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Why Regenerative Ag Part 2

written by

Ben Simmons

posted on

January 9, 2023

Happy New Year! It seems the older I get the faster the years go by...

Many of us who consider ourselves Regenerative Farmers will say that Regenerative is beyond Organic! Meaning, our farming methods consider the WHOLE of nature and the natural processes. As you read last week about the 6 Principles of Soil Health * 3 Rules of Adaptive Stewardship * 4 Ecosystem Processes used by Regenerative Farmers is about observing the Ecosystem and using the Principles and Rules to enhance our natural Ecosystem Processes.

Organic has become a list of standards set by the USDA regarding approved production methods. The goal is not to enhance natural Ecosystem Processes. And, unfortunately, as more & more process food companies buy up once organic farms (companies) and petition the USDA to adjust organic standards to meet production efficiency (cost) it will only get worse. 

Ronnie Cummins with the Organic Consumers Association recently wrote a post titled "Is This The End Of Credibility for the "USDA Organic" Label? His article was about hydroponic operations being certified organic after the 9th Circuit Court’s September 2022 ruling, which stated, ‘no part of the statute [the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act] clearly precludes organic certification of crops grown hydroponically,’ mean the end of organic farming, as we know it?

Cornucopia Institute is dedicated to radical transparency in the food system. You should know who owns your favorite organic products. That's why, with the help of food systems expert Dr. Phil Howard, They have updated and improved their Who Owns Organic? graphic

I believe at one time organic was a very good method for food production. However, as more and more large companies buy up small organic brands and leverage the USDA to change the methods to meet their profit objectives has lessened the positive impact for organic growers and consumers alike.

So, "Why is the current industrial agriculture system broke and what makes Regenerative Farming better?"

Industrial agriculture is a Complicated System based on reductionist science. In this complicated system there is a lot going on to make it work and if a part quits then it does not work anymore. Reductionist science works great on very linear, complicated systems. A factory like Tyson is very linear and lends itself to scale which leads to efficiency. That is the model applied to agriculture today - to make food as cheap as possible. Remember the Spring of 2020 when plants were shut down. Very soon thereafter grocery store shelves were emptied and there was no restock. However, small farms like NGF keep working, meeting our customer's needs.

A Regenerative Farm is a Complex Living System. There is a lot going on to make it work, but if one component quits or hiccups the system may stumble, but it continues working. Complex Living Systems do not lend themselves to reduction science. When you try to apply reduction science to complex systems you get unintended consequences. Nature is a cycical Complex Living System and does not work with reduction science.

Your body is a complex living system. I could make the argument that our current health care systems are broke because of very specialized medicines vs. consideration for the whole body. 

Industrial farming does not follow the 6 Principles of Soil Health. For example - Minimize Disturbance. Most industrial farmers use heavy tillage to turn the dirt following harvest thus exposing the dirt to rain and wind erosion. Here is a picture to help illustrate my point

This man is standing along a creek. The clear water behind him is coming from about 2,000 acres of Regenerative Farmed land (White Oak Pastures). The muddy water is coming into the creek from across the road (not visible) from a heavily plowed corn field. No doubt after years of heavy tillage followed by heavy rains all the top soil and nutrients are washed away - including NPK fertilizer applied to grow the corn. This dirt is dead - meaning it has no aggregates where water, air, and soil biology can live.


This picture was taken on my farm the morning of Jan 4th 2023 following the heavy rains from Jan 3rd. This branch drains about 200 acres from my farm as well as neighboring land owners property that is NOT farmed. It compares in clarity with the rain water from White Oak Pastures in the above picture.

My aha moment came at a GrassFed Exchange Conference in Bismark, ND. Then again in Perry, GA where Ray Archuletta used a Rainfall Simulator to demonstrate the importance to Minimize Disturbance and the negative effects of heavy tillage on our Water Ecosystem Process. 

Image


Click on the picture to see the demonstration that starts at 15:00 and ends at 23:00 when Doug flips the pan of dirt!

I can go on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture how Industrial agriculture breaks the natural ecosystem process by ignoring and destroying the cycles of nature.

Regenerative Farmers seek to RESTORE the natural Four Ecosystem Processes by utilizing the 6 Principles of Soil Health and 3 Rules. Thus enjoying the abundance of nature.

I hope these articles help clarify why Regenerative Farming is so important and the critical role consumers can make in restoring our planet's natural ecosystems.

As a reminder, we have an Old Fashioned Steak Sale through the month of January - straight from our Regenerative Farm. 

There are FIVE steaks in this sale. All of our beef is Grass-Fed AND Finished (never any grain), free of chemicals and hormones...

1) Boneless Ribeye - sale price $15.30. Compare to Corner Market conventional beef at $17.99

2) NY Strip - sale price $13.30. Compare to Corner Market conventional beef at $15.99

3) Sirloin - sale price $8.80. Compare to Corner Market conventional beef at 11.99

4) Bone-In Ribeye - sale price $12.80. Save $1.45/lb.

5) T-Bone - sale price $12.35. Save $1.40/lb.

To receive the sale price you must order and take delivery BEFORE January 31st, 2023. Order early before the supply is sold out.

As we continue this series look for other examples from 6*3*4 in upcoming newsletters.


