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[Labor and Unions]: Workers of the world, unite!

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  • RedTideRedTide Registered User regular
    zagdrob wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    If theyre just farming as a hobby I care even less if paying people properly is a burden for them.

    Good job missing everything I just said.

    You clearly have no experience around agriculture or rural communities so your thoughts on their dynamics are questionable at best.

    And top down thoughts on what they should do or think are certain to be taken under advisement.

    I grew up in rutal Washington zagdrob. Weird tact.

    Yeah I grew up in rural Michigan and spent a lot of time there and in rural Tennesse to this day SS.

    Just cause you grew up in rural Washington doesnt mean you know anything about the dynamics or politics in multigenrational midwest agricultural communities.

    And when you start talking about agriculture you need to remember your audience and stop treating them like a bunch of plantation owners when a good chunk were barely hanging on substinencr farmers and much closer to sympathetic labor that owned a few acres than the bougie landowners.

    I don't think you have to go out of your way to explain that big agribusiness is shitty and the primary driver of these injustices in our present day. At least not here.

    But I have no pity for someone who runs a business who needs to hire labor to make sure their own family eats at a wage that takes food off of their table.

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  • HacksawHacksaw J. Duggan Esq. Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?

    For reference: Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is approximately 107 acres

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Jebus314 wrote: »
    Lanz wrote: »
    …I think y’all are twisting yourself in knots trying to make some kind of convolution up to make sense of why the system is as it is.

    These folks aren’t dirt poor because the margins demand it, not because the average consumer wants affordable produce.

    For fucks sake last year we had countless millions of units of produce, milk, etc be destroyed because the early crunch of COVID meant it couldn’t be sold. Vast quantities of food destroyed because it couldn’t be sold and yet, and yet, prices didn’t suffer runaway increases.

    The reason they make so little money is the same reason why wages have sucked shit despite the increases in productivity for decades, the same reason minimum wages increases have floundered, the same reason that employers repeatedly engage in wage theft: because the people who employ them can get away with it, and pocket the money for themselves.

    There’s no grand calculus of the market that demands these people make a maximum of thirty dollars per 900lb bin of citrus fruits. There’s no logic to be found that makes this “make sense,” not beyond the cold, hard fact that surrounds every bit of labor in this god forsaken country, this blighted planet: the wealthy in charge do not see those they employ as real. Revenues are real. Profits, those are real. Labor? Labor is replaceable. Labor is a drag on a spreadsheet’s profit efficiencies, like a bit of automation that won’t be as efficient as you want and keeps demanding more resources that taps your bottom line. Labor is, to the employer, an expense. And we all know well how business loathes an expense.

    Capital does not see labor as real human beings, and repeatedly seeks to withhold from labor whatever it can to keep its profits up. Because that, at the end of the day, is their true and realest care: the profit.

    Steinbeck wrote about this kind of shit from the waste end of things nearly a century ago:
    There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificate- died of malnutrition- because the food must rot, must be forced to rot. The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quick-lime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

    You seem to want to villainize business owners or managers to fault. There are more explanations than "those in charge want other people to suffer / don't care if other people to suffer" for why low wage jobs exist. I mean it's entirely possible that paying everyone involved with farming/harvesting/delivering oranges, for this particular farm in california, would mean it's not a profitable enterprise at all (you would have to raise costs so much that people would stop buying them all together). That is a thing that could be true.

    And if you asked that laborer if they would rather work for $30/900 lbs of oranges, or not at all, I'm pretty sure I know which one they will pick. Which doesn't excuse that it happens, or mean that $30/900 lbs of oranges is the fair price to pay for that work, but it does mean it's more complicated than the farm owner is an evil capitalist.

    Fundamentally it doesn't really make sense to me that we would want to put the onus on businesses to decide how what wage would be morally right/fair/whatever. It's not a straight forward decision, reasonable people will disagree, and it's not really what businesses are made to do. It's something that should really be set at as a community, and it's possible that the best answer isn't a straight forward "livable" minimum wage, but a combination of social benefits and lower minimum wage. Some of which are things that individual businesses can't reasonably offer.

    I would like to note a historic antecedent to the bold part here:

    Mine owners in West Virginia tried this in the late 19th/early 20th centuries to stave off their miner’s push to socialize the mines and run them themselves (see the American Experience Documentary “The Mine Wars”)

    The miners didn’t bite and continued to demand control and proper pay, denouncing the approach by saying they didn’t want welfare (these were the days where it was understood socialism and welfare programs were not the same thing, and the miners recognized that the mine owners were trying to buy them off while still controlling their lives through their labor conditions)

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  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?

