get chicks for the same cost as Tyson, and if I could get feed grains for the same prices the big boys pay, I could be a lot more price competitive even with much more extensive rearing and processing methods.  The cards are stacked against small farmers in that regard.

None of this is to complain; I am not a victim.  But our food system is incredibly screwed up, and drastically affects real possibilities.
 
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Wes Hunter wrote:  And of course, plenty of people who "can't afford" good food are, in actual fact, merely choosing not to afford it.



This is an interesting idea.  I don't think they are 'choosing' not to afford it.  I think they just don't know how.

My income is considerably below a living wage.  It is significantly below the poverty line for my country.  

Yet, I eat organic or better.

It's not because I choose or not choose to.  It's because I taught myself how to.  This wasn't easy, but it is possible.  I'm very keen to help people learn if they are interested.  

The reason why people on low income can't eat well isn't because there isn't affordable good food out there, it's because the are discouraged to learn how to get and use it.  If a roast chicken isn't making 12 meals (as the main protein for 6 days for 2 people) then of course raising their own chicken for meat is going to be far too expensive.  

Raising animals is a beautiful thing. It allows so much control over how the animal is treated and what it is fed.  It is worth every penny and there are ways to do it affordably.  But the first step is to learn to get the most from them in the kitchen.  This kind of knowledge is discouraged in our culture, but it's out there.  We have a few threads about it kicking about the place.

healthy home cooking for under a dollar a plate
cooking with pulses
free and frugal soup
and more.

 
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Travis Johnson wrote:I know no one can answer why type questions, buy why can't quality food cost less? It seems to be a challenge no one is willing to address.



I am concerned about the same things Travis. I come from Bronx, NY and have since moved out to the middle of nowhere in MI—odd I know. But the poverty I grew up in, and the conditions I considered "normal" will never leave me. One thing I am convinced of is that quality animal products will always be extremely expensive. There's just no way around it, you are down-converting calories, 20 to 1 for beef and 5 to 1 for poultry I believe. Ethical animal production doesn't scale well, and our entire meat industry is being subsidized heavily, "a chicken in every pot!". This adds up to a terrible pricing difference between industrial and organic ethical meat. For organic vegetable growers, the odds aren't as stacked.

Unfortunately, most market gardeners buy expensive amendments and focus on high prophet low calorie crops like greens. And there's not a large movement towards more sustainable, calorie rich, foods like nuts (filberts) and perennial tubers (Jerusalem Artichoke). Berries and other fruit can also offer high yields with less work and less inputs, if the conditions, species and varieties are right. But this all would require cheap acreage, new distribution and processing models, and cultural shifts for it actually make a difference in poor communities.

I think a more ripe option would be local, cooperatively owned farms where the community can learn and grow their own food. There is progress in this area. Checkout http://ronfinley.com, we need more people and communities doing things like this.
 
Wes Hunter
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R Ranson wrote:

Wes Hunter wrote:  And of course, plenty of people who "can't afford" good food are, in actual fact, merely choosing not to afford it.



This is an interesting idea.  I don't think they are 'choosing' not to afford it.  I think they just don't know how.



It is probably most often a passive "choosing," but I see it often: someone who "can't afford" good food well produced who can somehow afford plentiful modern conveniences.  Joel Salatin has a bit to say about this phenomenon, and can probably elaborate better than I can.

But in my book, someone who has $50 plus per month for a cell phone plus another $50 for cable or satellite TV plus $30 or whatever for in-home internet access who "can't afford" good food deserves no sympathy.  I don't mean that in a hard-hearted way, but in a "you've made your choices" way.  It's not that they don't know how, but that they don't want to give up whatever else they're spending their money on.  I am generalizing, of course, but it's a common pattern.

There are some people who are genuinely poor (by income standards, I too belong), but there are plenty who just spend money really poorly.
 
