In the Dark Corners....
I think it’s time I dive in to the topic at hand, with our new President. It’s too easy to make us go away.
So the AgriMystery isn’t just about what farmers do, it’s how does farming creep into your life, every day. It’s also the other more important issue, why does it matter? If you find this blog post interesting, please spread the word. I will also be starting a YouTube channel to go along with this blog, and a podcast as well.
On January 25, 2017 the USDA was silenced by the Administration, as NASA was silenced during the GW Bush Administration, but this is worse. The USDA, the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, were ordered silenced to the public. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is only mentioned in an historical context on Whitehouse.gov, and I couldn’t reach it through several browsers this morning at 6:30 a.m. not usually a busy time on government servers. This while the Dakota Access Pipeline is in the news and the Water Protectors are braving nasty weather protecting their rights, and their water supply.
If we are going to protect our food, water, air and planet, we all need to understand how our planet works, and our food system. That’s unfortunately become the AgriMystery for most Americans. They have little connection to the planet, so everything is put in monetary terms.
Farming has also built our language and our culture. I’ve long been fascinated by the culture of the farmer, not just what is grown, but how it is used, practiced and shared. AgriMystery will also be a place where the life of the farmer, past and present, will be shared, so that it will move into the future.
What does the Silence of the Land have to do with you? The fact that the Secretary of Agriculture was the last cabinet post named shows me how important it is to the man in the Oval Office. Statements made by the nominee reflected only agriculture as part of our international trade concerns. The plan to divest from the TPP and to change NAFTA also leaves thousands of grain farmers, cattlemen and even florists will change their business plans, perhaps even put them out of business. The COOL Program (Country of Original Labeling) provision that was put in place more than a decade ago, has been scrapped, and the National Organic Program standards are being re-worked, yet the USDA is not supposed to speak to the public about these issues. COOL was finally repealed in 2016, this is more than TEN years after it was passed, and never implemented. This type of manipulation of information is only possible because the public has become so complacent that they don’t even think about how their food gets to them.
One example of how important the USDA has to do with importation of livestock. There is a push, and has been for quite some time, to bring foreign beef into this country. They don’t want to bring the meat in, they want to import the cattle. The problem? Hoof and Mouth Disease, a highly contagious and economically devastating disease that is common in many parts of the world. We have not had an outbreak in this country since the 1960’s, and ranchers and producers want to keep it that way. The COOL would require packagers to put the country of origin on the meat packages, a step which many countries have voluntarily done. However, the lobbyists in the DC have succeeded in halting this program, and consumers go on making decisions based on incomplete information.
Oddly enough, sheep farmers cannot make a living in this country because they cannot get a fair price for their meat or wool. International shipping of meat and wool, along with trade bargains, have undercut the ranchers and farmer of America. Shoppers looking for lamb at the grocery store see Australian lamb, New Zealand lamb, or other imported meats. Finding American raised lamb is very difficult, and best done by finding a local sheep farmer, and bypassing the grocery store. I realize that the USDA has a dual mandate, to provide healthy food for the American food, but it is also charged with assisting and promoting American agriculture, not just in trade policy but at home as well.
These hush orders were put in place on government departments that deal with the effects of climate change. Climate Change is a real thing, and how we adjust to it is critical. It’s not just an inconvenience, it’s critical that we find different ways to grow, live and basically survive in this new environment. In order to do that we need to understand “the land” and these departments are the ones that actually have the real facts, not alterative ones. We have no alternative planet. We have no alternative to eating unless you’re up for an IV, so we need to understand where we fit in. I will try to be your guide through this “Mystery of Farming and Life.”
While the USDA hush order has been lifted, the one for the National Park Service and other parts of the Department of Interior have not nor has the one on NASA or NOAA. Thank you to be brave government employees who are creating alternative contacts so that the truth can be spoken, or written. It’s critical that we get the truth, and not even the media is enough to get that information out there, as they are guided by their advertisers. Connect with producers, non-profits and other organizations that work first hand with our food, our planet, and our citizens. You can’t afford to coast, you have to work to find these organizations. Luckily the Internet makes that possible, for now.
If you have a question you’d like addressed, please let me know. I’m at Farm@hamesaxle.com, Thanks. Pat