    This one
    Acreage is another way to assess farm size. According to the USDA, small family farms average 231 acres; large family farms average 1,421 acres and the very large farm average acreage is 2,086.

    https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/small_medium_large_does_farm_size_really_matter

    Disney world is not a good comparison. Farms are big by nature. They have to be.

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?

    This one
    Acreage is another way to assess farm size. According to the USDA, small family farms average 231 acres; large family farms average 1,421 acres and the very large farm average acreage is 2,086.

    https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/small_medium_large_does_farm_size_really_matter

    Disney world is not a good comparison. Farms are big by nature. They have to be.

    Land is still wealth in America so I’m not sure the comparison isn’t apt.

    It’s difficult for a lot of folks to picture acreage when it’s boiled down to just the numbers, but it’s easier to fathom that size when given a concrete example to visualize as an aid.

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  • LanlaornLanlaorn Registered User regular
    Sure, land is wealth, so let's use, y'know, dollars to compare. Quick google tells me farmland in the US averages $3k per acre overall and $4k per acre for the cropland alone.

    $150-$200k is not even close to rich man property values.

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Lanlaorn wrote: »
    Sure, land is wealth, so let's use, y'know, dollars to compare. Quick google tells me farmland in the US averages $3k per acre overall and $4k per acre for the cropland alone.

    $150-$200k is not even close to rich man property values.

    Depends entirely on the surrounding area. High COL region? Sure. Low COL? Suddenly that $150,000 to $200,000 isn’t quite in reach for the surrounding locals.

    Furthermore, even that price isn’t actually a firm set. Those acres in California? That’s $9,340 per acre according Acretrader (https://www.acretrader.com/resources/farmland-values/rankings); over $11,000 if were’s not averaging the cost of all kinds of farmland and going with, say, irrigated farmland.

    Now suddenly your value’s jumped to $934,000, or over $1,100,000.

    And of course, we’re talking not just leaving this land fallow and useless; this is land being put to work. So now the value of that property is going to go up even further than just the pure acreage costs

    We’re not exactly talking the situation of Ma and Pa Kent here

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  • HacksawHacksaw J. Duggan Esq. Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    Lanlaorn wrote: »
    Sure, land is wealth, so let's use, y'know, dollars to compare. Quick google tells me farmland in the US averages $3k per acre overall and $4k per acre for the cropland alone.

    $150-$200k is not even close to rich man property values.

    Add a zero.

  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Crop scientist Sarah Taber has a fantastic thread here where she busts down a lot of our common myths about the “family farm,” from the scope of what a family farm is, to the suicide rates that affect farm workers but get reported as if it were the farm owners and more. I’d recommend the whole thing, but let’s drop into the thread on this bit here:


    We talk about farmers like they're the proletariat.

    But they own land, often $millions in equipment, employ the country's most exploited workforce, and actively lobby to keep their workforce down.

    That ain't working class, folks. Family farms are management.

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  • LanlaornLanlaorn Registered User regular
    Well it's $2k per acre in Kansas so Ma and Pa Kent will be fine at $100k, and that $1m in California is not a lot for California so...?

    Yes, prices vary by location, picking a high value location to cherry pick your numbers from doesn't help your position when the fact remains that it's actually very cheap for that location.

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Lanlaorn wrote: »
    Well it's $2k per acre in Kansas so Ma and Pa Kent will be fine at $100k, and that $1m in California is not a lot for California so...?

    Yes, prices vary by location, picking a high value location to cherry pick your numbers from doesn't help your position when the fact remains that it's actually very cheap for that location.

    Okay let me ask you this:

    who the hell is affording $150,000 for the land alone, no buildings, no equipment, no infrastructure, just the land to start a farm in a low CoL state?

    Then how are they affording the rest of the things you need to run a farm?

    Farming isn’t a poor person’s game! That’s why you see the poor tending the farm as it’s workers, not it’s owners.

    It feels like we’re trying to continue to propagate the cultural myth of the American farm family where everyone goes out and tends the farm every day as a family business, so we can avoid confronting the reality of how exploitative and abusive farming is to those who labor in it

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  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    Small farms are large because a single worker can work huge portions of farmland alone.

    While some crops have significant labor requirements for harvest if you’re growing staples a single person can manage a 500 acre farm without taking on extra labor.

    That isn’t to say that people farming 500 acres are poor (though they may have gone into debt so it’s possible) but it is so say that small farmers are not necessarily management. You don’t really expect them to be as it is. If your land was worth $1m and you had a 10% return then your net on materials would be between $100k and 150k (that is 50k for your labor and 10% return on capital, of which 5-8% may go to the bank if you had a loan). You cannot really be hiring someone to do your labor for you at those margins*. Not if you’re working on the farm yourself and expect to take in income.