Wes Hunter
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Another potentially applicable tidbit:

We raise heritage breed chickens for meat.  Calculating our costs, we determined that we needed to charge $5.50/lb. to make it worth our while, which is a fair bit above the going supermarket rare of about $1.00/lb., and decidedly more than the other farmers market vendors (raising CRX) selling at $3.50-4.00/lb.  But interestingly, we researched historic chicken prices and found that, adjusted for inflation, a chicken sold in 1951 would go for $5.46/lb. today.
 
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There are a lot of good ideas in this thread.  Like R Scott, I'd rather eat no meat than cheap CAFO disease and environmentally problematic meat.  

We just don't eat meat very often. Partially for health, and partially because, the good stuff is actually pretty expensive.

I think the learning practice that R Ranson talked about is dead on.

What kinds of tasty meals can you prepare that are healthy and inexpensive? A lot.

Weeds and feral vegetables are amazingly cheap.  Kind of free.  

CSAs or sharing an organic CSA with someone is a great deal.

My Organic and Asian grocery stores both have "mature produce" that is super cheap and you have to eat within a couple of days.

Fermenting vegetables turns them from healthy and not good tasting to yummy for free, in my opinion.

The eggs and meat you grow isn't cheaper-just better.  It's probably cheaper than buying the really good stuff.

Some people also like the chickens or feel that it's a healthy lifestyle.

Salatin and Wes make a good point-what are your priorities? The health doctors are all saying the absolute most important thing for your health is what you eat.

Do you want to pay the organic grocer now or the doctor $1 million dollars later, and die at 53? ( I am 53 years old.)

I think a lot of it is planning and prioritizing.

Being cheap about other things in your life lets you afford a lot better food.

TV, social networks and Video games are very expensive in terms of your time.

John S
PDX OR
 
Jonathan Rivera
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Wes Hunter wrote:Another potentially applicable tidbit:

We raise heritage breed chickens for meat.  Calculating our costs, we determined that we needed to charge $5.50/lb. to make it worth our while, which is a fair bit above the going supermarket rare of about $1.00/lb., and decidedly more than the other farmers market vendors (raising CRX) selling at $3.50-4.00/lb.  But interestingly, we researched historic chicken prices and found that, adjusted for inflation, a chicken sold in 1951 would go for $5.46/lb. today.



I agree with you here Wes, industrial meat is priced to bankrupt farmers. Cheap food so Americans' can buy consumer goods. Don't quote me on this, but I believe Americans' spent half their income on food in that same period.
 
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I think our benefit is to bundle. You grow meat and eggs and fertilize your orchard. Even we pay more for the mash we get free inputs the big boys don't get.
 
Travis Johnson
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I am a small farmer and I can compete. Whether I am selling on the national food chain, to a 4H'er, or a local buyer, I do so at a reasonable cost.

For me however it was about turning inward and reducing my families own living expenses. The difficult part has not be reducing our expenses, but working with financial lending institutions. They have this magical little amount that gets assigned to a family of six (my size), see what we spend and say, "it cannot be done". It is not true, we have worked very hard over the last 20 years to be debt-free. But then they have said we could not buy sheep for $150 per head, and proved that buy buying 84 one year.

Another aspect of things has been to not to get caught up in the carrots that got dangled in front of me. There has been some grants, cost share programs and farmer networks that have enticed me with available money, but staying small and slowly building up from only 4 sheep...yes 4 sheep and 3 acres of land, has really paid off. I have taken some cost share programs, a few farm loans, but pretty much grew my farm based on available cash.

To me the financial industry does a lot of disservice to people by essentially duping them. They say "unless you are growing, you are dying", and that is just not true. On numerous occasions I have shuttered my flock of sheep, increased my cash flow, taken a reduction on my taxes, only to bounce back the following year. Its give and take, not continuous growth.

And then there is the notion of borrowing more than enough money. I don't agree with that at all. When I borrow money, the institution is assured they will get all of their money back, plus a chunk of mine...it is called interest, and I dislike that. I only have a little pile of money, and as cynical as this may sound, EVERYONE is trying to take that little pile of money away from me. I guard every penny, which is why we have such lower family living costs, something they cannot comprehend.

