Food Security: Largest Animal Epidemic in History Is Due to Industrial Farming

Jerri-Lynn here. This Real News Network interview with Rob Wallace of the Agroecology and Rural Economics Research Corps discusses what’s caused the current outbreak of African swine flu – the largest animal epidemic in history –  which is currently rampaging throughout China and other parts of Asia. Pork prices have shot up 40% globally. This epidemic is just one pressure on food prices; others include India’s drought and the US midwest floods (which Lambert has posted about here and here).

GREG WILPERT: It’s The Real News Network and I’m Greg Wilpert in Baltimore.

What some are calling the largest animal disease outbreak in history is currently ravaging pig farms in China and in other Asian countries. The disease is known as African Swine Fever and has a similar effect on pigs as Ebola has on humans, causing massive internal hemorrhaging and very high death rate. So far, over one million pigs in China have been culled–slaughtered, that is–to stop the spread of the disease. However, China has over 440 million pigs, half of the world’s total pig population, and experts estimate that up to 200 million pigs will have to be killed this year alone to slow down the spread of the disease.

African Swine Fever does not affect humans, but it is bound to have a devastating effect on food security in Asia, which depends on pork for much of its meat consumption. In Vietnam, for example, 75 percent of meat consumption is pork. Already, pork prices have risen by as much as forty percent globally. The disease has been spreading slowly since the 1970s; first in Africa, then in Europe, and most recently in Asia, where it has turned into an epidemic.

Joining me now to discuss the causes, consequences, and solutions to African Swine Fever is Rob Wallace. Rob is a public health phylogeographer at the Agroecology and Rural Economics Research Corps in Minnesota. He’s the author of Big Farms Make Big Flu. Thanks for joining us today, Rob.

ROB WALLACE: Hello. I would say it was a pleasure to be here, but I think when Real News’ audience sees me, they know that some terrible disease has happened out there somewhere.

GREG WILPERT: Right. So one of the big problems in containing the African Swine Fever is that it is dormant for up to two weeks and that a tiny amount of the virus can cause infection. In other words, it is extremely contagious. As I mentioned, it does not infect humans, but what are the dangers for humans of this outbreak?

ROB WALLACE: Well, you did touch on the economic issue, but I would actually roll that back in terms of what the dangers might be for humans. Currently there isn’t any evidence that humans are adversely infected or become sick, but I assure you that thousands of farmers and meat processors and cleanup crews are being exposed to the virus, and some of them are probably undergoing active infection although they’re not getting sick. The danger, of course, is–without being an alarmist about it–despite the fact that presently humans aren’t being affected, there’s always the possibility that pathogens can evolve and an active infection can go virulent. And we then have the possibility that a strain might evolve the capacity to go human to human. So on a biological level, on a virology level, on an epidemiological level, presently humans are not at danger, but I would not take that as a given.

As far as the economics go, of course, the numbers you quoted in terms of how many hogs are being killed has a tremendous impact on the farmers in terms of the production. And of course, one of the dangers of all this is that industrial producers like to point their fingers on smallholders and backyard producers as being the cause because they are not engaging the biosecurity necessary to keep the African Swine Fever virus from spreading. The problem, of course, is that at that present, it’s the industrial production, in my view, that’s really just driving the spread of the virus. I mean, as you mentioned, its capacity to hide out and its infectiousness makes it an issue when you pack in hundreds of hog in a barn. In fact, some of the strains actually hang out and in cured meat for 300 days and in frozen carcasses for as long as 15 years. So this isn’t something that we’re going to be able to just waive out.

GREG WILPERT: So you’d started talking about what some of the causes are. I’m wondering if you could say a little bit more about that. I mean, you mentioned the industrial farming. What’s the connection between industrial farming and an outbreak like this?

