That is Gabe Brown recounting his transition from a USDA-standard mono-culture, deep tillage farmer into a farming ecologist who makes a lot more $ via better production with no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides and no-tillage oil usage, so also has the lowest cost of production. The water-holding properties of his improved soil mean more seasons have high production. The integrated production of feed, meat and eggs also minimizes use of oil in raising them as well as being essential to good soil and high yields.
It is also the story of how fast intelligent people can integrate knowledge, do the experiments, and walk away from the Status Quo. Many farmers are making that transition, away from the standard USDA model of what good farming was all about, what was taught in every ag school in the country for many years. Yes, there have been insiders who dissented, but they didn’t have much effect. The people who started this ball rolling were Rodale Press 85 years ago, it tied in ecological research, real-world experiments by gardeners and farmers and was relentlessly empirical. Not perfect experiments, but a lot of them and a lot of discussions about them down at the farmer and gardener level, knowledge was put to use quickly. Youtube is an endless resource in evaluating any idea.
Gabe Brown has real data from a large dry-climate farm and records showing lower costs and higher yield along with the associated measures of his soil. And shows that people willingly pay for higher quality food, and how he turned his natural food into a business directly supplying the community.
That is a move off-grid, outside of the Status Quo. Also, it is a move toward a resilient community.
That is part of a general trend, I believe. That video will link you to many others that show how much value can be added via small-scale farming in almost any climate. Orchards, gardens, chickens, permaculture operations of all kinds. I can’t evaluate all of those, some seem to me to be too smooth, done by people who make their living consulting and giving talks rather than gardening or farming. OTOH, there are serious practitioners talking about how they changed their operations and profited, and their opinions and experiences are a consistent story.
We could be at the beginning of a new era in both local community and international business. First, the internet broad band that allows those rapid experiments and exchanges of knowledge connects people so that life working on a farm wouldn’t be isolating. Except for the outrageous land prices, it is possible for small holders to live a good life, once again. And that because of citizen-science, which we the public paid for with our patronage of organic farmers and subscriptions to gardening magazines.
We have very many people out of work. Local labor is once again cheap relative to other resources, so the economy is naturally swinging back in that direction. This move to greater energy-efficiency and local self-sufficiency in agriculture will accelerate that swing. An agriculture dependent upon financial services, crop insurance and expensive energy can’t compete with one that doesn’t need them. More value in the food food-chain will be added locally and kept local.
This idea of local replication of such services is the exact opposite of that our financial system has enabled. The many ‘centralize the inventory optimizations’ have made the system very fragile :
Nassim Taleb, one of the wise men of our times, says we have an expert problem, charlatans masquerading as applied scientists. Gabe Brown’s experience says that is so.
What works for farming and food distribution will work for an increasing variety of local industry : the network gives us all access to information and designs of all kinds. As one example, those will rapidly include blueprints for every variety of auto and truck chassis. Std software will allow modifying those designs, 3D printing and computer-controlled machine tools will build them. Customizations could be cheap. Steam engines, tractors, … might become important in a local economy, they run on a wider variety of fuels than internal combustion engines do. Again, both the economic trends and wide-spread use of standard technology in a local economy will reinforce each other and local economies and political units will become more resilient.
Taleb equates fragility with sensitivity to volatility. If volatility opens opportunities for you, as it will for the scientific ecological farmers above, you are anti-fragile and will gain relative to the fragile competitors. Our Status Quo is fragile, and is losing control of volatility in interest rates and stock prices. Any entity that has borrowed $ is correspondingly fragile. This is a good time to bet on investments in local businesses, ones that make your community resilient. Small local investments will do well as the fragile system breaks.
This failure of our ‘designed system’ is general. Public education is an obvious example, and the combination of costs and pensions will soon result in public education abandoned by the public. Ditto most other public ‘services’ that our modern government has imposed upon us.
The failure of the Progressive Fundamental Theorem “Pass a law, make the world a better place” is obvious to all. We have many more laws and rules and regulations, yet the world is not a more just place, nor better managed, nor more stable, nor more productive. Even worse, those institutions are fragile.
We conservatives will win by merely replacing those failed systems with ones that had evolved along with our societies through the millenia : teaching children at home and in apprenticeships as part of a local social-political-economic system. Beginning with good people being good neighbors, updated via the internet, of course.