Category Archives: Agrinomics

“The Great Commerce of every Civilized Society is that carried on between the Inhabitants of the Town and those of the Country.”- Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, 1776

GET THOSE DUST BOWLS OFF THE SHELF

Midwest Farm Bubble Continues Collapse As Farm Incomes Expected To Crash In 2017

Earlier this week the U.S Department of Agriculture released its biannual report of farm incomes which paints a very bleak picture for the American farmer.  In its first forecast for 2017, the USDA sees real farm cash receipts down 14% versus 2015 and 36% from the previous high set in 2012 as farm debt continues to soar and leverage surges to all-time highs. 

As the Wall Street Journal notes, the deadly combination of rising input costs, lower grain prices, a strong dollar and excessive leverage will likely force many of America’s Midwest farmers out of business in 2017.

Costs for seeds, fertilizer and equipment climbed so high and grain prices dropped so low that he still lost more than $120 an acre. Afraid to come up short again, Mr. Scott decided last fall not to plant 170 acres of winter wheat, close to a third of the usual amount. U.S. farmers sowed the fewest acres of winter wheat this season in more than a century.

Agrinomics: Yield per Acre

Adam Smith called it the rent of the land, the individual farmer, the man on the spot, was best suited to get the most out of the land. Karl Marx, didn’t want to let the farmer do his own thing for fear he would rape the soil to produce as much as possible today and not worry about tomorrow.

The Rent: Today Illinois farm land goes for $425/acre the farmer produces 180 bushels of corn on that acre and then sells it for $6 a bushel $6 x 180 = $1,080 less $542 for all that good fertilizer, pesticides, machinery, etc. he’s at $538 minus the $425 rent leaves him at the end of the harvest with $113 per acre profit.

180 bushels @ Dec 2016 price of $3.33 X 180 = $599.40 less $542 for all that good fertilizer, pesticides, machinery, etc. he’s at $57 minus the $425 rent leaves him at the end of the harvest with $-368 per acre loss.

“No one just grain farms anymore,” said Deb Stout, whose sons Mason and Spencer farm the family’s 2,000 acres in Sterling, Kan., 120 miles east of Ransom. Spencer also works as a mechanic, and Mason is a substitute mailman. “Having a side job seems like the only way to make it work,” she said.

She and her husband have declared bankruptcy before. Farmers around Sterling lost $6,400 on average in 2015, the latest available data, after profits of $80,800 a year earlier, according to the KansasFarm Management Association.

REINVENTING AGRICULTURE

“No one just grain farms anymore,”

The commodity grain farmer after Nixon’s 1971 devaluation of the dollar got a dollar more for a bushel of corn. The mid-west farmer could get 140 bushels per acre in 1975 at $3.00 per bushel for a gross of $420 per acre. 2017 corn averages $3.50 but yield per acre has risen to 180 bushels. Ipso facto $3.50 times 180 equals $630/ acre. That’s good right? Not if you factor in the Nixon Greenspan Bernanke credit bubble. $3.00 in 1975 has the buying power of  $13.96 today. 2) economically viable to the farmer

John Reganold, a professor of soil science and agroecology at Washington State University, said a 4) crop’s yield is just one of four metrics by which it should be considered sustainably productive.

Equally important, he argued, is whether a crop is 1) environmentally safe, 2) economically viable to the farmer and 3) socially responsible by paying its workers well, for example.

“For any farm to be sustainable, it must meet each and every one of these four sustainability criteria,” Reganold said by phone Tuesday.

When organic farming practices are compared to conventional practices using all four of those metrics, the FOE report argues, the organic practices hold an advantage considering their resilience to increasingly pressing agricultural challenges, including climate change and water scarcity.

4) crop’s yield Yield in 1929 was 20 bushels per acre. Compare that to today’s 180 bushels on the same dust bowl mid-west acre.

“Increasing the proportion of agriculture that uses sustainable, organic methods of farming is not a choice, it’s a necessity,”

Claire Kremen, a conservation biology professor at University of California at Berkeley, writes in the report.

It’s Dust Bowl time again: the soil is depleted, the farmer is deeply in debt, the stock/bond market is about to crash and farm land value is drying up. No more wheat, soy or corn means it’s a good time to start a garden or become an organic farmer.

IT TAKES A VEGAN TO RAISE A VILLAGE

The “Vegetarianism in America” study published by Vegetarian Times showed that 3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian-based diet. Approximately 0.5 percent, or 1 million, of those are vegans, who consume no animal products at all.

 “Agriculture, the Produce of the Land, is the SOLE or the PRINCIPAL Source of the Revenue and Wealth of every Country.” – Adam Smith.

The Vegan-Vegetarian set are a bunch of picky eaters. Since, they have to deny themselves anything good to eat – they are the eat to live sufferers – they painstakingly make sure that it’s organic, locally grown, regeneratively farmed and environmentally sustainable. The remaining 96.8% of the population doesn’t care about soil degradation, GMO ingredients, pesticide residues, algae plumes or the evils of industrialized agriculture; only does it taste good and how much does it cost?

“The Great Commerce of every Civilized Society is that carried on between the Inhabitants of the Town and those of the Country.”– Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, 1776, (pg. 473)

The Vegan-Vegetarian loyalists favor their local farmers’ markets over Whole Foods to support their community economically. The only time that the American farmer made any money was between the end of slavery (1870) and until the end of WWI (1914). After the war Henry Ford turned his auto manufacturing expertise to cranking out ‘Farmall’ tractors which triggered Adam Smith’s caution algo: Equipment, Seeds & Fertilizer “the rise in the real price of manufactures, decreases the price of the raw produce of the land – thereby discouraging agriculture.”

The introduction of mechanization eliminated nine out of ten family farms because more land was needed to support the cost of the equipment that ended up producing commodity row crops, corn, wheat and cotton. The unemployed farmers moved to Detroit for five dollars a day wages which their wives spent buying canned goods at Barney Kroger’s or A & P.