ROB WALLACE: Well, we should take a step back, because most pathogens don’t emerge immediately in industrial production. They have humble beginnings, as it were. African Swine Fever began in sub-Saharan Africa as a wild pathogen that transmitted between warthog and local soft ticks. And then, as far as scientific literature shows, by the 1920s it began to spill over into domestic hog production. In the 1950s, it got its way up into the Iberian Peninsula, in Portugal and Spain, where it circulated for about 30 years before it was quashed. I was in 2007, however, that the virus emerged in a way that exploded across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. And then, by 2018, it popped over into China. But the important thing to understand is that pathogens go through these changes in terms of their success in relationship to the opportunities that they’re provided.

So when you have industrial production of hog that are pretty much genetically the same, genetic monocultures, you mash them all in together in the thousands– not only in particular barns, but across all regions–that permits the pathogens that are virulent, that are very deadly and would normally just burn out because they kill their host too fast and they can’t get into the next host. Well, if they get into a barn that has hundreds of hog that way, they can burn right through and continue to reproduce and transmit from barn to barn. So industrial production has been shown to be very good in terms of hosting virulent strains of pathogens, not only African Swine Fever, but swine influenza and other viruses and bacteria.

GREG WILPERT: Now, as you mentioned, previous outbreaks of African Swine Fever–particularly in Spain and Portugal, which began in the 1950s and 60s–took over 30 years to get under control. And some experts that I’ve read said that it was handled by increasing biosecurity through the creation of large hog farms and using antibiotics and careful monitoring. Now, some are saying that this is the strategy that China ought to deploy. Now, clearly that would contradict or that would not be exactly the recommendation I would see from what you’ve been saying so far. So what would you say would be the solution for how one ought to deal with this problem?

ROB WALLACE: Well, the problem is that in agriculture, it’s so focused on the social reproduction of capital rather than the production of food. That’s kind of the offshoot of all this. And so, it’s a lot of focus on protecting the economic model at any cost, including blaming parties that have nothing to do with–or very little to do with–the actual emergencies and global spread of this pathogen. I mean, smallholder farmers don’t have the capacity to export their haul from country to country. And since the 1960s, you’ve had an explosion in terms of the exports of hog from country to country and the number of hogs that are produced.

And so, this goes arm in arm–or hoof in hoof–with the emergence of multiple new strains of deadly diseases. So if you’re actually interested in controlling this, you basically have to change your model of food production in such a way that you don’t offer the opportunity for these pathogens to be selected for and to spread. So I would basically say you have to end agribusiness as we know it. At this point, any disease or outbreak that happens, they just externalize the costs to everybody else. So governments, consumers, smallholders, the livestock themselves, local environments always end up paying the cost in terms of these outbreaks in such a way that allows the actual source of the deadly diseases to continue on as a mode of production.

So in essence, it’s not producing so many hog, devolve back into smallholders who produce most of the world’s food as it is, genetically diversifying your hog breeds in such a way that when you do have an outbreak it can’t spread so easily from place to place. And also, you should allow your hog to reproduce on site so that if there are hogs that do survive, they can pass on their immunity to the next generation. And that’s completely contrary to the present industrial model, in which if a hog does survive, it can’t produce. All breeding is done offshore at the grandparent level for morphological characteristics, not so much for disease control. And so, if you want to select a mode of production that produces the worst disease possible, that would be the present industrial model.

GREG WILPERT: OK. We’re going to leave it there for now. I was speaking to Rob Wallace of the Agroecology and Rural Economics Research Corps. Thanks again, Rob, for having joined us today.

ROB WALLACE: It’s been my pleasure. Thank you.

GREG WILPERT: And thank you for joining The Real News Network.

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36 comments

  1. Eduardo

    “African Swine Fever does not affect humans, but it is bound to have a devastating effect on food security in Asia, which depends on pork for much of its meat consumption. In Vietnam, for example, 75 percent of meat consumption is pork.”

    People do not need to eat meat. If they are able to switch to plant based foods it would probably improve the overall health of the people and the climate. Of course, at the micro / individual level there could be considerable harm in even temporary disruption of food supplies.

    Same with regard to the midwest floods and reduced corn and soy production. If we could focus on growing plant based foods for human consumption instead of animals then humans and the planet would benefit.

