Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Musings: Gimme, Gimme

A friend sent me this Facebook thread with the comment, "bet you lunch you can't read it without laughing out loud."

Good thing I didn't take the bet:

Careful, Dustin. Once you move beyond a shovel and an o'o, you're officially an "industrial farm."

But hey, bring in Keone — the blind leading the blind. Though no doubt he would happily grasp any opportunity to grow his own tiny, grant-funded empire.

So he has no money or time. Welcome to the wonderful world of farming! But hey, surely somebody will just step in and make it all happen for him. Unless, of course, they're selfishly writing grants for their own purposes:
Yeah, that's the ticket! A kick-starter, go-fund-me approach to failed farming. Because you can't possibly make it if you aren't begging for handouts.
No, Shantee, what Kauai needs are realistic, hard-working farmers who do their homework and prepare carefully before sticking some animals on the land that somebody gave you and calling yourself a farmer. Smart and successful farmers start with a business plan, one that identifies equipment needs, anticipated income and expenses — before they start.

I don't know if it's  the entitlement mindset of so many millennials, or part and parcel of the dreamy view of farming that infects so many in the anti-GMO, gimme-gimme movement, but why do they think their ill-informed, unplanned, dubious actions should be grant-funded?


And how they gonna make it when the grants run out?


Meanwhile, real farmers are seeking greater understanding of what they do, and why, from the folks who populate these ill-conceived food and agricultural movements. As Modern Farmer reports:


Brian Ogletree

I think organic is great. We use chicken litter as one of our main fertilizers and all of our crop residue goes back into the ground. We are a no-till farm, which means we use a grain drill to plant the seed with the previous crop residue still standing. We use a rotation of soybeans in summer, wheat in winter, a non-soybean crop the following summer, such as browntop millet, cover crops the next winter, such as crimson clover, and then soybeans again the following summer. That every-other-year rotation keeps the disease and insect pressure down and makes the farm much more profitable.

With GMO soybeans we spray just one dose of glyphosate after planting. Then they form a canopy over the ground that outcompetes the weeds and we’re done with weed pressure from that point on. With the traditional [non-GM] soybeans, different types of chemicals that are based on chemistry from 30 years ago have to be used, which are less effective on weeds. So instead of applying just one application of an herbicide for everything, you have different chemicals for different types of weeds. And since they are less effective; you have to go out and reapply.

You also have to rely on more mechanical cultivation with non-GMO soybeans. That leaves the soil loose and exposed. With nothing holding it together, you get wind erosion and water erosion. To me, that is more damaging than using glyphosate. You’re losing your topsoil, and the chemicals are more likely to get into the watershed—when soil runs off it takes the chemicals downstream with it. Not to mention the fuel costs of doing all that cultivation.

A few years ago we tried some non-GMO soybeans, but easily used twice the amount of chemicals than with the GMO beans. A lot of people don’t understand the amount of chemicals and fuel that it takes to grow a non-GMO [soybean] crop. The whole reason these crops were developed is to be more efficient—to save money and fuel.

There are so many myths out there about GMOs, and what gets me is how many very well-educated people I’ve met who believe them.

Peter Stocks

I am a young farmer who recently returned to my family’s industrial corn and soybean farm in Illinois. I have a severely deformed right hand that is possibly related to my father’s exposure to pesticides. Glyphosate has never been linked to the type of deformity I have, but many past generations of chemicals have been. I would prefer not to have any exposure to these compounds, but we are paid an extra $1.10/per bushel premium for non-GMO soybeans. Not being able to utilize glyphosate forces my father, who still has a cavalier attitude towards pesticide exposure, to revert back to older, more dangerous herbicides, such as Paraquat.

Because glyphosate residue would damage the non-GMO beans, I am required to thoroughly rinse our sprayer tank multiple times per year when switching between chemical regimens. Many studies have indicated that cleaning tasks like this represent an acute source of chemical exposure. It is an unfortunate example of the perverse incentives created by an otherwise well-meaning group of consumers.

