Showing posts with label Agriculture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Agriculture. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Have Another One

It seems the Senate is about to pass S 510. Maybe. It is about food safety (do you really believe that?) and the regulation of food products that could cause illness from contamination. According to what I consider overblown (for now) rhetoric it will be messing with home gardeners and legacy seed growers and collectors.

“If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.” ~Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health whistleblower
Now is that true? I haven't looked. But I doubt it. But suppose it is true. Is it unconstitutional? Of course not. Hemp/cannabis has been banned for a long time on health and safety grounds. Why not everything else? They have decades of precedents on their side.

Well what do you know? The Drug War justification works for ObamaCare and the TSA too. And now the control of plants. There is nothing the Drug War can't do.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A New Black Market

It its attempt to turn the USA into the USSR, Congress is proposing to outlaw legal farmer's markets.

What this will do is force anyone who produces food of any kind, and then transports it to a different location for sale, to register with a new federal agency called the “Food Safety Administration.” Even growers who sell just fruit and/or vegetables at farmers markets would not only have to register, but they would be subject inspections by federal agents of their property and all records related to food production. The frequency of these inspections will be determined by the whim of the Food Safety Administration. Mandatory “safety” records would have to be kept. Anyone who fails to register and comply with all of this nonsense could be facing a fine of up to $1,000,000 per violation.

I’ve bought food at several farmers markets for years and I have yet to meet any vendors who are fond of the government. I think it’s pretty safe to say that most vendors at farmers markets won’t go along with this. The problem will be that the people who run the farmers markets will be forced to make sure that vendors are “registered” with the government.
Funny thing is that not even the USSR was this stupid. Private sales of food were all that stood between many people in the Soviet Union and starvation. The private plots on State Farms kept the Soviets going for forty years. In America we will be limited to what we can produce ourselves or what the food cartel provides.

This is just another small step down the road to a fascist state. We are mesmerized by ownership of property when the real question these days is control. That was the argument between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941. Is the optimum socialist state based on ownership or control? Obviously the ownership socialists have lost out to the control socialists. It turns out control is better because it is easier to evade the rules. Being unable to cheat the rules or bribe some one to evade them adds a lot of friction to an economy. Of course control socialism inevitably leads to cartelization. Because big companies can scrape up more loose cash to influence the controllers.

Can the government keep the economy within its authorized channels? With the black market in America making up between 20% and 40% of the domestic economy, I don't see how. That does not mean they won't make further efforts to try.

However, we have to recognize that our economy was effectively nationalized with the Supreme Court's 1942 decision in Wickard v. Filburn and recently confirmed in Gonzales v. Raich. It seems that Progressives Rewrote the Constitution and now we are in a situation that is getting Progressively Worse.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dying To Punish White People

The economy of Zimbabwe is collapsing due to the policies of its President for Life Robert Mugabe.

In another sign of the turmoil, the government rejected a ruling by a regional court that demanded Zimbabwe stop seizing land from white farmers.

The government instead will speed up efforts to take land remaining in whites farmers' hands and redistribute it to black subsistence farmers, lands minister Didymus Mutasa said, according to the state-controlled newspaper, The Herald.

President Robert Mugabe's often-violent land reform has forced thousands of white farmers off prime agricultural land since 2000 and triggered a food crisis from a slump in farm production.

The Southern African Development Community's tribunal ruled Zimbabwe should allow 78 white commercial farmers to keep their farms, which had been targeted for expropriation. The Namibia-based court also said Zimbabwe should pay compensation to three farmers who already lost their land.

The tribunal, set up by 14 countries including Zimbabwe, can hear appeals from citizens but does not have power to enforce its rulings.

Zimbabwe once boasted one of Africa's most vibrant economies, with good health care and infrastructure built up after Mugabe won the first democratic elections in 1980. But the economy has collapsed since Mugabe began seizing white farmland in 2000, with runaway hyperinflation, mass unemployment and shortages of most major commodities, including gasoline and food.

Some 5.5 million Zimbabweans — half the population — face imminent starvation due to the food crisis that resulted from Mugabe's land redistribution, the United Nations says.
And that is only part of the collapse. Basic services such as clean water and sewage treatment are failing as well.
A cholera epidemic has killed hundreds across the country, and an anthrax outbreak has claimed three lives.

Meanwhile, the country's sewage and water facilities have collapsed, hospitals have closed and garbage has gone uncollected.

