Comments on: A Genuine Quandry… http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/ Pasture Raised Meats • Honey • Vegetables • Eggs & more Sat, 19 Mar 2016 15:37:13 +0000 hourly 1 By: Nami Moon Website http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/#comment-55355 Mon, 26 Oct 2015 23:47:38 +0000 http://www.namimoonfarms.com/?p=467#comment-55355 Hey John!

Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 This is just eggs, too. I am hoping to do something like this for everything we do eventually so that people have a better idea about all of this stuff. It’s a little easy to write because I also didn’t have an idea until I started farming. Hope all is well!

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By: John http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/#comment-55348 Mon, 26 Oct 2015 18:00:43 +0000 http://www.namimoonfarms.com/?p=467#comment-55348 So, what a farmer has to do then is call them, “Egg Lands Best”. Stamp them with red initials to prove it, and maybe, just maybe people will buy into the higher price. Great article Chris. I never knew eggs could be so interesting.

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By: nami admin http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/#comment-1528 Thu, 20 Feb 2014 16:53:20 +0000 http://www.namimoonfarms.com/?p=467#comment-1528 Hey Guy,

Yeah, I don’t want to discourage hobby farmers…I just want them to value their work and products more than they do. Just because it’s a hobby doesn’t mean you should lose money. Plus, it’s a hobby that has a direct impact on farmers who are actually trying to farm for their livelihood. So, it’s touchy…but I think the best argument here isn’t to say, “Don’t do that!” but to say, “You and your work are worth *more* than that!”

Collectivizing has some benefits, but some farms don’t want to do that and, to be quite honest, it would be nice if that wasn’t a requirement for a small farm to succeed. What kills me with that kind of situation is that the individual farms are lost. They, for all intents and purposes, disappear. Sure, the umbrella brand does well and can compete because it’s big and has the advantages that come with that…but some things can suffer (i.e. quality, consistency, consistency of practices, etc). You see similar issues arise with food hubs, but there is some good movement going on in that area right now. I should add that if a farmer doesn’t care if he or she disappears underneath an umbrella like Organic Valley, then I wouldn’t have an issue with that. It’s their choice.

I agree about valuing life and community. A lot of work to do in those areas and they have a big reach across society. And one person at a time also works for me, though I have a hard time staying patient : )

Chris

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By: Guy http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/#comment-1521 Thu, 20 Feb 2014 02:38:25 +0000 http://www.namimoonfarms.com/?p=467#comment-1521 This article brings up some real points to consider. On one hand, you don’t want to discourage hobby farmers, because having people with those skills is important. On the other hand, something is very wrong when a stand-alone farm is not an economically safe venture.

In regards to economic and liability issues, collectivizing from the bottom upwards has obvious benefits. A company like Organic Valley is small enough to be ethical, yet large enough to compete with the “big hitters” at the local supermarket. Do we not need lots of little companies of this nature, rather than a few gargantuan ones? Then again, I would imagine that the obstacles to such an approach are numerous.

In terms of the big picture, just plain old valuing human life and one’s community is as crucial as anything. It’s easy to think of many things that are messed up with the current food system, and to feel righteously indignant about it (as I have done from time to time), but it is quite a challenge just to pick one’s niche and cooperate with whomever comes their way. I think that a lot of people are interested in better food — after all, people at work refer to the vending machine as the “Wheel of Death”! Winning over just one person on this issue, whether by appealing to economics, health, good farmers, good soil, or so on, is invaluable.

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By: nami admin http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/#comment-1519 Wed, 19 Feb 2014 17:06:47 +0000 http://www.namimoonfarms.com/?p=467#comment-1519 Hey guys!

In short, yes. We’d love to talk more about your farming experiences too, and I’m glad you can still find some hope in it all. It’s hard for me to not indulge my inner cynic, but I’ve been fighting that off for a while now and a lot more recently. It just doesn’t help, haha. Anyway, thanks for your great comments up there!!

Chris

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By: nami admin http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/#comment-1518 Wed, 19 Feb 2014 17:04:35 +0000 http://www.namimoonfarms.com/?p=467#comment-1518 Hi Khaiti!

I like the idea of ignoring the cheap food paradigm and focusing on our own work. There’s something to be said for being the answer to the question when people ask us something like, “Change to what?”. I agree that more and more people are finding out that their trust has been betrayed, and I’ll definitely keep writing about it. You guys are doing such great work over there too, it’s a lot of fun seeing it all unfold…even if only via FB.

If you’re headed to MOSES we’ll keep an eye out for you.

Chris

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By: nami admin http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/#comment-1517 Wed, 19 Feb 2014 14:42:28 +0000 http://www.namimoonfarms.com/?p=467#comment-1517 Hi Jim,

It sounds like you guys are doing great, all things considered. That’s commendable given how hard it is to do. I think that charging more is almost always reasonable considering how little we tend to pay ourselves for our labor. The trick, as always, is figuring out how much isn’t too much. Granted, people want to say that we should include our lifestyle as some sort of added monetary benefit. That’s great, and the lifestyle is too, but I’m not sure that many people would consider the amount of required work on a farm to be a ‘benefit’ along these lines. Sure, we get to see the sunset and the sunrise because we’re outside, but any romantic sentiments I had about farming have been filed away under “Mother Nature”, hahaha. Seriously though, I understand where people are coming from when they say that they want to farm (etc), and I think that they’re very sincere too. For all I know, they could all be excellent farmers. We certainly need more of us too!