Part of that is making money by losing money. I know WAY to many farms that will not do something because figures show "it is not worth doing'. Really? Sometimes when you do something for nothing, or take a loss on it, you end up with integrity and it gets well repaid in the end. Granted some of this has to do with me being a next-generational farmer, but I have bartered, been giving, been repaid back so much stuff that I am not sure I could put a value on it. If I can give something to a fellow farmer for nothing, I will, because I know I might need help someday. This winter has proven it, it has been a tough one, but while we are struggling, we have been helped by a lot of people I have helped in the past. It cannot be put on financial charts, but considering I have been farming now for my 9th year on my own, and the average Chief Executive Officer of a company stays at the helm for a mere 6 years, I would suggest you can make money by losing it sometimes.  

 
Wes Hunter
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Travis, I wonder to what degree the specific enterprise affects one's ability to "compete"?  Maybe you can shed some light on the ovine side of things.

When I look at supermarket beef prices, for example, I figure that I could charge something rather similar and still be profitable.  This is because even commodity beef is still raised using an extensive production system: a cow drops a calf, where it is raised on pasture for the first 6 months or so of its life, before being sold and moved to another pasture where it grazes for another few months, before finally being sent to the feedlot to fatten.  And nobody has yet, to my knowledge, develop a breed of bovine that will grow to butcher weight in 9 to 12 months.  When I factor in all the things I don't spend money on for my herd (antibiotics, growth hormones, ear tags, and on and on), plus the fact that I have more grass per acre due to grazing practices, commodity beef prices are not unattainable for a small farmer.

The commodity chicken bigwigs, on the other hand, have created a system (and a freak, exploited 'breed') that is so intensive and specialized as to be unapproachable by small farmers.  Perhaps a backyarder can get creative and approach those illegitimately low prices, but the idea doesn't seem scalable.

I greatly appreciate what you said in the remainder of the above post.  Hints of Gene Logsdon.
 
Travis Johnson
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I am a numbers guy so I think that might be where I might do some things right, as do you...and I admire that in you by the way!

To that end I ALWAYS calculate my costs on the high end, and figure my sheep sales at wholesale, knowing if the numbers work, I can make a profit. Through that process, economy of scale is figured out, what expenses can and should be cut, and what the break-even point is. For instance I know on my farm, with my market, with my expenses, and my household withdraw, the tipping point is 265 sheep. Any less and we will continue to lose money as far out as 10 years, while anything over 265 sheep will continually make money. After that it is all just factoring in how to get housing, feed, and due to regulatory issues...manure and silage storage. If calculating in for a loan, then a farm has to account for the value of the farm as expressed as a percentage. (A bank will not loan over 85% of the value of the real estate; assuming that is how the collateral is being secured.

I have always thought that being a next-generational farmer was my best asset, but my banker, upon a long pause of thought, felt it was the amount of connections I had in agriculture. That is somewhat tied into longevity, but different as well I guess. An example of that might be having back up plans. This year past summer was a drought year and hay is expensive and limited here. I might run out this year, I am not sure, but if I do I know I can buy it for $35 a bale instead of the going rate of $70, if I even have to buy it. I know people, and honestly can probably barter or trade with someone "just to get by". They know I'll make it up to them in fair barter trade, or cash elsewhere.

To some degree integrity plays into this as well, and while I freely admit in my younger years I was not so great at doing what I said I would, I have made up for some lost time and honestly have a reputation now of going overboard. One guy expressed this personally. he had paid me up front for some firewood and I honestly thought the load I cut was 9 cord, when it was only 6. I said, "take what I have now, and I will make up for it." He said, "and knowing you, you will make it up and then some." I did, I cut 4 cord instead of the missing 3 cord, a value of $90. That kind of reputation helps get by in farming, but also cuts costs. Unfortunately reputation and integrity are not known to others overnight.

