EU Farmers’ Protests, Food Security, and the Green New Deal Big Lie by Omission About Livelihoods

Perhaps yours truly is unduly skittish, or perhaps simply not sufficiently familiar with EU farm policies. But as we’ll discuss soon, a recent Financial Times editorial on farmers’ protests in Europe made me wonder if something is missing from my, and perhaps others’, perspective on the pressures intensifying on how societies provision themselves on a collective and individual level. Put it another way, the article bugged me and I’ve been puzzling out why.

Specifically, as the Financial Times’ headline whinges in the editorial, The rise of agricultural populism, a critically important group of suppliers is balking at the prospect of green/carbon-output-reducing reforms hurting their incomes. The pink paper concedes that even with large EU subsidies, farmers work hard for typically not very good pay levels, and that has already been under stress.

Now as an editorial, one would expect this piece to be aimed particularly at Serious People, as in the decision-making or at least influencing sort. But a striking result is the assumption of the “We are all adults here, these problems can be sorted out” tone underplays how the farmers v. climate policy fight may be a canary in the coal mine of intractable climate change issues. These current and upcoming choices are already difficult but are made even more so by living in a market/neoliberal society.

The Green New Deal and others who are seeking climate change action have done themselves and the planet a huge disservice via their rainbows and unicorns approach to policies. They have pointedly avoided the notion that sacrifices need to be made. The subtext is that if consumers merely make smarter choices, like buying EVs, using bicycles more often, installing heat pumps, insulating, and support investments like wind turbines and high speed trains, the worst will be forestalled. Admittedly, some do advocate more hair-shirt-y measures, like giving up on or reducing the consumption of beef, air travel, and indoor temperature control. Notice the huge hidden assumption: that consumers are well off enough to be able to make choices, as opposed to get by, and on top of that, they can afford higher costs, and/or to front big-ticket expenses that promise to offer a good return.

What the Green types have (as far as I can tell) chosen to ignore is the impact on livelihoods of aggressive climate change action. For instance, there’s a great deal of hand-wringing about Bitcoin energy consumption. Yet there’s a dearth of proposals to outlaw Bitcoin and severely criminalize its use. That seems to be due to bizarre deference to Mr. Market, as if speculation is more important than preserving the environment, along with perhaps a reluctance to throw people in the crypto sphere out of work. Similarly, no one is willing to very aggressively tax (say via super duper high landing fees) private jets so as to greatly reduce their use. Until the rich are willing to give up on their greenhouse gas spewing perk perks, it’s not hard to see why dull normals can be persuaded that climate change is a con.

The Green types are even less honest in discussing the impact of climate-saving policies on many workers. The talk up new green jobs. But most people do not want to be thrown out of work (or face such worsened employment conditions that their current employment becomes close to untenable) and then scramble to remake themselves. Even if they come out economically whole in the end, they face a great deal of stress and income pressure in between. And if they are carrying debt, that could mean bankruptcy, selling their house, or other major upheaval. Let us not forget that stress is bad
for your health and your relationships. The costs extend beyond the purely financial.

Those around long enough remember the promised benefits of NAFTA. Americans were told it would create new jobs. In fact, NAFTA shrank employment. The other flavor of happy talk around globalization is that everyone winds up net ahead, so policies can be devised to take from the winners and share with the losers. But I have yet to see any Robin Hoods in senior positions in government. The fallback to that is to blame those who wound up on the bad end of policy changes as deplorables, unwilling to move where jobs are (as if they can magically land them in cities where they have no contacts and have to front travel and lodging costs) To the extent there has been a policy response, it’s been “let them eat training” and only lately, poorly thought out protectionism.

Add to that, as social scientists have ascertained, the political center of gravity tends to move to the right in bad economic times. People are more concerned than ever with hanging on to what they have, which dovetails with conservative messaging. Some also wind up falling back on traditional structures like family and religious organizations. And since the 2008 crisis, those at the top have pulled away even as social safety nets have frayed and class mobility has collapsed. Intensified class and income disparity are not great foundations for advocating for or imposing costs on those lower in the food chain and expecting them to submit quietly.

