"When our existing assumptions break down, it's … those who dare to think differently, who are needed to reboot the system…. The new is struggling to emerge … to move beyond ideology” –David Fuller, founder of Rebel Wisdom
To reiterate from the home page, the anti-establishment on both right and left is concerned about about economic sustainability; we see the fragility and unfairness of our current global economy. The IDW thinkers provide a common ground and foundation for respectful dialog, which may enable us to find ways to cooperatively advocate for policies (or find work-arounds) to help us get thru an apparently looming economic collapse.
When financiers get creative, it often hasn’t gone well for those of us who have trusted plain old savings account plans. Instead of getting pissed about losing out, maybe it’s time for us to follow their lead. Let’s get creative with ways to manage far more valuable savings: the farmland.
If you have friends who are farmers, you may know many have been struggling, especially the past few years to keep their small farms. Although there are a few hobbyists who take the farm tax breaks and only produce a few token products, many whose families have farmed for generations work a side job to make ends meet, and still are looking at foreclosure or farm bankruptcy as a likely outcome. Small farms can’t even manage a subsistence lifestyle any longer. Most of them aren’t the type to complain, so they need others to complain for them. It’s not widely known there has been a growing mental health crisis because of the stress they are under. They fervently want to maintain their farm and small community culture. It’s important to find new solutions, because they provide essential food security in an increasingly fragile food economy. The world only recently reached a point where more than half its population lives in cities, because small farmers worldwide face similar pressures. This shift to an unsustainable mass food production and transport model is based on maximum short term profit. For example, fish caught near the U.S. is sometimes shipped to China for processing then back to the U.S. for consumption, to take advantage of cheaper labor. We are now, with Covid-19, seeing added downsides to that model.
Government Help? Too Little, Too Late
The government knows that small family farms have found it impossible to compete with government-subsidized agribusiness. They can’t and won’t buy politicians though, and the scraps thrown to them aren’t helping much. Most don’t qualify for FDA small grants or loans, and likely the farmers couldn’t pay the loans back if they did. Most help comes from state or local levels if it comes at all. Property taxes that don’t take into account the profitability of the land is a challenge.
Creating New Financing Models
For decades, ecovillages have been developing and testing financial models for co-ownership of land, some more successfully than others. Understandably, most farmers do not want to co-own their land or farm operations, but if given a choice to sell shares of ownership (which they could buy back eventually) to trusted family members and friends, instead of potentially losing the farm to the bank or failing to qualify for a loan, many might be willing to. They need only to have this presented as a viable option with low-cost implementation. Here are two models:
With these obvious benefits comes the question of why something like this hasn’t become a wide-spread practice already. It’s clear that our economic model and our culture is focused on self-sufficiency and individual ownership. It certainly benefits banks to have all the risk be on the individual. It will be a challenge to find credit unions willing to take on co-ownership, but after a few have done so successfully, the idea could quickly be replicated. Certainly it’s a solution that presents new challenges, but we are at a crisis point in so many ways. It’s time to try new models.
How Greens Can Help
Hey SJWs, is this a cause you could get behind? Non-profit organizations offer what they can, yet they often have few resources. If you’re interested in self-employment, you could make a side project and possibly eventually a consultancy of finding relevant farming grants funding and working with non-profits to apply, or working with farmers to apply directly. Most farmers have neither the time nor the experience needed to (a) investigate which programs they might qualify for, then (b) negotiate the complex application process, with no guaranteed outcome. They need a more direct route for reliable funding. You may find grant resources available to help farmers in various ways: