Author Topic: Kat Logan Smith's talk on farm resettlement 9-13-19  (Read 12 times)

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Offline Suzanne Meeks

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Kat Logan Smith's talk on farm resettlement 9-13-19
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2019, 12:28:59 PM »
Kat Logan Smith on Feeding the Ozarks in 20 Years – 9-13-19

         The Farm Resettlement Congress aims to rebuild food systems and reestalish integrity with the planet. With the heart we've brought to the table – sharing loving, priorities.
   Our food system is pretty contaminated now, and eating it will make you sick (but that's a separate 4-hour presentation). 
        The only new thing is more clairity on how bad the monopolies are:  Four companies control grain, beef, hogs, poultry, and milk.  The list is different for each group, but they overlap.  Cargill is top of both grain and cattle;  Tyson and JBS are big in cattle, chickens, and hogs – though in the hog market they're topped by the Chinese WH Group, which owns Smithfield.   The dairy market is a little different, with four coops controling a plurality of 40%.
     These organizations set prices for farmers, who are getting less – and consumers, who are paying more. 
   What's in our food and what's not are problems.  The only way to know your food is to know your famrer.  Even “organic” food is approved to be irrigated with untested water, and nutrition may be missing because of soil depletion.
   There is a market for quality, but often the food takes long trips.  Missouri tomatoes have a national reputation, so an Oregon winery paid $9 for a bag of them, freeze-dried; in St. Louis, small bags of dehydreated kale grown near Mt. Verenon are selling for $6.  We need to support our local farmers.
   The FRC has a vision for complete restoration of our regional food system.  Want to organize people in watesheds because it will take big resources, but there ARE big resources. 
   Right now, we can't feed ourseles, because the canneries, mills, etc.  are gone.  Where will we get the money to restore them?  A new organic graineery in Illinois cost $2 million.  There's one outside Eureka Springs – mills create demand for organic grain, then farmers start growing it.  It's hard here becasue of bugs and mold and humidity, but we used to feed ourselves and we can do it again.
   The Community Foundation of the Ozarks wants us to contribute 5% a year – they want to put it into Wall Street and put the proceeds into the Ozarks.  But why Wall Street?  Let's  take the 5%  and put all of it into the Ozarks.  Let's create a local food system that fuels an organic renewal.
   Children are our biggest export – they can't get a job here that supports a family.  Let's rebuild by watershed.  (Galen noted that the Swiss model is direct democracy per valley.)  Then when we have more resources than young people, we'll put out the call for the kids. 
   Let's start where we are with what we have.  Let's create a Watershed Foundation, and will 5% of our estates to it.  That creates an asset pool that can draw in other assets and investers. 
   We need to assess the status quo so we can measure our progress.  The first part of the mission is to feed ourselves.  We have meat, milk, and vegetables; why do we not have fruit?  Let's make that a priority.  Each watershed has to measure what's important to them.  What's the worst-case scenario?  What wouild it take to survive it?  We need off-grid solutions to water, food storage, etc.  Then we have to ask all the other questions (e.g., once we grow the food, how do we distribute it?  What feeds the community?  How can we make it work?)
     Large-scale farming supports banks more than diners; they're growing commodities for Wall Street.  The costs of chemicals has gone waaay up – the soil is critically depleted and farmers have been sold on applying in fall, then winter rains wash it into the gulf – but the price of corn has gone down. 
        Galen noted that large-scale farming at the expense of family farms was the  goal of the “Young Executive Program” in 1954.  We've lost a million farmssince then, hke said, and many of the machines will soon be run through satellites.
   Our generational transfer is $1.5 trillion.  Five percent of a working life is 3 years; so serve the watershed for 3 years.  For 3 year s of service you get a stake.   
        Still, we have many young farmers seeking their niches.  Sometimes they have to bounce aroune for a while before they find it, but a mushroom operation took a family vacation to Florida after 5 years.
       Jay noted that the blueberry farm didn't open this year – the owners are aging and their health is deteriorating.  Blueberries one of the healthiest things you can eat.  Jay offered to put a labor pool together to work it, but they didn't want to due to health issues.  If we had the money to buy it, we could let people farm it.  He said one the first thing we need is a mineral depot, to remineralize the depleted soil.
   It was noted that Ozark County producers are selling honey in New York.  Dried tomatoes and kale are going at least as far as St. Louis.  Sesame will be grown next year, and there's still some sorghum production.  .  Beehives and dehydrators are cheap to build.  Presses are more complicated but have been used for millennia..
   Kat said we need to assess what the markeet needs right now.  If you're going to make money on 5 acres, you'e going to have to grow something that sells by the ounce, not the pound.
   Galen said the Chinese are buying 150 different herbs we're cutting down, and paid $25,000 for walnut hull waste.
   Pawpaws, which are native to the Ozarks, have anti-cancer properties and kill mosquito larvae.  If we could develop this, we could fund everything that needs doing, from feeding ourselves to feeding the world – and without trashing the ecology.
   Kat has constructed a web site, but hasn't launched it yet – keep an eyke out for  --Suzanne Meeks