Forget everything you thought you knew about US Agriculture, the family farm myth and “successful” regenerative farmers, and take a deep dive into why should we treat farming as a business and why indigenous people should run them.
LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION ON:
With Sarah Mock, we dive deep into the good, the bad, and the ugly of farm businesses. She is a freelance farmer, a researcher and the author of Farm (and Other F Words). This is a conversation on farming as business and why she thinks indigenous people should run them.
Treating Farms as Businesses
Agriculture is exceptionalized from being recognized as a business, when in fact, there are no significant differences between the two. The challenges, benefits, and methods of how both are regulated and unregulated are essentially similar. Farming should require a certain level of business sophistication and differentiation between farm and family wealth.
“Farming is a business and you should operate it like one. If you are incapable of doing that, then you should be talking about what comes next? We should not support people doing what they want to do, just because.” – Sarah Mock
Enforcing Labor & Environmental Laws
There is no enforcement and checking in any of the environmental laws on farms. Most farmers do not believe that organic certification is strictly enforced. There needs to be a stern enforcement of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Labor as to regulate pollution and how workers can not only benefit but also be treated.
“We basically do not enforce any environmental laws on farms. If there was just a serious enforcement mechanism for it. I do not know a farmer who has not sprayed a pesticide off label. That is illegal to do, but they just do not care and no one enforces it, and no one ever checks.” – Sarah Mock
Farming as a Business or Investment
The idea of employee ownership in agriculture and other capital assets as a way of compensation leads to the question of whether farming is used as an investment or a business. Farmers are more worried about their investments and their children inheriting the farm, which then results for them to lose focus on their business
“I honestly think that American agriculture would be operating entirely differently if it was treated primarily as a business and not primarily as an investment class. If especially when we are talking about regenerative ag, changing diets, and about being more environmentally resilient, we have to be talking about farming, the business, not farming the investment class ” – Sarah Mock
Reforming Agriculture Through Ownership
Ownership is one of the ways wherein an entrepreneur can appreciate its asset and compensate labourers. There is an irrational idea that businesses can be run solely through volunteers. In running an agricultural business, everyone should not be adding the same, as there needs to be specific values.
“We are growing long-term wealth. We are growing a real business that has real value. Every person on Sylvanaqua has a path to ownership. I am personally on the path to partnership.” – Sarah Mock
Other Important Points Discussed
Koen and Sarah discussed these points in this episode:
- What Sarah would do if he was given a magic wand that could change one thing overnight in the agriculture and food space
- What Sarah would do if she were in charge of a one billion dollar investment portfolio tomorrow morning?
- What Sarah thinks smart investors, who want to invest in Reg ag and food look out for?
To know more about Sarah Mock and New Foundation Farms, download and listen to this episode.
Sarah Mock was raised by rural people. She has experienced their virtues and their violence, and she believes they are exceptional. Rural communities are petri dishes of democracy, each one an experiment that could help us discover new, better ways for us to live together. She has no choice but to keep telling the stories of these communities, to add depth to misunderstandings and challenge misrepresentations, because America’s rural story is her own.
- Sarah’s Article on Carbon CreditsSarah’s Article on Carbon Credits
- Book THE END OF THE MYTH From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America Greg Grandin
- Sylvanaqua Instagram
- Sylvanaqua Video on Their Federation of Collectives
- Hutterites farmers in Montana
- Big Team Farms Blogs
Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.