Joel Salatin on sustainable agriculture without government

Reason.com’s Baylen Linnekin posts an outstanding interview with Ag rebel Joel Salatin. Among the highlights:

Salatin on making money without government subsidies…

In general, we run the farm like a business instead of a welfare recipient and we adhere to historically-validated patterns. For example, instead of buying petroleum fertilizer, we self-generate fertilizer with our own carbon and manures through large scale composting, which we turn with pigs (pigaerators) rather than machinery. Letting the animals do the work takes the capital-intensive depreciable infrastructure out of the equation and creates profitability that is size-neutral.

Nature does not transport carbon very far, so neither do we. We practice an integrated system rather than segregated. Animals are near their feedstuffs so that the manures can fertilize the plants that grew the food. The numbers are kept low enough for the farm’s ecology to metabolize the manure and compost rather than it becoming a toxic problem due to over-abundance. The farm runs on real time solar energy via photosynthetic activity that creates decomposable biomass. Perennials rather than annuals form the basis of our program. Perennials build soil;  annual deplete soil. American ag policy only subsidizes annuals.

We control health and pathogenicity by complex multi-speciated relationships through symbiosis and synergy. Portable shelters for livestock, along with electric fencing, insure hygienic and sanitary housing and lounging areas, not to mention clean air, sunshine, and exercise. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations are always mono-speciated, filled with fecal particulate, and deny sunshine and exercise. You could not design a more toxic system.

On the similarities between the government’s wars on drugs and sustainable ag…

It was the law school at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell’s school in Lynchburg, and now run by his sons. The reason I went out on that limb there was partly penance for my two great aunts who devoted their lives to the Women’s Temperance Union and certainly played a part in creating Prohibition nearly a century ago. They are both deceased now, but I think it’s important to realize that their religious outrage over alcohol created the legal precedent to allow the federal government to come between my lips and my throat. In essence, to tell me what I could and could not ingest.

That such a precedent would morph in our day into illegal raw milk, homemade pickles, and home cured charcuterie certainly never crossed their minds. But this is why we must be very careful when we ask for the government to remedy our outrage. Outrageous behavior, also known as the lunatic fringe, is the seed bed of innovation and creativity. A government that can take away alcohol can also take away heritage food.

The drug war in the America is precisely like prohibition. I’ve never taken drugs and don’t intend to, but I absolutely defend the right of someone to take them if they want. By the same token, I don’t eat McDonald’s food, but I vehemently defend the right of people to eat it. As soon as the government becomes the arbiter, by edict, of what we can and cannot ingest, the frenzy in the marketplace to gain concessionary privileges never ceases. Indeed, the incessant cry to demonize one thing over another, criminalize one food over another, thunders in the ears of politicians as businesses jockey for favors and indulgences from legislative priests.

The moment the government determines that you do not own yourself, that society owns your body, you give up all personal choice and autonomy. You are no longer a citizen, but a slave. Not a person, but a pawn.

On why a historical return to laws on trespass and strong property rights are best suited to deal with GMO’s, clean water, pollution, etc…

I do not believe we need laws regulating GMOs any more than we needed laws to regulate pollution. If historic trespass law had been properly administered, we would not have needed either the Environmental Protection Agency or the Clean Water Act. When you pour something in the river that crosses my boundary, you are liable for it. For sure, businesses that pollute should be held liable for the total cost of the clean up. If it bankrupts them, so be it. In fact, I would say that the corporate officers should be held personally liable for those violations.

The old adage “your fist ends at my nose” actually works for a lot of things. The first time Monsanto’s life form went across a fence and adulterated my plants, they should have been held liable for their fist hitting my nose. And I shouldn’t have to sue them; the district attorney should prosecute it just like a bank robbery or a murder. If that had been done, GMOs would never have been released on the planet to wreak the havoc they are currently wreaking.

Our culture has become such a pawn of these large interests that today, not only is Monsanto not liable, but the farmer whose plants become impregnated with Monsanto’s patented life forms is liable for the privilege of allowing the promiscuity to occur in his fields. It’s unspeakably outrageous. Why the libertarians and conservatives can’t understand what this blatant disregard for property rights is doing to our jurisprudence and the basic American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness I can’t fathom. We are supposed to be secure from trespass in our persons and property—that’s the whole point of warrants for search and seizure. Granting Monsanto the right to roam the countryside with its property and violate the security of land and persons is unconscionable in any functional civilization.

Read the rest of the interview here.

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One Response to "Joel Salatin on sustainable agriculture without government"

  1. Daniel Owsiany says:

    I like what Joel Salatin has to say…he’s an incredibly bright and common sense thinker/writer. I urge reading of his full interview. Right on Joel!

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