The government says cholera has killed 425 people and sickened more than 11,000 since August.

Harare, at the center of the epidemic, was without water Monday, after the state utility ran out of chemicals to treat the supply, The Herald reported.

Anthrax has killed two children and one adult in western Zimbabwe, and is threatening to wipe out at least 60,000 livestock, according to the British charity Save the Children. It said starvation was forcing people to eat infected meat.
Mugabe has always wanted a one party Marxist regime for Zimbabwe. He got his wish (although his rule is currently being contested). And the result is the usual. Mass murder. The experiment has been run numerous times. In the Soviet Union, in Pol Pot's Cambodia, in Mao's China. Taking the land from people who have the expertise to make it productive and famine, disease, and death always follow. Always. The funny (sad) thing is that Mugabe hates the white farmers and loves a long dead discredited white man. Karl Marx.

Mugabe is one of those who hates capital and proclaims his love for labor. No worries there. Capital has fled Zimbabwe (why stay where you are hated?) and labor is dying in the streets. Mugabe may have the dialectic down pat but materialism is fleeing.

This may have a good effect for the rest of Africa because it will teach them that a socialist economy is ultimately a death trap. If they are wise enough to learn.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hunger Stalks Iran

Yesterday I did a piece on the decline of the fortunes of Iran and its best buddy Hizballah No Deal. Today I got some news that fleshes out the story.

Since the 2008-09 marketing year began on June 1, Iran has bought more than one million tons of hard red winter wheat directly from the U.S., which is "a very large amount," said Bill Nelson, analyst for Wachovia Securities. The purchases mean at least 3% to 4% of domestic wheat exports for the marketing year will go to a country the U.S. hasn't done business with for more than a generation. Government sanctions don't prohibit U.S. agricultural exporters from doing business with Iran.
This is the first time since '81 - '82 that Iran has bought wheat from America. At that time it was under a million tons. This year's purchase is expected to run 5 million tons. So what happens when you have to buy food from your enemy to keep going? Obviously bellicosity has to decline. And you pull in your cats paws like Hizballah. No point in upsetting the grain cart when there are no other sellers. Another humiliation for the poor dears. It just points further to the Iranian Government's mismanagement of the Iranian economy. My guess is that drought is an excuse not a reason.

Investing in missiles and atomic bombs does not feed the hungry. Water projects should be taking priority.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Republicans For Hemp - A National First

Hemp is happening in North Dakota. The political landscape in North Dakota is interesting. One of North Dakota's US Senators, Byron Dorgan is a Democrat. Their other US Senator Kent Conrad is also a Democrat. Their only Representative, Earl Pomeroy is also a Democrat.

So who is this Republican spearheading hemp in what appears to be a very Democrat leaning state?

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson Monday signed the first two licenses issued by the state to grow industrial hemp. According to an Agriculture Department press release, the first license was issued to state Rep. David Monson (R-Osnabrock), the assistant majority leader who is also a farmer and strong proponent of industrial hemp. One other license has been issued, and 16 more applications have been submitted by would-be North Dakota hemp farmers.
A Republican State Representative. Interesting that the State House of Representatives is majority Republican in a state that leans Democrat on the national level.
"Rep. Monson has been the leader in developing the necessary legislation for North Dakota to legalize production of industrial hemp," Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said Monday. "It is fitting that he has the first license." The second license was granted to Wayne Hauge of Ray. "These two North Dakota producers have met all the requirements, including FBI background checks," Johnson said. "They have invested considerable time, money and effort to meet the letter and spirit of the law."

But although North Dakota has moved to make hemp farming legal, it remains illegal under federal law. Johnson and North Dakota would-be hemp farmers will seek registration from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but given the agency's hostile attitude toward hemp, that seems unlikely. Just last week, the DEA refused to waive the non-refundable annual $2,293 registration fee, despite Johnson's request that it do so.

While Johnson and the would-be hemp farmers may be going through the motions of seeking DEA approval to lay the basis for a later legal challenge, for now Johnson said he wants to try to reason with the agency.

"The rules require that a state license is not effective until the licensee receives a registration from DEA to import, produce or process industrial hemp," Johnson said. "I will meet with DEA officials about this matter in Washington early next week. I will ask for DEA's cooperation with our state program, and I will ask DEA to implement a reasonable process to allow North Dakota producers to grow industrial hemp."
I believe this is the first time since World War Two that any one has tried to go through the official procedures to grow hemp in America. For those of you with a high speed connection here is the WW2 US Department of Agriculture Hemp for Victory movie (about 14 minutes running time).

