I’ve been considering moving to a “working cattle ranch” in Ribera, New Mexico, after broadcast icon Don Imus invited me (and anyone listening to his show) to come farm sustainably on his 4,000 acre Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer.
The I-Man, as he’s been known on radio, interviewed David Kirby, author of the book “Animal Factory.” Apparently the book is all about the evils of so-called factory farms or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
Imus has a long history of being able to quickly move an author up the New York Times bestseller list with an interview followed by frequent follow-up on-air promotion by the broadcaster.
The attack of agriculture strictly based on the size of the operation — with anything bigger than what Farmer Jones and his two sons can accomplish with a 16-hour day of manual labor termed as corrupt and evil — is nonsense in my view.
Why would we be surprised that agriculture is going to evolve in the direction required by the American consumer?
We continually search the supermarket shelves for bargains. Who has the best price on milk? Why can’t we get good ground beef for $1.29 a pound anymore? We’ve forced farmers to be competitive and Farmer Jones had to adapt to a bigger operation or move to town and get a job.
I wish it weren’t so but I fear that local agricultural sustainability may have slipped into the realm of pipe dream.
I remember an outfit in Colorado that organized as a non-profit to explore the possibilities of sustainable agriculture. I just chuckled to myself every time I drove by and saw those poor old Tibetan yaks they had imported into their pasture.
They located their test farm on one of the most expensive plots of land in the state not far from a resort. They welcomed volunteers and school children out to the farm but it floundered financially despite millions in backing.
If we had the support of a non-profit organization behind us such as the one in Colorado or the one Imus operates in Ribera we could produce wonderful organic food that would taste great.
I’m betting that if I take Imus up and move out to his ranch to grow grass-fed beef, beans and squash he won’t be there to bail me out financially.
Who knows, he may want me to plow my plot with mules.
No, Imus and his wife are vegetarians and serve the kids they host at the ranch a vegan diet. That’s not too typical of a “working cattle ranch.”
Out here in eastern New Mexico and West Texas we live closer to the land and not too far removed from the family farm. Like lots of other people I know I’ll raise a garden because I like the way fresh stuff tastes and I might even buy a locally raised beef for the freezer.
But I’m not going to kid myself that I won’t continue to be a slave to the supermarket.
I like good food but I’m not going to pay more than necessary and I’m sure not going to be reading “Animal Factory.”
Karl Terry, a former publisher of the Quay County Sun, writes for Freedom New Mexico. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org