I suspect that many of the non-GMO commenters would accuse me of being a coward for complying with a production model I know to be detrimental. Often people speak of changing our farming methods like it is as easy as making a choice and waiting for the economics to settle themselves out. When I try to tell them about our farm’s conservation tillage practices or cover crop regimens they glaze over. When I speak about the enormous potential of decentralized biomass energy or recirculating aquaculture for fighting climate change they generally aren’t very engaged. When the subject turns to GMOs, however, they have a wealth of opinions.

The entire article is well-worth reading, in terms of helping people understand why farmers do what they do.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unsolicited advice for Mr. Barca, all you need is a digging fork and strong arms and back, do one section at a time and move on to the next.

Anonymous said...

What no money from his friends at Hawaii life? Maybe he could grow marijuana for them that way his farm would be very profitable

Anonymous said...

On one of Barcas Instagram videos it shows his truck pulled up and he's feeding his pigs. The back of the truck is filled with what looks like old produce. I just found it kind of ironic that's he's using more wasted food to feed his pigs than his farm can even produce. I don't get why he thinks he has the right to tell other farmers how to farm when can barely keep his small farm going let alone actually having to worry about making a profit.

John Kauai said...

Excellent article from Modern Farmer. I followed the link from that one to "Still Life with Mass Hysteria: Are GMOs Really That Bad?" which was also well-balanced and thoughtful. Perhaps there is a middle way.

“If you’re against Monsanto, fine,” says Sarah Evanega, director of the Cornell Alliance for Science, a group founded to depolarize the GMO debate. “But don’t stand in the way of public-sector scientists trying to deliver modern agricultural technology to farmers around the developing world who need it. That has nothing to do with Roundup Ready corn in Iowa.”

The articles prompted me to recall a RadioLab show "Genes on the Move" which brings up the "Bill Gates Gene"
http://www.radiolab.org/story/91602-genes-on-the-move/

And that's the problem with GMO.

It is all about money. Google "Bill Gates Gene" and see how he has outsized influence in our lives. Sure, he made Microsoft successful, but was that because he was so smart or because he just happened to be in the right place at the right time? Once you become a "center of information flow" you tend to attract more flows which is a "good thing" unless you start making decisions about how to use that information or which further path of investigation to follow when you are not qualified or don't have the background to know what you are talking about.

Money is what makes the world go round and money always pursues more money. Is this the reason "golden rice" after 15 years still hasn't reached a single consumer?

Gates brought us common core, which means more testing and more standardization. Standardization of people so that we call become drones in service to the moneymen. Michael Moore's movie "Where to Invade Next" has a segment on Finland's schools. No homework, fewer hours, kids get to play most of the day, no standardized tests resulting in the best educational outcomes in the world. In Finland learning is fun because it is something you want to do not something you have to do.

And that is what Gates (et. al. including the GMO companies) bring us: "You have to do it my way because I'm rich."

Which brings us back to Barca and the other side of that money problem. You have to have money to make money. As more and more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people, society becomes more and more dictatorial and those who try to skirt around that concentration of wealth find it impossible. Their inevitable failure causes scorn to be heaped upon them because they "should have known".

I reject the constant "free stuff" meme that is being pushed, mostly by the Republicans but also now taken up by all politicians as Americans want to all believe that they are "John Wayne" and "rugged individualists" who can do it all on their own. Yes, there are slackers who will never ever amount to anything, but we are still "all in this together" and unless we can figure out how to help deserving entrepreneurs (I'm not saying Barca, don't know him) we are throwing away our best chance of success as a species.

We need to base our society on something other than the worship of money.

Anonymous said...

It boggles the mind to see people like Barca going about farming in the reverse order! Do good research (start by hand, like it sounds like he is doing), see what you are up against, keep track of your expenses and incomes (even as a bark-yard farm, if you keep track, you can file business papers and get tax breaks if you are on ag lands), and see what makes sense for you. THEN dig into the specifics of how much land and capitol you'll need to hopefully make enough profit to survive as a farmer. Realistically, farming is such an expensive gamble in Hawaii, and almost every beginning farmer needs to have other income (working spouse in a stable job?) to start their business. This is true for any entrepreneur, have a business plan that is based in research and fact, then get started.

