The confused deer who is living in the pasture with our goats has grown up into a handsome buck.
If only I could convince all his fellow deer to move out of our gardens and into the pasture with him.
Last Thursday the House of Representatives passed the so-called DARK Act (H.B. 1599) by a vote of 275-150. The key provisions of the bill are:
The part of the law that takes away the right/freedom of people of a state to require that GMO foods be labeled as such in their state is getting all the media attention, but as bad as that is, it isn’t the worst part of this bill.
We raise our pigs and chickens on Virginia-raised GMO-free feed. We pay significantly more for that feed in order to give our family and our customers meat and eggs from animals that have not been fed GMOs. We identify our products, truthfully, as “GMO-free.”
But if this bill is passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President (which seems likely to me), then it will be illegal for us to identify our products as “GMO-free” unless we have an expensive and intrusive government certification (similar to being “certified organic,” which we choose not to do). Meanwhile, industrial farms feeding their animals a diet of GMO grains will be allowed to sell their products as “GMO-free.” And if we claim that GMO-free food is safer than GMO food, we will be in violation of the law.
If you’d like to see how your Representative voted on this, a link to the roll call vote is HERE.
OpenSecrets.org reports that House members voting in favor of this bill received, on average, three times more money from Agribusiness than those who voted no. “All told, the 230 Republicans and 45 Democrats who voted to pass the bill collectively received over $29.9 million from the agribusiness sector and food and beverage industry during the 2014 cycle, or about $108,900 per member.”
These days consumers increasingly prefer to know what’s in their food and how the animals they consume were raised. Even though the local food movement is still a tiny segment of the overall food market, the momentum clearly has the industry concerned. Concerned enough to dole out big bucks to buy freedom-stealing legislation such as this.
If this becomes law it will make it more difficult for consumers to know the truth about their food and it will make it more difficult for small farms like ours to get our message out. But the underlying desire for ethically-produced food won’t go away. As a friend of mine likes to say, things like just go to show that we’re winning.
There have been some exciting (to me at least) developments regarding my forthcoming book.
First, the cover design has been finalized.
The other exciting news is that the book will include a Foreward by Matthew Sleeth. For those who don’t know of him, Dr. Sleeth is a prominent leader in the creation care movement, author of Serve God, Save the Planet, The Gospel According to the Earth and 24-6, and founder of the Blessed Earth organization. I’m honored that he will be contributing to the book.
We still don’t have an official release date but I’ll share it when we do.
We go for a walk every evening after supper. It’s a practice we adopted many years ago, after visiting my old college roommate in Spain and going along for a late evening stroll with the entire village. They call it a “paseo,” so we do too.
Our dog Ginny dearly loved our paseos. Even though she had a free run of the farm all day, she would become deliriously happy when it when was time to paseo.
Thursday evening we went on the final paseo we would share with Ginny.
And the day ended with a beautiful sunset.
Our goat Bianca is shy. She’ll run over to me and quickly check to see if I have a treat for her, then dash away as if she’s afraid of me. She’ll eat out of my hand if I offer her something, but she won’t linger for any ear-scratching.
Her mother behaved the same way. While most of the goats beg for attention, she would keep her distance, coming to get any treat I offered, but then quickly retreating out of reach. I have no idea why she did that. But she must have passed it on to her daughters Bianca and Jade, because they both act that way too.
And now Bianca’s pretty kids won’t let me touch them. Because Mom keeps her distance from me, so do they.
We’ve had goats change their attitudes toward us dramatically over their lifetime. Some of our tamest goats were once shy and skittish.
I’m giving Bianca’s kids (both does) to a neighbor who is building up his herd, so I won’t get a chance to tame them myself. But that’s OK, as we still have work to do with Bianca.
I came across a blog post (HERE) that lists all the contracts awarded by the Department of Defense in June. The numbers are eye-popping.
“The Pentagon issues a jumbled list of contracts every business day around 5:00 PM local time. Our project distills an entire month of these contracts into an accessible form. The Department of Defense (DOD) spent at least $31,732,488,201 on 285 individual contracts during June 2015. This amount does not include 19 Foreign Military Sales contracts worth $1,003,615,783.”
I won’t reproduce the entire list of all the contracts (follow the link to scan them), but here’s how the list begins:
UNINHABITED VEHICLES & CRAFT
General Atomics received $21,070,132 for Predator Mission Aircrew Training Systems (PMATS). This is a sole-source acquisition.
General Atomics received $121,350,000 for 19 Gray Eagles and 19 satellite communications air data terminals.
Northrop Grumman received $16,232,399 for engineering and manufacturing development for the Global Hawk system, specifically software fixes and maintainer graphical user interface tasks on the Global Hawk ground station.
Northrop Grumman received $60,943,220 for operations and maintenance services in support of the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance – Demonstrator (BAMS-D) UAS. This was non-competitive per 10 U.S.C. 2304 (c) (1).
FOREIGN MILITARY SALES – Through Foreign Military Sales (FMS), the U.S. government procures and transfers materiel to allied nations and international organizations.