The Vegan ladies 80% and Vegie ladies 60% and their corresponding male sympathizers are leading the way to establishing the farmer-villager relationship and the:

“The Great Commerce of every Civilized Society is that carried on between the Inhabitants of the Town and those of the Country.”

2017 statistics say that the Vegan-Vegetarian consumers number 17 million or 5% of the population. However, to make ‘American Agriculture Great Again’ we have to get the meat-lovers buying 100% grass-fed beef and family farmed pork, poultry and dairy. Before WWI 80% of the people lived in rural villages, now that 80% lives in metro-areas. Before WWI local farmers supplied 95% of the foodstuffs for the neighboring villages. How can we get them down on the farm again?

DUST BOWL IIWhen this happened in 1937 they packed up and went to California. There hasn’t been a dust bowl since then, why? FDR subsidized irrigation by pumping the Ogallala Aquifer down to keep those row crops growing. Now when the water runs out – current usage is a negative two meters per year – the great plains states will be forced to return to great prairie states. The Vegan-Vegetarian Left-Wing Millennial Marauders will disembowel the Industrial-Agriculture Complex and raise little happy villages all across the land.

CABRITO AL PASTOR

Keep the girls and eat the boys. Boy goats don’t live long because it only takes one to make babies. The girls give milk and 2.3 babies every eight months. There is always a 50/50 chance that her kids are going to be boys. The kids live on their mother’s milk for the first 30 days. The shepherd, the el pastor, skins the little boys (cabritos) and cooks them over a low fire in the field or pasture. This time honored BBQ dish is called ‘Cabrito al Pastor,’ in Spanish and Portuguese.

The boys remain cute until they are three months old, they become sexually mature at four months and can impregnate their mother. Sometimes, they are banded at two weeks and allowed to grow as ‘wethers’ (castrated male goats) to an eighty pound weight. The cost of feed – 50% of the cost of business – forces the goat farmer to favor the cabrito al pastor option at $20-25 each.

LAST CHANCE HOWARD BUFFETT FOR AG SECRETARY

“I am more discouraged than I was when I started. The problems are so huge,” Mr. Buffett says.

In February 2007, his SUV pulled into Fufuo, a village in central Ghana. Accompanied by Ghanaian agronomist Kofi Boa, he hurried into a large cinder-block building where 30 farmers had been waiting, sheltered from the sun.

Back home, Mr. Buffett owned 800 acres of corn and soybeans and a fleet of the most modern John Deere implements. Now, he hoped to learn something from farmers who scratched the dirt with sticks and machetes. Mr. Boa, the agronomist, had been coaching them to replace slash-and-burn farming with a practice he called “no-till.”

In many African villages, poor farmers—who are often women—had traditionally made room for their crops by chopping down the brush and trees on a few acres of tribal land. It is hard on the farmer and the environment. The land is laid bare to erosion. As the soil deteriorates, farmers work harder and harder to produce food until they have to move on to another spot, repeating the cycle.

Mr. Boa told Fufuo’s farmers to disturb the ground as little as possible. Other than poking holes in the dirt to plant their seeds, the ground was not to be hoed or vegetation burned. Organic residue—such as leaves, stalks, and roots—was valuable, not trash. Fufuo’s farmers were taught to make room for their seeds shortly before planting time by squirting the competing vegetation with Chinese-made weed killer dispensed from backpacks.

The village quickly discovered that no-till plots yielded bigger crops with far less labor. The mulch acts as a sponge when it rains, banking water for crops, and then breaks down into plant food. The time the farmers saved by no longer hoeing weeds and cutting brush was time for money-making endeavors. Some started to raise cocoa trees, a crop prized by Ghana’s government for its export earnings; others began to raise chickens, feeding them with their surplus grain.

“How many seeds of corn do you plant on a hectare?” asked Mr. Buffett as he peered through thick eyeglasses and jotted down answers in a notebook. “Can you farm more land now?” he continued. “How much corn did you harvest?”

Further convinced he should support the no-till training of farmers, Mr. Buffett left. After his SUV drove off, swallowed in red dust, the farmers were told that their visitor was the son of a billionaire named Warren Buffett.

Trump’s Current Pick for Ag Secretary

Sonny Perdue III, the former governor of Georgia, is president-elect Donald Trump’s leading candidate to be his U.S. secretary of agriculture, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Perdue, 70, would succeed secretary Tom Vilsack. Perdue met with Trump on Nov. 30 and told reporters they talked about agricultural commodities traded domestically and internationally. While Perdue is the front-runner, the decision isn’t final, the person said.

Howard Buffett is a farmer, a very rich farmer, who is developing sustainable, regenerative agriculture in the US and Africa. Howard’s father’s bridge buddy, Bill Gates, is working the health track in Africa and India. Howard is saving Africa from hunger through ‘no-till’ farming. Trump still has time to pick a farmer over a politician as Secretary of Agriculture.

US Agriculture is not a swamp – it’s a barren lot that stretches from coast to coast with nothing on it but junk-yard dogs.

Subsidies

Factory Farms

Industrialized Farming with Chemicals

Degraded Topsoil

Depleted Aquifers 

$15.00/lb 100% GOAT & LAMB NO NITRATES ROADKILL SAUSAGE

Earth Mother Farms, a subsidiary of Anala Goat Company took its turn at trying to make a living selling pasture raised chickens for $12.00 each or about $4.00/lb. All well and good save it cost Earth Mother $13.00 to produce the damn chicken. Fifty miles southwest of Houston anything goes so I made a deal with Senor Garcia in East Bernard. I would pay him $100 for one goat turned into 100% GOAT SAUSAGE NO NITRATES. Same deal for one lamb. Garcia paid $70-$80 for the lamb and the goat and I got 25 pounds each of fresh no nitrate, 100% goat and 100% lamb plastic wrapped sausage. That fifty pounds cost me $200.00 say $4.00/lb like the damn chicken but coming home after a hard 8 to noon day, unloading that 100% SHEEP & GOAT NO NITRATE ROADKILL SAUSAGE at $15.00/lb, I put that $750.00 in my pocket as cash flow.