If you have a good farm business plan, the USDA FSA small loans are not that hard to get! Same with NRCS water and erosion control loans for fencing, etc.

Barca needs to go to school :)

Anonymous said...

Kuaaina Ulu Auamo is the driving force right now along with The Castle Foundation in influencing the "Community-based subsistence fishing areas" in Hawaii.
Is Jenny Lynn a nonprofit employee or just a lawaia specialist?

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Barca ask his best friends who run Hawaii Life to sponsor him for a tractor? Put some sponsor stickers on that bad boy!!! Or what about The Center For Food Safety? or HAPA? or Hawaii SEED?
oh that's right...they only care about paying expensive speakers to come to Hawaii for vacaprotesting!!! ha ha ha

what a joke.

Anonymous said...

So the Federal Government hasn't been subsidizing "real farmers" for the past 50 years?

Anonymous said...

"An agricultural subsidy is a governmental subsidy paid to farmers and agribusinesses to supplement their income, manage the supply of agricultural commodities, and influence the cost and supply of such commodities."

Anonymous said...

The farmers have to produce something, or have a record of production, before they get a subsidy. What has Barca produced?

Bradley Choquette said...

Yet, you missed this gem from Dustin's FB. I didn't realize tractors, chainsaws and tillers were part of "preserving native Hawaiian Culture." http://www.gofundme.com/2gyd77kc

Anonymous said...

WAIT! You're all wrong! All one needs to do to farm ecologically and naturally is to push an organic seen into the ground and add water. It will grow and thrive and in no time will produce yummy veggies and fruits. All for free!!! I can't imagine how Barca has missed the simplicity of farming the natural way....the way God intended us to farm in Eden.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, the white people who discovered America needed a little help to get started too. It's kind of the America way. Except, now, you need lobbyist to get taken care of and anybody that's a threat gets taken care of a different kind of way.

Anonymous said...

Amazing blog. Someone tries to grow some food and people jump all over him. Joan, why not tell us how the farming method that you use to grow food is superior to the methods others employ. If you are going to go to such lengths to diss a local who is trying to engage in producing some food, then I hope, as one who is so interested in growing food, you will share with us the wonderful ag methods and approaches you use personally. You are growing food, arenʻt you? And that is the experience you are basing your criticism on, isnʻt it? Please share what you have learned from your own experience. That is so much more meaningful than basing your opinions upon what others say and upon what you read, donʻt you think?

Joan Conrow said...

Nobody's jumping all over anybody for trying to grow food. I and others are poking fun at the hubris of Dustin and his followers in trying to dictate agricultural policy when they know so little about the economic and labor realities of production.

Anonymous said...

Kauai Farm
Go to Hawaii Life Real Estate. Plop down 1 to 30 million. Plant some rambutan, kale and coconut trees. Get a goat or horse. Fence everybody out. Build a 5000 sq ft Ag dwelling.
Become a Fistee, vote Da Hoos, JoAnn and Mason. Be against any farming that actually puts people on a payroll. Be against housing unless it is apartments, after all the locals have to live somewhere.
Most important in the litany of Kauai Farming, always tell people how much you love the island and that you have a spiritual connection.
Tell others how for live.

Anonymous said...

Well said, 5:11, well said - however,
you forgot the part about how they went from rags-to-riches in getting to plop down the mill$, and to rail against capitalism and corporations, and get an AG tax break for their "gentleperaon's" farm!

Anonymous said...

Okay, let me TRY to get this straight. Dustin doesn't have time OR money BUT he wants someone else to kick in the money and match it with his LACK of time. Hmmm. I wonder if Dustin is a Bernie supporter? Free stuff given to the freeloaders at the expense of the hard workers. Like the first comment indicated, grab a shovel and start working. Sell the spoils, save and move up to a larger shovel. Demonstrate to a bank that you have enough piss and vinegar in your veins to actually do the work and succeed. Screaming for a freebie will lead to many slammed doors in your face.