AAR Parts Trading received $72,138,793 for C-130H Contractor Logistic Support for the Afghanistan Air Force in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Boeing received $41,146,387 to provide Saudi Arabia with Apache post-production services and maintenance. One bid solicited, one received.
CDM Constructors Inc.; Conti Federal Services Inc.; Gilbane Federal; Hensel Phelps; Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc.; and Nibor Enterprises Inc. received $49,900,000 to provide Israel with property repair/renovation associated environmental work, force protection work, and construction services.
General Dynamics received $55,944,900 to change the grain for Hydra-70 rockets from government-furnished material to contractor-furnished material. This is FMS to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan.
General Electric received $11,999,218 to provide six F110 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) kits; 17 individual kits to F110-100 engines used in F-16s. This involves FMS to Egypt. This is a sole-source acquisition.
L-3 received $23,188,063 to provide Saudi Arabia with training, a mission systems trainer, field service representative support, and spares in support of ISR capabilities for two King Air 350 aircraft. This is a sole-source acquisition.
L-3 received $95,000,000 to provide Saudi Arabia’s Air Force with air operations center training. This is a sole-source acquisition.
Lockheed Martin received $226,904,607 to procure the unitary rocket and pod (quantity: 474), reduced range practice rockets & pods (quantity: 1950), and alternate warhead rockets & pods (quantity: 450) for unnamed FMS.
Lockheed Martin received $119,200,000 for logistics support for Iraq’s F-16 program at Balad Air Base. This is a sole-source acquisition.
Lockheed Martin received $20,498,256 to provide South Korea’s Defense Intelligence Command with follow-on support for aircraft equipped with imagery sensors, communication system, and associated ground support. This is a sole-source acquisition.
Lockheed Martin received $14,426,483 to provide the Reprogramming Center -West, at NAS Point Mugu with primary mission equipment (hardware) required for the laboratory to meet Partner and FMS Mission Data File requirements in support of the F-35 Joint Program to Japan ($4,808,829; 33.4%); South Korea ($4,808,827; 33.3%); and Israel ($4,808,827; 33.3%) under 100% FMS.
Lockheed Martin received $9,733,000 to provide Saudi Arabia modernized target acquisition designation sights and post production support of the AH-64E pilot night vision sensor.
Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin JV received $70,239,965 for work on Army Javelin requirements that will eventually head to New Zealand, Jordan, Indonesia, Lithuania, Qatar, Oman, Ireland and Estonia.
Raytheon received $8,310,252 to provide the Netherlands with 100 Excalibur 155mm projectiles and 12 palletized containers.
Thales Defense & Security received $12,540,960 to provide Australia with sonar equipment.
United Technologies Corp. received $63,668,414 to remanufacture FI00-PW-I 00/200/220/220E/229 engine modules for Chile, Egypt, Jordan, Thailand, Taiwan, Greece and Indonesia. This is a sole-source acquisition.
CH2MHILL; Fluor-Amec II; Exelis Systems; KBR; RMS; PAE-Perini; URS; and DynCorp International received$5,000,000,000 to provide base life and operating support and logistical support worldwide on an as-required basis to support all programs with disciplines consistent with the Air Force Contract Augmentation Program (AFCAP IV) description of services.
Imagine all the good that could have been done with all that money, and how hard so many people worked to earn it (yes, I realize much of it was borrowed and will have to be repaid by future generations, if at all).
Consider the money being poured into Afghanistan (much of which is then sucked back out as profits to American contractors). I didn’t take the time to track down the precise number (if it is even available) but it includes about $65 billion to upgrade the Afghan military and about $104 billion on “reconstruction.” (Some details are HERE). Of course that doesn’t include what we’ve spent to support our military presence there, an amount that is multiples of what it costs per soldier to maintain a force in a more accessible location, like Iraq.
At the time of the U.S. invasion the entire GDP of Afghanistan was less than $2.5 billion. Even now it’s only about $20 billion. So we’re giving the Afghanistan military an amount over 3 times greater than the country’s GDP. If “reconstruction” projects are included, the amount is 8 times greater than the inflated GDP and nearly 70 times greater than the pre-U.S. presence GDP. So obviously Afghanistan can’t possibly support that kind of spending. It’s unsustainable, unless Afghanistan (known for good reason as “the burial ground of empires”) is to become a permanent ward of the U.S. taxpayer.
The world we live in can seem so crazy sometimes.
Tomorrow we will return to our regular programming…
We’re excited to have our intern Melanie on the farm for a couple of weeks.
She comes to us with a passion for farming and good food, and with the benefit of having visited 20 countries over the past two years working on organic farms. She’s teaching us more than we’re teaching her.
Aside from helping with the summertime work–weeding, harvesting, etc., we’ve been the beneficiaries of Melanie’s amazing cooking skills. She’s an artist in the kitchen and her creations are out of this world delicious.
This morning we’ll be offering her delicious vegan muffins (coconut and blackberry) at the farmer’s market.
Melanie is the sister of the also amazing Farmer Khaiti.
She’ll be leaving us next weekend to go spend a week helping our friends at Grace and Main, helping on their urban garden.
We’ll be sorry to lose her.