Now it is not wrong to depict many in the so-called right of exploiting discontent of the downtrodden lower orders. But it should be obvious that they would not be able to do so if the supposed left were credibly attempting to watch their backs. And as we can see with climate change, the left has shown itself to be indifferent to the sacrifices it expects ordinary workers to make, and has done a terrible job of demanding even more from the carbon-hogging rich, much the less engaging in much more than virtue signaling displays themselves.

The spectacle of farmers’ protests against climate changes and environmental diversity polices spreading across Europe is reminiscent of the Gillet Jaunes protests….except the farmers collectively are crucial suppliers and at least for now also seem able to engage in collective action.

And despite the “Cooler heads will prevail” tone of the piece, recent headlines suggest EU officials are in considerable retreat. This seems particularly peculiar since members of the pink paper’s comment section maintain that farmers were consulted before various measures were proposed. The protests and the policy changes suggest otherwise….or alternatively, if they were “consulted,” they weren’t much listened to. These are from the Financial Times:

Brussels bows to farmers’ protests by slashing environmental targets February 6

EU backs down on agricultural emissions after farmers’ protests February 5

EU leaders pledge more concessions to appease angry farmers February 1

Brussels struggles to placate farmers as far right stokes protests January 25

We have the conundrum in the EU, which I don’t pretend to understand, of substantial farm subsidies, on the order of €60 billon a year, yet the Financial Times agrees that most farmers find it hard to get by:

Some other sectors suggest farmers have always been coddled by the EU. Yet in all but the largest enterprises, farming at the best of times involves big risks and meagre rewards. Farmers say that in recent years input and borrowing costs have soared thanks to inflation and the war in Ukraine. Margins have been squeezed by retailers trying to hold down prices in the cost of living crisis. And they complain of being undercut by imports, including Ukrainian products as the EU has — rightly — thrown open its doors to support Kyiv’s economy.

Some of this may be due to the EU having higher standards for food production than the US. Some of the subsidies are to support exports. But many farmers are in the uncomfortable position of being laborers on their own plantations.

Despite acknowledging that many farmers are under enough duress that they are in no mood to take more, the pink paper exhibits elite disconnect:

As with other parts of the green transition, Brussels and EU states need to find ways to hold firm to the overall goals while offsetting the impact on the most vulnerable groups — by phasing in measures over time, exempting smaller farms, or offering targeted support.

Given the importance of food security, moreover, a broader debate is needed on where in the supply chain the costs of going green should fall: on farmers, on taxpayers through even higher subsidies, or on consumers and the food and retail industry.

At least the Financial Times does not resort to the insulting US “having a conversation”. But this is what it amounts to. In the end, the fact that the farmers have already forced a considerable walkback shows that at least for now, like bankers, they know they have sufficient control of socially critical resources to not be pushed around, and even demand concessions.

One way that might…might..force a bit more realism is conjoint analysis, where individuals are offered paired choices to reveal what their real preferences are. Here, having experts and then the media serve up in concrete terms the implicit choices being made might instill a smidge more realism and importantly, fear. Instead of bloodlessly talking about what a X degree increase in 15 years looks like, show a series of expected results, particularly local ones, if that happens, versus what the results are if the increase is only some smaller level. Then if most agree they would rather not have X, but some less destructive Y (still making clear that lesser evil is still evil), show them further what options they have to get there. If we are going to play the “markets and choices” game, the time is long past when 50,000 foot happy talk is adequate.

And while on the topic of the need for more realisim, consider the next part of the Financial Times story:

With the number of EU farms falling due to consolidation as younger generations sell up, more private capital probably needs to be attracted into farming — as is happening, for example, in the US — which can invest in technology and reap economies of scale.

Some governments will fret about rural areas emptying out, increasing the burden on housing and services in cities. Yet, given the difficulty of making a living from farming today, turning farms into more stable businesses owned by companies that can afford to invest might just help to keep more people on the land.

Huh? First, “more technology” likely includes “more fertilizer” when the US is finding that intensive use of nitrogen fertilizers results in toxic nitrates, which are producing cancer cluster in the Corn Belt. And even though Russia has been blamed for tight fertilizer supplies (in fact, the cause is sanctions and the refusal of the West to exempt the Russian agricultural bank from sanctions so lower-income countries can make purchases), ammonia production is highly energy intensive and ammonia plants in Europe and the UK have been closing as a result. From an written answer to a question posed to the EU Commission in 2022:

Half of European ammonia production plant closed

Spiralling gas prices have caused a decline in European ammonia production, thereby aggravating the shortage of fertilisers in Europe. CRU Group analysts estimate that around half of European ammonia production plant and 33% of nitrogen fertiliser plant has closed down as a result

The Norwegian producer Yara International ASA has reduced its ammonia production to around a third and other plants in Europe have also reduced or suspended their fertiliser production. According to analysts, it has now become much cheaper to import ammonia into Europe than to produce it. If gas prices remain high, further pushing up the cost of fertilisers, farmers will probably start to purchase less, limiting yields and cultivated areas.