    Reply
    1. Mylara

      In many ways acquiring alpha-gal in 1995 was a blessing of sorts. Now I eat a plant based diet, much of which I grow myself. Do I miss eating red meat? No… Well, maybe pork a little bit.

      Reply
    2. Peter

      Again and again – what gets forgotten that large scale industrial crop production is as detrimental to the environment as large scale industrial meat production.
      Those who cannot see that there is basically no difference in the damage that any large scale agricultural production does are simply ideologically blinded or extremely biased based on some personal moral values that I for one do not share.

      The solutions to agricultural production is small scale integrated farming and crop rotation. Models that mitigate against catastrophic losses and supply some resilience. The elephant or the wild boar in the room is the problem of feeding a growing and already large population with those models.

      They also require much more human labour input and more small scale machinery with less fuel demand and can avoid to a large extend the use of many kind of -cides.

      Reply
      1. Eduardo

        “ideologically blinded or extremely biased based on some personal moral values”

        Really? What are your sources?

        In this paper, we show that plant-based replacements for each of the major animal categories in the United States (beef, pork, dairy, poultry, and eggs) can produce twofold to 20-fold more nutritionally similar food per unit cropland.

        https://www.pnas.org/content/115/15/3804

        Plant-rich diets reduce emissions and also tend to be healthier, leading to lower rates of chronic disease. According to a 2016 study, business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent through adopting a vegan diet and 63 percent for a vegetarian diet, which includes cheese, milk, and eggs. $1 trillion in annual health-care costs and lost productivity would be saved.

        https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/food/plant-rich-diet

        Meat, cheese and eggs have the highest carbon footprint. Fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts have much lower carbon footprints. If you move towards a mainly vegetarian diet, you can have a large impact on your personal carbon footprint.

        http://www.greeneatz.com/foods-carbon-footprint.html

        Reply
        1. witters

          So – have I missed something? – we could have more food for more people and hey presto! environmental problems solved? Malthus banished?

          Reply
          1. BlakeFelix

            Yeah, there is plenty of food for everyone for quite a while. Some people are just unable to afford enough, and some people including me are able to afford food produced unethically or unsustainably. At some point population may outstrip our capacity to sustainably feed ourselves enough plants to be healthy, but we aren’t near that point now. Hard to make much money in the kind of low input high labor farming under current market conditions.

            Reply
        2. Peter

          You actually confirmam with your post my contention that large scale crop production – which is necessary if you exclude animal production generally because of ideological reasons without taking in consideration the use of ranching in marginal areas like the Canadian North when used to produce meat extensively – meaning without use of finishing feedlots as is common now.

          Large scale crop production with heavy input of machines, heavy input of fertilizers, all manner of herbicides insektizides etc. which are needed to control the health and productivity of crops, produce their own environmental problems. all that is not needed in marginal areas.

          What you conveniently not addressed is my contention based on studies in agriculture in the 1970s both of European farm practices and tropical/subtropical practices that integrated farming methods are the most successful and sustainable, including both animal and crop production including crop rotation.

          The papers you mention deal with the benefits of the final products, but do not address the problems inherent in large scale crop production itself.

          However, those methods that ensure the protection and even improvement of soil production do not likely lend themselves to the production of a population level that sits now close to 8 billion and increasing.
          In this case no matter what you produce, the methods needed to ensure secure crops demand a high Input of the already mentioned materials eventually leading to the decline of soil structure and health.
          If you go back to purely small scale farming for crop production, you will not be able to supply the food in the abundance we have now to the multitudes demanding it.

          The simple fact is that further deteriorating environmental conditions will lead to removal of arable land from production and even further reduce the capabilities to feed the populations. No matter how you slice it, population growth is the problem that effects everything in agriculture.

          There will be new areas opening up, like Northern Canada or Siberia but the idiocies peddled that this will replace the losses forget that the soil conditions especially in the Canadian sub arctic are simply not in a fit state to be used for crop Produktion

          Reply
          1. c_heale

            Your argument isn’t helped by the misspelling of production and insecticide. It just makes your comment seem cranky.