    But it’s also incorrect to say that small farms matter. The vast majority of farmland and the vast majority of labor hiring is on huge farms. Bringing up small farms as if they matter is a non-sequitur to labor relations and practices.

    That being said Lanz et al you’re still ignoring the dynamics involved in order to make moral judgements about the owners. Their evil, sure. But moral judgements do not solve systemic problems. Now maybe the issue is ideologically systemic rather than naturally a systemic, which is entirely reasonable. But “they’re evil” isn’t going to give us any more insight into how to fix it.

    *I mean, you can it would just cut your income down to the point where you would be better off working somewhere else

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Goumindong wrote: »
    Small farms are large because a single worker can work huge portions of farmland alone.

    While some crops have significant labor requirements for harvest if you’re growing staples a single person can manage a 500 acre farm without taking on extra labor.

    That isn’t to say that people farming 500 acres are poor (though they may have gone into debt so it’s possible) but it is so say that small farmers are not necessarily management. You don’t really expect them to be as it is. If your land was worth $1m and you had a 10% return then your net on materials would be between $100k and 150k (that is 50k for your labor and 10% return on capital, of which 5-8% may go to the bank if you had a loan). You cannot really be hiring someone to do your labor for you at those margins*. Not if you’re working on the farm yourself and expect to take in income.

    But it’s also incorrect to say that small farms matter. The vast majority of farmland and the vast majority of labor hiring is on huge farms. Bringing up small farms as if they matter is a non-sequitur to labor relations and practices.

    That being said Lanz et al you’re still ignoring the dynamics involved in order to make moral judgements about the owners. Their evil, sure. But moral judgements do not solve systemic problems. Now maybe the issue is ideologically systemic rather than naturally a systemic, which is entirely reasonable. But “they’re evil” isn’t going to give us any more insight into how to fix it.


    *I mean, you can it would just cut your income down to the point where you would be better off working somewhere else

    We talk constantly in this thread about means and policies to help fix it.

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Goumindong wrote: »
    Small farms are large because a single worker can work huge portions of farmland alone.

    While some crops have significant labor requirements for harvest if you’re growing staples a single person can manage a 500 acre farm without taking on extra labor.

    That isn’t to say that people farming 500 acres are poor (though they may have gone into debt so it’s possible) but it is so say that small farmers are not necessarily management. You don’t really expect them to be as it is. If your land was worth $1m and you had a 10% return then your net on materials would be between $100k and 150k (that is 50k for your labor and 10% return on capital, of which 5-8% may go to the bank if you had a loan). You cannot really be hiring someone to do your labor for you at those margins*. Not if you’re working on the farm yourself and expect to take in income.

    But it’s also incorrect to say that small farms matter. The vast majority of farmland and the vast majority of labor hiring is on huge farms. Bringing up small farms as if they matter is a non-sequitur to labor relations and practices.

    That being said Lanz et al you’re still ignoring the dynamics involved in order to make moral judgements about the owners. Their evil, sure. But moral judgements do not solve systemic problems. Now maybe the issue is ideologically systemic rather than naturally a systemic, which is entirely reasonable. But “they’re evil” isn’t going to give us any more insight into how to fix it.


    *I mean, you can it would just cut your income down to the point where you would be better off working somewhere else

    We talk constantly in this thread about means and policies to help fix it.

    Taber’s thread does this as well specifically for alternatives that empower the actual farm workers and move away from what is, like so many things in our country, a white-dominated culture that is framed as “the way it is done”:
    Where to start. We talk about farming as if it can only exist on a binary: family OR corporate.

    That's so messed up. There are so many other ways to do it: Native nation-scale operations, Hutterite colonies, marketing cooperatives, etc etc etc.

    A thread on some other ways to farm. "Family farming" is just a folksy name for privately-owned estates. They build a cycle of rich get richer, poor get poorer.

    Scaled-up, employee-owned farms are an established alternative w real potential.



    And regarding debt, income and the like, well, here’s the thing. Median income for US farm households is in the $60,000 range; median income for the operator is $83,111. Doesn’t seem like much right? Particularly when you factor the median household income.

    ds31soqzekrl.png

    jozbxe7lnpbe.png

    But now… what if we look at median household wealth. That is, total assets, factor out the debt held for what you have left after; just how much total wealth you have as a household.

    Then things stop seeming so equal with the rest of society:
    Farm Household Wealth and Income
    Farm operator households have more wealth than the average U.S. household because significant capital assets, like farmland and equipment, are generally necessary to operate a successful farm business. In 2019, the average U.S. farm household had $1,042,855 in wealth. Households operating commercial farms had $2.7 million in total wealth at the median, substantially more than the households of residence or intermediate farms.