Everything ultimately has value, and while forest products are essentially worthless to me because I have a lot of it, for others, its worth a lot. Same for my gravel pit. Its a little worse than wood products because once it is gone, it is truly gone, but for now I have enough. I have let people get gravel, sand and fill for free because they were building something and they required it. In the end I always ended up better for it, whether it was from people returning the favor, or just having a better developed gravel pit. In other words someone else diesel fuel and hours on equipment went into taking off the overburden and building roads. Ultimately it is really looking things over from both sides to see if a barter is "fair", and making that determination.

In the end it comes down to a simple matter. If I have run the numbers enough, developed a well thought out farm plan, implemented it right, and I can make profit at whole sale prices; why not sell to my friends and neighbors at those same prices? That is a moral and ethical question I MUST answer.

Sometimes it is hard. 4h'ers inherently get my best, fasted, largest ram-lambs that I know would do well at auction in the fall, or even be good breeders, and $175 a lamb such as that is cheap. But for a kid who is shelling out allowance money, or mucking out barn money, it is a lot at $7 and hour. It's enough. Heck by law I cannot even make a contract like that with them because they are minors, but if I lose a few bucks from selling to 4H'ers and passing the love of sheep...the love of agriculture on to the next generation; I am not worried too much. I have yet to lose any money, but legally I know there is nothing I can do. I cannot make a financial deal with a kid under the age of 18. Period.
 
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From my observations I see a more pessimistic side. It comes from real examples of people I know that:

Don't want "boned" chicken cause of the veins.  He'll take mc nuggets any day of the week.

Doesn't want local farm eggs cause he had a red dot in the egg one time.

Have never cooked a whole chicken.

Hates real mashed potatos cause of the lumps. He prefers the powdered stuff.

I can go on and one.  If you  went to a school cafeteria in a poor district and set down true organic carrots and a box of twinkies, which would be gone first.

Do the same with a baked chicken and chicken mcnuggets.

 
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Making the world a better place through learning things rather than being mad at bad people.



OK, that's from memory and I've probably messed it up a bit, but that's a theme for permies.com   How can we get good things without paying the top dollar they are surely worth?  

Here's an interesting site: Crowd Cow. It's a website where they sell whole steers Kickstarter style: once people have committed to buying all the parts, the animal is processed and then all the various bits sent out.  You look on the right side of the screen, and prices are very high for the fancy cuts.  But if you keep scrolling down, you'll get to where you can buy ground beef for less than $6/pound, and if you keep scrolling, there are things like liver and leaf fat for $3/pound.

The best way to get awesome meat for not terrible cost is to buy a half a grassfed steer - you'll get the fancy parts and the not so fancy parts.  It's a lot of meat, so you'll need a deep freeze, or perhaps a group of people to share the meat.  When it comes to truly sustainable meat production, beef starts to get cheaper than chicken, which takes us back to how prices were 50 years ago, I've been told.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:due to regulatory issues...manure and silage storage.



I would love to know more about this. What are they making you do ? I can't imagine you have a shit lake like a conventional hog farm. Silage,is it potentially dangerous?

On the issue of poverty and food choice,I have some experience.
My sister is chef who is paid to teach people how to cook from scratch. The classes are a heavily subsidized $5.00 for 5 weekly classes.
You get free produce every class,a meal to eat and some to take home and if you come to every class, a chefs knife and a cast iron skillet.
This is all from a non-profit church ministry that realized that the people they were trying to help would starve if you handed them a raw chicken,and they often didn't have a pot to cook it in. The program is called "Cooking for the family"

Years ago,I discovered this my self at a large foodbank.
My wife and I were there to pick up some food.