MANY A SLIP ‘TWIXT’ CUP AND SHEEP DIP

At Shepherd’s Way Farms, we believe there is a way to live that combines hard work, creativity, respect for the land and animals, and a focus on family and friends. We believe the small family-based farm still has a place in our society. Everything we do, everything we make, is in pursuit of this goal. –Steven Read & Jodi Ohlsen Read

“Sheep’s Milk Cheeses in U.S. Earn Ribbons but Little Profit”

When I see P’tit Basque for $13.99 a pound, it’s like getting kicked in the gut,” said Seana Doughty, the proprietor of Bleating Heart Cheese in Tomales, Calif. “That’s how much it costs me to make Fat Bottom Girl,” her signature sheep cheese, which typically retails for $38 to $40 a pound.

Seated with hundreds of colleagues at the American Cheese Society awards ceremony in Des Moines this past July, Rebecca Williams heard her farm’s name announced not once but twice, for its acclaimed sheep’s milk cheeses.

“We make good cheese,” Ms. Williams said to herself as she approached the stage to collect the second-place prize for Peekville Tomme, the farm’s aged wheel. Her ash-ripened Condor’s Ruin had just taken a blue ribbon in another category.

Those two ribbons are probably her last. In October, cheese production ceased at Many Fold Farm, the six-year-old Georgia sheep dairy that Ms. Williams operates with her husband, Ross.

“It’s really hard to get such great recognition for your work, have people banging on your door, and it’s not enough to make ends meet,” she said.

Tripped up by the tricky economics of sheep dairying, the Williamses are among several disillusioned dreamers who hoped to succeed with American sheep cheese, a niche that did not exist 30 years ago. There were 167 dairy sheep farms in the US in 2010 with an estimated 25,000 milking ewes.

In contrast, the dairy goat industry has continued steady growth since the 1980s. Goat milk and soft goat cheese, commonly known as chevre, is available in most supermarkets today. As of 2013, 360,000 head of dairy goats were counted in the United States. More than 30,000 farms in the country raise milk goats. In addition to a variety of different cheeses, goat milk is used to make yogurt and even ice cream. It often serves as feed for other animals.

A Greek guy tried our raw goat’s milk feta at the Houston’s Farmers’ Market and exclaimed that it was the best feta he had had since he left the ‘motherland.’ I thanked him for the compliment but credited the goats for their Vegan (Wharton County alfalfa) diet and that our feta was made with raw milk therefore the taste had not been cooked away through pasteurization. I went on blathering about real Greeks only consume sheep’s milk feta, maybe goat’s milk in a pinch but never ever feta made from cow’s milk. Why? It’s the 4 – 6 – 9 principle. The fat content four percent for the cow, six for the goat and a whopping nine percent for sheep. Thus, our $5.00/8oz price was cheap compared to $1.00/8oz’s at Kroger.

“A distributor can import manchego for maybe a third of what it costs us to produce,” said Laurel Kieffer, a Wisconsin sheep farmer and the president of the Dairy Sheep Association of North America.

I became the cheese-maker in the family owned business known as Earth Mother Farms because Shelby fired her niece’s boyfriend who took the previous cheese-maker with him. Any task outside of milking 50 goats twice a day, seven days a week was obvious to the casual observer. However, after taking in all our operating and fixed costs that 8oz container ( a gallon of milk makes a pound of cheese) of feta cost $2.77/8oz to produce.

As the retired cheese-maker, I understand the dairy sheepherder’s “show me the money” dilemma. Seana Doughty, the proprietor of Bleating Heart Cheese in Tomales, Calif. “When I see P’tit Basque for $13.99 a pound, it’s like getting kicked in the gut,” her signature sheep cheese, which typically retails for $38 to $40 a pound.

As we say in every Texas Quick Stop at lunchtime:

“this family farming shit, don’t pencil out.”

Small family farms (less than $350,000 in GCFI) account for 90 percent of all U.S. farms. Large-scale family farms ($1 million or more in GCFI) account for about 3 percent of farms but 55 percent of the value of production.  Slightly less than half of U.S. farms are very small, with annual gross cash farm income under $10,000; the households operating these farms typically rely on off-farm sources for the majority of their household income.

The mayor of our 400 peep rural community visited us in 2006 to say that our gross revenue of $120,000 made the Anala Inc. number one business enterprise in the ‘hood.’ It was also greater than the combined loot we had received since our beginning in 1998. I further suggested we could double our gross if she and her friends would purchase our raw goat’s milk kefir for only $45.00/gal, which cost us the same $5.53/gal as the chevre.

“All-right smart ass show me the money.”

How many ‘Cheeserias’ like this one in Barcelona have you seen anywhere outside of NYC or San Fran? The cheese was to expensive but a liter of kefir was only E4.00. Just as a ‘Dollar’ store can thrive a block away from Wal-Mart or Starbucks can charge you twice as much for coffee, specialty retail for small farm produce currently survives at farmers’ markets.

As a native Cincinnatian my dairy hero was Carl Lindner, who dropped out of high school to run his father’s United Dairy Farmers store in Norwood all the way to #167 on Forbes billionaire list. Living for the last two years in the 99% Muslim country of Turkey I became epiphanied with the Bacon shops in Spain and France – call them prosciuttorias to justify the higher prices.

Agriculture and Retailing are classified as Fragmented Industries where nobody even Wal-Mart or the biggest pig farmer Smithfield Foods has more than 1% of the business. According to Harvard’s Michael Porter, the only way to see the money is through DIFFERENTIATION and there are two paths to riches 1) Low Cost Producer ala Wal-Mart or 2) Uniqueness like Starbucks.