    ERS divides farm households into four groups based on relative levels of income and wealth. The estimated medians of U.S. household income and wealth are used to divide low from high levels. Median income (or wealth) is the level at which 50 percent of households have greater income (or wealth) and 50 percent have less.

    Farm and other U.S. households differ in the pattern of wealth compared to income. In 2019, 3.1 percent of all farm households had wealth levels that were lower than the estimated U.S. median household level and 96.9 percent had wealth levels higher than the U.S. median, in contrast with 50 percent in each group among all U.S. households. Over 40 percent of all farm households had high wealth, but income below the median among all U.S. households.

    c0bt6p56q01u.png

    Via https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/farm-household-well-being/income-and-wealth-in-context/

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  • PhyphorPhyphor Building Planet Busters Tasting FruitRegistered User regular
    edited November 25
    Lanz wrote: »
    Lanlaorn wrote: »
    Well it's $2k per acre in Kansas so Ma and Pa Kent will be fine at $100k, and that $1m in California is not a lot for California so...?

    Yes, prices vary by location, picking a high value location to cherry pick your numbers from doesn't help your position when the fact remains that it's actually very cheap for that location.

    Okay let me ask you this:

    who the hell is affording $150,000 for the land alone, no buildings, no equipment, no infrastructure, just the land to start a farm in a low CoL state?

    Then how are they affording the rest of the things you need to run a farm?

    Farming isn’t a poor person’s game! That’s why you see the poor tending the farm as it’s workers, not it’s owners.

    It feels like we’re trying to continue to propagate the cultural myth of the American farm family where everyone goes out and tends the farm every day as a family business, so we can avoid confronting the reality of how exploitative and abusive farming is to those who labor in it

    150000 for a large empty plot of land isn't outrageous. Banks will give you loans, plus the land is rarely entirely empty, especially if it was farmed before, there's probably existing buildings and such

    And if you can't afford the land you also can't afford the machinery anyway so you wouldn't be able to do much with a large farm

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  • LanzLanz Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Phyphor wrote: »
    Lanz wrote: »
    Lanlaorn wrote: »
    Well it's $2k per acre in Kansas so Ma and Pa Kent will be fine at $100k, and that $1m in California is not a lot for California so...?

    Yes, prices vary by location, picking a high value location to cherry pick your numbers from doesn't help your position when the fact remains that it's actually very cheap for that location.

    Okay let me ask you this:

    who the hell is affording $150,000 for the land alone, no buildings, no equipment, no infrastructure, just the land to start a farm in a low CoL state?

    Then how are they affording the rest of the things you need to run a farm?

    Farming isn’t a poor person’s game! That’s why you see the poor tending the farm as it’s workers, not it’s owners.

    It feels like we’re trying to continue to propagate the cultural myth of the American farm family where everyone goes out and tends the farm every day as a family business, so we can avoid confronting the reality of how exploitative and abusive farming is to those who labor in it

    150000 for a large empty plot of land isn't outrageous. Banks will give you loans, plus the land is rarely entirely empty, especially if it was farmed before, there's probably existing buildings and such

    And if you can't afford the land you also can't afford the machinery anyway so you wouldn't be able to do much with a large farm

    But when we talk the price per acre, we distinctly are not factoring things like what may be on the land. Those are separate costs. So again you’re back to “how much more do you have to pay after the cost of the land itself?” You’re conflating price per acre with the value of a property as a whole. The former is calculated in part to assess the latter

    Banks will give you loans, but what are you going to offer up as collateral? What could you offer up?

    None of what you’ve said counters my point that to farm takes wealth, it’s not a thing the poor can own in our present system. And when we talk family farms, we also are talking about intergenerational wealth passed down within a family, so that also is a limit on accessibility within the historic context of the United States and labor ownership

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  • PhyphorPhyphor Building Planet Busters Tasting FruitRegistered User regular
    Lanz wrote: »
    Phyphor wrote: »
    Lanz wrote: »
    Lanlaorn wrote: »
    Well it's $2k per acre in Kansas so Ma and Pa Kent will be fine at $100k, and that $1m in California is not a lot for California so...?

    Yes, prices vary by location, picking a high value location to cherry pick your numbers from doesn't help your position when the fact remains that it's actually very cheap for that location.

    Okay let me ask you this:

    who the hell is affording $150,000 for the land alone, no buildings, no equipment, no infrastructure, just the land to start a farm in a low CoL state?

    Then how are they affording the rest of the things you need to run a farm?