Anonymous said...

Well said, 5:11, well said - however,
you forgot the part about how they went from rags-to-riches in getting to plop down the mill$, and to rail against capitalism and corporations, and get an AG tax break for their "gentleperaon's" farm!

Anonymous said...

Fund the fight against mono-cropping GMO and now they mono-cropping them selves. All THC n no pesticides. ORGANIC! Corn guys freaking corporate capitalism at its worst. They (ns) is real estate capitalism n now they dope capitalist. But since it's NS folks it's all good.

Hippie critical! !

N 3:03 p.m. you just got turned on to this blog! Joan's been blogging about Baca for a while now. She's been saying the same thing since he's been preaching.

3:03 welcome to Joan's blog!

Read on!

Anonymous said...

A tool library? Lmao!

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, everyone gets a trophy in our modern entitled progressive society, why should the challenges of running a agriculture business be any different?

Anonymous said...

3:03 is a whiny carper who has visited this blog many times before: "Joan why don"t you blah, blah, blah.... monku, monku, monku....?" Like a recurring hemorrhoid, 3:03's opinions are irritating and are part of the north shore sensibilities that must be endured for the pleasure of reading Kauai Eclectic.

Anonymous said...

It is called renting the equipment you need, or sharing tools with some other farmers, but most people are pretty fussy about who uses their tools and how they are taking care of. And don't start bigger than you can take care of, expand once you have been successful at a smaller area.farming is hard work in an often hot and dirty setting, one must love the labor and spend long days at it.

Anonymous said...

Joan made a great point as always but we can also give Barca4mayor a little credit for at least making an attempt on his failed utopia campaign platform. No doubt it should be eye opening and help shape his perspective. Let's hope he can make some progress for a success story because he isn't the only one from his generation that thinks the way he does, difference is - he is trying to do something.

Anonymous said...

A decent education would help.

Anonymous said...

Cost of one lawnmower: $350
Cost of one tractor: $4500
Thinking about Barca tending 8 acres with a mower and an o'o: priceless

Anonymous said...

@3:03

Nobody's picking on Barca. He's picking on himself for acting like a down in the earth kind of a guy but when realization sets in he cries for industrial help. Too much hard work for the brada.

Anonymous said...

Remember...some people aren't worthy of a loan or the trust that goes with it because they'll say anything and wag their little tails to get you to loan them what they need. Then they forget about returning it, loose it, break it, loan it to someone else and forget who. Ever lose a book this way? Tools to your "good neighbor"? This kind of untrustworthy borrower is rampant. It's virtually a lifestyle. Maybe Barca has already shown his true colors.

Anonymous said...

Maybe poor Dustin's hand is still sore ... from false cracking the poor man on the mainland before running away to Hawaii to hide from prosecution.

Anonymous said...

The problem with these kinds of people is that they mimic a cat that chases its tail.

They don't even know that their puppet masters smile in their face(s), but then food, drinks and whatever and then talk shit about them in private.

One can only Imagine what Hawaii Life is saying about this pitch fork clown behind his back.

Anonymous said...

Advice to Dustin and the other farmer wannabes:

Find a farmer who farms conventionally and has land and equipment. Start a petition for a ballot initiative to have the County take over the farmers' land by eminent domain to turn it over to you and your friends to do organic farming.
Get signatures for your petition by lying and pressuring people by telling them that the farmer was abandoning his fields and that it would otherwise be taken over by urban development or the chem cartel who will plant GMOs.......

Anonymous said...


Joan and I have had this conversation before:
We should be grateful that the younger people on this island are standing up for ANYTHING!
Having watched many of them grow up here, it's true; like a lot of us elders, they say some really dumb ass things.
But there is one thing that our young and old activists have in common;
At least we're saying something.

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, it's great for people to stand up and speak up -- so long as it's not based on fear and misinformation.

Anonymous said...

I am 4:24 and
I agree with you Joan.
When I wrote "they say some really dumb ass things" I was referring to words and actions based on
fear and misinformation. Thanks for pointing that out!