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At Mother Jones, Tom Philpott writes Wall Street Investors Take Aim at Farmland:

A recent report by the Oakland Institute documents a fledgling, little-studied trend: Corporations are starting to buy up US farmland, especially in areas dominated by industrial-scale agriculture, like Iowa and California's Central Valley. But the land-grabbing companies aren't agribusinesses like Monsanto and Cargill. Instead, they're financial firms: investment arms of insurance companies, banks, pension funds, and the like. In short, Wall Street spies gold in those fields of greens and grains.

Why are they plowing cash into such an inherently risky business with such seemingly low profit potential? For Wall Street, farmland represents a "reassuringly tangible commodity" with the potential for "solid, if not excellent, returns," the Oakland Institute notes—something clients are hungry for after being recently burned not long ago by credit-default swaps and securities backed by trashy mortgages. As the saying goes, you can't make more land; and as the Oakland Institute notes, "over the last 50 years, the amount of global arable land per capita shrank by roughly 45 percent, and it is expected to continue declining, albeit more moderately, going toward 2050."

Financial institutions and food-strapped countries like China and United Arab Emirates have already been snapping up land in the developing world, where prices are low and labor is cheap. But now, the Oakland Institute reports, pricey US land is also looking attractive, because it "boasts some of the world's most fertile soil, advanced industrial farm technology, strong private property rights, [and] federally subsidized crop insurance."

And Wall Street likes a good bubble. Farmland prices have soared to all-time highs in recent years, pushed up by the government-mandated corn ethanol boom. The average per acre price of Iowa land surged about 60 percent in real terms between 2007 and 2012, and rents have jumped in lockstep.

The report notes that over the next 20 years, nearly half of US farmland—about 400 million acres—will be up for sale as our aging base of farmers moves into retirement. So far, Wall Street cash is moving onto US farms like a stream; financial firms own just about 1 percent of total acreage, and most farmland is still bought by farmers, not institutional investors, the report states. But as more prime land enters the market, the hot money could soon flow like a gusher.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005No Rice in 2008

Given the penchant of Bush Republicans to promote those who fail most spectacularly, it wasn't surprising to see the wignnut-o-phere promoting Condi as their party's top choice for 2008.

I mean, she ignored an intelligence report titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S" in the month leading up to 9-11. That would've ended the career of a lesser mortal, but the woman who called Bush her "husband" gets the benefit of the doub —nay—she gets Republican bloggers pinning for her presidential candidacy.

But alas, Condi is not a politician, as her performance on the 9-11 commission (among other places) showed. She'd get eaten alive in a primary battle by the more experienced politicos. And really, she has no natural constituency inside the Republican Party primary electorate.

She knows all these things, apparently, since she's emphatically saying no to a run.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ruled out a run for the presidency yesterday, damping grass-roots efforts to draft her for a 2008 election campaign.

"I don't have any desire to run for president, I don't intend to, I won't do it," she said on ABC's "This Week." "I don't know how many ways to say 'No.'"

Tweet of the Day:  

"The Google app is like having a drunk know it all in your pocket. We now know everything but don't understand anything." -@peteholmes

On today's Kagro in the Morning show: Trigger warning: morning chit-chat! Medicare pays $172 million for penis pumps, which John Tyler never needed, and someone's trying to beat Amazon to the punch on drone deliveries. Armando sparked some discussion of controversial new hire, and an odd bit about Nate Silver, as well. Turning back to the CIA vs. Senate fight, we're reminded by Ari Melber that the heart of this constitutional crisis isn't actually spying, it's torture. But there's still plenty there for those who prefer the spying hook. Next dot in our connecting exercise: "The Case for Corruption." Finally, one of "3 inconvenient facts that make libertarians' heads explode."

High Impact Posts. Top Comments.

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Comment Preferences

  •  1,003,071 registered users on dKos now. (18+ / 0-)

    Here are the 10 newest registered users on dKos.  Hope to see their comments and diaries here soon!  (If they're not spammers.)

    jeanbaker (user #1,003,064: already banned)
    steve55ma (user #1,003,065: already banned)
    amedeelayne23 (user #1,003,066: already banned)
    resepmasakan (user #1,003,067: spammer)

    And since our society is obsessed with numbers that end in a lot of zeros as milestones, here's a special shoutout to users:
    #1,002,300: Anthony4321rcm4
    #1,002,400: SoonASenior
    #1,002,500: Matthew2108uen4 (spammer)
    #1,002,600: Michael0965vdm3
    #1,002,700: Chrismac (already banned)
    #1,002,800: Checkpoint (spammer)
    #1,002,900: annasawa
    #1,003,000: Petrica8360tjt1

    Oh, and also a special shoutout to user #1,003,050: KrystalMBall, who responded in MinistryOfTruth's diary about her excellent commentary on MSNBC!