            Reply
        3. Anton Worter

          Even if the grasslands that create beef could be converted to GMO corn and GMO maize and GMO soybeans and GMO pulses production, then magically irrigated by the Angry CO2 Sky God, conversion of those grain/pulses into processed food completely eliminates their nutrition other than calories and (small amount of) protein, especially since the only way to get people to eat that processed vegan food is the Cold Chain, on a massive scale, creating a gynormous carbon footprint and even more gynormous plastic packaging tsunami.

          Claiming ‘vegan is a better diet’ is apples-to-oranges. What’s your control? Your claim ignores the reality of the world, where everyone eats and enjoys meat because of its concentrated nutrition and easy cooking. By your vegan metric, people in India should be the healthiest people on Earth, right after the Happy Hunzas. They’re not.

          Ed: I was a degreed Environmental Scientist and co-founder of one of the first organic farms in US, as well as a practicing ‘healthy-style unprocessed’ vegan (by force of having no meat). Since that time, what I discovered about processed foods, including processed vegan foods, tells me that ‘vegan’ is just another profit pipeline, feeding into the Green New Deal agenda, of putting private ranchers out of business then Corporatizing the entire agriculture sector.

          Reply
      2. Foppe

        How is it that people who are worried about “industrial scale” always forget that any animal that needs to mature eats a multiple of its body weight in food to reach maturity?
        A huge part of “industrial crop production” (including >90% of US soy production, per the industry website) happens for feed production. We’re talking from 50% loss from omnivorous animals like chickens, to 6x loss in the case of cows. IIRC pigs need about 4x their body weight in plants that we could also eat directly (because they aren’t ruminants, and we’re also omnivorous).
        I.e., we could be using 75% less crop land than we currently are, to the extent people unnecessarily eat pigs. And other ratios apply to the consumption of other animal products, all of which we can do without -> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864

        As to zoonoses: note that basically all of the “plagues” that we fear hide out and mutate in the animals we keep as livestock before transferring to humans. And that they’re becoming resistant in large part because >50% of worldwide antibiotics are used by the livestock industry..

        Reply
      3. Polar Donkey

        I run a bbq restaurant. After reading how resilient the virus is, I can’t imagine it not getting to North America. I am trying to get out of the bbq business as quick as I can. Slaughter houses tell us how strong American meat processing regulations are and how focused on safety they are, then you see huge recalls for salmonella or other contaminants. I keep hearing in the back of my head “everything is CALPERS.”

        Reply
    3. nycTerrierist

      “People do not need to eat meat. If they are able to switch to plant based foods it would probably improve the overall health of the people and the climate.”

      I couldn’t agree more. Haven’t eaten meat since I was a child and I never miss it.

      Is noone here disturbed by the horror of factory-farming animals in hellish confinement, and ‘live transport’ of suffering creatures across the world?

      This is not only grotesque and cruel, and a crime against nature, it is not necessary in order to feed humans.

      Reply
      1. Peter

        Is noone here disturbed by the horror of factory-farming animals in hellish confinement

        If you would read without your ideological lens on, then you actually would understand that the posts here that support animal production do so with excluding the type of industrial animal production.

        We always produced most of our own meat while living in Canada, either by hunting and fishing or by keeping anything from pigs to ducks to rabbits to chicken to turkeys to geese to goats to sheep..

        Good farming praktisches always were a combination of both animal and crop production, and as someone pointed out below – to demand everywhere to engage in crop production alone is complete and utter idiocy considering the geographic differences, and seems to be a proper US citizen view that only views the US mainland as a proper measure to compare with.
        There is a bit more to the world then the US, you just have to look to the north of your border.

        Reply
    4. Eclair

      You are right, Eduardo, people do not need to eat meat.

      But, if we are to ‘devolve’ into a mode of more local food production, we need to consider how each ‘food region’ obtains its calories. Fat gives the most caloric bang for the buck, or weight, then protein. Carbs give a fast high, but are quickly used up by the body, and one needs to eat a lot of them. Especially when temps go down to zero and it snows every day. (And, I am assuming that at some point heating oil, natural gas, propane, will become scarce, and we won’t have 78, or even 72, degree interiors.)

