Saturday, February 21, 2009

Will the CAFO system go belly up?

Below I have copied an email/letter from the Oklahoma Food Coop President. I love this man - he has a vision not only of people feeding themselves, but eating good food. At the root of his love of Oklahoma agriculture is good, I love a man who likes to eat ;)

The email (which I **edited to serve my purpose) discusses the potential collapse of the CAFO system that the majority of Americans feed themselves from. In case you do not know - CAFO stands for Confined Animal Feeding Operations - cattle feedlots, huge bird houses where they sit on top of each other laying eggs...where dead birds are in there after dying of sickness or being pecked to death by another bird...where cows are shot full of antibiotics just to keep them alive long enough to slaughter them....those CAFO's....

**edited for length, not to twist the email to my own evil ends ;)

(Warning. . . this post contains graphic word pictures of
the practices of Confined Animal Feeding Operations.)

The only way that CAFOs will go away is when they are no
longer economically viable. There is not the chance of a
proverbial ice cube in hades that the legislature will enact
meaningful legislation to deal with this problem. We can
fantasize about a day when Harlan Hentges, Shauna Struby, Ed
Kessler, Tom Elmore, Susie Shields, and yours truly are
leaders in the state legislature, but it will actually be
easier to get people to stop eating CAFO meats than to
achieve that electoral miracle.

Also in our favor is the little detail that the economics
are already turning against the CAFO system. There is a lot
of talk in the beef industry about the failure of the
present model. Predictably, the cattleman are losing, but
the new news is that the feedlot system and big packing
industry itself aren't on very stable ground. One of
the dominos that is poised and ready to fall is the
"sudden collapse" of the CAFO system due to the
glaring economic irrationalities of its methods. Don't
say it can't happen, because it can, as easy and as
quickly as the collapse of Lehmans. The cost of inputs is
increasing, financing is almost impossible to find, the
whole system is based on shaving costs to the bone and
running large quantities through the system, and it
doesn't work well when costs don't cooperate and
banks are reluctant or unable to finance.

Every dollar spent at a supermarket meat market is a dollar
that subsidizes the CAFO system. DNA tests of supermarket
hamburger have found as many as 100 different animals in a
five pound block of supermarket hamburger. As many as 5% of the cattle "processed" in the giant slaughterhouses aren't actually dead when they are
skinned. Most of the incoming cattle are sick, the feedlot
conditions are so terrible the feed is supplemented with
dietary antibiotics to keep the animals from dying on them.
They treat their chickens so miserably they have to burn off
their beaks to keep them from pecking themselves to death.

That's what you pay for when you buy supermarket meat
and poultry and eggs and dairy. If you're not going to
buy meat from free-ranging, humanely treated flocks and
herds, then sign up for a vegan diet. Yes, free-ranging
meats cost more. The solution? Eat less meat, and eat the
less expensive meats, or spend less on something else and
spend a little more on meat, dairy, and eggs. I wouldn't trust ground
meat from the supermarket or the franchised fast food

And. . . stock up. Keep your freezer full.

More than a disruption in deliveries, the collapse of the way that just about everyone in America feeds itself would cause a panic in just a few hours. The Administration would never let this industry fail....You know where this train is heading - Its heading towards being propped up by your tax dollars. So now, this Government owns the industries that make your cars, hold your money (dont think for a second that the banking system will not be nationalized - many already are), educate your children, and feed your family. This is Socialism.....when they tell you how many kids you can have, which would be their prerogative under Universal Healthcare, we will be China.

There is an upside - Yes, I can be Miss. Mary Sunshine - The upside is that with the collapse and bailout of the current system, many Outraged, Disgusted Americans will opt out of the system. Where I live, that paradigm shift is happening and it happens more and more each month. I have spoke of it before, the Oklahoma Food Coop. Here we buy meat, cheese, dairy (except Milk), eggs, wheat flour, wheat berries and many other fabulous things.

More and more people opting out of the industrial food system means an opportunity for people with just a few acres of land. You can raise broilers for meat, chickens for eggs, goats for milk.... You will be able to stack enterprises to keep you fed as well as in the green. Stacking enterprises also means that your farm works together - everything you do benefits another part of the enterprises. Start with a couple of cows, move them around your land, followed by chickens. Put pigs underneath trees and they will quickly turn it into beautiful savannas as they turn the earth over with their snouts. Put turkeys in your orchard to eat bugs and clean up dropped fruit....The possibility is almost endless.

Another plus is that you do not work year round. The Creator made a cycle. Its obvious to the world except for humans. We try to twist nature. Its bad for the animals, the land and for us. If we move WITH nature, life becomes easier. Thats not to say you wont be busy, you will work like a dog Spring and Summer....tapering off with the final harvest in the fall. But Winter is to rest. The entire Earth rests in Winter and we should follow suit.

When you work it this way, your farm will not smell, your farm will be green (as in color), your farm will be sustaining as in sustaining your life as well as those around you. You get premium prices for your product - a good, healthy product which tastes better than you can even imagine. We have been lulled to sleep with the tasteless crap put forth in the current food system - lets wake our taste buds up as well as our neighbors. And the farmer will again be given the honor that they are due.


Mayberry said...

Sounds like a slice of heaven to me......

Windjammer said...

Thanks Pearls
Ditto to what Mayberry said. My family is moving towards that goal of living on the land and providing for ourselves. Keep up the good work.

Ramon said...

A few years back when I was actively engaged in my family's beef cattle operation anytime that we had a animal injured for any reason the term was "another one for "H@rdees". They always had a buyer at the local auction and picked up anything that was able to make it through the ring that no breeder would touch.