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.
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.
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
Beijing Capital International Airport Company Limited
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
Chengzhi Co., Ltd
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 Overseas Land and Investment Limited
China Poly Group Corporation
China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation
China Travel International Investment Hong Kong
Dalian Port (PDA) Company Datang International Power Generation Company Datang Telecom Denway MotorsFinancial Street Holding
Fushun Mining Group
Fushun Petrochemical Company
Great Wall Wine
Guangdong Rising Asset Management
Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group
Guangzhou Shipyard International
Guangzhou Zhujiang Brewery Group
Harbin Aircraft Industry Group
Harbin Power Equipment
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
Jiangsu Expressway Company
Jilin Aodong Medicine
Kweichow Moutai Company
Long March Launch Vehicle Technology
Maanshan Iron and Steel Company
Magang (Group) Holding Company
Minerals and Metals Group
Ming An Holdings
Ng Fung Hong
Panzhihua Iron and Steel
Panzhihua New Steel and Vanadium
People’s Insurance Company of China
Poly Real Estate
Qinghai Salt Lake Potash
Road and Bridge Construction
State Development & Investment Corporation
Shandong Gaosu Group
Shanghai Construction Group
Shanghai Film Group Corporation
Shanghai Industrial Holdings
Shanghai International Group
Shanghai Oriental Pearl (Group)
Shanghai Pudong Development Bank
Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Shenzhen Energy Shenzhen International Holdings
Sichuan AirlinesSichuan Lantian Helicopter Company LimitedSino-Ocean Land
Sinotruk (Hong Kong)SVA Group
Tianjin Port Development
Tianjin Port Holdings
Tongling Nonferrous Metals
Tsinghua Tongfang Company
Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation
Xi’an Aircraft International Corporation
Xinjiang Chalkis Co.Ltd
Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps
Xinjiang Xinxin Mining Industry Company
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.
Ted 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.
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.
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 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.
“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.”
The 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/
Established 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.
Some 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.
As I was pontificating about how you could have an urban income and a rural lifestyle by raising 50 goats on five acres, my fellow Leisure Learning Unlimited 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.
The 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%’ers are still down on the farm. Alas, alack, rural red meat farmers didn’t take classes in Permaculture, let alone practice Regenerative Agriculture because the Fiscal poohbahs don’t see the NEED!
“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
Armenia: Practicing Permaculture Since Noah Got Off the Boat
When a commodity trading guru like Dwight Anderson, founder of the iconic Ospraie Management, has something to say on the market outlook, people tend to listen, especially when he’s consigning the last great commodity bull run to the dustbin of history and buying gold and farmland for the next crisis.
Anderson is the former Tiger Cub, whose Ospraie Management at one time ran the world’s biggest commodity hedge fund, with close to $4 billion at the peak.
Buy the Farm to Avoid a Crisis
While we have previously discussed the plight of the US farming sector, with astounding increases in debt and the erosion of farmland values, Anderson sees more than just value here.
“I think farming, in terms of the productive side of the industry, is still an incredibly under-appreciated asset and business in that you’ve got land where every single year, on average, you’re going to grow more. You maintain your water table, your soil, the nutrients there, and I get productivity growth every year. That is awesome. Every other one of the productive businesses, you produce less every year.”
“It’s hardest to get real pricing power in agriculture, because you actually are growing productivity per year, versus the decline rates in the others. But as an asset to own for currency protection, inflation protection, just a general income, yes, yield, farming is phenomenal.”
Finding a source of raw dairy products is akin to looking for ‘moonshine’ during prohibition. It’s the ‘speakeasy’ in the city or the ‘still’ in the country.
Whole Life Buying Club, Louisville, KY has established the first legal speakeasy in the country. They have solved the Buyer’s Dilemma driving out to the farm for a gallon of raw milk. WLBC returns 80% of sales to the farmer solving the Farmer’s Dilemma, making an urban income from a rural lifestyle.
Anala Goat Company got our license in March 2003, We happily paid Ken 25% commission and danced around the Houston Farmers’ Market parking waving $986 in cash to celebrate free and not quite legal enterprise. The ‘not quite’ part, our grade ‘A’ raw dairy license permitted the sale of raw milk only on the farm, 50 miles out of town.
Kentucky on the south side of the Mason-Dixon line has always resisted all the Yankee laws they didn’t like and Prohibition of Mother Nature’s most important product is second only to Bourbon on the list of unforgivables.
Whole Life Buying Club occupies a storefront in Louisville and like a country club is for members only. The farmers can bring the non GMO, certified organic produce, licensed grade ‘A’ raw dairy, to their store, where the members can pick and choose what they want. No more CSA good, bad and ugly bags of vegies.
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. Teddy Roosevelt outlawed raw dairy in 1912 with the creation of the Food & Drug Administration. Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933 real food prohibition has gone on for over a hundred years, impoverishing farmers and leaving the US the most malnourished industrialized nation on earth.