Yours truly does not know how much, if any, capacity has been restored now that energy prices have moderated. But longer-term, higher energy prices, whether natively or as a result of higher taxes and fees, are necessary to deter use. Greener energy is not free; it has different resource costs, such as environmental degradation and toxic leftovers, than CO2-generating sources. Collectively, we need to go on an energy diet and no one wants to hear that.

But the more obvious sour note in the Financial Times extract above is that capital, which will almost certainly expect higher returns than owner-operators, aka farmers, do now, and can magically reduce labor content so as to also provide for better to pay to serfs, um, farm labor. Members of the Financial Times comments section were quick to call that out:


Yet, given the difficulty of making a living from farming today, turning farms into more stable businesses owned by companies that can afford to invest might just help to keep more people on the land.

Only someone who has never worked or even visited a farm would say this.
And would investment from a business rearrange the seasons to consistent units of work that can be evenly distributed across the year and be paused for holidays?
Stop pipes from bursting overnight?
Make calving and lambing occur only during weekday, working hours?
No salaryman will do the work required of a farmer.

A.J. Maher

Well we all know the enormous contribution Agri business has made to the building of European civilisation…Oh no, .. wait.

It is also a display of touching naivety to think that, once family farming has been taken over by corporate farming, the demands for subsidy will disappear. Business will leach off the taxpayer far more efficiently than the “patrons” ever could. In that respect at least, business is already far outperforming the traditional family farm sector as it sucks up the Lions share of subsidies.

There comes a point when Liberal economics becomes a pathology. This editorial is an exhibition of that pathology….

Humans have a tendency to go on tilt when faced only with unattractive alternatives. But the pretense that not acting is not tantamount to a choice increase the odds that outcomes will not just be bad, but the worst.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Mikel

    “Let them eat bitcoin farms…”

    That would be a nice summation of what the masters of disasters think.
    It does make it easy to say: There can’t be too much of a climate problem if they aren’t worried about that totally unnecessary, energy consuming scam.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Underscored by Uncle Joe’s DoJ refusal to pursue the Bankman-Fried campaign contribution trail, which was deeply corrupt and extensive. As Yves says, it’s impossible to take these people seriously if they can’t/won’t ban Bitcoin, or bring down pols on the take from the “industry.”

    2. New_Okie

      I recently watched Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, where 10 years post Apocalypse a sliver of humanity was surviving…in downtown San Francisco. Driving cars. And they were facing a crisis: They desperately needed electricity so they could throw dance parties and use the radio.

      Which is funny to me because you would think that without civilization, humans would quickly be forced to gather where the food is, ie not in a city.

      Perhaps this is really how our elites think. Perhaps it is unthinkable to them that their virtuous policies could result in the collapse of farm output or the loss of a nation’s food security because the fact that you need farms to get most food is kind of overlooked. Food magically appears, and anyhow there is ironically no need for agriculture in The Garden because one can always buy more from The Jungle.

      Or maybe there is an effort underway to consolidate ownership of farmland. Certainly Bill Gates has been buying up farmland at quite a clip, and one imagines he has some kind of technoutopian/dystopian plan for it, probably involving, as Yves has said, lots of fertilizer ( see ) So maybe putting the little guy out of business is a feature, not a bug.

      1. Kouros

        You described every single dystopian movie/TV series made in the US….

        My pet peeve is the amountof candles they always seem to have to consume, no sweat. Without beehives in sight, or petroleum products to speak of…

        Mad Max

  2. flora

    Thanks for this post.
    Your last quote from a FT story sure sounds like an effort to push small farmers off the land. (Gosh, the younger ones are selling up and moving off the land, we have no idea why.) (my paraphrase)
    So the answer is Big Ag farming by Big Ag companies. For profits.
    That’s my take about what’s really behind a lot of this, cloaking itself in the virtue camouflage of saving the climate.