Anyway, it is an uphill battle and it’s hard to avoid being cynical. I think that there’s a degree of inevitability to the trend of local food too. That is, a lot of models out there are not viable for long, and people are going to have to buy local because it will become cost prohibitive to ship everything. That might not happen in my lifetime, but I think that laying the groundwork for that moment/era is very worth my time even if it’s not compensated well at this point. I’m also not a purist, and by that I mean that ‘Big Ag’ and industry can inform small farm operations a LOT, and many of the big farms we have around us were once smaller farms like our own. There’s a big opportunity there, and I’m going to try and figure out how to take advantage of it so that when we talk about ‘community’ it’s more meaningful. Just one path I’m pursuing among many.

Thanks for your comments,

Chris

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By: nami admin http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/#comment-1516 Wed, 19 Feb 2014 14:33:02 +0000 http://www.namimoonfarms.com/?p=467#comment-1516 Hi Alec,

It is hard to strike the balance you’re speaking about there, but I do think that it will be a little easier to achieve as food costs increase. That increase may not be good in the short-term, but it does end up making good, wholesome food more approachable (plus there are so many more benefits to it that make it a net positive in comparison).

As for “profit”, you’re right. Someone could make the argument that the make zero profit and include their own salary in that. I can only speak from my experience, which I think is generally representative based on other farms I’m familiar with. When I run through calculations like this, I’m talking about what’s left over before anyone is getting paid. In my $100K example, my costs would be $80K, so I’m left with $20K in net profit. If I applied this to our farm, then that would be split in two with $10K going to me and $10K going to Maria. Granted, this is affected somewhat by how a business is structured (i.e. a LLC Partnership). The business does ‘owe’ us money because of our personal contributions early on as we were building the farm up to a point where it paid for itself. We haven’t done it yet, but we could add $20K to our farm’s costs by paying ourselves that money before we calculate our net profit. If we did that, then I’m still not sure it’s a salary or wage. We’re merely being paid back for money we put in. A dividend of sorts, but at zero percent interest, haha. So, the farm would make good on our loan to it, we’d net profit $0 and that would mean that we can’t pay ourselves as owner-operators. Other systems where the company’s profits or losses aren’t passing through to our personal taxes via the K-1 form would have us as listed as employees more explicitly. That brings us to the question of what we would pay ourselves. If we only have that $20K to pay ourselves with and we’ve worked an average of 50 hours per week for the year, that’s $10K each divided into 2600 hours, which leaves us getting paid $3.85/hour. We could pay ourselves more of course, say $5 an hour, and then we’d end up with a loss at the end of the year (~$6K if we paid ourselves $5/hr). That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, our accountant was *shocked* that our farm actually made a profit last year. In her words, “Most people farm because they have another business that they need to lose money for, so the farm is purposefully operated at a loss each year and the bigger the loss…the better”.

Anyway, sorry for kind of blathering on there. This stuff is all very fascinating to me, and ultimately your point is a very good one.

Thanks,

Chris

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By: nami admin http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/#comment-1515 Wed, 19 Feb 2014 14:22:10 +0000 http://www.namimoonfarms.com/?p=467#comment-1515 Thanks Jeremy.

“Our current American personal spending paradigm is high volumes of low value goods.”

That definitely seems to be the case, and I understand your point about affordability and re-skilling. I’m not sure where I stand personally, but there are some out there who see re-skilling as a threat to their business. I tend to view the market share of my world as being tiny, so there’s plenty of room. There could be some hiccups along the way though. I don’t know.

I like the idea of a place-based diet. There are similar ideas out there about food, and I’m starting to wonder if they’d be more realistic in steps. That is, are there people talking about, “Hey, let’s eat 25% of our diet from ‘here'”? Then, as you get more accustomed to it all, keep going from there. That might even give local producers the ability to actually pace this sort of movement.

Thanks again,

Chris

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By: Jeremy http://www.namimoonfarms.com/news/genuine-quandry/#comment-1513 Wed, 19 Feb 2014 03:13:07 +0000 http://www.namimoonfarms.com/?p=467#comment-1513 Thanks for article, Chris. You captured the quandary well. There aren’t any easy answers for all the reasons mentioned, and more. The eater side of this has to do with who can afford “full priced” food. With real wages essentially stagnant over the past 30 + years while production costs at the scale of the family farm have increased, we’ve created a situation in which many people can’t afford real, full priced food. That’s a ridiculous and, I’d say, dangerous situation to be in.

It’s more complicated that that, though, of course. I think if we begin to look at this holistically, we may be able to create some solutions across the economic spectrum. (Re)skilling is part of this. If people have the skills to raise, preserve and prepare food, then some of the consumer costs get evened out and potentially they can afford full priced food for what they have to buy (that which they don’t produce themselves). And, overall, we Americans over-consume, and generally that overconsumption comes from processed foods. If people reduce their extraneous processed food purchases (assuming they have access to good food), that frees up some budget for good food.

Our current American personal spending paradigm is high volumes of low value goods. If we can switch that around, using the same budget amounts, we get to low volumes of high value goods. If that’s our paradigm, I think many more can actually afford good food.

One last thing I’ll mention: The efforts to (re)create place-based diets are an important part of this. This effort and study for Western Lake Superior is a great example: http://localfoods.umn.edu/wlsrFoodshedResearch

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