Thursday, December 3, 2009

Another blow for America's small farms........

We are considered a "small" farm. It used to be that there were thousands of small farms in this country that provided tons of essential and valuable products to the people in this country. It's no secret that the small farmers are being forced out of business at an alarming rate.
We have three generations that live and work on this farm. We strive to provide the best product that we can on a small scale to the public. We are diversified in our offerings and with just two of us working full time on the farm, we put in long days and love it. We stand behind everything we sell and keep it affordable so our neighbors can support our business as we support our neighbors. We are always willing to barter and feel that keeping our money in our own state benefits all of us.
Obviously this is not the case by the folks with investment capital and "important status" in our fair state. In the Sunday paper, a large company had a three page layout dedicated to their newest venture. They have decided that they would like to sell woolen long underwear. Nothing wrong with that right? They are not sheep farmers or farmers at all so they had to hire someone to find them a farm. Not one but two farms purchased in one of the most expensive towns in the state. Next they needed sheep. So they hired someone to manage their new sheep farm and find them the right breed of sheep. None of the needed breed raised here so they had to be imported. Many of them - a herd of close to 500 before they are through. The sheep manager will care for them. That herd will not provide enough wool for this venture so they hired a buyer to find them wool which will be purchased out of state for a total of somewhere around 200,000 lbs! This wool will be processed in South Carolina. It will be made into fabric in Massachusetts. The long underwear tops and pants will run your average, everyday working man between $45 and $90 per piece. Affordable right? WRONG!!! At least not on my meager budget.
I cannot be the only one who finds something terribly wrong with this scenario. There are hundreds of small sheep farms in this state struggling to make a living, cutting corners and costs everywhere they can just to stay afloat. This company could have made woolen underwear from wool grown in this state, processed in this state and sold at a "reasonable" price so people in this state could afford to purchase it! I know why this didn't happen, they simply wouldn't make as much money and it would have cost them more. It's always about the money isn't it?
Hooray for folks with a million dollars to invest in a "I'm not ready to retire" project. It just seems like with the state of our economy they could have done something more to help support the state and the folks that live here and supported their first fledgling business all these years.
I'm going out to shovel what I read in the paper.....


Tammy said...

They probably will end up importing wool as well, from out of the country, to make up the difference. At first glance it did sound like it would be a great economy booster, but it's disinheartning when something like that comes along and ignores the local possibilities. On the subject of small farms--there is a local dairy farm getting sued here because they sold raw milk to an 'undercover officer'. Good grief. There is more to it than that, but the whole thing is just so stupid and a waste to taxpayers and a harrasment to small farmers. If people want to buy raw milk, let them buy raw milk! Stop treating everyone like they have no brain cells to make informed or even risky decisions. What a dumbed down planet we are becoming. Ach..

Sharrie said...

This is just another example of how things are going in our culture. It sure has led us down the wrong road. When will everyone understand not just some of us?

Linda said...

What were they thinking??? Oh that's right, they weren't!!!
Local, local, local people! THINK LOCAL! Gaaahhh! THis frustrats me to no end. I can't imagine how you must feel.

seasonseatingsfarm said...

Have wool producers considered forming a cooperative to work with large businesses? We've formed the Washington County Food Alliance here. Food producers and business consumers such as B&B's and buying clubs are working together to each side's benefit.

Farmers in the Alliance are bulk ordering together to cut our expenses. I was concerned about the time I'd be spending off the farm but it's actually been very little time. We meet once a month for three hours on a Sunday afternoon. Everything else is done by email. The Alliance is new but it's working well so far.

seasonseatingsfarm said...

I should have added that we don't meet from May through October because that's the busiest time of the year for many of the producers.

threecollie said...

That sad scenario seems to be everywhere. I am sorry to read about it.

DayPhoto said...

This whole undermining of America's small farm makes me want to cry. I watch RFD TV and even there they praise China for growing more and more products that American farmers (used)grow. And still would if they could.

Bah hum bug. The whole thing makes me sick.


ga.farmwoman said...

I agree with all you said. We used to raise pigs.About 250 at a time. Free range pigs not the ones all huddled in a building. We did well for a while then everything changed. Regulations and obviously small farm push out and prices dropped dramatically for the pigs we sold. That was about 18 years ago.
Now instead of animals we are making a small profit on the hen nest boxes made here on the farm. I just hope regulations and taxes doesn't force us out of because we both are enjoying this business so much.
Great post.
Have a good day.

prairierunner said...

So true! Sometimes the best place for those papers are the bottom of the cats litter box!

Deb said...

We also sell raw milk but have to strictly adhere to the "rules". I wonder when the higher ups decided the rest of folks couldn't think for themselves as you said?

I don't know that we will ever see a time when everyone understands. Sad.

They were thinking about their money.

I've not heard of a Wool Alliance. It's certainly something worth looking into. Sounds like it works great for the producers in your area.

It's everywhere, not just my state or yours and it's spreading like wildfire.

Pathetic isn't it? China of all places.

I'm sorry - even though I know the money drives gov't to help big business it doens't make it any easier to swallow.

That and starting the fire in my stove :)

Thanks for all your thoughts and comments, It really helps having a place to share. I know I can't stop the bulldozing of America's small farmer but having a forum to at least spout off and let the world know it makes me dam mad does help :)

commoncents said...

Keep up the excellent work, this is very interesting!!
Common Cents

ps. Link Exchange?

Anonymous said...

Deb, I'm a little late here, but you are on the dot. The squeeze is hard and has been going on for decades. Question - duh I don't know, what's the ratio of sheep per set of long underwear? How many sets of long johns can 50 head of sheep make? I'm glad that you care - Bill

lisa said...

We agree one hundred percent!

melanie said...