** Product Availability Update **


Chicken -Restocked Wednesday, December 28th. Next harvest date is February 14th with restock the following day

Eggs - Eggs are still tight. New hens arrived September 16th. Still very slow getting started...

 

Beef - Restocked December 23rd early afternoon. Next harvest is January 3rd with restock about January 24th

     

Pork - Restocked Dec 12th

Lamb - Last harvest date was MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14th. Restocked Friday Nov 25th.

More from the blog

Website Changes Coming

About two months ago Seven Sons announced they had SOLD Grazecart to POS Nation in Charlotte, NC. Our farm was in the top 5 to signup to use Grazecart back in December 2015. Back then it was very hard to set up... you had to work with the IT guy to program your site. Basically, flying by the seat of your pants. I had learned about Seven Sons and Grazecart during my time on the Board of the Grassfed Exchange Conference where Blaine was also on the Board. Additionally, you may remember that when we decided to add hens to our farm Beth & I visited Seven Sons to check out their operation. But, they (and we) perservered and today Grazecart is very functional and easy to "program" using widgets. So, the sale really saddened me because one of the compelling reasons we chose GC was that it was developed by farmers for farmers who market and sell direct to consumers. A little statistic - last year Grazecart supported about 450 farms. Our farm was in the top 25 largest users of Grazecart coming in around 22 or 23 if I remember correctly. There was no reason(s) given for the sale! The next communication came about a month ago stating POS Nation would transition Grazecart Stripe credit card process to POS Nation Stripe - again, no reason given. Farms were instructed to create an account on the new site and be ready for the migration to happen. All of this we have done. We are prepared, but have not yet been migrated. Then, this week several farms who had been migrated expressed disappointing results and lack of visibility on payments, payouts, reporting, etc. on the POS Nation site. I know when I checked my account status I could not log in. It took 4 email conversations over a 12-hour period AND then a couple of phone calls Friday morning before the issue was resolved. Late Friday afternoon the VP of Grazecart (POS Nation) emailed customers that the migration was put on hold until complaints were resolved. Additionally, this week - DRIP that powers our email marketing function communicated that Google & Yahoo email were cracking down on emails like our newsletters that are not delivered into inboxes. There are many reasons for this, but mostly folks are searching the internet and come across our website. They sign up to "check us out", and after awhile, decide to move on. Most never make a purchase. Some will make only one purchase and probably decide this is not what they are used to and fall away. Instead of using the "Unsubscribe" feature found at the bottom of our newsletter, they "Block" our email delivery. These are the ones that Google & Yahoo are after because these go into Spam folders and not inboxes. I am sure this is a big deal for email providers that cost them big money considering the shear volume of emails sent on a daily basis. That said, next week we will "Deactivate" about 288 DRIP accounts from ever receiving any of our emails. Well, enough of that for now! Remember, we showed pictures of the 23 registered Red Angus cows purchased from a ranch in WY? Well, they have started calving. Two of them this week. Here is a picture of the FIRST one. So glad we can celebrate this birth with our customers. At Nature's Gourmet Farm, our intent is to create a community that evolves around one of the most intrinsically important things of the ages, and that’s the provision of sustenance. That's our passion - to raise healthy food to nourish families and strengthen immune systems. If you are new to our farm then maybe you have been looking for premium ALL NATURAL GOODNESS of beef, pork, chicken, and eggs raised on pasture as God intended - with emphasis on Regenerative Principles and NOT conventionally raised animals (with growth hormones, drugs, chemicals, and antibiotics) - and where animals are treated humanely - then you have come to the right farm. Our delivery schedule and product availability are listed below along with order buttons that will take you to our website where you can browse over 90 product choices and place your order from the convenience of your home. It's that simple! ** Product Availability Update ** NOTE: Restocks are made about 6 PM on the dates indicated below! Chicken - Restocked May 8th. next restock will be May 23rd. . Turkey - Only have ground turkey and turkey wings available. Eggs - Restocked each Wednesday. We are well stocked on eggs - especially large at this time. Beef - Restocked April 19th. Next restock will be May 17th. Pork - Restocked fresh cuts Wednesday, May 8th followed by cured items (bacon) about 12 days later. Lamb - April 17th lamb did not work out. They were only 50 lb live weight or about half the weight needed for slaughter.

Updates & Musings From Farmer Ben

Last week I announced that we continue to have strong demand for our half beef custom orders, and that we have scheduled a harvest date for 6 "custom" beef with Homestead Farm & Packing in Lucedale, MS. Here are the key dates: April 27th 6 beef (12 halves) added to our website for orders. First-come, First-served. Customer pays deposit to reserve order. June 1st Cut-sheet due not later than this date. Best practice is to complete within a week of placing order. Cut sheet can be found at this link - scroll to the bottom of the page https://naturesgourmetfarm.com/custom-bulk-orders. June 3rd I will deliver the cows to the plant.

Do You Need A Half Beef? Must Read

Before I get into the main topic, let me share that our new mama cows are going great. They are settling in and now curious when we come around. For example, last Monday Jared picked up a load of chips for our chick brooder bedding and while unloading they eased up to see what we were doing. Very cool! Next, we want everyone to know that we are mostly FULLY STOCKED on beef, pork, eggs, and chicken. Its been a long time since we were last able to communicate that. Exceptions are filet, flank, and hanger steaks. Who bought all of those filets?