      In cold and temperate regions especially, those places with shorter growing seasons, how do we get through the winter? Up here in western New York state, we don’t have olive groves, but we do have lush pasture lands that traditionally have supported dairy animals. We have gone a bit overboard with the dairy cow that is bred to produce gallons of milk, and which has become a form of factory farming. But we could sustain goats and sheep … lots of them. And fermenting milk to produce long-keeping cheeses is a way to provide winter calories.

      Chickens are great for egg production, but they tend to hibernate during the dark days of winter and egg production drops off. However, they are great in a stock pot. And chicken fat makes a great spread on rye bread!

      As for vegetable oils, sunflower and rape seed can be pressed. Lots of calories per weight, so easily transported and consumed.

      But a backyard pig? What a treasure …. and so much high caloric content fat!

      I have a young friend who is vegan and who posts her luscious south-west cuisine recipes on her FB page. They are filled with fresh veggies, avocados, citrus, olive and sesame seed oils and butters. She lives in southern California, where such stuff is available locally and year ’round.

      If we want to eat local, we need to develop local cuisines. Being a vegan in northern Michigan, and eating almond nut butter, sesame paste and avocados transported from Mexico, is not particularly sustainable. (If you do not eat meat because you will not kill a living being, I can honor that.) But some of those local cuisines may need to include dead animals, in a respectful and judicious way. As the Native Americans honored the animals they slaughtered for food, recognizing that they, in turn, would provide food for myriad worms and birds when they passed on.

      Reply
      1. BlakeFelix

        Is calorie deficiency really much of a problem in rural America today? And while there are things to be said for eating animal fats, I don’t think it’s more efficient than eating the plants the animals ate to make the fat, unless the plants are inedible like cellulose in grass. If you have the nerve you can even feed people high cellulose stuff and then feed the human poop to pigs who can digest it…

        Reply
        1. Tyronius

          In short, yes. It turns out that food insecurity is a large and growing problem in both urban and rural America. Thanks, unfettered capitalism!

          Reply
    5. TimmyB

      “African swine flu does not affect humans.” Well, that’s good to know. However, my understanding is that flu mutates, which is why different variations of the flu vaccine needs to be created every year. I can only assume African Swine flu, like every other flu virus, has the power to mutate.

      Now let’s discuss the problems with birds. Human flu mutates every year as it passes from swine to birds to humans. The reason human flu epidemics typically start in Asia is that pigs and chickens were often raised together by farmers and the flu viruses would have many opportunities to mutate as it passed back and forth between pigs, chickens and people..

      In sum, China and surrounding countries have served as a Petri dish for flu mutation for decades. I would not be surprised if, in China or surrounding countries where there chickens, pigs and farmers are in close contact, African Swine flu mutated into a virus that harmed human beings. It’s certainly found the right place on the planet to do so.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        I guess you didn’t read the entire piece? The guy talks specifically about the possibility of virus mutation.

        Reply
    6. Felix_47

      Don’t forget corn ethanol. A tax and subsidy racket of no environmental benefit as I understand it.

      Reply
    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      It depends on the meat. If we extermicott Industrial Feedlot meat, this statement is exactly correct. If we extermicott carbon-capture multi-plant-species range and pasture meat, then we are exterminating a way to in-fact capture carbon and store it in soil through the eco-boosting use of livestock on pasture systems.

      Since every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat ( and life IS zero-sum economic combat whereby one sector exterminates another sector by depriving it of bussiness and starving it to death), every dollar spent on ecobio-correct carbon-capture integrated-beef-on-pasture helps the carbon-capture eco-bio-pasture meat sector to exterminate the carbon emitting petrochemical feedlot-meat sector.