    Mitigation efforts are important. This effort looks to me like a land grab by Big Ag. For “our own good.” right. / my 2 cents


    Facing farm protests, EU eases demands in 2040 climate proposal

    And from Jimmy Dore some pithy commentary about the EU farmers’ protests. utube, ~15 minutes

    They’re Fighting Back & NOT Giving In To The World Economic Forum!

    1. FredW

      Thanks for the Jimmy Dore link! That farmer’s speech and the following discussion lays it out in an easily digestible chunk.

    2. Pym of Nantucket

      YES. Hypocrisy everywhere you look in this issue means to me most efforts here are about “fixing” a different problem then the people doing God’s Work actually say. Of course it frustrates the architects of the narrative monopoly that unwashed farmers have figured out they won’t be needed in this New Deal. You don’t actually need a PhD in economics to see the wealth distribution is getting more and more lopsided the more “progress” we make. This kind of “left” is “right” from what I can see. Good ol’ bait and switch.

  3. Alena Shahadat

    A couple of years back, in Czech Republic, I have visited a friend’s small farm. He showed me his tractor I think it was a new Renault, blue, plastic all over.. He said : look, EU is pushing us to borrow money every two years or so, to buy these new machines, that only last two years before they start breaking down. And before we finish repaying the loan….

  4. Revenant

    There’s a lot that is broken in farming in the UK.

    Take the related issues (as some tell it) of new entrants and external capital and modernisation. Most of the issues come down to tax.

    1) New entrants to farming other than be inheritance of the family farm are hampered because land prices are high (£7k-£14 per acre!). Why are land prices high? Because of subsidies (underpinning a modest yield even for landlords rather than active farmers) and inheritance tax relief on agricultural land, even for landlords, and in parallel on business property. James Dyson has invested his billions in becoming the largest owner of land in England as an individual after the Queen because it shelters his fortune from inheritance tax with a guaranteed modest yield, the chance of investment returns from improving his farm business, rock solid asset values in a secure legal environment for borrowing etc.

    2) modernisation for investment is disincentivised because capital allowances (depreciation charges that are available for tax relief) have been cut and cut since they were introduced in the 1950’s and now are at 3% per annum on a reducing balance basis for buildings and structures including earthworks. So build a reservoir or a state of the art dairy for £1m and you can only shelter £30k of income from tax with the capital allowances.

    Family farms lack big cash reserves so they borrow. At 8% per annum, that £1m investment requires £80k of new margin to be generated to cover interest and a further say £50k of post-tax profit to repay the loan over 20 years. But if your tax rate is 40%, the pretax profit needs to be £83k to cover capital repayments and so the total new margin from the investment needs to be £163k annually. Capital allowances improve this slightly, you can shelter £30k so the pretax profit needs to be £30k+(50-30)/0.6= £30k+£33k = £66k to cover capital repayments and the £80k to cover interest, so £143k. But that is a 14% yield required from the investment before any net profit is generated for the farmer and he has saddled himself with a 20 year loan! He would need a 20% return (£200k net margin) to make 6% net profit after financing.

    Whereas if the capital allowances regime was more generous, a 12% allowance on the £1m would shelter £120k of profit annually (initially, declines as un-depreciated balance declines) and his interest costs would shelter another £80k. His £200k net margin would enable him to pay the loan off at £120k per annum, I.e. in half the time, and then have a 20% yield after ten years, or conversely give him a 12% net profit on the project for the first 8+ years.

    Corporate farms would have a lower tax rate (19-25%) so they can afford investments that tax outs beyond the reach of family farms because of the meanness of UK capital allowance regime.

    And they wonder why UK family farms are not bought and sold by actual farmers and are not investing in modernising their capital stock!

    1. Jokerstein

      James Dyson has invested his billions in becoming the largest owner of land in England as an individual after the Queen

      Er, which queen would that be?

      1. Revenant

        Old habits die hard.
        Unlike new kings.

        To be fair, he remains the largest landowner after the Queen.

    2. Bugs

      Thanks, this is a brilliant comment that helps me understand the nub of the problem. I’m surrounded by family and medium sized corporate farms in my neck of the woods in Normandy and it’s the dairy farmers with around 100-200 head who are basically living hand to mouth. The local potato farmer seems to be doing alright and others have started following his example. Where there was wheat and flax is now potatoes. And of course, forage and at least one hectare for sugar beets so that they qualify to spray glyphosate all over the place.