    Farming isn’t a poor person’s game! That’s why you see the poor tending the farm as it’s workers, not it’s owners.

    It feels like we’re trying to continue to propagate the cultural myth of the American farm family where everyone goes out and tends the farm every day as a family business, so we can avoid confronting the reality of how exploitative and abusive farming is to those who labor in it

    150000 for a large empty plot of land isn't outrageous. Banks will give you loans, plus the land is rarely entirely empty, especially if it was farmed before, there's probably existing buildings and such

    And if you can't afford the land you also can't afford the machinery anyway so you wouldn't be able to do much with a large farm

    But when we talk the price per acre, we distinctly are not factoring things like what may be on the land. Those are separate costs. So again you’re back to “how much more do you have to pay after the cost of the land itself?” You’re conflating price per acre with the value of a property as a whole. The former is calculated in part to assess the latter

    Banks will give you loans, but what are you going to offer up as collateral? What could you offer up?

    None of what you’ve said counters my point that to farm takes wealth, it’s not a thing the poor can own in our present system. And when we talk family farms, we also are talking about intergenerational wealth passed down within a family, so that also is a limit on accessibility within the historic context of the United States and labor ownership

    You would use the farm as collateral?
    eg, https://www.rbcroyalbank.com/business/loans/royfarm-agriculture-mortgage.html

    Yes you do need some money to secure the loan, and it's also a business so you need a business plan and have some idea of what you're doing when you walk in the door. But nobody is ever going to float you a 100% loan to start a risky business anyway. Even a decently run farm can fail

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  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Lanz wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Lanz wrote: »
    …I think y’all are twisting yourself in knots trying to make some kind of convolution up to make sense of why the system is as it is.

    These folks aren’t dirt poor because the margins demand it, not because the average consumer wants affordable produce.

    For fucks sake last year we had countless millions of units of produce, milk, etc be destroyed because the early crunch of COVID meant it couldn’t be sold. Vast quantities of food destroyed because it couldn’t be sold and yet, and yet, prices didn’t suffer runaway increases.

    Your argument here makes no sense. Why would an excess of product cause a price increase?

    The milk is being thrown away because there's an oversupply compared to demand and not selling your product is one of the ways you stop oversupply form driving the price down.

    This isn't even weird behaviour. It's is a really old and common form of cooperative behaviour for farmers, who band together and control the supply of their product to keep prices stable in order to smooth out unavoidable fluctuations. You don't want everyone dumping their crops on the market during a bumper year and driving the price too low.

    There’s no grand calculus of the market that demands these people make a maximum of thirty dollars per 900lb bin of citrus fruits.

    Sure there is. Higher prices are bad for sales. Lower labour costs lead to lower prices. The same pressures that drive automation when possible drive the use of low-cost labour when it's not. That doesn't mean we should think that's good or something. A lot of choices make by capitalist markets are terrible. But there is usually some kind of a reason for it.

    You misunderstood my point from the jump

    Surplus doesn’t cause a price increase; surplus is destroyed to facilitate scarcity, which then secured prices and guards profits from falling. The argument is that we produce significant amounts of food and actively destroy them in part to safeguard profits.

    [Orwell makes a similar metaphor in 1984: part of the reason for the eternal open war between the powers is that their industrialization has long brought society the potential for a sort of virtual post-scarcity, but scarcity is valued by the rulership of each superpower for the power it provides them; thus that scarcity is enforced by appropriating that industrial force for the war machine, purposefully using up materials that could benefit the people to create products that will inevitably be shipped to battle where it will be summarily destroyed in the course of the war, benefiting no one.]

    This was argued because people keep tracking towards this argument that higher wages = greater prices for the end consumer, as though the labor costs are what drives the consumer-cost of foodstuffs, rather than a calculation of what the market is predicted to tolerate, and with decisions then made on the back end to secure those prices, in order to meet demands for profit growth, such as enforcing artificial scarcity of product (to prevent price decreases from the existence of the surplus) or minimizing expenses (such as labor costs) to protect profit margins.

    Yes, this is literally the kind of collective action I'm talking about there that you somehow missed. Farmers banding together to avoid driving each other into starvation via a collective action problem. It is the same kind of thinking that leads to things like labour unions or minimum wage laws, which seek to prevent people from driving down the price of labour to unsustainable levels.

    How you go about this depends a lot on the product though. Lots of things are just very specific to a single product. With a product that isn't highly perishable you can just store it away and then sell it off in leaner times. And even that is done with milk to some extent by converting it into other products like cheese. But the problem for american dairy producers is demand is falling and there is, to my understanding, a glut of cheese to some extent too but dairy cows aren't a spigot you turn on and off but a long term investment that just keeps giving.