    We've added 829 more users in the last three days.  There's definitely been a recent increase in spammers in the last couple days.

    And for your Diary Rescue music pleasure, here's Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'".

    All right, off to hopefully see UCLA beat Stanford in the Pac-12 semifinals!

  •  Why Not, Finance is Buying Up Commodities, (14+ / 0-)

    housing, business; why not farms?

    There's no reason for finance not to own and operate everything.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:35:48 PM PDT

  •  'Why are they plowing cash" (8+ / 0-)

    Very Punny Mama J very punny

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:36:03 PM PDT

  •  Feh! The banks helped in that loss... (14+ / 0-)

    ...of arable land, financing subdivisions that spread out over farmland near the cities. Result? Longer distances to travel to get to market, and, of course, less farmland.

    Well, they can't have our 40 acres, especially since only 15 of it is tillable. We've had local offers, but once we are established out there, we intend to use that land.

    It will be interesting to see what pitfalls the big-city bankers will run into. A Green Acres scenario on steroids?

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:38:08 PM PDT

    •  What are you planning for your 15 good acres? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, high uintas, NonnyO, Eric Nelson

      Agriculture is a gamble, good land is not. Enjoy the journey.

      Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now 400ppm. That is "Climate Cluster Chaos". (hat tip to JeffW for CCC)

      by Zinman on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 09:53:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Everything except corn or soybeans... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        high uintas, Zinman, NonnyO, Eric Nelson

        ...Calamity Jean wants to plant several different things.

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 10:25:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Listen to Calamity Jean (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MTmofo, JeffW

          Promiscuous agriculture is the old fashioned technique. Don't put all your money into one crop, spread out the risk and spread out the rewards. Also, plant stuff you can eat in case the market goes south.

          Best of luck with your farm.

          Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now 400ppm. That is "Climate Cluster Chaos". (hat tip to JeffW for CCC)

          by Zinman on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 11:38:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Wheat, oats, rye, maybe flax for seed, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW, Eric Nelson

          clover for hay and fertilizer.  Also field (dry) peas and black, pinto, kidney, and Great Northern beans.  The 15 tillable acres are an east-west strip, so I figure I'll make it into north-south strips that are just under 2 acres each.  Each year each crop gets planted one strip west of where it was the year before, to give a rotation.  

          "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

          by Calamity Jean on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 08:53:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The other 25 acres are good, they just aren't (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, Eric Nelson, annieli
        What are you planning for your 15 good acres?
        plowable.  Part of them will be taken up by the house and barn, the rest will be fruit and nut orchards, a vegetable garden, pasture, and hay meadows.  

        "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

        by Calamity Jean on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 08:47:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  At some point, they gotta make (6+ / 0-)

    all that fake money real.  Rentiers gonna rent.  Watch food, housing, energy get bought up with that money.

    "So listen, oh, Don't wait." Vampire Weekend.

    by Publius2008 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:40:51 PM PDT

  •  The old saying is: A banker is a fellow who lends (8+ / 0-)

    you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.

    Imagine if you will what the bankers will do with food.

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

    by bobdevo on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:41:45 PM PDT

  •  How do you get help from the staff (5+ / 0-)

    on writing diaries? I ran across it once't, but can't find it, now.

    After 65 years, the ONLY thing I know absolutely and positively about life is that the check is SUPPOSED to be in the mail. That's it. Nothing else. PERIOD.

    by franklyn on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:42:51 PM PDT

  •  MSNBC highlights: missing airliner and Crimea (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeff Y, high uintas, TheMomCat

    Tonight, the lead story was of course the missing Malaysian airliner.  Chris talked with Sean Cassidy, Michael Goldfarb, and Cmdr. William Marks.  Ari Melber, filling in for Rachel, talked with Jim Tilmon.

    Chris looked at the situation with Ukraine and Crimea and Russia with Simon Ostrovsky, and Ari talked with William Taylor.

    Chris also blasted John Boehner for whining about some governors reversing the food stamp cuts through perfectly LEGAL methods.

