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Global Bacon Shortage 'Unavoidable' 293 293

New submitter The name is Dave. Ja debuts on the front page with the most dismal news of our time: "This is truly 'Stuff That Matters'. Where would civilization be today without bacon? I don't mean to be alarmist but ... sound the alarms! This is big — it could lead to civil unrest." Yes, a bacon shortage. Hopefully what bacon there is will be more delicious after being fed with gummi worms.
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Global Bacon Shortage 'Unavoidable'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @05:26PM (#41456073)

    Okay, gonna try and be nice, but I love how naiive people are about farming and ranching in the US (which for the rest of this post I will simply call farming, because I don't care if some rancher gets offended).

    First lesson of farming:
    Farmer's are the cheapest mother fuckers on the planet. Seriously, I am not kidding, if they can make a sixties tractor work by using bailing wire to "fix it" (no matter how fucking dangerous or inefficient the fix) they will. I'd bet you'll never find a group of Americans more consistantly willing to cheat on their taxes as well. As a sub lesson, they fucking hate the government, which can do no right, except when giving them free money, which they will bitch and moan about any whisper that something might change in the future.

    Second lesson of farming:
    A lot of farmers are terrible businessmen. They often don't take long term views, many are really bad at math and don't even know how to calculate costs. There's actually bankers that loan to farms (or there used to be), they used to send in consultants to save farms from defaulting on their loans. Seriously, this isn't all farmers, but the idea of calculating costs, risks, and returns is completely foreign to many of them. This is why they use inefficient machinery, because it never occurs to them that the total cost of operation exceeds the cost of replacement.

    Third lesson of farming:
    Farming has a vast infrastructure that requires massive amounts of energy input (10% or so of our energy in the US, daily, goes to agriculture). Part of that infrastructure, as stated, is old. Another part, for some insane reason lumped in with "capital" in modern economics, is land, and you cannot trade suddenly infertile land for "new land", complete with the infrastructure you need, just because we've fucked up our farm belt. A lot of infrastructure isn't even directly owned by the farmer (e.g. some farmers don't own any harvesters, they pay someone per acre to come do it for them). You'd have to move entire communities in order to move the location of production. As for irrigation, it couldn't have solved this (though the water supply is not nearly adequate), since it got too hot for the corn and it simply died. But we've depleted aquifers at alarming rates in the last couple of decades always gambling on that one "really good, wet year" to fill them back up. This gamble cannot always pay off. Supposing you could find a supply of water, how would you get it where it needs to go, suddenly? You have a few weeks at most, to solve most issues like this, you can't suddenly make new irrigation appear. Btw, the same thing goes for all the solar tractors or non-oil based fertilizer (laughable on its face, anyway) that people imagine will happen as oil prices drive up, that shit won't magically appear, people will go hungry first, for years in fact, and in some nations will actually starve to death.

    Final lesson of farming:
    Most farmers know how to produce limited crops. I.E. they know hogs, or they know dairy, or they know corn, or soybeans. Not only will their set up be geared towards that one crop, you can't always convince them to switch products for a variety of reasons. If they have decided they want to grow corn, good luck getting a pig headed (har har) farmer to grow soybeans instead. You could show him a fucking spreadsheet that indicates double his profits and he's more likely to keep growing corn than switch. Now, if all his neighbors switch (especially if they think they're putting one over on the big, bad government), that might convince him, but you, based on public policy and/or good sense, will not. Even if you could convince one to switch, he might be little better at producing his new crop than you would be, knowing fuck all about any of it.

    If I've sounded harsh to farmers, well seriously, there are a few decent ones, but fuck em, as a group. They are entitled, ignorant brats, by and large. Big ag is not much better, if more efficient. I do know some farmers I like, but I like them as they stand out as quiet a bit different from most farmers.

    - A guy who grew up around farmers

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @06:24PM (#41456775)

    All the problems we are having with food production are directly related to factory farming.

    We're not actually having any problems and the price fluctuations that are occurring are not caused by so-called 'factory' farming. The problem is that high yield agriculture is concentrated in too few places.

    Consider hogs; 80.9% of all hog production [nationmaster.com] comes from two places; the US and China. One is coping with an outlier drought and the other is dealing with a rapidly growing domestic demand for meat. That leaves the rest of the planet out in the cold.

    The solution is rising prices. Nations and people that have complacently relied on a few "bread basket" sources of supply have discovered fresh motivation for producing commodities. There is a boom [geocurrents.info] in S. American agriculture as a result. This phenomenon is planet wide [gatewaytos...wsblog.com].

    This is ultimately a good thing. Less reliance on those few traditional "break basket" nations will create supply stability, to say nothing of the self sufficiency of new third world bread baskets.

    You, being the rich, comfortable malcontent you've been trained to be, will see this as a tragedy, while you simultaneously accelerate the process with your ill considered policies [guardian.co.uk]. As with the evacuation of our industry, the evacuation of our agriculture to the third world has begun.

    So go to work and dream up lots of new regulation for domestic agriculture in your home nation. Don't stop until anything more productive than a hobby farm has been eradicated. The rest of the world will take up the slack because people are going to feed themselves whether you like it or not.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @08:59PM (#41458455)

    I was at a restaurant about a week ago where one of the "specials" was roast baby pig on a spit. The first thing I thought was, wow, the farmers must really be unloading everything. The second thing I thought was, "I'll try that."

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