    And none of this changes the fact that labour costs are part of what sets the cost and thus the profitability of a crop. How could it? You still gotta pay people to pick that orange and so the cost to a farmer of making an orange is set by that labour cost.

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  • MarathonMarathon Registered User regular
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?

    The farming world. My dad operates a small family farm along with his dad and brother. The three of them collectively raise crops on about 4000 acres and have another 2000 or so for cattle.

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Marathon wrote: »
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?

    The farming world. My dad operates a small family farm along with his dad and brother. The three of them collectively raise crops on about 4000 acres and have another 2000 or so for cattle.

    How many workers do "the three of them" employ, and what's the pay rate for their labor.

    Edit: I am asking these questions because you chose to volunteer this information in the middle of a discussion of how even "small family farms" are run by those who are relatively well-off and have benefited from generational wealrh and more often than not rely on the exploitation of laborers who perform the actual working of the land.

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  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?
    This one?

    There are less than 46k farms and ranches in Nebraska(pop 1.9m), and 45m acres of farm/ranch land.

    Next time you are flying over these states, look down.

    E:For stuff like corn/soy production, making $70-100 an acre in profit is doing good. That profit being the farmers wages. So you aren't farming just a handful of acres of staple crops as your full time job.

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    A brief history of the US government appropriating farmland from people of color

    The generational wealth of "family farms" is inexorably tied to the systemic racism present in America, and the overlap between civil rights and labor rights is enormous. Migrant workers are still performing the jobs that Black sharecroppers and climate refugees performed back when The Grapes of Wrath was written.

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  • MarathonMarathon Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    Marathon wrote: »
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?

    The farming world. My dad operates a small family farm along with his dad and brother. The three of them collectively raise crops on about 4000 acres and have another 2000 or so for cattle.

    How many workers do "the three of them" employ, and what's the pay rate for their labor.

    Edit: I am asking these questions because you chose to volunteer this information in the middle of a discussion of how even "small family farms" are run by those who are relatively well-off and have benefited from generational wealrh and more often than not rely on the exploitation of laborers who perform the actual working of the land.

    The “three of them” employ no one else. The operation is run by them and them alone. No seasonal or migrant labor. If they are exploiting anyone I guess it would be my grandma who still likes to bake them cookies on occasion.

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  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited November 25
    Marathon wrote: »
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?

    The farming world. My dad operates a small family farm along with his dad and brother. The three of them collectively raise crops on about 4000 acres and have another 2000 or so for cattle.

    Thanks, you've now made me curious about stupid cows.

    So Google suggests that each cow needs about 10 or so acres if you don't want to have to feed them, and you need about 70 dairy cows to turn enough profit for a single person. So does this mean your family has a few hundred cows, which is enough for a nice, but not exorbitant, income for the three of them?

    If you don't mind my asking. Because, again, this conversation had made me curious about goddamn cows.

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  • MarathonMarathon Registered User regular
    I’m not sure about a dairy farm. They raise cattle for beef, but since it’s just the three of them they have a little less than 200 cows, or “head of cattle”.

    zepherin
  • OghulkOghulk Registered User regular
    Jumping in to say that owning land in bum fuck nowhere, where most farming/ranching is done, doesn't equate the same kind of wealth as owning land in urban or even suburban areas because there has to be demand for that land. The trend toward large industrial farming (which is what most farming today is, or family farms that act as a franchise of the large industrial farm) is because those larger corps have the economies of scale to run profit -- economies of scale that family farms/small farms can't really generate -- and eat up more land.

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  • JusticeforPlutoJusticeforPluto Registered User regular
    I think both sides are making assumptions. Like yes, I can absolutely see a 500 acre farm employing and exploiting people, especially migrant workers. But I can also see them employing no one, and using a lot of machines.

    I think the amount of land is a red herring. The type of crop and method of farming will matter a lot more I would assume.

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  • MonwynMonwyn Apathy's a tragedy, and boredom is a crime. A little bit of everything, all of the time.Registered User regular
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    Marathon wrote: »
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?

    The farming world. My dad operates a small family farm along with his dad and brother. The three of them collectively raise crops on about 4000 acres and have another 2000 or so for cattle.

    How many workers do "the three of them" employ, and what's the pay rate for their labor.

    Edit: I am asking these questions because you chose to volunteer this information in the middle of a discussion of how even "small family farms" are run by those who are relatively well-off and have benefited from generational wealrh and more often than not rely on the exploitation of laborers who perform the actual working of the land.

    The overwhelming majority of the farming in this country is effectively done by robots with a person riding along to make sure the GPS-guided drone tractor doesn't lose signal and wander across the road. If your equipment is old it's done by a couple guys driving the tractor rather than riding with it on autopilot.