      Reply
  2. Stephen V

    Good news from Arkansas. Local group fights this Hog Factory for six years. This in one of the most corrupt contexts going: an ALEC-led ledge dominated by the paleo-right. Dishonorable mention goes to the Farm Bureau who partnered up with the clever pork-to-Brazil-to-China scheme.
    *Dismantle agribiz as we know it* says Mr. Wallace. Indeed.

    https://arktimes.com/arkansas-blog/2019/06/13/state-strikes-deal-to-remove-hog-farm-from-buffalo-river-watershed

    Reply
    1. JerryDenim

      “Right to Farm” That’s the latest sloganeering to describe the confinement and torture of hundreds of pigs crowded together on an enclosed concrete slab and fed a nasty gruel of GMO corn, soy and antibiotics until they’re shipped off to slaughter. There’s also a hefty batch of “Right to Farm” state level laws ALEC and the Farm Bureau have cooked up to indemnify large agribusiness corporations from lawsuits brought by environmental groups and aggrieved residents who live in close proximity to these so-called “farms”. In a typical American “grow” operation the “farmers” are independent contractors working for a large agribusiness multinational. A state-owned Chinese corporate entity has a total monopoly in North Carolina. The monopolist corporation exerts monopoly pricing power and control over its contracting farmers. By forcing the farmers into loans (this is where the Farm Bureau wets its beak) for a never ending cycle of mandatory equipment upgrades the farmers have been reduced to sharecroppers barely making enough money to stay ahead of their loan payments. They may want to quit the racket, but they can’t without losing their farms. Little piggies who are birthed somewhere else, which are owned by the Chinese corporation get delivered to the “farmer” in a truck, the farmer fattens the piggies with the aforementioned mixture which is stipulated by the client or contracting corporation, sometimes the contract requires the “farmer” to buy this mixture from the corporation other times I think it may be provided and reflected in the contract pricing. The pigs/hogs get picked up and shipped off for slaughter once they reach the preordained size and the cycle starts over again. The loss/mortality rate is shockingly high with multiple pigs dropping dead on a daily basis for no special reason. I would guess it to be a combination of stress, diet, animal concentration and generalized squalor. All of the pig waste flows into a cess pool which is euphemistically labeled a “lagoon”. To keep the “lagoons” from overflowing the pig torture operators have to regularly pump the waste out. They do so by spraying the waste over fields using high pressure sprinkler systems which convert the shit and piss into an aerosolized mist. The poop and pee mist then dries into a dust and takes flight on the wind ending up in the locals homes and lungs. If there is a pig-to-human virus outbreak in the future I can’t imagine a better disease vector than an aerosol spray which later turns into a fine wind driven dust. These farms produce an ever-present and copious stench and the micronized poop particles are not good for human health.

      This is not farming. It should not be legal. It’s an absolute travesty that American citizens are having their right to legal remedy stripped away by their elected representatives so a state-owned foreign business can prosper at their expense.

      Reply
  3. mle detroit

    There’s this model of “regenerative” agriculture in way-upstate New York: EssexFarmCSA.com. But even here there’s the issue of the pig-chicken-human vector for flu.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      I can just see the future newz headlines: ‘Attack of the Cloned-Meat Wars’ .. with various corporate owned lab-produced meat manufacturers duking it out via clandestine microbial warfare, just to gain a few moar points of market share !

