An extract from this week's Smallholders' Newsletter http://www.smallholders.org
We offer something for you to think on at the start of another year. Where America leads, the UK follows around ten years later - right? Well, here's what is happening in the States right now. Here is the inevitable end result of the industrialisation of agriculture. Here is the nightmare future that awaits the UK as political and farming leaders join forces to embrace it.
This is contained within a long article entitled "Power Steer" written by Michael Pollan that first appeared in the New York Times on March 31st, 2002. You can download it in a few seconds direct from our website by clicking on this link:
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Here's a few extracts to give an idea of the content:
Then it's upon you: Poky Feeders, population 37,000. Cattle pens stretch to the horizon, each one home to 150 animals standing dully or lying around in a grayish mud that it eventually dawns on you isn't mud at all. The pens line a network of unpaved roads that loop around vast waste lagoons on their way to the feedlot's beating heart: a chugging, silvery feed mill that soars like an industrial cathedral over this teeming metropolis of meat.
Every hour of every day, a tractor-trailer pulls up to disgorge another 25 tons of corn. Around the other side of the mill, tanker trucks back up to silo-shaped tanks, into which they pump thousands of gallons of liquefied fat and protein supplement. In a shed attached to the mill sit vats of liquid vitamins and synthetic estrogen; next to these are pallets stacked with 50-pound sacks of Rumensin and tylosin, another antibiotic.
Growing the vast quantities of corn used to feed livestock in this country takes vast quantities of chemical fertilizer, which in turn takes vast quantities of oil -- 1.2 gallons for every bushel. So the modern feedlot is really a city floating on a sea of oil.
I asked David Pimentel, a Cornell ecologist who specializes in agriculture and energy, if it might be possible to calculate precisely how much oil it will take to grow my steer to slaughter weight. Assuming No. 534 continues to eat 25 pounds of corn a day and reaches a weight of 1,250 pounds, he will have consumed in his lifetime roughly 284 gallons of oil. We have succeeded in industrializing the beef calf, transforming what was once a solar-powered ruminant into the very last thing we need: another fossil-fuel machine.
Please take the time to read this important article before asking yourself the question - is this the future we really want in the UK? Make no mistake, this is the direction in which the forces of globalisation are rapidly driving our own agriculture, with Ben Gill and the NFU leading from the front.
In the USA, it's already too late. Our future is their present. We can still prevent this from happening - but time is fast running out.