The North Dakota State Agriculture Department has issued a press release on what the State plans to do to get the required hemp growing licenses.
“The controls placed on licensed industrial hemp farmers by North Dakota’s laws and regulations include criminal background checks, identification of fields by satellite tracking, minimum acreage requirements, seed certification and mandatory laboratory tests,” Johnson said. “The chain of custody for viable hemp seed must be fully documented.”

The regulations apply to owners, operators and employees of a hemp farm or anyone to grows, handles or processes viable hemp seed.

Johnson said the production of industrial hemp presents little potential for diversion of controlled substances to illegitimate purposes.
I expect that once they get turned down by the DEA they will go to the courts.
BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota issued the nation's first licenses to grow industrial hemp Tuesday to two farmers who still must meet federal requirements before they can plant the crop.

The farmers must get approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration, which treats hemp much the way it does marijuana and has not allowed commercial hemp production but has said it would consider applications to grow it.

Hemp is a cousin of marijuana that contains trace amounts of the chemical that causes a marijuana high, though hemp does not produce the same effects. The sturdy, fibrous plant is used to make an assortment of products including paper, rope, clothing and cosmetics.
Actually the precursor to the DEA did allow hemp production during WW2. I covered some of that history in Hemp In Illinois. I also discuss why hemp poachers are not a problem in Hemp Makes Wonderful Fiber.
The number one problem in this field is that the DEA unlike its Canadian counterparts cannot tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. In America you need DEA approval, a fenced garden with razor wire to top the fences and 24 hour monitoring. In Canada all you need is a license. Admittedly the Canadians had a little problem with pot poachers the first year they grew a hemp crop. But soon enough the word got out that all you got from smoking hemp was a headache and the poaching all but ceased.
The Canadians have a vigorous marijuana eradication program that does not seem to be impeded at all by Canadian hemp growers. For all the lame jokes about Canadian dull wittedness, it seems the Royal Mounted Police are actually smarter than the DEA. The RCMP can tell the difference between hemp and marijuana.

Well this is not the first time I have made fun of our police on this matter I did it at least once before in The Fabric of Our Times
Imagine that. Hemp in Canada. I hear that the Mounties are still busting marijuana plantations and grow ops. The Mounties must be a lot smarter than the police in America. They can tell the difference between marijuana and hemp. I expect with a little education our police could be brought up to Canadian standards in the matter.
We shall see. Police all over America collect a lot of money from the Federal government for their "marijuana eradication" programs. Which is just another way of saying they get paid to collect feral hemp. Nice outdoor work if you can get it. It accomplishes nothing useful and people get paid for it. In other words, just another Federal boondoggle.

Here are some nice charts and graphs and dollar figures for feral hemp eradication.
In the past two decades, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has spent at least $175 million in direct spending and grants to the states to eradicate feral hemp plants, popularly known as "ditch weed." The plants, the hardy descendants of hemp plants grown by farmers at the federal government's request during World War II, do not contain enough THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, to get people high.

According to figures from the DEA's Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, it has seized or destroyed 4.7 billion feral hemp plants since 1984. That's in contrast to the 4.2 million marijuana plants it has seized or destroyed during the same period. In other words, 98.1% of all plants eradicated under the program were ditch weed, of which it is popularly remarked that "you could smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole and all you would get is a headache and a sore throat."

While the DEA is spending millions of tax payer dollars, including $11 million in 2005, to wipe out hemp plants, farmers in Canada and European countries are making millions growing hemp for use in a wide variety of food, clothing, and other products. Manufacturers of hemp products in the United States must import their hemp from countries with more enlightened policies.
I suppose change is just a matter of time. Probably no more than a decade or three.

In the grand scheme of things $11 million a year isn't much. And, at least it keeps a few policemen off the streets for a few days.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Fabric of Our Times

Captain's Quarters asks: "Is It Time to Legalize Hemp? And Perhaps Marijuana?". The Governator is going to have to make a decision on that question in the next few days. The Santa Cruz Sentinal says:

Farmers aren't sowing their fields with hemp seeds just yet, but a few Pajaro Valley growers, along with the county Farm Bureau, are hoping Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a bill that would permit farmers to grow hemp legally.

Translation: A year from now the fiber in that cool hemp sweater that you buy could come from a field in California — as opposed to Canada, China or Europe.