I'd lost my job and my insurance, and our out of pocket costs for medicine ate our savings in just a few months.
We were told we could have one of this and two of these, oh, and all the fresh produce and dry beans we wanted !
Wait, why? Well we soon found out from the other "shoppers". As we eagerly piled slightly bruised turnips,zucchini, beans and lentils on our cart,they would stop and ask "How are you going to cook that?",or  even "What is that?"
WTF? They were raised not knowing. I was raised eating real food. An advantage I wish everyone could have.

Now mind you, historically (at least as far back as the Greek/Roman Era)city dwellers might not cook much or anything for themselves.
The threat of fire in tenement housing, the expense of fuel and equipment,the 16 hour days of back breaking labor,all encourage(d) eating out for the lower classes.


Regarding the costs of chicken vs. beef or pork,city chicken is a "thing" here in Cincinnati:

"City chicken typically has cooks using meat scraps to fashion a makeshift drumstick from them. It was a working-class food item. During the Depression, cooks used pork or in some cases veal because it was then cheaper than chicken in many parts of the country, especially in those markets far from rural poultry farms. Sometimes cooks would grind the meat and use a drumstick-shaped mold to form the ground meat around a skewer."

Like crabs away from the coast, chickens were not as readily available in the city,and became worthy of imitation.

The current situation of growing food and bringing it our livestock is at odds with a history of livestock gathering food and bring it to us,in the form of themselves ,their eggs ,their milk.
Cattle as a combine harvester,chickens recycling our biological waste and pigs gathering acorns.







 
Travis Johnson
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I missed a lot of this thread when it got moved, so sorry for my delay on this...

William, I understand myself, but part of that is being a farmer. Its been a hard winter and I am probably one of the poorest millionaires you ever met! (Search for Paul Wheaton's story on Gert for more information). I got literally tons of wood right now, cut, decked, ready to go to papermills and sawmills and yet they are not talking it. Thousands of dollars worth of wood, but sadly no market. Thankfully we don't have much debt so we are fine, but I would be a lot better off if that wood moved!

I do understand the whole notion of people making poor choices and then not having food, which is hard for me to comprehend because I do not even have a cell phone, much less a smart phone, nor a cable or satellite, or a new car. We live VERY frugally for a family of six. But yet while I used to have this concept of hey, "you made your bed, now sleep in it", I lost that back in 2001. I used to be pretty upfront in the board room where I was a safety coordinator of a large railroad, then got sent to 911 for 9 months. That softened me a bit because all these people did was go to work that day. Even now, around September when media dredges up the thought of "Remember 911", I am just trying to forget it! Then my sister got killed in a car accident at age 19 that softened me a bit more, then my wife of 9 years left for some guy she met on the internet. She told my parents she was leaving me as the day after their house burned to the ground. It was an awful lot to take in a few months time, and I realized, bad things happen to good people. Now I don't judge. I might be too compassionate, but I do care about people.

I do agree that it is about decision making, but sadly what I feel the proper decision cannot be discussed on here, nor can the true problem be discussed that started it all. That answer would surprise you; it is neither government, conservatives, liberals or any political structure honestly. I can say though, that Permiculture is indeed correct..and is the truth...in that the solution is the problem!
 
Travis Johnson
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William Bronson wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:due to regulatory issues...manure and silage storage.

I would love to know more about this. What are they making you do ? I can't imagine you have a shit lake like a conventional hog farm. Silage,is it potentially dangerous?



It is not what they make me do, it is what they make EVERY farm that has over 50 animal units doe. An Animal Unit is 1000 pounds of live weight, so the regulations kick in at 50,000 pounds. It sounds like a lot, but its really not.

41 dairy cows
20 draft horses
200 sheep
333 goats
4000 chicken

Well before those numbers are reached, because you must consider calves, foals, lambs, kids and chicks they produce too; you need to get a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan. For a small farm like me, it might cost $$7,000-$8000 every 5 years. For a big dairy farm, it might be closer to $25,000 every 5 years. This regulates where you dispose of your manure and on what fields, how much, when, etc. It also regulates your manure storage. It may or may not mean a manure lake. For dairy farms with liquid manure, ye, while for me (at the moment) it is a concrete pad for storing manure. However it looks like I will have to build a manure lake as I am getting too high in numbers.