    Ari played the Canadian doctor's excellent response to Sen. Richard Burr's (R-NC) Obamacare demonization.

    Chris also talked about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) blocking Tesla from selling their cars directly to customers with Hunter Walker, and then had Josh Barro and Jim Appleton debate whether this is a good thing or not.

    Ari talked with Alberto Mora about the CIA files the Senate wants that the White House hasn't given them, and closed with ex-Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) announcing an exploratory bid for Senate in New Hampshire.

    Ed opened with more talk about the Keystone XL pipeline with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Mike Papantonio.  He then talked with Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) about Darrell Issa.  He also looked at Joe Biden's 2016 noises with Holland Cooke and Zerlina Maxwell, and discussed Florida politics, specifically the Governor's race, with Annette Taddeo.

  •  Have a great weekend everyone! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, OLinda, high uintas

    “I would like to get rid of the homophobes, sexists, and racists in our audience. I know they're out there and it really bothers me.” ― Kurt Cobain

    by Jeff Y on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:45:17 PM PDT

  •  That is terrifying (11+ / 0-)

    By owning lands they can control agricultural output.  I don't want the bet on the prospect that Wall Street withdraws land to create shortages to drive up profits, Enron style.  After all, these are guys who would be fine with starving kids to death for a profit.  This is actually a significant national security threat and far more dangerous than Al Qaeda

  •  Right now, returns are lower, but wait until (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Eric Hopp, high uintas, NonnyO

    the casino gets ahold of it. With population increases, returns on land will start growing exponentially, especially in the climate change scenarios. And what better way to keep prices down while you gobble up land, especially fertile land, than by propping up deniers, keeping the price level? And the boom, you can then fund the solutions in a few years with a small amount of huge profits once you sound the alarm. Pretty grim folks who would pull such a stunt....

  •  wrote a quick diary that links to a feature which (9+ / 0-)

    allows you to see how your state's enormous public university has progressively lost public funding due to the usual mix of neoliberal and Reaganite foolishness since 1987

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:49:16 PM PDT

  •  Financiers meet for dinner (6+ / 0-)

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:51:59 PM PDT

  •  Out here in CA they are buying the ag land for the (13+ / 0-)

    water rights. It's liquid gold. District rakes in $14 million from water auction

    If you want to follow water in CA Lois Henry is one to watch. She is in the thick of it in Bakersfield.

    if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

    by mrsgoo on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:53:11 PM PDT

  •  Lol (4+ / 0-)
    Jimmy Kimmel Live - Lie Witness News - SXSW Edition:

    People who come to music festivals pride themselves on knowing who the new acts are even if they don't actually know who the new acts are. So we sent a camera crew into the streets of Austin to ask SXSW attendees about bands that do not exist. We made them all up, but that didn't stop people from telling us how much they like them in a special South By Southwest edition of Lie Witness News.

    “I would like to get rid of the homophobes, sexists, and racists in our audience. I know they're out there and it really bothers me.” ― Kurt Cobain

    by Jeff Y on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 08:54:41 PM PDT

  •  Financial (5+ / 0-)

    firms farms.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 09:01:20 PM PDT

  •  Banks have more m,oney than they know what to do w (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, JesseCW, NonnyO

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 09:04:46 PM PDT

  •  The farmland issue becomes clearer if you read (0+ / 0-)