The bill, known as AB 1147 or the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, is headed for the governor's desk, where it will be vetoed or signed by late September, the governor's press office said Thursday.
The Governator appears to be in no hurry to make a decision.

So why all the fuss about hemp? After all Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew it. It was essential to the American Navy until well into the age of steam. Pretty simple really. Hemp is a cousin to that dreaded drug, marijuana. But is it the same as marijuana? Why no. The difference? The hemp crop is very low in THC and the fiber has practically none at all.

The Guardian quotes a Republican:
"Hemp bears no more resemblance to marijuana than a poodle bears to a wolf," said Tom McClintock, a Republican state senator who backed legislation that would reverse one key section of a 1937 law banning the growth of all types of the plant. "You'd die from smoke inhalation before you'd get high."
Is Tom some fringe Republican? Not at all.Tom McClintock has this to say about Tom:
During 19 years in the state legislature, and most recently as a candidate for governor in California’s historic recall election, State Senator Tom McClintock has become one of the most recognizable political leaders in California. According to every major public opinion poll during 2003 campaign, Californians consistently rated McClintock as the best-qualified and most capable candidate in the field. McClintock ended the election with higher favorable ratings than any other politician in California.
Tom is running for Lt. Governor of California this year (2006). Not fringe at all. It will be interesting to see if Arnold bucks or backs Tom.

From a review of the Guardian article at Hemp for Victory we learn about:
...the oft repeated argument that hemp fields would be an ideal place to hide pot plants, which is thrown out as a stumbling block to progress. The truth is that fibre hemp plants grow thin and tall and the bushy, short varieties of Cannabis sativa that epitomise pot would stick out immediately. Further, as hemp fields would be subject to spot testing, no pot dealer in their right mind would want the visits from law enforcement. Better to plant them in a field of herbs growing the same height and not attract attention.
Also the low THC hemp would cross polinate with the high THC marijuana lowering the quality of the marijuana.

The North American Industrial Hemp Council discusses some marijuana vs hemp myths. Here is one of many myths busted.
Myth: Feral hemp must be eradicated because it can be sold as marijuana.

Reality: Feral hemp, or ditchweed, is a remnant of the hemp once grown on more than 400,000 acres by U.S. farmers. It contains extremely low levels of THC, as low as .05 percent. It has no drug value, but does offer important environmental benefits as a nesting habitat for birds. About 99 percent of the "marijuana" being eradicated by the federal government-at great public expense-is this harmless ditchweed. Might it be that the drug enforcement agencies want to convince us that ditchweed is hemp in order to protect their large eradication budgets?
Speaking of ditch weed, it is a remnant of another government program, a war time program (1942) that was considered essential at the time: Hemp in Illinois.

The Guardian article also notes that hemp has other uses besides fiber.
California has a thriving industry in the manufacture of products made from hemp, which also includes luggage, toys, sports equipment, jewellery and rope. Energy bars are particularly popular because hemp is high in essential fatty acids, protein, Vitamin B and fibre. Until now, however, raw materials have had to be imported from Canada, where hemp cultivation was legalised in 1998.
Imagine that. Hemp in Canada. I hear that the Mounties are still busting marijuana plantations and grow ops. The Mounties must be a lot smarter than the police in America. They can tell the difference between marijuana and hemp. I expect with a little education our police could be brought up to Canadian standards in the matter.

I have looked at in more detail some of the medical uses and some of the industrial uses of hemp. If you are interested in one of the medical uses of marijuana (which is not hemp) see: PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System. The plant in all its forms is truly amazing. It would be nice to bring it back. To America.

I'd like to do my part. Coyote Organics sent me a very nice hemp and cotton jacket to try out. Except I haven't used it as a jacket so far. I have used it as a shirt and a wonderful shirt it is. It feels good against bare skin. No rough edges or loose threads and the label is soft and will not abrade your neck. Lots of pockets. Lots of pockets. Five pockets all together. I'm an engineer by trade and love pockets. The main pockets are generously sized. The pocket on left breast has plenty of room for pens and a velcro closure for those who are not pen fanatics. The two smaller pockets on either side of the jacket (behind the hand warming pockets) also have velcro closures. The jacket has a number of features which I have not mentioned (like loose sleeves, good ventilation, and a nice hood). You can find out about those features and see some nice pictures (look for the camel) at Coyote Organics. Keep in mind that there is also an organic cotton version available which is a little cooler. Here in the midwest with cooler nights the hemp and cotton is a bit warmer, thus better suited.