Now in Maine CNMP's are they are called are REALLY obnoxious because Maine is the only state in the nation that requires an engineer to sign off on them, and there is only one in the State. Conservationists can daw them up, but this guy has to put his rubber stamp on it and it costs the farmer dearly.

We have argued for years that it is very restrictive, costly and hurting small farmers, as the numbers show, its not a whole lot of animals. All to no avail.

As for silage, silage effluent is actually far more detrimental to water and soil quality due to the acidic nature of it. Basically it is fermented food before it goes into the livestock that breaks that down; into food energy, gas (farts) and then then into manure. We are regulated to control and filter that silage effluent to the same rigorous standards as manure management.

 
William Bronson
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Thanks for explaining the regulations.
I can see the finance burden they impose.
I'm not sure why it should cost so much a year.
Is it new infrastructure,or the costs of fees and paperwork?
I was a drain cleaner for Roto Rooter.
They pumped septic tanks out and disposed of the waste. The fee that the water works charged to dump was high.
Our driver told me he had worked for another company that dumped in a stream.
There has to be a balance between shit in the water and backbreaking regulation.
 
Travis Johnson
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William, straight up, in all honesty, if I thought CNMP's (Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans) really did anything, I might be for them. When I took over my family farm I said I was going to do things by the book, and did not realize how much that ethical endeavor would entail. CNMP's are 100% bureaucracy, and here is why.

After they are printed up, I know of no farmer who ever looks at the 300 pages of blarney until it is time to renew it 5 years later. First it is outdated as soon as it is made. Its for livestock farmers after all...who...surprisingly enough...have livestock babies that skew the numbers before they are even printed. In other words, or animal counts are always in flux.

So is the land, because most farms big enough to have a CNMP might rent land from area land owners, and that varies from year to year. So even if the farm animal numbers stayed the same, the amount of land that same manure was spread on would change.

And of course there is the manure itself. That too changes in consistency, with different feeds, etc

And finally there is the weather which vastly changes how the manure affects the growth of the grass. No printed paper 5 years in advance can account for that, much less all those other factors too.

I understand the purpose. Its in place so that soil does not get contaminated by too many animals. I understand that, but here the worse offenders are not the big farmers, but the small ones well under 50 animal units, and here is why. Take my neighbor for instance. She is located adjacent to the stream and has about 30 sheep on 1 acre of ground. Here we can graze 10 sheep per acre, so she is 3 times over the limit. To feed them she must haul in feed, not just in the winter, but year round. Since a sheep poos out 85% of what they eat, she is 255% over what the ground can absorb in manure. If it cannot go into the soil, then it is flowing into her adjacent stream, into the nearby lake, etc...But she is not regulated at all by the rules, where as I am, yet my sheep graze 1 sheep for every 2 acres! I am not contaminating anything, spreading it over a much larger area, and yet fall under the restrictive and costly rules. So to me, the whole concept is lost.

But to me the problem lies in the fact that everyone wants to turn everything in farming into a science. Some things need to be, like the amazing way PH can lock up the molecules and minerals of the soil, but spreading manure; jeesh, it is a pretty simple ratio.

 
William Bronson
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I totally see your point. There should be some simple way get people to farm responsibly,instead of hanging a millstone of paper around the farms neck.
Does your neighbor even have grass at this point?
That's again for explaining the regulations, it helps to know what is actually affecting people in real life.

Funny how location is everything. All that sheep dip could be invaluable in the right place.
 
Travis Johnson
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I am working on the legislatures to take away the Maine Engineer stamp mandate. It puts all the power in one person's hands and increases the cost. Personally I see it as a monopoly. but so far no legislature wants to say; "this is silly, let's strike it down", even though the other 49 states do not require it.
 
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