      Now who’s helping the government write these tax laws again?

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Bugs.

        I visit Normandy a couple of times a year, being a big racing fan amongst other things, and wonder, too, but know that BlackRock is one of them. BlackRock and McKinsey are also involved with pension, ahem, reform.

    3. Colonel Smithers

      A big thank you. This should be a post along with Plutonium Kun’s on big ag using small farmers as proxies over nitrates and other restrictions.

    4. clarky90

      The GAZA population are the forced, “early adopters” of The Green New Deal

      (1) Bomb/destroy the hospitals…..
      (2) Destroy the farmers and farms…..
      (3) With-hold or block delivery of food….
      (4) Target the children and women….. No reproduction or future generations…
      (5) Blow up schools and Universities…
      (6) Assassinate/imprison the journalists and reporters… (wikileaks)
      (7) Poison the water supply…
      (8) Ban deliveries of petroleum products for cooking and electrical generation….
      (9) Censor Worldwide discussion. Censor Worldwide criticism…..
      (10) Attack/de-fund the nay sayers….
      (11) Surround with fences and surveillance….
      (12) Employ troops and paramilitary police…..
      (13) Lie lie lie lie. Then lie about lying. Then lie about lying about lying….

      (14) Orchestrate a Get-Rich-Quick realestate frenzy, for the impending McMansion “opportunities”, with “ocean views” along the coastline of the dreamed of, now uninhabitated, desolate, Gaza…..

      Present Day Gaza is what the “Gaza for the rest-of-us” future is increasingly looking like to me. It is a workshop. I see it in my own town. Do not believe what they say (the Green new deal blah blah blah.. EVs….), but what they do (private jets……. beach side McMansions…..)

      It will be “heaven on Earth”, but not for you and me. It is a very exclusive country club….. marinas, lawns, gardens, golf courses…… airports for the private jets….. However, we are not in it.

        1. clarky90

          (15) Destroy housing, forcing people to live in tents, or unsheltered on the streets….. unprotected from the weather and unprovoked violence……

          Where I live, houses are unaffordable to buy (especially in the main centers, where the work/education is)….. for the poor, the working class, the young, and even (now), the middle class. AirBNB has removed much of “our” rental properties, so rentals are difficult to find, and if found, the rent is exorbidantly expensive, forcing many to live in cars/vans/campers.

          “Clever” Investors……… a pox on them all…..

  5. jsn

    There are various middlemen all along the way between “farmers” and the “market”, all of which turn market power against those beneath them in the supply chain.

    This sector would be a good place to look for capital investment as a public utility if the intent is really to have more efficient resource use and reward the work of those who actually make it happen.

    Looking to protect “the most vulnerable” is a way of avoiding considering everyone else your policy puts at risk.

    1. digi_owl

      And even those that are supposed to be for the farmer by the farmer end up being captured by MBA types in the long run, helped along by a few big players that may well be more industrial agri CEOs than farmers.

  6. digi_owl

    The ongoing issue are that the greens are urban PMC and STEM types with little understanding of the logistics that fuel their lifestyles.

    They have this unduly romantic notion of farming involving free range animals and sun touched farmers, not manure, grease and animals stuck in their pens for eternity.

    But the other problem is that big industrial agri use the small time self-employed farmer as a political shield.

    Never mind that for many farmers it is emotional because they may well be the latest in a long family history living off that land.

    1. Revenant

      Greens are rarely STEM types. That is the problem. They look neither at the boundary conditions nor the path dependency of any of their problems.

  7. John

    There is also outright bad information being pushed that demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of how Industrial Food works.