There were 65 million sheep in 1937 America after Nylon, Rayon and Polyester 6.5 million remain. The US imports 25-40% of the sheep and goats we eat. A goat dairy vendor five booths away was selling pasteurized goat’s milk and cheese for almost as much as Earth Mother Farms because fresh milk from a goat is unique. Sheep milk is virtual non-existent. California is the only state that never regulated mandatory pasteurization – you can buy a gallon of raw cow’s milk for $12 at Whole Foods or Safeway. Coast to coast raw cheese must be aged at least sixty days
It took Seana Doughty’s, Bleating Heart Cheese in Tomales, Calif., five months, a cheese cave, a real creamery and a lot of money invested to age-out 10 pound sheep’s milk cheese wheels for $39.00 only to be thrown under her ewes by the $13.99 a pound retail price.  Reminds me of the time I bought 76 goats at 80 cents a pound and sold them over two months at 70 cents a pound. That was the same year Anala Inc. had gross revenues of $500.00. The lesson learned is it is super difficult to differentiate a commodity like pigs, chickens, cattle, sheep, goats and dairy because why pay four or five times the industrialized agriculture price? Why should I pay $1.00 for an organic apple when I can get four shiny red delicious ones at Appletree for the same dollar?

The chart above illustrates the importance of family farms to national GDP and employment. The Netherlands has the most balanced Urban/Rural population economy in the world. Together with France, Spain and Germany the European family farms contribute a greater percentage of GDP per employee than the 3% of industrial farms in the US. Number one reason, like California they never outlawed the sale of domestic raw dairy. Secondly, France has over 1,000 kinds of goat cheese.  The quality and taste of raw dairy as in wine is determined by the soil, climate, vineyard tender and winemaker.

The United States for more than 100 years has collected the milk from individual farmers, mixed it all together at the dairy plant, cooked (UHT) it,  homogenized it, denatured it, added stuff back in it, then put it in liter size cartons where it retains its tastelessness for six months without refrigeration.

How Bob and Darlene Saved the Stryk Family Farm

The Stryks were each raised on their respective family’s dairy farms. Farming is a passion for them. But, with farming comes hardships. It’s the struggles brought on by numerous droughts that proved to be their proverbial silver lining.

It was the drought of 1996 when they were forced to cull their 170 head milking herd down to 20 cows. They both had to take jobs in town to save their farm.

“At that point, we could have sold all the livestock, our land, and bought a house in town. But we felt we could sell the milk off the 20 cows and make the mortgage payment. In 1999, when our daughter Bryn arrived, we knew we had made the right decision to stay on the farm,” says Bob.

The drought of 96 drove it home to the Stryks that to survive another one, they needed a niche market. That same year they created Strykly Texas Cheese, a retail custom cut, shaped, and waxed cheese business.

The dairy’s conversion from a commercial milking operation to a raw-for-retail milk operation began in earnest during the drought of 2006 (I met the Stryk’s as fellow vendors at the Houston Farmers’ Market). The Stryks had found a new niche market, one that would carry their now 60-head Jersey cow dairy successfully through the historic drought of 2011.

However, they weren’t immune to the hard decisions that drought brought to farmers and ranchers. The dry, moisture starved pastures where they grazed their 35-head beef cattle herd were no longer producing enough forage. The Stryks had been providing the herd supplemental feed for months. In February, they decided they could no longer justify the costs and made the tough decision to sell the beef cattle herd. Ironically, a couple weeks later, the needed rains began to fall. They rolled the dice on Mother Nature and lost that roll.

 TWO, FOUR, SIX, EIGHT, DIFFERENTIATE

Desert Farms is a California-based company that uses a network of small farms across the country to provide raw camel milk in each region. Its products, both raw and pasteurized, are for sale in bulk on its website and on Amazon. Erewhon carries single pints of frozen raw camel’s milk for $25.

There you have it, until the FEDS make raw dairy legal in all fifty states, eliminate all agricultural subsidies, make organic farming mandatory and outlaw factory farms you are on your own.

