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Cowschwitz And The Mcfarmer Dusko Jocic (December 17th, 2005)

Last year I drove through the deserts of the Southwestern United States. Fresh fruits and vegetables grew all around me using year round sun, automated irrigation and oil based fertilizers. With this mode of production, farming becomes about logistics and scale. It is hard to imagine what life will be like when shipping this produce becomes costly and inefficient.

Before cheap and abundant fossil fuels became popular, rural lands were the most valuable because they could produce food. The upperclasses in Europe held much of this land during Feudal Europe. Today some Europeans still pay half of their monthly income for food because much of it is organic and not genetically modified. Food is inexpensive in North America because fuel and land prices are much lower. Producing it and shipping it from California is cheaper than growing it in our own backyards. Corporations in the United States And Canada own large and extremely productive farms and are able to drive produce prices even lower through the use of migrant workers and by buying chemical pesticides and fertilizers in bulk. Most ordinary farmers are not large enough to gain the same benefits and the family farm is disapearing all over this continent. But when peak oil happens, more people will be forced to cultivate the land and grow their own food. Migrant workers from Mexico and the Carribean
may become too expensive to transport here for labor and organic farming will become a booming industry.

I also drove by the Harris Cattle Ranch in California. The place is so notorious for the mistreatment of its cattle and has gained the nickname, Cowschwitz. We often picture cows standing in green pastures and grazing on lands made of rolling hills and streams. The most striking thing about Cowschwitz is the ability to see it from many miles away. As you approach it you see black fields that look like really dark mud, but then you realise it's really cowshit and it goes on for miles and miles. 80% of all American beef production is held by four companies. They keep their cattle in manure filled holding pens, waiting for them to become full grown and ready for slaughter. The animals are often slaughtered while still alive in places like this and many of the attendents slice away knowing full well the animals are moving. The upcoming energy crisis will change the mistreatment of animals and its large scale production.

When I was travelling In Serbia this summer, I noticed that most of my relatives had chicken coups and pig pens on their properties in smaller cities. The city, pozarevac has about 100,000 people. Imagine large north American cities having live animals on balconies and backyards. My father lives in Suburban Toronto, Ontario and is fully aware that the law allows him to keep 4 chickens or 8 pigeons. Obviously these laws are from the 50's And 60's but it wasn't so long ago that people kept their own animals in North America. With farmland disapearing into the hands
of property developers and corporate farms, what will happen to agriculture?

If Corporations own much of the farm lands they will become the feudal lords of the 21st century. Imagine signing a contract with companies like Phillip Morris. In return for living and growing food on their land you will take what you need and give the surplus to the corporations. The age of the McFarmer is upon us. They weren't kidding in kindergarden when they used to sing, old Mcdonalds, I mean Old Mcdonald had a farm. Imagine hungry mobs of people working for mcnuggets and big macs. At least they'd be organic, right?

By: Dusko Jocic

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