    Wendell Berry: The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture

    The Unsettling of America Quotes

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    The Unsettling of America: Culture and AgricultureThe Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry
    1,792 ratings, 4.35 average rating, 164 reviews
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    The Unsettling of America Quotes (showing 1-19 of 19)
    “The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: agriculture, farming, soil 38 likes like
    “If we do not live where we work and when we work we are wasting our lives and our work too.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: cultural-decay 13 likes like
    “For the true measure of agriculture is not the sophistication of its equipment the size of its income or even the statistics of its productivity but the good health of the land.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    8 likes like
    “It is possible, I think, to say that... a Christian agriculture [is] formed upon the understanding that it is sinful for people to misuse or destroy what they did not make. The Creation is a unique, irreplaceable gift, therefore to be used with humility, respect, and skill.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: agriculture, christianity, land, stewardship 8 likes like
    “Let me outline briefly as I can what seem to me the characteristics of these opposite kinds of mind. I conceive a strip-miner to be a model exploiter, and as a model nurturer I take the old-fashioned idea or ideal of a farmer. The exploiter is a specialist, an expert; the nurturer is not. The standard of the exploiter is efficiency; the standard of the nurturer is care. The exploiter's goal is money, profit; the nurturer's goal is health -- his land's health, his own, his family's, his community's, his country's. Whereas the exploiter asks of a piece of land only how much and how quickly it can be made to produce, the nurturer asks a question that is much more complex and difficult: What is its carrying capacity? (That is: How much can be taken from it without diminishing it? What can it produce dependably for an indefinite time?) The exploiter wishes to earn as much as possible by as little work as possible; the nurturer expects, certainly, to have a decent living from his work, but his characteristic wish is to work as well as possible. The competence of the exploiter is in organization; that of the nurturer is in order -- a human order, that is, that accommodates itself both to other order and to mystery. The exploiter typically serves an institution or organization; the nurturer serves land, household, community, place. The exploiter thinks in terms of numbers, quantities, "hard facts"; the nurturer in terms of character, condition, quality, kind.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: ecology, revolution, stewardship, transition 6 likes like
    “It could be said that a liberal education has the nature of a bequest, in that it looks upon the student as the potential heir of a cultural birthright, whereas a practical education has the nature of a commodity to be exchanged for position, status, wealth, etc., in the future. A liberal education rests on the assumption that nature and human nature do not change very much or very fast and that one therefore needs to understand the past. The practical educators assume that human society itself is the only significant context, that change is therefore fundamental, constant, and necessary, that the future will be wholly unlike the past, that the past is outmoded, irrelevant, and an encumbrance upon the future -- the present being only a time for dividing past from future, for getting ready.

    But these definitions, based on division and opposition, are too simple. It is easy, accepting the viewpoint of either side, to find fault with the other. But the wrong is on neither side; it is in their division...

    Without the balance of historic value, practical education gives us that most absurd of standards: "relevance," based upon the suppositional needs of a theoretical future. But liberal education, divorced from practicality, gives something no less absurd: the specialist professor of one or another of the liberal arts, the custodian of an inheritance he has learned much about, but nothing from.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: agriculture, culture, education, liberal-arts, practicality 6 likes like
    “When people learn to preserve the richness of the land that God has given them and the rights to enjoy the fruits of their own labors then will be the time when all shall have meat in the smokehouse corn in the crib and time to go to the election. ("W.C." of Rural Neck KY in a letter to Farmers Home Journal - 1892)”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    4 likes like
    “Because by definition they lack any such sense of mutuality or wholeness, our specializations subsist on conflict with one another. The rule is never to cooperate, but rather to follow one's own interest as far as possible. Checks and balances are all applied externally, by opposition, never by self-restraint. Labor, management, the military, the government, etc., never forbear until their excesses arouse enough opposition to force them to do so. The good of the whole of Creation, the world and all its creatures together, is never a consideration because it is never thought of; our culture now simply lacks the means for thinking of it.

    It is for this reason that none of our basic problems is ever solved. Indeed, it is for this reason that our basic problems are getting worse. The specialists are profiting too well from the symptoms, evidently, to be concerned about cures -- just as the myth of imminent cure (by some 'breakthrough' of science or technology) is so lucrative and all-justifying as to foreclose any possibility of an interest in prevention. The problems thus become the stock in trade of specialists. The so-called professions survive by endlessly "processing" and talking about problems that they have neither the will nor the competence to solve. The doctor who is interested in disease but not in health is clearly in the same category with the conservationist who invests in the destruction of what he otherwise intends to preserve. The both have the comfort of 'job security,' but at the cost of ultimate futility.

    ... This has become, to some extent at least, an argument against institutional solutions. Such solutions necessarily fail to solve the problems to which they are addressed because, by definition, the cannot consider the real causes. The only real, practical, hope-giving way to remedy the fragmentation that is the disease of the modern spirit is a small and humble way -- a way that a government or agency or organization or institution will never think of, though a person may think of it: one must begin in one's own life the private solutions that can only in turn become public solutions.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: institutionalism, job-security, specialization 4 likes like
    “The encrusted religious structure is not changed by its institutional dependents--they are part of the crust. It is changed by one who goes alone to the wilderness, where he fasts and prays, and returns with cleansed vision. In going alone, he goes independent of institutions, forswearing orthodoxy ("right opinion"). In going to the wilderness he goes to the margin, where he is surrounded by the possibilities--by no means all good--that orthodoxy has excluded. By fasting he disengages his thoughts from the immediate issues of livelihood; his willing hunger takes his mind off the payroll, so to speak. And by praying he acknowledges ignorance; the orthodox presume to know, whereas the marginal person is trying to find out. He returns to the community, not necessarily with new truth, but with a new vision of the truth; he sees it more whole than before.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    4 likes like
    “Akin to the idea that time is money is the concept, less spoken by as commonly assumed, that we may be adequately represented by money. The giving of money has thus become our characteristic virtue.