US FARMERS ARE SOE (State-Owned Enterprise) SLAVES

China is famous or notorious for its State-Owned Enterprise economy. There used to be over 150,000, now the whittled down list:
Bank of China
Bank of Communications
Baotou Steel
Beijing Capital International Airport Company Limited
Beijing Enterprises
Beijing Hualian Group
Beijing North Star
Beijing Urban Construction Investment Development
Beijing Yanjing Brewery
Chang’an Automobile Group
Changchun Film Group Corporation
Changchun Railway Vehicles
Changjiang Securities
Chengzhi Co., Ltd
Chery
Chihong Zinc and Germanium
China Agri-Industries Holdings
China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group Corporation
China Central Television
China Coal Energy Company
China Communications Services Corporation
China Construction Bank
China Construction Design International
China Energy Conservation Investment Corporation
China Foods Limited
China Guangfa Bank
China International Marine Containers
China International Water & Electric Corporation
China Investment Corporation
China Life Insurance Company
China Machinery Engineering Corporation
China Merchants Bank
China Merchants Energy Shipping
China National Aviation Corporation China National Building Material Company
China Netcom
China Overseas Land and Investment Limited
China Poly Group Corporation
China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation
China Taiping
China Tietong
China Travel International Investment Hong Kong
Chunlan Group
Complant
CSG Holding
Dalian Port (PDA) Company Datang International Power Generation Company Datang Telecom Denway MotorsFinancial Street Holding
Flying Pigeon
Founder Group
Founder Technology
Franshion Properties
Fushun Mining Group
Fushun Petrochemical Company
GAC Group
Great Wall Wine
Guangdong Investment
Guangdong Rising Asset Management
Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group
Guangzhou Shipyard International
Guangzhou Zhujiang Brewery Group
Guosen Securities
GZI Transport
Haier
Hainan Airlines
Haitong Securities
Harbin Aircraft Industry Group
Harbin Power Equipment
Hisense
Hu Qing Yu Tang
Hua Xia Bank Huadian Power International
Huaneng Power International
Hunan Nonferrous Metals
Hunan Valin Steel
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Industrial Bank
IRICO
Jiangsu Expressway Company
Jiangxi Copper
Jilin Aodong Medicine
Jinchuan Group
Jinjiang International
Jizhong Energy
Kingway Brewery
Kunlun Energy
Kweichow Moutai Company
Legend Holdings
Liaoning Chengda
Long March Launch Vehicle Technology
Longyuan Power
Luoyang Glass
Luzhou Laojiao
Maanshan Iron and Steel Company
Magang (Group) Holding Company
Minerals and Metals Group
Ming An Holdings
Minmetals Development
Ng Fung Hong
Norinco
Panzhihua Iron and Steel
Panzhihua New Steel and Vanadium
People’s Insurance Company of China
Phoenix (bicycles)
Poly Property
Poly Real Estate
Qinghai Salt Lake Potash
Road and Bridge Construction
SAIC Motor
Sanyuan Group
State Development & Investment Corporation
Shandong Energy
Shandong Gaosu Group
Shandong Steel
Shanghai Construction Group
Shanghai Electric
Shanghai Film Group Corporation
Shanghai Industrial Holdings
Shanghai International Group
Shanghai Oriental Pearl (Group)
Shanghai Petrochemical
Shanghai Pudong Development Bank
Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Shenergy Group
Shenhua Group
Shenzhen Energy Shenzhen International Holdings
Shenzhen Investment
Sichuan AirlinesSichuan Lantian Helicopter Company LimitedSino-Ocean Land
Sinofert Holdings
Sinohydro
Sinoma
Sinotrans
Sinotrans Shipping
Sinotruk (Hong Kong)SVA Group
Tianjin Development
Tianjin Port Development
Tianjin Port Holdings
Tongling Nonferrous Metals
Tongrentang
Tsinghua Tongfang Company
Weichai Power
WIETC
Wuliangye Yibin
XD Group
Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation
Xi’an Aircraft International Corporation
Xinhua Bookstore
Xinjiang Chalkis Co.Ltd
Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps
Xinjiang Xinxin Mining Industry Company
Yankuang Group
Yanzhou Coal Mining CompanyCoal fired power plants and factories create 80% of China’s air pollution, making life shorter for city dwellers. The United States has turned agriculture into an equally polluting State-Owned Enterprise through subsidies, industrialized farming and unregulated soil degradation. China pumps Carbon into the sky while the US has flushed 75% of the Carbon content of our topsoil out to sea.

Six Reasons to Repeal Farm Subsidies

1. Farm Subsidies Redistribute Wealth: the 90% poor farmer gets poorer while the 10% rich farmer gets richer. At $200 per acre the corporate farms which can own a half dozen former family farms reap the benefits of top management in the State-Owned Enterprise

2. Farm Subsidies Damage the Economy: In 2006 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that all the studies they reviewed showed that both the U.S. and global economies would gain from the repeal of subsidies and trade barriers.  

recipientsTed Turner (on the right) is the largest landowner outside of the Federal Government and because he raises free-range buffalo he is entitled to soil conservation subsidies of $150/acre.

3. Farm Programs Are Prone to Scandal: Perhaps the biggest scandal is that congressional agriculture committees are loaded with members who are active farmers and farmland owners. Those members have a direct financial stake whenever Congress votes to increase subsidies, which is an obvious conflict of interest.

4. Farm Subsidies Damage U.S. Trade Relations: The World Trade Organization estimates that even a one-third drop in all tariffs around the world would boost global output by $686 billion, including $164 billion for the United States. Worse developing and under-developed countries cannot compete fairly with industrialized nations dump their corn, cotton, soy and wheat.

5. Farm Programs Damage the Environment: Farming, like any industry, can cause negative environmental effects, but it is misguided for federal policies to exacerbate those problems.

6. Agriculture Would Thrive without Subsidies: If farm subsidies were ended, and agriculture markets deregulated and open to entrepreneurs, farming would change just as it did in New Zealand.

The Hillary Archipelago voters have their own urban socio-economic problems because State-Owned Enterprise Farming has destroyed Agriculture the sole source of wealth and revenue of every nation.

Factory farming wastes resources, requiring vast inputs but giving relatively little food energy in return.

Crops being harvested.

High resource use

Because so much feed is used for factory farming, a large amount of other resources are needed to grow it. One of these is land, much more of which is needed to produce meat or dairy products than to produce vegetables, cereals or fruit18. And then there’s water, which is often used to irrigate the crops, particularly when they are grown in countries which have lower levels of rainfall. According to the WWF19, livestock production accounts for around 23% of all water used in agriculture – equivalent to more than 275 gallons per person per day, where a family of four uses an average of 30 gallons a day. A lot of energy is needed too, in particular for the manufacture of synthetic fertilizer and pesticide to grow feed crops20. Furthermore, these pesticides and fertilizers require large volumes of valuable resources such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Many of these resources could be put to better use, helping us to grow enough crops for the current world population, for example.

Aerial shot of a concentrated animal feeding operation

Ranchers buy ‘stockers’ (weaned calves), at auction and raise them on pasture to 800 lbs. The cattle are then sold to the feed lots, fed grain and grass hay to slaughter weight of 1,200 pounds. Live cattle futures for December 2016 reached $114.75 per hundred weight or $459 gross revenue for each cow that completed their four month stay. Sounds pretty good until you add up the 120 day feed bill for those bovines.  The hungry ruminant consumes 30 pounds of fodder times 120 days equates to going broke:

“For cattle placed weighing 750 pounds or more, the average return has been a loss of $110 per head.”

Livestock Marketing Specialist, Utah State University

 

The industry regularly asserts that cramming large numbers of animals into factory farms and pushing them to extreme levels of productivity is efficient. But this couldn’t be further from the truth: industrial-livestock production, which relies on huge volumes of human-edible crops for animal feed, is inherently inefficient.

It’s thought that for every 100 calories we feed to factory-farmed livestock, we only get 40 calories back in the form of milk, 22 back in the form of eggs, 12 back in the form of chicken meat, 10 in the form of pork and 3 in the form of beef.