    We now have anti gardening policies, because gardening causes greenhouse gas?? So a guy with a shovel, who grows plants 15 feet from his kitchen is generating more greenhouse gas than huge tractors, massive chemical use, and long supply chains that involve trucking long distances, packing materials, refrigeration, big box stores …

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      they can get away with that…in the USA at least…because the vast majority of the people have never set foot on an actual farm…large or small….save maybe the tourist “farms” that ring places like austin.

      and as an anecdatapoint on that: perusing “Farmers Only” dating site….and i am the only one ive found so far who appears to be doing actual yeoman farming.
      just about every woman on there “loves horses”,lol…
      a handful appear to own ranches….and lots of rodeo and barrel race types.
      so no one on there is actually growing anything besides beef(and all of those appear to have inherited the ranch bidness.
      its all about country dancing and sitting around a bonfire and feeding the horses.

      me, i just about damaged myself for the day transplanting 2 big clumps of blackberries from where i decided i didnt want them, to where they’ll be out of the way.
      ran black pipe irrigation yesterday(a 3/4″ black plastic pipe with a cap on the end and small holes drilled where the berries go.)
      once reestablished, they’ll produce forever.
      that’s “Farming”, in my book.

      1. Kouros

        Heck, they dont even do gardening on a small plot, except the three pots with tomatoes, peper, and basilon their balconies.

        I have to repot three bamboo huge pots burried in the ground with fugitive roots, and I dread it.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          soak w full strength vinegar if you dont want the escaped rogue roots to make new problems.

          if its a runner bamboo.

      2. farmboy

        Ok, amfortas, this made me guffaw! I’ve perused the current batch of dating sites and yes your observation about horse lovers of the female persuasion is true. It’s about the cowboy life, it’s hilarious!
        As for the article and EU efforts, IIRC it’s about reducing pesticide use by 50% which has to come about eventually. Applied technology is key, plant breeding is crucial, stopping soil erosion has to happen. The plow was the most destructive invention ever and reversing those affects is near term necessary. Succession of family farms is more than a kitchen table issue, but is treated as such. Corporate farms are only capable of operating high value, high return farms. 95% of ag doesn’t make enough of a return to attract capital. Production ag clings to the romantic notion that they are somehow champions of a cultural necessity, not only food production. All my neighbors are generational farmers with their own folklore. The question becomes, “Can we keep the school open?” This is life on the margins with the political might homogenized upward. Make no mistake, farm lobbies worldwide have tremendous influence and know how to use it.
        How do we undo the damage already done? How do we adjust on the ground practices to reduce toxicity? It seems we are backing into the future, becoming more incoherent.

  8. John9

    Sounds to me like Europe farmers are in need of a Jubilee. The powers that be may really want them to be enserfed or enslaved a bit more. Thank you Michael Hudson for explaining this process so well.

  9. King

    This post pairs well with the previous one on concentration and consolidation. I am reminded of the Dutch farmer protests. They import grain for feed and export meat. The mass of the first being more than the later their countrymen were starting to take issue with the difference.

  10. Amfortas the Hippie

    working my way through.
    FTA:” But many farmers are in the uncomfortable position of being laborers on their own plantations”

    Yeah,lol. ive been working towards a working farm for 30 years…and as ive said, given my disability, sunk cost is no longer a fallacy….however, we haven’t bought any meat besides bacon since…like…at least november.

    FTA:” As with other parts of the green transition, Brussels and EU states need to find ways to hold firm to the overall goals while offsetting the impact on the most vulnerable groups — by phasing in measures over time, exempting smaller farms, or offering targeted support.

    Given the importance of food security, moreover, a broader debate is needed on where in the supply chain the costs of going green should fall: on farmers, on taxpayers through even higher subsidies, or on consumers and the food and retail industry. ”

    this is exactly where France screwed up…virtue signalling policy that targets those who are least likely to be able to shoulder the burden, while the rich and powerful not only dont hafta pay their share, they actually come out ahead from their ETF’s or whatever exotic investment vehicles that are larded on top of these policies.
    its let them eat cake.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      i cant access the article, nor the comments…so thanks for providing a couple of the latter, especially.
      i’m in agreement with both of them….more Big Ag is NOT the answer…
      a casual survey of ag in the USA over the last 50+ years should kill in its cradle any idea that “efficiencies of scale” will somehow obviate large subsidies.
      i mean,lol…why do we have so much corn and soy that we hafta invent things to do with them?
      answer, because conagra, et alia, have maximalised their blood funnel into USDA.