    But to give is not to do. The money is given in lieu of action, thought, care, time. And it is no remedy for the fragmentation of character and consciousness that is the consequence of specialization. At the simplest, most practical level, it would be difficult for most of us to give enough in donations to good causes to compensate for, much less remedy, the damage done by the money that is taken from us and used destructively by various agencies of the government and by the corporations that hold us in captive dependence on their products. Most important, even if we could give enough to overbalance the official and corporate misuse of our money, we would still not solve the problem: the willingness to be represented by money involves a submission to the modern divisions of character and community. The remedy safeguards the disease.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: aid, culture, donation, institutionalism, money, philanthropy, values 2 likes like
    “One possibility is just to tag along with the fantasists in government and industry who would have us believe that we can pursue our ideals of affluence, comfort, mobility, and leisure indefinitely. This curious faith is predicated on the notion that we will soon develop unlimited new sources of energy: domestic oil fields, shale oil, gasified coal, nuclear power, solar energy, and so on. This is fantastical cause the basic cause of the energy crisis is not scarcity; it is moral ignorance and weakness of character. We don't know how to use energy, or what to use it for. And we cannot restrain ourselves. Our time is characterized as much by the abuse and waste of human energy as it is by the abuse and waste of fossil fuel energy. Nuclear power, if we are to believe its advocates, is presumably going to be well used by the same mentality that has egregiously devalued and misapplied man- and womanpower. If we had an unlimited supply of solar or wind power, we would use that destructively, too, for the same reasons.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: culture, energy, evolution, industrialism, solutions, technofantasy, the-future 2 likes like
    “To think of food as a weapon, or of a weapon as food, may give an illusory security and wealth to a few, but it strikes directly at the life of all.

    The concept of food-as-weapon is not surprisingly the doctrine of a Department of Agriculture that is being used as an instrument of foreign political and economic speculation. This militarizing of food is the greatest threat so far raised against the farmland and the farm communities of this country. If present attitudes continue, we may expect government policies that will encourage the destruction, by overuse, of farmland. This, of course, has already begun. To answer the official call for more production -- evidently to be used to bait or bribe foreign countries -- farmers are plowing their waterways and permanent pastures; lands that ought to remain in grass are being planted in row crops. Contour plowing, crop rotation, and other conservation measures seem to have gone out of favor or fashion in official circles and are practices less and less on the farm. This exclusive emphasis on production will accelerate the mechanization and chemicalization of farming, increase the price of land, increase overhead and operating costs, and thereby further diminish the farm population. Thus the tendency, if not the intention, of Mr. Butz confusion of farming and war, is to complete the deliverance of American agriculture into the hands of corporations.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: agriculture, politics, war 2 likes like
    “If [the loss of fertility of the soil and the loss of soil as a renewable resource] does happen, we are familiar enough with the nature of American salesmanship to know that it will be done in the name of the starving millions, in the name of liberty, justice, democracy, and brotherhood, and to free the world from communism. We must, I think, be prepared to see, and to stand by, the truth: that the land should not be destroyed for any reason, not even for any apparently good reason. We must be prepared to say that enough food, year after year, is possible only for a limited number of peaople, and that this possibility can be preserved only by the steadfast, knowledgeable care of those people.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: agriculture, ecology, marketing, salesmanship 2 likes like
    “The concept of country, homeland, dwelling place becomes simplified as "the environment" -- that is, what surrounds us, we have already made a profound division between it an ourselves. We have given up the understanding -- dropped it out of our language and so out of our thought -- that we and our country create one another, depend on one another, are literally part of one another; that our land passes in and out of our bodies just as our bodies pass in and out of our land; that as we and our land are part of one another, so all who are living as neighbors here, human and plant and animal, are part of one another, and so cannot possibly flourish alone; that, therefore, our culture must be our response to our place, our culture and our place are images of each other and inseparable from each other, and so neither can be better than they other.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: consciousness, division, environment, language, life 2 likes like
    “The crisis of community has its source in the corruption of character.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: character, community 2 likes like
    “The growth of the exploiters' revolution on this continent has been accompanied by the growth of the idea that work is beneath human dignity, particularly any form of hand work. We have made it our overriding ambition to escape work, and as a consequence have debased work until it is only fit to escape from.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: culture, destruction, dignity, philosophy, work 1 likes like
    “We are dealing, then, with an absurdity that is not a quirk or an accident, but is fundamental to our character as people. The split between what we think and what we do is profound. It is not just possible, it is altogether to be expected, that our society would produce conservationists who invest in strip-mining companies, just as it must inevitably produce asthmatic executives whose industries pollute the air and vice-presidents of pesticide corporations whose children are dying of cancer. And these people will tell you that this is the way the "real world" works. The will pride themselves on their sacrifices for "our standard of living." They will call themselves "practical men" and "hardheaded realists." And they will have their justifications in abundance from intellectuals, college professors, clergymen, politicians. The viciousness of a mentality that can look complacently upon disease as "part of the cost" would be obvious to any child. But this is the "realism" of millions of modern adults.

