Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Riches of Homesteading

"The reader may look back over every monetary convulsion he may be able to remember, and he will find that in all of them the agricultural community came through with less disaster than any other interest. Wheat grows and corn ripens though all the banks in the world may break, for seed-time and harvest is one of the divine promises to man, never to be broken, because of its divine origin. They grew and ripened before banks were invented, and will continue to do so when banks and railroad bonds shall have become obsolete." Ten Acres Enough by Edmund Morris 1872.

True enough if the agricultural community stays out of debt and lives frugally. Not so with farms mortgaged and farmers working a full time, off farm, job to pay for the farm. Homesteading is different than agri-business farming.

What's the difference?
The homestead is a self-sufficient economic unit based on a use-economy. The Homesteader meets his own needs first and sells the surplus of production with the intent of realizing a profit over expenses. The labour of the homesteader is not a commodity to be purchased, and thus the homesteader is a freeman. The Homesteader learns to live within his means, and so he remains free.

In contrast, the agri-business farm is a mono-culture, money making venture based on a capitalist economy. It specializes on infastructure, buildings and equipment to reduce manual labour and increase productivity. It solves problems with money. Farm labour is placed on the ledger as an expense and share holders must be paid along with the bank interests, before profit is realized. The farmer's needs are met out of the surplus, if there is any. Its no wonder most farmers are working off farm jobs to pay for the farm expenses. He is enslaved to the farm.

I read a report in CBC news on Thanksgiving weekend (October in Canada), that although agricultural expenses have risen over 25% this year (grain, fuel and fertilizer), food prices were holding steady at last year's prices. Farmer's were cutting margins in order to sell their produce. The consumers wanted the cheapest food possible. With farmer's working off farm to support the farm expenses and consumers demanding food at last year's prices -- our system cannot support itself. Just like the world stock market, the farm market will eventually hit bottom.

So you shop at the store and see that the cost of rice and flour has risen dramatically in price and all food stocks are up. The increase didn't go to your local farm. It went into the coffers of agri-business, marketing boards and the mulitnational food and chemical industry.

The key to correcting the injustice is to grow an organic garden and buy local food that hasn't gone through the hands of agri-business.

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