      my youngest told me he’s supposed to be brainstorming a gov or econ topic on which he is to give a big report.
      i immediately started talking about Parity Pricing for Agriculture….sent a bunch of links…and the wiki for Cuba’s Special Period for good measure.
      that right there is how you make the food supply robust and resilient.
      a billion small farms…not 4 or 5 gigantic ones.
      monocropping and cafo’s are the stupidest way to do it….unless you’re a billionaire “farmer”.
      and ammonia fertiliser is not the only source of N….manure is yer friend.
      i often think about what say…san antonio would look like with horse drawn public transport…including, of course, a system of managing the resulting manure as a public asset. Paris did it centuries ago.
      of course, youd need to outlaw, under penalty of death, or antarctica, the persistent herbicides that make the manure unusable…

      1. jrkrideau

        .manure is yer friend.
        i often think about what say…san antonio would look like with horse drawn public transport…including, of course, a system of managing the resulting manure as a public asset. Paris did it centuries ago.

        But like cars, you can overdo a good thing.
        The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894 .

        It was amazing just how dependent much of the world was on real “horse power” in the 19th C.

  11. Hastalavictoria

    Just a quick note From Spain The protests are gaining momentum here.

    Travelling to Alicante from Murcia yesterday,18.00 Two access roads were blocked with huge tailbacks

  12. Amfortas the Hippie

    ive got it bookmarked on the other laptop…but the other day was a twitter vid of a farmer in some little French town backing his manure spreader up to the doors of the police station and unloading manure into the building.
    them folks know how to protest!

    1. wilroncanada

      Just think of the farm equipment salesman, “We stand behind everything we sell…uh, except our manure spreaders.”

  13. jefemt

    Great post- thank you!

    I received a great long read on grass-fed beef movement the other day that I shared with a third Gen cattleman- family friend- very saavy guy— there is a trend there with folks in AG, huh?

    Here’s the long read, and his reaction:

    Are Billionaires The Future of American Grassfed Beef? | Civil Eats

    “I am not holding my breath. There is a niche for grass fed but due at double the price of USDA choice feedlot produced beef it will remain an item that plays to health conscience elite with big checkbooks. I have eaten a decent amount of grass fed at times and know it to be healthier than feedlot corn fed but for the benefit of taste and my wallet – I have decided to croak a few days earlier (maybe) and keep getting my 88% lean ground beef at Costco! It’s complicated but if you figure that a ranch can produce year round 350# of production per head versus a feedlot at 1260# – how do you overcome that differential? Also how many Ag guys you know can or are willing to write a check for a ranch given what they cost today and if they did it would likely not be in Montana (winter country), since cold equates to less annual production – but then they couldn’t rub elbows with gentrified elite in places like Jackson Hole.”

    I think that we are still feeding the world is a minor miracle, running on fumes and bailing wire. Gumby a LOT of suffering.

    I am trying to do little with less, but I do feel I might be one of a very few of us on the face of Mother Erf, and less in a first -world nation-state is probably still waay too much. .

  14. marku52

    In other news Taylor Swift takes a 13 minute private jet ride to avoid being on the surface of the planet with us pukes.
    It gets hard to take the climate seriously when the rich obviously aren’t worried. Obama buying a beach house says “What sea level rise”

    After all, they’ve lied about everything else haven’t they? Only the shrinking glaciers and the moving USDA crop zones say otherwise.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      i finally went and sampled her music on utube.
      i wouldnt chase her away if she wanted to be a bartendress/yard art out here, but man…she’s the epitome of a useless eater, who happens to be nice to look at….and ergo, becomes a billionairess.
      i think of how much training she’d need if she showed up as a wastrel out here,lol…and needed to earn her room and board.
      (there are, of course, negotiable shortcuts…but we wont get into them, here)

    2. steppenwolf fetchit

      Obama probably has so much money that he can afford to throw a beach house away in a few decades from now in return for the beach house pleasure in the meantime. He probably has an after-the-sealevel rise retreat-home for his heirs and descendants, in the tradtion of Bushes – in – Paraguay.

  15. Craig Dempsey

    OK, here is a relatively optimistic look at possible pending collapse from Population Connection.

    Now here is a more sober look at pending collapse, that says it has already begun, by Dr. Jem Bendell. Read a review of his book, Breaking Together, including a link to a free PDF of the book. If you are interested in an interview with Bendell on Richard Archer’s Buddha at the Gas Pump, they provide a two-hour overview of his theory here. The subtitle of Bendell’s book says it all: A Freedom-Loving Response to Collapse.