    There is no use pretending that the contradiction between what we think or say and what we do is a limited phenomenon. There is no group of the extra-intelligent or extra-concerned or extra-virtuous that is exempt. I cannot think of any American whom I know or have heard of, who is not contributing in some way to destruction. The reason is simple: to live undestructively in an economy that is overwhelmingly destructive would require of any one of us, or of any small group of us, a great deal more work than we have yet been able to do. How could we divorce ourselves completely and yet responsibly from the technologies and powers that are destroying our planet? The answer is not yet thinkable, and it will not be thinkable for some time -- even though there are now groups and families and persons everywhere in the country who have begun the labor of thinking it.

    And so we are by no means divided, or readily divisible, into environmental saints and sinners. But there are legitimate distinctions that need to be made. These are distinctions of degree and of consciousness. Some people are less destructive than others, and some are more conscious of their destructiveness than others. For some, their involvement in pollution, soil depletion, strip-mining, deforestation, industrial and commercial waste is simply a "practical" compromise, a necessary "reality," the price of modern comfort and convenience. For others, this list of involvements is an agenda for thought and work that will produce remedies.

    People who thus set their lives against destruction have necessarily confronted in themselves the absurdity that they have recognized in their society. They have first observed the tendency of modern organizations to perform in opposition to their stated purposes. They have seen governments that exploit and oppress the people they are sworn to serve and protect, medical procedures that produce ill health, schools that preserve ignorance, methods of transportation that, as Ivan Illich says, have 'created more distances than they... bridge.' And they have seen that these public absurdities are, and can be, no more than the aggregate result of private absurdities; the corruption of community has its source in the corruption of character. This realization has become the typical moral crisis of our time. Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose: we can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live.”
    ― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
    tags: character, counter-productive 1 likes like
    “For us, the possibility of kindly use is weighted with problems. In the first place, this is not ultimately an organization or institutional solution. Institutional solutions tend to narrow and simplify as they approach action. A large number of people can act together only by defining the point or the line on which their various interests converge. Organizations tend to move toward single objectives -- a ruling, a vote, a law -- and they find it relatively simple to cohere under acronyms and slogans.

    But kindly use is a concept that of necessity broadens, becoming more complex and diverse, as it approaches action. The land is too various in its kinds, climates, conditions, declivities, aspects, and histories to conform to any generalized understanding or to prosper under generalized treatment. The use of land cannot be both general and kindly -- just as the forms of good manners, generally applied (applied, that is, without consideration of differences), are experienced as indifference, bad manners. To treat every field, or every part of every field, with the same consideration is not farming but industry. Kindly use depends upon intimate knowledge, the most sensitive responsiveness and responsibility. As knowledge (hence, use) is generalized, essential values are destroyed. As the householder evolves into a consumer, the farm evolves into a factory -- with results that are potentially calamitous for both.”

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 09:25:44 PM PDT

    •  Wendell Berry (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, don mikulecky

      touches on so many salient points that his book, "The Unsettling..." is dozens of conversation-starters. Even where I question him (or disagree a little) the clarity that he brings to a discussion is really welcome. ^..^

      PEACE... The Affordable alternative.

  •  Find out what plans they made for water. (5+ / 0-)

    Might be able to hang corruption charges after prices spike.