I have enjoyed the jacket immensely. However, there is one small problem which Coyote Organics is in the process of fixing. Size. I'm 6' 1 1/2" and the large jacket fits nicely. My first mate who is 5' 6" fills the large size nicely (ever so nicely). For my #1 son who is 6' 4" (don't you just hate looking up to your kids?) the large is not quite big enough.

The designer of the Coyote jackets has this to say about his dreams:
Since I want to make fabric choices that I believe are healthy, both for the customers wearing the clothes and for the people making them, I work with a very limited palette of options. This forces me to be creative, which is good, but I still want more. I want more fabrics, more blends and more options. Hemp is a crucial fabric for me because it blends with cotton well and provides a meaningful difference in feel and function.

The prospect of sourcing my hemp fabrics here in the US is exciting to me, not so much for the logistical improvements it can bring to my business, which are there, but because it will finally help to normalize the choices I want to make. More apparel companies in the US market using hemp will lead to more and better fabric choices for me, and finally to more design freedom.
I like that. It is the essence of engineering or any other kind of creativity. Making what you want from what you can get. As to normalization, I think with a major California Republican backing the change in the status of hemp, nomalization is here.

Now to the best part, Coyote Organics is offering a 10 percent discount from their already reasonable prices to readers of Power and Control.

Hemp Makes Wonderful Fiber

As a break from war news and related misery, I'm re-publishihing some stuff I wrote about hemp in response to the California bill on hemp growing which just passed and is awaiting the governor's signature. I'll have more about the bill later.

From July 2001.


Hemp the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana makes wonderful fiber and has been cultivated for its fiber for at least 5,000 years.

It is well known for its use in rope and in canvas ( the word itself is derived from cannabis ) sails for the sailing ships that dominated the seas for many thousands of years. Hemp was so precious in America that early Colonists were required to grow it for its cordage and cloth uses. Hemp was required to maintain the lifeline between the early colonies and Britain.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to have grown hemp. As far as can be definitely determined they were only interested in fiber.

Modern uses for the fiber still include hemp twine for use in fine quality shoes and boots. New uses being researched include fiberboard for walls and laminated structural beams for building construction. The very long hemp fibers make these products especially strong compared to their wood counterparts.

Surprisingly hemp may find its way into your automobile body. In fact there is a chance it may already be in the car you drive. The use of hemp as a replacement for fiberglass is just beginning. Hemp composites are easier to recycle than fiberglass composites and due to their long fibers they may be stronger. Using hemp fibers can reduce the weight of car by as much as 40 percent and reduce the energy requirements for car manufacture as well. Hemp is sixty-five cents a pound cheaper than fiberglass and a new crop can be grown every year.

Two percent of automobile fiberglass matts, seat backs and other plastic composites had organic fiber reinforcement last year . Hemp is the dominant organic fiber in this field.

The number one problem in this field is that the DEA unlike its Canadian counterparts cannot tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. In America you need DEA approval, a fenced garden with razor wire to top the fences and 24 hour monitoring. In Canada all you need is a license. Admittedly the Canadians had a little problem with pot poachers the first year they grew a hemp crop. But soon enough the word got out that all you got from smoking hemp was a headache and the poaching all but ceased.

The Illinois legislature has twice passed bills for the study of hemp in Illinois in the hopes of getting a bill that the DEA would approve of and the Governor would sign. So far the Governor has not acted favorably on the latest hemp bill HB 3377. ( HB stands for House Bill not Hemp Bill ) The vote in the House was 72 to 43 in favor.

The Governor needs a little nudging on the hemp issue. He can be reached at: [217] 782-6830 or e-mail the Illinois Governor or you can get the full street address and other phone numbers from: State of Illinois. Click on "State Government" on the upper right. Then State Telephone Directory.


That was what was going on in 2001. What about 2006? Governor Blagojevich has an ambitious plan for organic liquid fuels. Illinois Energy Independence Plan. There is no mention of hemp oil which can be converted into bio-diesel or the conversion of the celulose in the stalks to alcohol. Perhaps he needs to be informed.

Now is this hemp for fuel idea economical? We have no idea. Moderate scale trials (thousands of acres for a few years) will be required in order to find the answer. So far such trials are illegal in America.

Update: 29 Aug '06 2012z

The politics of hemp.