  16. ddt

    Former tangerine farmer in Greece here. The bit about export subsidies… Those go to the merchants/middlemen unless you have such a big operation that you market your own produce. And no citrus farmer I know does. Politics killed the local coops; where they survived, farmers have actually done ok.

    Funny, olive oil prices are thru the roof partly due to environmental reasons (month-long heat wave in Greece last July did its thing) Those aren’t going away.

  17. Susan the other

    Sovereignty is nothing more than consensus and cooperation. But as such, as luck would have it, sovereignty creates a very powerful authority. Why else did all the feudal princes bribe all their vassals and serfs? What else is new? This public authority can back a token of currency usually referred to as money because the token is backed by trust and its debt is guaranteed. The puzzle is why this honorable guarantee, this trust, maintains goodwill – but it does. It is a moral code as old and resilient as DNA itself. It all makes sense, especially on a small local level. I’d think that local “money” could, therefore, always be manifestly guaranteed. So localizing the economy might be one way of indemnifying itself and its currency, and making its currency better than gold locally and thus maintaining its economic survival. Can’t eat gold. Not to mention that gold is the ultimate absurd fiat, well, maybe second only to crypto coin. And etc.

  18. Kfish

    My family are beef farmers. A well-run farm will return 2% on capital in this area. That’s before taxes, inflation and bushfires. The only way in is to inherit, or to farm subsidies, or to have a partner with an ‘off-farm’ job.

    What kind of ‘entrepreneur’ would settle for that paltry sum?

  19. PlutoniumKun

    Late to this, but I would reiterate my comments a few days ago that I don’t think that the Farmers protests are in any way organic.

    This is not to say they are not suffering – clearly regulations (none of which are new, but many decades old ones are coming to their ‘can’t put off yet again’ time) are having an impact, but the biggest impact on farming has been the direct and indirect impact of energy costs.

    But anyone who thinks this is grassroots hasn’t read any farming media lately. Its gradually been taken over by big financial interests and is now home to every extreme right wing meme going, with a particular focus on ‘the Greens are coming to take all your money and make you live in a mud hut’ type article. Climate Change denial and active lying about health and environmental issues is the norm.

    There are two processes at work here, imo. One is what I suspect is a deliberate targeting of farming communities for sustained astroturfing to defend big business interests. The second is one thats been going on for years, but has reached critical proportions, but is essentially the take over over mainstream farming representative groups by big, capital intensive farmers. Medium sized farmers are being squeezed out, while small farmers (such as upland sheep breeders) are now wholly dependent on EU/Government handouts (and are generally remarkably ungrateful for this), while big farmers are completely wrapped up in a capital intensive system based on chemical/energy inputs and the importation of cheap food for animals. The worst of this is in the dairy/beef sector which has gone completely out of control in terms of producing too much unhealthy food with obvious implications for the environment which are clearly visible to anyone who takes a walk through typical farming country in the mid-temperate latitudes.

    While I’ve no doubt there are genuine ‘ordinary’ farmers in these protests, they should not be mistaken for anything but part of an ongoing and very successful campaign by Big Ag and rancher farmers to suppress policies that cost them money, including many which are absolutely vital for protecting ground and surface water, increasing food quality, and addressing climate change.

  20. elviejito

    I refer back to Jem Bendell’s “Breaking Together” during these kinds of discussions. Not optimistic reading, but realistic. Plus a free PDF or audiobook on his website if you’re so inclined.

  21. Mira Martin-Parker

    I absolutely love your observation that, “[I]t is not wrong to depict many in the so-called right of exploiting discontent of the downtrodden lower orders. But it should be obvious that they would not be able to do so if the supposed left were credibly attempting to watch their backs. And as we can see with climate change, the left has shown itself to be indifferent to the sacrifices it expects ordinary workers to make..”

    This point summarizes the attitude of San Francisco’s supposed “left.” A political movement with NO GENUINE SYMPATHY for the interest of the working majority and the small businesses that are sustained by them, is simply not left in any meaningful sense of the term. All one has to do is look at the material conditions of working-class people in the Bay Area to see that they have little to no political representation and haven’t for quite some time. Yet we are constantly and irrationally told by our media that our political class is “extreme left.” This is clear BS, and local “alternative” media goes along with this absurd narrative for the most part, since they’re invested in it as well.

Comments are closed.