      Reply
  4. Mickey Hickey

    Back in the bad old days starting about 1400 years before Christ the Celts spread into central and western Europe (Southern Germany and France) bringing with them farming practices that changed little until the advent of the internal combustion engine. A family could cultivate 1or 2 acres using hand implements, this increased to 27 acres using the Scottish (metal) plough and two horses. Industrial farming started in the 1920s’ where gasoline/diesel was cheap and tractors were available. Today with the financialisation of farming, bigger is regarded as better with family family farming becoming extinct. In Ireland the farming model up to 1955 +or – was a mixed farming on a family farm of 27 acres with some exceptions. In 1955 after the end of the Korean war oil flooded into Ireland and life on the farm quickly started to change. Typically a single farm had dairy cattle, horses pigs, sheep, goats, hens, ducks, geese, turkeys, sheep dog, a greyhound. They grew potatoes, wheat, oats, barley, rye, cabbage beets, mangels, turnips. The woman of the house had a cultivated plot for onions, peas, parsnips, carrots, lettuce, herbs, flowers. Today even the dairy farmers buy their milk from the processors. Pigs were generally reared to sop up excess food with one to four pigs being quite common. The pigs were occasionally butchered at home but more often sold to local butchers or to jobbers at a pig market or directly to pig processors. The spread of disease was quite rapid even in very small scale farming and processing environments. Large scale operators have two foot deep sanitation tanks which are chemically treated and all vehicles drive into the tank to have the cargo and truck hosed down. You can rest assured that workers are not flitting around between large scale farms on hourly, daily or weekly gigs. Public markets also close down and pigs get delivered directly to processors, nothing comes back to the farm. There is a lot not to like about industrial farming but it has made it impossible for a single family to make a living in farming. Cheap fuel has enabled industrial farming and the end of cheap fuel will bring about its end. I also agree with comments that claim labour intensive small farms can be more efficient as in producing more food per square metre/foot than large scale farms. However it is not possible to make a living off labour intensive farming.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Labor-intensive farming could deliver a living IF the product were high-priced enough for the labor-intensive producer to get paid enough money to stay in bussiness and in survival. This is already true for some very high-price-able boo-teek goor-may foodie-yuppie-grade fruits and vegetables.

      And once industrial farming goes finally and comprehensively extinct, the remaining alternatives after that will either be labor intensive farming or no farming at all. When that becomes the choice, off-farm customers can either pay the labor-intensive remaining farmers the price it takes to buy labor intensive food, or those customers who “won’t pay that much” can either grow their own food or they can starve to death and die. Those will be the choices people face in the ex industrial-farming age to come.

      Reply
  5. drumlin woodchuckles

    Many years ago, when James Kunstler ran an interesting blog rather than the One Schtick Phony blog he runs now; Kunstler guest-blogger hosted some interesting writers about our coming era of resource constraints and shrinkdowns.

    Names I remember include Dmitri Podboritz and Dmitry Orlov.

    I also remember guest-blogger Teodor Shanin on the subject he was developing called “peasantology”.
    It would take long hard brutal searching to find the particular articles on Kunstler’s Clusterfuck Nation blog.
    I will offer this first-found little link to Teodor Shanin instead.
    https://www.mail-archive.com/futurework@scribe.uwaterloo.ca/msg04564.html

    Teodor Shanin had written some articles on the huge percentage of the human-edible food in the Soviet Union being grown on the tiny percentage of farmland/gardenland in the “private plots”. He also wrote about how it was done. Others have written about labor-intensive Russian-style vegetable growing in greater detail, as in books by Nikolai Kurdyumov. Growing Vegetables With A Smile and Growing Fruit With A Smile. He has written other books which I hope get translated into English so I can buy them.

    https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=AwrJ6R0YtwZdQf0ADoBXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=growing+vegetables+with+a+smile&fr=sfp

    Why bring this up? I think the Corporate Private Industrial Agriculture is a privatized reciprocal of the Collective Socialist Industrial Agriculture which existed in the Soviet Union. Marx hated farming and farmers and he wanted to reduce and destroy rural culture to the sterilized culture-desert wasteland of being “huge . . . tracts of land” staffed and worked by huge industrial armies of farmland laborers. And that is the Marxist vision achieved by the Kholkhoz and the Sovkhoz. It led to a crisis of supply during which the Soviet peoples avoided starvation through the private plots.

    And now we in the Corporate Private Industrial Farming west and China have been facing a crisis of quality which certain people can avoid by growing their own food or paying a shinola price for shinola organic food. ( And now it appears that Corporate Capitalist Agriculture may be approaching a crisis of supply to go with its crisis of quality).

    Americans need to set up their own system of “survival gardening dachas” right god d*mn now in order to survive the maturing crisis of quality and the new looming crisis of supply.

    Reply

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