The Government Is Not Our Friend
The Stryk Jersey Farm 629 Krenek Stryk Rd Schulenburg, TX 78956 is a 100 miles west of Houston. Houston could start a WLBC style buying club inside Loop 610, allowing Bob Stryk to deliver real cream, butter, cottage cheese, aged cheese and of course raw milk. Houston is the highest per capita eating out city in the world, trendy cuisine and restaurants are their thing. Whole Foods was invented by two wahoos from Houston who had to move to Austin for political correctness.
Whole Foods invited us to set up shop out front of their store, until they discovered we couldn’t sell raw dairy products inside, alongside or outside. Now, that Bezos owns Whole Foods, soon organic vegies will be delivered by drone but not raw milk. It’s Karmic payback for Teddy Roosevelt and the FDA. Why? It’s Prohibited!
It’s Catch 22 writ large, Louisville’s WLBC ‘members only’ concept works because it’s the only way to buy raw milk, if they were selling arugula, no big deal. You can buy organic produce at Wal-Mart, cheap.
This is such a fantastic idea, why didn’t I think of it – because I was born and raised on the Yankee side of the Ohio River. As we say in goat speak: Louisville’s WLBC is a real food Bellwether – the leading sheep of a flock, with a bell on its neck.
Well, the government and Big Ag for starters. Joel Salatin, refers to himself as a ‘lunatic farmer’ because so many of the changes he thinks our food system needs are either illegal under the current law or mightily resisted by the deep-pocketed corporations controlling production and distribution.
When our sale of raw goat’s milk depended on Yuppie couples driving out to our farm fifty miles southwest of Houston the “invisible hand” of desperation slapped me upside the head with my MBA diploma. Granted, I was not an honor, or even a near honor graduate of Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead school of business but Anala Goat Company’s on-the-farm sales of $200/week versus a $500/week feed bill foretold, a future going-out-of-business sale. Maybe with a catchy tagline e.g. “Had Milk.”
Shelby, the CPA Systems Analyst brains of the outfit, had already poured money, not milk, into building the dairy, buying the goats, dogs, cows, the land and equipment in order to obtain a Grade ‘A’ Raw Dairy License. In addition to rigorous monthly testing of our product, the Texas Department of Health limited sales to on-the-farm only. The delivery of raw dairy to retail stores, farmers’ markets, or even door-to-door was subject to all kinds of bad things like revoking our license.
Over a double stack order of nachos and fajitas, I asked myself, “what would Gandhi do?” He said, mirror my ‘Salt March to the Sea’ by occupying the Houston Farmers’ Market. I learned at Case Western to look to Harvard Business School case studies for further guidance. Of course, I found zippo raw goat’s milk case studies but Gandhi’s protest of England’s Salt Tax led me to the Boston Tea Party’s, “taxation without representation” caper.
I admit, even as an architect, it was a challenge to connect salt and tea tax revolts to barriers to entry of off the farm sales of raw milk. After all, our neighbors trucked that nasty arugula and okra to the market, waving their ‘organic’ cred banners.
My third data point was the 1920 Prohibition Act.
Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933.
The sale of raw dairy has been Prohibited since 1912 to the present day. California never eliminated raw dairy from retail stores. Texas, Oregon and five other states allow on-the-farm sales only. I joined the Weston Price Foundation, listed analagoatcompany.com on their website www.realmilk.com and setup my 10 x 10 tent on Saturdays at the Houston Farmers’ Market.
Why pay this guy $15 for a gallon of milk when you can go to Wal-Mart and grab a Great Value jug for just $2.89? Truth is you need his raw – not pasteurized, not homogenized – goat’s milk more than he needs your money.
My Houston Farmers’ Market buddie, Bob Stryk http://texascheese.com/ and I were the two Raw Milk vendors at the market, until a knucklehead board member turned us in to the Texas Department of Health. Even though we were both visited monthly by Vince, the State inspector, our grade “A’ raw dairy license was limited to on-the-farm sales. My farm to market trip was fifty miles up the Southwest freeway. Bob’s sixty head of Jerseys grazed on his 310-acre farm 8 miles past Schulenburg, a 100 miles west out I-10.
After our eviction, I bailed and shortly thereafter moved to China, while Bob relied on ‘drops’ at friendly driveways in Katy and Sugarland. At the market we charged $10/gal. Today, Stryk’s at the farm price was listed at $7.50/gal. That’s fresh raw Jersey cow milk, not pasteurized, not homogenized, pure not-adulterated, 100% digestible nutrient dense butter, cream, yogurt, milk and cheese.
The raw milk movement (the largest form of civil disobedience in America) is led by Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures in Fresno, California. Raw milk can be purchased legally on the farm and more importantly in stores. Organic Pastures’s raw milk, butter, kefir, cheddar, cream, and yogurt is available in over 200 stores in the Bay area alone, including Whole Foods. Brace yourselves, the fresh grass-fed 100% organic milk goes for $12.00/gal.
Why pay the guy at the top $15for a gallon of milk? He’s selling raw goat’s milk the closest thing to mothers’ milk – any species of mammal, save Flipper the dolphin, can thrive and survive on goat’s milk – but works harder than Stryk and McAfee. Their cows have four teats pumping out 8-10 gallons a day versus two teats and one gallon for the goat.