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While the battle in Congress rages on over the Farm Bill, and the partisan divide widens over just who should get the most taxpayer funded welfare, I have been living a rather interesting life in direct contrast to all that the Farm Bill represents.
In March, some good friends of mine decided to "Go Galt." They chucked it all, jobs included, and bought a small farm in the hills of Tennessee. Neither of them had ever farmed, but once they found the property of their dreams, their plans began to solidify into reality in a very short amount of time. I came to the now working farm in early June and have been here, watching their dream produce a garden, raise livestock, and make money.
Enter Joel Salatin, self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-farmer.” Salatin is the author of "You Can Farm", among other titles, and is changing views on farming all over the world. His model of sustainable, land-friendly farming, with a focus on making a profit (yes, you read that correctly, I said "profit") is garnering attention wordwide.
I had very little interest in being a farmer, but I began reading "You Can Farm" after my friends added his book to the very short list of reading that has "changed their lives." Considering their enthusiasm for their new life, and what I was seeing them accomplish every day, it's an understatement to say that my interest was piqued. I was hooked in the first ten pages.
“We don't need a law against McDonald's or a law against slaughterhouse abuse--we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse.” -Joel Salatin
Salatin is bluntly honest about the challenges farmers face. From money and marketing, to public opinion and government regulation, he addresses them all head on and with no flowery-fake enthusiasm. Along the way, he also manages to remind the reader often that knowlege is king, and you will have to work for it, but it CAN be done. He knows; he's done it. His family farm model, Polyface Farms, is an inspiration the world over, and he is making millions. As a bonus, a very large portion of the information in this book can be applied to any other entrepreneural venture where the intention is to avoid being squashed by regulation and to actually make a profit.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to check on the pigs and get ready to pick berries for the value-added baked goods we also offer from the farm. Next time, I'll tell you how Salatin's model is challenging specific regulation and the force gathering behind small famers in America. Hint: It isn't Congress, or a Farm Bill; with or without Food Stamps attached.