    Migrant labor is needed for berries, grapes, some tree fruits, and tomatoes, and that's a pathetic proportion of what the US grows.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    shryke wrote: »
    Lanz wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Lanz wrote: »
    …I think y’all are twisting yourself in knots trying to make some kind of convolution up to make sense of why the system is as it is.

    These folks aren’t dirt poor because the margins demand it, not because the average consumer wants affordable produce.

    For fucks sake last year we had countless millions of units of produce, milk, etc be destroyed because the early crunch of COVID meant it couldn’t be sold. Vast quantities of food destroyed because it couldn’t be sold and yet, and yet, prices didn’t suffer runaway increases.

    Your argument here makes no sense. Why would an excess of product cause a price increase?

    The milk is being thrown away because there's an oversupply compared to demand and not selling your product is one of the ways you stop oversupply form driving the price down.

    This isn't even weird behaviour. It's is a really old and common form of cooperative behaviour for farmers, who band together and control the supply of their product to keep prices stable in order to smooth out unavoidable fluctuations. You don't want everyone dumping their crops on the market during a bumper year and driving the price too low.

    There’s no grand calculus of the market that demands these people make a maximum of thirty dollars per 900lb bin of citrus fruits.

    Sure there is. Higher prices are bad for sales. Lower labour costs lead to lower prices. The same pressures that drive automation when possible drive the use of low-cost labour when it's not. That doesn't mean we should think that's good or something. A lot of choices make by capitalist markets are terrible. But there is usually some kind of a reason for it.

    You misunderstood my point from the jump

    Surplus doesn’t cause a price increase; surplus is destroyed to facilitate scarcity, which then secured prices and guards profits from falling. The argument is that we produce significant amounts of food and actively destroy them in part to safeguard profits.

    [Orwell makes a similar metaphor in 1984: part of the reason for the eternal open war between the powers is that their industrialization has long brought society the potential for a sort of virtual post-scarcity, but scarcity is valued by the rulership of each superpower for the power it provides them; thus that scarcity is enforced by appropriating that industrial force for the war machine, purposefully using up materials that could benefit the people to create products that will inevitably be shipped to battle where it will be summarily destroyed in the course of the war, benefiting no one.]

    This was argued because people keep tracking towards this argument that higher wages = greater prices for the end consumer, as though the labor costs are what drives the consumer-cost of foodstuffs, rather than a calculation of what the market is predicted to tolerate, and with decisions then made on the back end to secure those prices, in order to meet demands for profit growth, such as enforcing artificial scarcity of product (to prevent price decreases from the existence of the surplus) or minimizing expenses (such as labor costs) to protect profit margins.

    Yes, this is literally the kind of collective action I'm talking about there that you somehow missed. Farmers banding together to avoid driving each other into starvation via a collective action problem. It is the same kind of thinking that leads to things like labour unions or minimum wage laws, which seek to prevent people from driving down the price of labour to unsustainable levels.

    How you go about this depends a lot on the product though. Lots of things are just very specific to a single product. With a product that isn't highly perishable you can just store it away and then sell it off in leaner times. And even that is done with milk to some extent by converting it into other products like cheese. But the problem for american dairy producers is demand is falling and there is, to my understanding, a glut of cheese to some extent too but dairy cows aren't a spigot you turn on and off but a long term investment that just keeps giving.

    And none of this changes the fact that labour costs are part of what sets the cost and thus the profitability of a crop. How could it? You still gotta pay people to pick that orange and so the cost to a farmer of making an orange is set by that labour cost.

    A quick google search yielded an average price of navel oranges at $1.33 per pound. The workers were paid $30.00 per 900 pounds, or $0.03 (repeating) per orange. This means the picking cost is only 2.5% of the retail cost of oranges. If you were to entirely eliminate the labor of picking, it would only allow a price drop down to $1.30 per pound.

  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    I think both sides are making assumptions. Like yes, I can absolutely see a 500 acre farm employing and exploiting people, especially migrant workers. But I can also see them employing no one, and using a lot of machines.

    I think the amount of land is a red herring. The type of crop and method of farming will matter a lot more I would assume.

    The US Government classifies farms into 3 categories:

    * Small Farms - total sales of less than $250k
    * Large Farms - total sales of $250k to $500k
    * Very Large Farms - total sales exceeding $500k

    A 500 acre farm probably falls into the "large farm" category.

    You have to use land, total sales, or some metric to be able to compare farming across different crops. When using the land, the assumption is that you can change crops to those that best fit the market and what can be grown in your region.