But the wastage doesn’t stop there. Growing these crops to feed the animals uses up vital land, water and energy, and has led to the intensification of crop production with the use of chemical-soaked monocultures. The result is poor soil quality, as well as more pollution, carbon emissions, deforestation and biodiversity loss.

HOWARD GRAHAM BUFFETT FOR TRUMP’S AG SECRETARY

Howard Graham Buffett serving meals in Sierra Leone in 2007. He spends up to 200 days a year on the road, doing foundation work. (Jeannie O’Donnell / The Howard G. Buffett Foundation)

Howard, Warren Buffett’s farmer son, is one man, a rich one man, working in all 54 African countries developing sustainable farming on the continent with the biggest problems in hunger, poverty, soil, infrastructure, economics and politics. Howard’s dad is bridge buddies with Bill Gates who is also saving Africa. There is hope in 2016 that the Bern fires up the base like Teddy Roosevelt and FDR, while the well informed Buffett Gates partnership puts their money where it’s needed – like not in Panama.

howard-b“USAID and others have been at this for decades,” he said. “By now, according to projections, we should have ended hunger. So my point is, what we’re doing isn’t working.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” Buffett told me. “I’m a farmer. I know what I can get from improved seed. I know what I get from fertilizer. They’re huge. But technology can’t build organic matter. It can’t create topsoil. It can’t magically protect water quality. It’s a quick fix, and Africa needs a long-term solution.”

Instead of a green revolution for Africa, Buffett favors what he calls a “brown revolution,” or, to quote the distinguished agricultural ecologist Sir Gordon Conway, a “doubly green revolution”—a focus on environmentally sustainable agriculture that minimizes erosion, preserves and regenerates soil, and makes the land more resilient, while also increasing yields. In contrast to the green revolution, the brown revolution is a tortoise-like approach: Its impact is gradual. Over the past decade, patiently, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to identify and promote practical, low-cost methods of conservation farming—cover crops, no-till farming, locally bred seed varieties—that improve African soil quality and crop yields without chemical fertilizers and costly imported seeds. “If you take a place like Africa,” Buffett told me, “where they have the most degraded soils in the world, very limited nutrients, ground that is farmed to death—literally to the point where you have to move on and farm another piece of ground—and all you’re doing is throwing on synthetic fertilizer, it’s like trying to put an oxygen mask on a cadaver and expecting it’s going to start breathing again.”

1028-pmad-mbuffettThe foundation owns and operates four research farms—4,400 acres in Decatur, 1,000 acres in Nebraska, 3,900 acres in the high desert of southeast Arizona, and the farm in South Africa, spanning 9,200 acres—where scientists from Texas A&M, Penn State, and Purdue are conducting experiments on how best to grow crops in places with little water and poor soil. In South Africa, the foundation is testing 14 different cover crops—among them cowpea, lablab, and pigeon pea—to learn which ones best reduce erosion and improve soil fertility. In Arizona, the foundation replicates the conditions faced by poor African farmers: drought, little or no fertilizer, oxen tilling the land. Tests are under way to measure the precise relationship between water and crop yields. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/how-warren-buffetts-son-would-feed-the-world/476385/

 

12_f_buffett-0011Established in 1999, his Howard G. Buffett Foundation’s (HGBF) primary mission is to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations. It apparently spends $50 million a year on various programs around the world, particularly in Africa.

Not surprisingly one of his biggest projects is improving lives of poor farmers, themselves often starving. His goal is to help teach them methods that they can afford to implement after his programs end. He also insists they learn accounting.

This is apparently in contrast to the approach used by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization to which his father has pledged more than $30 billion, which relies more heavily on introducing technology to third world farming. “He’s really pushing a system that is similar to what we have outside this door in America,” explained Howard to Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes, “I told him that we have got to stop doing it like we did.”

“Your father gives money to Gates. You come out and say it’s all wrong. Is this sibling rivalry?” asked Stahl. Gates and Buffett, the country’s two richest men, have become good friends, often playing bridge, celebrating birthdays and traveling together on vacations. Howard responded that Bill, who they call brother Bill, is the smartest guy in the world besides his dad, but pointed out that he understands agriculture quite well and had used a similar approach unsuccessfully when first starting to give away money.

warren-howardSome details about Howard that Stahl didn’t cover include the fact that Buffett’s son is a writer of more than half a dozen books; sits on the board of Sloan Implement, a privately owned distributor of John Deere agricultural equipment; and also previously served on the boards of food processor Archer Daniels ADM +0.74% Midland; Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc, the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the world; and ConAgra Foods. He has also traveled to more than 95 countries documenting the food and conservation challenges. In 2005, he received the Will Owen Jones Distinguished Journalist of the Year Award, and in 2007, he was appointed a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Against Hunger on behalf of the World Food Programme. In 2011, he received the World Ecology Award.

It could be a long time before Howard succeeds his father – “He won’t leave until he’s buried in the ground,” Howard told Stahl – and even longer before anyone knows if he proves to be a decent successor. Still he’s certainly proven himself to be a worthy scion of an admirable man, one who has his feet firmly planted in the earth.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/luisakroll/2011/12/11/who-is-howard-buffett-60-minutes-gives-glimpse/#6b099cdd6c03

INFRASTRUCTURE IS SPELLED WITH A ‘P’ AS IN PERMACULTURE

permaculture-hobbit-houseAs I was pontificating about how you could have an urban income and a rural lifestyle by raising 50 goats on five acres, my fellow teachers were educating others on Permaculture. Not wanting to expose my blissful state of ignorance to embarrassment I avoided my right of tuition free class attendance. However, Shelby, the sustainable agriculture and “Five Acres to Independence” advocate, took their course including the farm visit.  When Shelby raved about the farm’s sawdust toilet I discounted Permaculture, whatever it was about was not for me.