  •  Two things (5+ / 0-)

    first a question: What House rule did that ... person ... invoke to deny members the display of their electronic devices yesterday? Seriously, I want chapter & verse.

    Second: right here in the scarlet heart of Bush country, farmers are finding out how unreliable Wall Street finance firms can be. Check out the story here about a recent change in ownership/management for a guar-buyer:

    Guess what? Yep. Shafted farmers.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 09:28:08 PM PDT

  •  Control the Food Supply (9+ / 0-)

    You control the world.

    Simple as that.

    XLNT diary, blades.

    "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

    by Timbuk3 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 09:29:23 PM PDT

  •  Another candidate for "tweet of the day" (5+ / 0-)

    Luckily, I was only drinking water, so the laptop survived.

    "'Patriotism' is the last refuge of a scoundrel" - Samuel Johnson, 1775

    preborner: (n.) one who believes that the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth.

    by 1BQ on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 10:01:07 PM PDT

  •  The Moon tonight, for night owls (10+ / 0-)

    And in honor of Pi Day - it hits your eye like a big pizza pie!


    "When does the greed stop, we ask the other side? That's the question and that's the issue." - Senator Ted Kennedy

    by Fordmandalay on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 10:01:30 PM PDT

  •  Some pick the fruit of the vine/ while others (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    will go to the mountains/ and eat the fruit of the hillsides/  and learn the way of the....

    The myth of American Exceptionalism is one the ruling class in this country has sold for so long that they've begun to believe it themselves.

  •  during the OPEC embargo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, JesseCW

    the Deep Pockets of oil companies who had working wells (and raked in the boodle) went on a farmland buying spree. I believe Tenneco was the first one that I read about making that move.
    Out west, Weyerhaeuser, which owned millions of acres of timberland, sold a whole bunch of it to Hancock (insurance) Timber Holdings and changed itself into a Real Estate Investment Trust recently. So now it can cherry-pick which lands to Develop, via their "real estate" arm, and still be in the timber biz, somehow (ahhh, the Tax Lawttery!)...
    PEACE... the Affordable alternative

  •  We have 400 acres of fertile bottom land for sale (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in USDA zone 8  and an area that seem immune to drought. ....and it'll probably go to auction at $100 an acre.  There is no  shortage of farmland and rural properties at foreclosure prices.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 11:20:41 PM PDT

  •  Malaysian PM giving news conf right now (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on the missing airliner. Latest is, they've pretty much concluded it's been hijacked. That's all know, from the twitter machine:

    but I first heard it from my local excuse for a news channel, go figure:

    I don't love writing, but I love having written ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

    by jan4insight on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 11:28:39 PM PDT

  •  Buying up farm land is the new Great Game. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, Superpole, JesseCW

    Not only is big money gobbling up arable land in America, but countries like China and Saudi Arabia are on buying sprees hoarding thousands of square miles of farm land in Africa and S. America.  Moreover, land greed explains the EU's rush to incorporate Eastern Europe.  Already Dutch and German agricultural conglomerates are buying up every acre of arable land in Bulgaria.  Meanwhile these same western agro-megaliths are surveying acreage in the Ukraine.

  •  Okay, I get it now.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW, JeffW, Eric Nelson

    When people complain that rich farmers are getting all the farm subsidies and the small/poor farmers are getting little or nothing..., they're talking about the corporations who have bought up the farms getting the subsidies.


    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 12:34:51 AM PDT

  •  Makes think of the icky '80s (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    During the Farm Crisis, a lot of big banks and big insurance companies were buying a lot of farmland on the cheap.

    The era is still a sore point with me. You had a lot of mean-spirited Reagan era conservative policies.

    I'm also not happy with the Left then because outside of the Rainbow Coalition, they did a whole lot of nothing then. Then 30 years later complain about there's not any way to flip over the rural red districts. Well, you had an opportunity on a silver platter and you missed it.

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 03:34:15 AM PDT

  •  Why not? You ignore more important laws. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    As recently as last week, Obama insisted that he’s "constrained" by Congress's refusal to pass a sweeping immigration overhaul and must carry out legal deportations.

    "I can not ignore those laws," he said last Thursday at a town hall meeting aimed at pitching his health care plan to Latinos. He said he's used executive action to prevent some deportations, including for college students brought here by their parents and suggested he could do no more unilaterally.