  • useruser Registered User regular
    I'm of the opinion that just about any discussion about making agricultural work in California more equitable, ought to include considering seizing this family's assets under eminent domain and figuring out how to start over in a way that's not as avaricious.

    https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/08/lynda-stewart-resnick-california-water/

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    Marathon wrote: »
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    Marathon wrote: »
    Hacksaw wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Have to be pretty ignorant of US labor history to take issue with characterizing agricultural employers as evil.

    Cartoonishly evil industry.

    It's absolutely true, but also the small 100-500 acre passed down family farm owner who for all intents and purposes is just doing it as a hobby is still a 'farmer'.

    And in any rural community everyone knows several of those guys and they manage to relate 'you call farmers shitty, well Bob is a good guy. And so is Dale'.

    There is still no answer when still most people dont discern a farmer with a million dollars in property with a multi billion dollar industrial farm.

    ...In what world is 100 to 500 acres considered "small"?

    The farming world. My dad operates a small family farm along with his dad and brother. The three of them collectively raise crops on about 4000 acres and have another 2000 or so for cattle.

    How many workers do "the three of them" employ, and what's the pay rate for their labor.

    Edit: I am asking these questions because you chose to volunteer this information in the middle of a discussion of how even "small family farms" are run by those who are relatively well-off and have benefited from generational wealrh and more often than not rely on the exploitation of laborers who perform the actual working of the land.

    The “three of them” employ no one else. The operation is run by them and them alone. No seasonal or migrant labor. If they are exploiting anyone I guess it would be my grandma who still likes to bake them cookies on occasion.

    So I gather then that it's all growing cereal grains or the like that can be easily harvested thanks to motorized vehicles driven by a single person. Which means it's, ahem, comparing wheat to oranges when discussing the labor practices on the farms.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    Yeah a family farm that doesnt employ anyone doesnt really have any relevance to a discussion of agricultural employment practices.

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  • MarathonMarathon Registered User regular
    Yeah a family farm that doesnt employ anyone doesnt really have any relevance to a discussion of agricultural employment practices.

    Cool, since I was just responding to Hacksaw and his question of where 100 to 500 acres for a farm was considered “small” I don’t really give a shit where you feel like moving these particular goalposts.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    The whole "small farm" thing comes from stats ok what percentage of farms meet such a description as far as the government is concerned, which, to the point, makes it a not very useful metric for understanding the nature of farm work as an employer employee relationship.

    No one is "moving goal posts" dude, its the labor thread.

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  • MarathonMarathon Registered User regular
    edited November 25
    I’m not sure how many people need to make it clear to you that 100-500 acres for a functioning “farm” isn’t enough, regardless of what is grown. But that was what I was attempting to add to the labor thread.

    Marathon on
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  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    The problem and the whole tangent is that when you refer to all farmers as 'cartoonishly evil' or with condescending derision most people aren't thinking of agri-mega corps.

    To some degree, evidenced by the very people in this thread, think of the real actual farmers they personally know and relate to who are just people getting by and not even especially successful even by local small business standards. A successful farm is a multigenerational investment and most of the paper wealth is inaccessible and illiquid. When people don't even have a sense of what is a small / large farm or typical amount of property but then deride farmers as evil it immediately turns off a group that in theory should be natural allies to labor.

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  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    Yeah a family farm that doesnt employ anyone doesnt really have any relevance to a discussion of agricultural employment practices.

    Only insomuch as it was claimed that all farmers are capitalist scum who exploit labor. Wherein it was proposed that wages are low because capitalists don’t think labor is human and that there are no other reasons for low wages.

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  • MatevMatev Cero Miedo Registered User regular
    Sweet Jesus.

    Agri-business is a slave-driven business. Pay the workers more and give them benefits. We should all be making enough money to eat the cost but the 1% have eaten all our excess productivity for longer than I've been alive.

    Farmers that are not in agri-business aren't necessarily villains every single step of the way. Some are conservative dicks, absolutely. Some are just playing farmer while they use their family's accumulated wealth to exploit labor, sure. But there are plenty of people who don't fall into either category who are just trying to make their living. They aren't relevant to this thread, and it's a goosey discussion outside of pretty much the first point.

    For something far more cromulent and directly union related, Amazon continues to try and bust unions that it's workers are realizing are their only hope of battling a megacorp
    In a 30-minute audio recording of one of the meetings obtained by Motherboard, two Amazon representatives laid out a series of anti-union arguments, saying that a union would “seek to disrupt the direct relationship between Amazon and our associates” and could result in reduced benefits and higher healthcare premiums for employees. The lecture also included disinformation about union dues and described an anti-union website, Unionfacts.com, as an “unbiased” source on unions.

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