Currently living the expat life of the idle Social Security recipient in Antalya, Turkey I’m more interested in the debate between Fiscal and Monetary policy. Slow learner that I am, I have learned that the government deals with the Fiscal while the Federal Reserve monkey’s around with the Monetary. The debate synopsis is that the world and the US are going to hell in a sawdust toilet.

bernake-wheelbarrowThe FED since Greenspan has printed at least $10 trillion of ‘thin-air’ paper money with zero results and is now begging the politicians for Fiscal stimulus in Infrastructure. Trump is right there with them wanting to build walls, bridges and airports. Since 80% of the voters live in the city and another 19% live in the burbs the real 1%’s are still down on the farm. Alas alack rural redmeat farmers didn’t take classes in Permaculture, let alone practice Regenerative Agriculture because the Fiscal poohbahs don’t see the NEED!

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“What are you going to do when the well runs dry?”

  • Eliminate all Agricultural Subsidies
  • Organic only farming – no Monsanto, no pesticides, no herbicides, no chemical fertilizers
  • Outlaw Factory Farming – pigs, dairy, poultry, fish
  • Legalize Raw Dairy – if California can do it, every state can do it

THE SMALL TOWN ELITE AND THE PIANO BANK

mbg-gosport“With your project and two more just like it, I’ll be an expert.”

I designed the bank operations center for New Jersey National Bank, in Ewing Township which included lunch at Princeton University. I sensed that with two more bank ‘paper factories’ just like NJNB I’d be an expert in data center design. That was in the Autumn of 1978 and by 1981 I had personally interviewed hundreds of computer jocks and their fellow paper-pushers – euphemistically referred to as ‘end-users’ in the architectural design trade.

My job was to size up the bank to determine how big the future facility should be and layout the workflow arrangement of the various departments. As an EDP (Electronic Data Processing) expert I got to fly first class all over the country and even Singapore translating  bank assets into square footage. I’d take out my Case Western Reserve University TI statistics calculator to construct a linear progression analysis of constant dollar growth to physical bank data processing requirements.

NCNB in Charlotte is a good example of my expertise chicanery. Back then they had gone from 3 billion to 5 billion by gobbling out of state banks. Today, they have grown through acquisition to become known as Bank of America with $2.3 trillion  in assets. Back in 1980 the original BOA had two 400,000 sqft operations centers one in LA and one in SF. As an expert, I got to help evaluate how much our proposed 750,000 sqft center for Security Pacific Bank – now part of the BOA that began as NCNB and why it’s HQ ended up in Charlotte, NC. – by taking my rule-of-thumb TI pocket calculator and multiplying $300/sq ft X computer area + $100/sq ft x office area =  an easy $100 million.

liberace-on_stage_with_rhinestone_piano-760234On a snowy day in the winter of ’81 I found myself interviewing the computer jock mafia of Denver’s Central Bank & Trust Co. a subsidiary of Baldwin United. The Baldwin, in Baldwin United was my father’s employer for 25 years, the Baldwin Piano & Organ Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The jocks’ machine room was in the rotunda shaped lobby of the bank – I searched my TI pocket for calculating the area of a circle, was it  A=πr2? So, I pivoted and asked them about the bank’s asset growth. “Well, we’ve gone from $838 million in 1973 to almost $9 billion today.”

“Holy Toledo Batman, what we have here is a whale in a bathtub” – that makes Baldwin Piano the bank, bigger than my last assignment with NCNB. Howzcum, I never heard of this outfit before?

main-streetGosport, Indiana in its prime

When I called Marion, aka my father, in Altamonte Springs, FL. to tell him the news he sounded worried. The bulk of his savings were in Baldwin United stock now trading at $50/ share and he was worried that CEO Morley Thompson’s financial engineering might come a cropper – could I check it out?

marions-boyhood-homembg-gosport-driveway

Marion Benson Gregory was born on September 13, 1913 and I was born on his 30th birthday in 1943. Marion is my small town (Gosport population 700) elite because his father owned the poultry house and built the biggest home in Gosport in 1915 on 2+ acres. When he wasn’t candling eggs for his father he was hanging out at Herschel Walker’s radio repair shop. His electronics avocation led him to P. R. Mallory in Indianapolis to ride out FDR’s depression and a deferment from active duty in WWII.

teg-baby-sueMy sister Sue came along in 1946 to make the Gregory’s an upwardly mobile middle class family of an electrical engineer father and stay-at-home mother. We moved from the Circle-City suburbs to a countryside home in the 70 peeps Quaker community of Valley Mills that made for a 30 mile commute to P. R. Mallory. Marion brought Everett and Eva aka Marion’s parents to live downstairs off the living room.

quilting-bee

Marion became the wizard of Thompson Road when he brought home this monster metal box with a 7 inch TV screen and the whole neighborhood watched the 1948 Indianapolis 500. Child wise there was Nancy, Bud, Sis, Sue and me playing cowboys and Indians as seen on 7 inch TV.  Easter egg hunt and Halloween at the Society of Friends and sled riding down the only slope in the road. The quilting bee ladies added that Norman Rockwell ambiance to my childhood until June 1950 when Marion announced that we were all moving to the big city, Cincinnati.

sue-teg-rakeHOOSIER ECONOMIC MIGRANT CHILDREN IN CINCINNATI

I don’t know how Marion got the job with the Baldwin Piano & Organ Company. This was in 1950 way before Linkedin and Craig’s List. Marion’s WWII work experience involved developing electronics for the military which meshed well with Baldwin’s  1946, introduction of its first electronic organ (developed in 1941), which became so successful that the company changed its name to the Baldwin Piano & Organ Company.

baldwin-factory-exteriorAll sister Sue and I knew was that instead of seven kids in the whole village of Valley Mills, Indiana, we had over seventy kids in our one block of Mooney Avenue in the Cincinnati suburb Hyde Park. The house was bigger because it had a huge attic and equally sized basement. We toted our metal Roy Rogers lunchboxes containing one Esther prepared P&J and one boiled ham with sandwich spread, plus an apple to elementary school. Every weekday morning Marion fired up his ’49 Mercury sedan and drove off to work.

