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Thread: Conavirus......

  1. #751
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    Unseen Epidemic Pandemic seems to be available in installments on YouTube.

  2. #752
    Senior Member Tradd's Avatar
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    Just got this off a friend's FB page. It's about the crops that are apparently going to rot in the field if the people that pick them aren't let into the country.

    https://thegarrisoncenter.org/archiv...iltHldF2jvJEhk

  3. #753
    Senior Member beckyliz's Avatar
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    I heard a story on NPR - the food supply chain has broken down. The big buyers aren't buying (restaurants, schools, etc.) so no one is shipping and crops and dairy is wasted.
    "Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. But accumulate for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, your heart is also." Jesus

  4. #754
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tradd View Post
    Just got this off a friend's FB page. It's about the crops that are apparently going to rot in the field if the people that pick them aren't let into the country.

    https://thegarrisoncenter.org/archiv...iltHldF2jvJEhk
    There is temporary housing for farmworkers. Unemployed Americans could do the work, even if they don"t live in the area, but with a stimulus bill that in some cases pays them more in unemployment benefits than they made when working, and certainly more than migrant workers do, why should they?

    We are becoming like Dubai - where certain jobs are beneath the citizenry, and a group of second class people from other countries with few legal rights does the hard and dirty work, and here at least on small farms are not guaranteed even the minimum wage. If we treated farmworkers better there would not be a labor crisis. But the author of that libertarian editorial won't draw those conclusions.

  5. #755
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    Guest worker programs for farming have existing decades upon decades though. Ideally such workers would be treated well. Sometimes I think they are paid well. But there is probably a limit if you want U.S. agriculture to compete with cheap imported Mexican produce. Is it really just a question of on what side of the border you want the food grown? Well then there is a national interest in not exporting all food production.
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  6. #756
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    Idaho and Utah are dumping 100s of 1000s of pounds of milk (a gallon is 8#). There's not enough consumable milk on the shelves therefore it is still rationed to one container per purchase. Processing plants are not accepting all their contract production.

    It is a travesty. (dairy farm raised girl right here). Yup. It's dirty hard work and many Americans don't want to do it. My family hired Hispanics for decades. They are amazing workers!

  7. #757
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    It's a mess.

    I wish I could find the Twitter thread in which a farmer was discussing the issue of growing food in the U.S. He hired migrant labor to tend the fields and harvest because it's the only way he could produce profitably. The migrants work for $12-15 an hour and free housing -- and are happy for it because they could work just as hard in their home countries for far less money. The farmer explained that, in three years of working at his farm, a migrant worker can send enough money back home to build a house for his family, free and clear. Three years of that kind of wage does not provide enough to build a house, free and clear, in the U.S. Pay an American enough to do that and the farmer has priced his/her product so high that buyers will get their produce from outside the U.S., where it can be grown and harvested much cheaper.

    American farmers are in competition with farmers outside the U.S. It's just a fact of the economy. This guy would be fine with hiring Americans. But at the wages he can pay and stay in business, they don't apply for the jobs. The farmer also touched on the matters of skill and commitment to the work. He mentioned Jamaican apple pickers that people he knew hired every year at harvest time. There's a narrow window when the produce is ready and it has to be out of the fields before it rots. I found this article (New York Times; possible paywall), which discusses the same group of workers and makes many of the same points the farmer did.

    Here is a Twitter thread from a Canadian farmer on why some farmers have been dumping milk. Interesting to get that other perspective, especially if you've had trouble buying milk at your local grocery.

    And, finally, here's an NPR report that covers the logistics of growing for food service customers and growing for retail grocery stores. I mentioned some of these points an another thread here. It's all more complicated than one would think because we've optimized the #&$^ out of supply chains.

    Logistics is critical. The volunteer work I did at Second Harvest crossed this bridge. The food bank has agreements with local grocery chains to have one (or more) employees collect meat at its sell-by date and to box it and palletize it for the food bank. The chains did it out of goodwill and warm fuzzies, and there likely was some sort of writeoff they could get for the donation. But they still had to stand the cost of employees working on non-chain business for a few hours each week.

    The food bank dispatched refrigerated trucks to each store to collect the goods. The boxes then were brought out to us for sorting for quality and type (open packages of meat and ice cream and thawed packages of peas were tossed; seafood went to the "market" within the facility so clients could pick it out because it's so perishable and quality would suffer a lot as it was held; and then the proteins were sorted into beef, poultry, pork, and "misc" (cold cuts, sauced BBQ ribs, etc.).

    We moved 8,000-10,000 pounds of food during each two-hour session. I don't know if it would have made economic sense to redistribute this high-quality protein without so many workers in the chain essentially working for "free". Most folks have no idea how much food is tossed in this country and how relatively difficult it is to move it around to where it is needed.

    Edit: changed pounds of food moved. I moved 4-5,000 pounds. There was a guy on the other end of the line doing the same.
    Last edited by SteveinMN; 4-15-20 at 11:14am. Reason: clarifictaion
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  8. #758
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    You're right Steve, it is a MESS! My brother produced 90,000 # of milk daily. He had a long-term contract with a purchaser. He bought futures for feed.

    I'm so glad he was able to finally sell the operation back in September. He is 66yo and didn't need to go through yet another financial disaster. He's been through 3 since 1972. The guy who bought it is BIG! It is his 4th farm. He'll survive this.

    There is really no such thing as a small family dairy business anymore. Those days are gone.

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    $12 to $15 an hour is not bad pay, although not good pay, especially in rural areas where the cost of living is less. People are fighting for $15 across the country. Yet the author of Tradd's article sees no alternative to mass starvation than imported labor. Why can't we have a stimulus bill to subsidize farm wages as needed and get the crops planted and harvested by Americans? We are subsidizing the health care industry with its high profits and executive compensation in this crisis. We could even appeal to people's public spirit like we did in drawing medical personnel out of retirement. In previous crises we called all hands on deck. Rosie didn't know how to rivet but she learned. Now our idea of public service is lock yourself in your house.

    Now I am a vegetarian, but if pork is important disinfect the plant in South Dakota and bring in replacement staff. My company has done this with 4 locations so far, back up and running in a day. We are an essential business so we do it, but food which is more essential doesn't?

  10. #760
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yppej View Post
    if pork is important disinfect the plant in South Dakota and bring in replacement staff.
    imo the Smithfield CEO is just making a lot of noise. Even if his entire plant were abducted by aliens and lifted off the face of the earth, it would be a loss of only 4-5% of the nation's pork processing capacity. While I do believe there will be some supply-chain disruptions as farmers, truckers, and processing-plant employees fall to the coronavirus, and while I think more than 5% of capacity is likely to be out of commission at any one time in the next few months, I do not believe we're looking at widespread out-of-stocks at supermarkets across America. Well, there could be out-of-stocks brought on by panic buying, but most people looking at an empty pork case either will buy chicken or beef -- or another processing company will take up the slack.

    I think this guy is scared for his profits. The idea of a public health threat presented by possible contamination in the food supply (not coronavirus but anything, really, including rampant E. coli and salmonella) has long been pushed back by threats that it would make food more expensive. It probably would, but only because it puts the expenses where they belong in production -- and who wants an unsafe food supply anyway?

    If workers have to do their jobs spaced further apart, if employers have to provide adequate health insurance, if people have to be paid more because meat production is a difficult, dangerous job, that's likely a margin reduction for the processing company. Just as with farmers and produce processors, care needs to be taken that American meat is not priced out of this market. But American taxpayers already subsidize so much of the food production process. American food prices are among the lowest in the developed world. Fast, cheap, good -- which two do we want?
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

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