    Read more here:

    When I write that you're ignoring more important laws, Mr. President, I'm thinking of laws that would send banksters to jail for fraud and crashing the financial system, ones that would send the heads of the CIA and NSA to jail for lying to Congress, and laws and treaties that oblige us to investigate and prosecute torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 10:07:19 AM PDT

  •  "capitlaizing on crisis" land for pennies on.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ..the dollar; commoditizing yet another resource for profit; making it impossible for small local farmers Like:

    [ike:]Willy Reid and his goal of local sustainable farming

     or When Jim Coelho, the farm’s former owner and operator, spoke to the Oakland Institute, he admitted that he had not originally wanted to sell.

    The land had been in his family for more than 50 years, and he had fought as recently as 2005 to keep it from passing to anyone else. He had especially wanted to avoid selling to a player like Agrivest,  Coelho sees agribusiness, with its tendency to consolidate and squeeze out smaller players, as the biggest threat facing family farmers today.)  to survive

     - emphasis added

    And once the smaller farmer is squeezed out:
    UBS's strategy: "Rather than gambling its profits on commodity prices that could rise or fall, Agrivest prefers the predictable income that comes from renting to tenants (pdf), usually through lease agreements that last one to five years." That strategy is looking pretty good right now, because corn and soy prices have fallen while land rents remain stubbornly high. Between 2010 and 2012, the value of UBS's US farmland portfolio jumped from $192 million to $415 million.
    UBS Management Practices:
    When it comes to land management, Agrivest believes
    in minimizing risk. This is done mainly through leasing
    Agrivest prefers the predictable income that comes from renting to tenants, usually through lease agreements that last one to five years.70 Some of its contracts grant

    Agrivest additional income depending on farm profits, but in general the only time it is guaranteed crop proceeds is if the lessee fails to pay rent and the crops are seized until they do.71 To be sure, Agrivest covers property taxes and liability insurance for all of its properties, but that is the extent of its involvement:
    it is a rent-collecting landlord that openly admits it has no
    direct involvement in farming.72

    Predatory leases:
    HAIG maximizes profits from
    farmland while minimizing its actual exposure to farming.
    most problematic aspect of the lease is that it consciously isolates HAIG from potentially negligent or illegal behavior on the
    part of contractors. It specifically requires that the owner be “[held] harmless” for “all liabilities, obligations, claims, damages,
    penalties, causes of action, costs and expenses (including, without limitation, attorneys’ fees and expenses)”154 associated
    with the property.

    No speculation (?):
    Betting the Farm?
    When McCandless spoke to the ARMB in June 2012,
    he was adamant that there were no speculators playing
    the farmland market...
    ..what a load that is

    And who pays:

    But its biggest single customer is undeniably the taxpayer:
    six public sector pensions have committed millions to
    HAIG investments.
    Fracking Farmland?:
    Indeed, Agrivest has been far from passive when it comes to searching out these “higher and better” uses for farmland. As
    the ARMB’s investment manager, it has the authority to sign mineral leases without the client’s consent.96 In December 2010,
    it considered a mineral rights agreement on one of its Louisiana properties, but reportedly the deal fell through.97 In 2006, it
    leased 360 acres of farmland in Fresno to the Colorado-based Petrogulf Corporation,98 an energy company that has been cited for no fewer than nine safety and environment violations as part of its drilling activities on federal land.99

     - emphasis added

    And the question:
    Who would you trust more to navigate these challenges sustainably—farmers looking to pass on productive land to their kids, or financial managers operating under pressure to deliver short-term profits to investors?
    Conclusion of Oakland Institute report:
    The entire issue of farm access needs to be reconsidered in
    light of the financial sector and its increasing interest in US
    farmland. We need to find ways to both increase the number
    of young farmers and to connect them with the land and
    capital they desperately need. Failure to do so could have
    dire consequences. If more is not done to build a new
    generation of farmers with a vested interest in shepherding
    the land and providing people with healthy food, then
    waiting in the wings are buyers with decidedly less noble
    These institutional investors with billions in
    capital, who are more interested in global markets than in
    local food, are more inclined to hand the land and all its
    affairs over to independent contractors, and may just as
    easily resell the land for a profit rather than remain as its
    long-term stewards.
    Thx MB

    P.S. It always been about the land - imo - the rentiér's need to own it all

  •  Oh shit. That's not good. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Wall St+ farming generally=disaster.

    Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in.

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 01:21:31 PM PDT

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