dwight-d-eisenhower-kennedyBetween Eisenhower and JFK, Baldwin went on strike and Marion started spending a lot of time traveling to Arkansas to set up cheap Open Shop factories in the Right to Work sunbelt. In 1959, Baldwin constructed a new piano manufacturing plant in Conway, Arkansas, originally to manufacture upright pianos. In 1961 Baldwin constructed a new piano factory in Greenwood Mississippi. Subsequently production of upright pianos was moved from Cincinnati, Ohio to Greenwood.

harveyMarion took me on a tour of his new office – no more engineering department lab bench but an elevator ride to a real office with a view. Sister Sue, Esther and I went along in our past expiration date Oldsmobile for Marion’s two week, not an option, vacation trips from Ludington, Michigan to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was in Strength of Materials class, fumbling with my slide rule, when someone ran in and said, “Kennedy has been shot.” That weekend I got to see Ruby shoot Oswald live on our big 24 inch, still B&W TV.

maxresdefaultMarion announced over green beans, mashed potatoes and meatloaf that he was going to Tokyo. A month or two after his return with a six pack of Japanese woodcut prints, Yamaha-San aka Mr. Stinky Feet – no matter how we tried to convince him to leave his shoes on – showed up as our house guest.  Yamaha was on the leading edge in the use of transistors instead of vacuum tubes in their electronic organs. Marion had the unenviable task of addressing church groups on why they should pay more for an old technology Baldwin versus the Yamaha.

sigma-chi1946-1964 in Fourth Turning parlance is the kick-off generation of an 80 year, four generation boom to bust saga that proceeds through the 20 year stages of A High, An Awakening, An Unraveling and A Crisis. Marion, my ‘G.I. Generation’ father, with only two years of Fenn Business College, got himself out of Gosport, through Indianapolis during the War years, and well on his way to actualizing the American Dream. Sister Sue graduated from WHHS in ’64 and entered U of Miami allowing Marion to say that his kids had it better than he did. I found my sense of belonging living in the Sigma Chi fraternity house, where I no longer had to go to Sunday school or even church. I was free to smoke, drink and drive “here, there or anywhere.”

corvetteMy future in the 1964-1984 2nd Turning: An Awakening was looking good.

MORLEY, CARL & CHARLIE THE  BAD BOYS OF CINCINNATI

At Sunday school in the basement of the First Church of Christ Scientist, Norwood, we would discuss the Hegelian side of DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM. The teacher would tap the table with the meta-physical theme that the table was not real, only the idea of the table was real. Jesus was the physical manifestation of the spiritual, Christ like idea.

original-united-dairy-farmersAs soon as class was over Marion would pick us up and drive over to Carl Lindner’s United Dairy Farmers’ store for eggs, bread, milk, at least two half-gallons of ice cream and smearcase.

According to Ms. Costello, smearcase is a Pennsylvania Dutch term for cottage cheese. It’s from the word Schmierkase meaning soft cheese that can be smeared or spread.

Sister Sue and I always thought Marion was nuts with the smearcase request cause anybody could see it was cottage cheese. However, we were enjoying the Karl Marx or in the case of UDF, Carl Lindner’s material side of DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM. The ice cream tasted very real and Karl M. or Carl L. or whoever came up with the idea should be complimented.

thompsonsr-20130323-tif_20130322lindnercarljr-750xx488-651-10-0charlie

Morley P. Thompson, appointed president of the company in 1970. Having graduated from the Harvard Business School in 1950, Thompson had started out as a door-to-door piano salesman. His skill at shuffling money among subsidiaries to limit corporate taxes and generate acquisition funds won him a reputation as a financial “wizard.”

Thompson would not be satisfied with a mere sideline in finance; he wanted to fashion a major conglomerate out of the nation’s largest keyboard company. Under his guidance, Baldwin acquired literally dozens of financial services firms in the 1970s and early 1980s. At its peak, the company controlled over 200 insurance companies, banks, savings and loan institutions, and investment firms.

liberace-baldwinThe D. H. Baldwin Company, a musical‐instrument manufacturer that diversified into banking in 1968, has disclosed that it received approval from the Federal Reserve Board to acquire five banks in Colorado with total assets of $130‐million.

With the acquisitions, Baldwin, which owns the $396.6‐million Central Bank and Trust Company and the $305‐million Empire Savings Building and Loan Association, both of Denver, would have financial institutions in Colorado with some $830‐million in assets.

Morley had pulled the piano strings better than Liberace by tuning-up that $830 million into $9 billion, by the time I arrived on the scene with my sketch pad in 1981.

lead_960Two years later, the Baldwin Data Center in Lakewood, CO. was up and running – we had already toured several prospective clients through the facility.  Fred Gould, the facility manager, graciously took our banking prospects around, even sharing the scandal of the security guards making CCTV video tapes of the female employees on the jogging track. Fred, in private, shared the bigger scoop, he was looking for another job because Baldwin United was headed to bankruptcy. Things were not going well in Altamonte Springs either, Marion’s $50 shares were now worth 50 cents a share.

Architecture is a leading economic indicator – when architects and engineers have work – the overall economy is going well. My employer, The Austin Company, in 1983-84 was doing gang busters in bank computer centers and newspaper printing plants. However, my expertise in bank facilities was not enough to save Marion from losing his 25 years of life savings in Baldwin Piano & Organ profit sharing stock.

mbg-sue-teg-tennis

The night before I was supposed to kick-off a study of a real bank, Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh, sister Sue called to say that Marion had had a heart attack and was no longer on the material side of DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM. Louise Hay, a Mary Baker Eddy on steroids, says that from the meta-physical perspective, a heart attack is caused by fears over career or money. Marion may have overdosed on smearcase but I vote losing  the loot at age 67 was what did him in.

salesman-496x300The Awakening, the 2nd Turning 1964-1984  left me disillusioned.  I threw my EMBA calculator out the window for a career in sales and marketing that was foreshadowed in Willy Loman’s Death of a Salesman.