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Michael Bloomberg Implied Farming Doesn't Take Intelligence
Tuesday, 18 February 2020 01:24

Pardon my french, but fuck Bloomberg.

I'm not a farmer. I can't even grow a garden worth a damn. I tried once. The dirt and seeds defeated me, even though my IQ is four standard deviations north of the mean.

I've spent a fair amount of time talking to farmers and stockmen over the years, trying to sell them insurance, learning a little here and there. Farming isn't an easy job. It's very risky, it has very high barriers to entry, it's capital intensive, and it can kill you. Farming and raising livestock has always been among the top 10 most dangerous occupations in America. I should know - I deliver the death claim checks.

Farming kills in all sorts of strange and gruesome ways. The following few examples are real, I delivered claim checks on these folks: Head squished flat by a horse trailer due to hydraulic failure, body smashed flat by a giant wet round bail of hay rolling off a trailer, trampled by livestock, run over by tractor, blown up by a wheat dust explosion, plus cancer from exposure to fertilizer and too much sun, not to mention stray bullets from hunting accidents.

And yet farmers go out again and again, planting food, raising animals, despite the risks to life and limb (they lose a lot of limbs, too, plus countless fingers and toes, from farm accidents).

A couple of bits of trivia from my imperfect memory:

The first time I ever saw a non-military commercial GPS device, it was mounted on a John Deere tractor. It was connected to an electronic meter that increased and decreased the amount of fertilizer used on the soil in fields that had been micro-mapped by a crop consultant (who had a degree in Agronomy, not the easiest degree to earn).

I recall that the farmer said he paid about $50,000 for this set up on his tractor and that it paid for itself in the first year by reducing his fertilizer bill much more than the cost of the GPS device and related equipment.

I remember early car phones, vaguely. Hard mounted contraptions that always seemed to be in the Cadillacs driven by top Realtors with big 1970s hair.

But the first time I saw anyone whip out an actual cell phone - an original Motorola brick phone - was when visiting a farmer in western Kansas. He was using his phone to stay in touch with his commodities broker, because it was that time of year and he was in the field 18+ hours per day, nowhere near a landline. A missed phone call might cost him tens of thousands of dollars, or more. This farmer had a custom made leather holster for his phone, too. Imagine a Marlboro Man looking cowboy, but with a phone on his hip instead of a six-shooter. Very cool.

The first time I saw a very large color computer monitor was in a farmhouse (large meaning at least 20" screens). The guy had three of them in his office, all connected to a device that downloaded commodity prices in real-time from markets all over the globe via satellite. At this time, market makers on Wall Street were still using small monochrome monitors with green letters (a little ironic given how Bloomberg made a lot of his money). This was many years before AOL, decades before people having two or more monitors on their desk became common. I didn't know anyone that had an actual internet connection back then, and this guy had real-time prices on his screens 24 hours per day. Definitely not low tech, these farmers.

That farmer had justified the extra expense on these large monitors (seems like they cost more than a grand each back then) so that he could read the commodity ticker tapes from across the room.

One of my fraternity brothers earned a degree in Milling Science. Although it might sound relatively benign, it's a very difficult degree to earn, and back when we were in school the program required a minimum of five years. Yes, five years. For a Bachelor of Science degree. A Masters Degree takes even more time. And every single person reading this has eaten food that was almost certainly milled in a facility run by a Kansas State grad with this rare degree.

If you've never heard of this degree, don't fret yourself. You can only earn it in two places on the planet. Kansas State University and Moscow State University (and I'm no longer sure if it's available in Russia these days). I would not be surprised if most KSU students don't know about it, either, unless they take courses in Agriculture Science.

Food is one thing America makes in abundance. We make a lot of it, we export a lot of it (we are the NUMBER ONE exporter of food in the world), and we do it better and cheaper than almost anywhere else. We make so much for so cheap that we also spend less eating than any other nation on the planet. Americans spend about 6% of our budget on food. It's one reason we're also one of the fattest populations, so we spend the extra money on gym memberships and weight loss programs that people in the third world have to spend just to eat a bare minimum diet. Most of the third world spends 30-40% of their income, sometimes more than 50%, just to keep from starving, even when they live on very fertile land, even when we left them all the modern tools to maintain their own food supply (i.e., the former Rhodesia was a food exporter, now they call their nation Zimbabwe and they can't import enough, they are starving).

I contend that one of the reasons we Americans have so much food, and why we pay so little for it, is because the folks that grow our food and keep meat on our tables ain't stupid.

I have a huge amount of respect for the people that grow our food.

Michael Bloomberg does not share my level of respect:

"I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer," Bloomberg said.

That's some bullshit right there. I'd like to see ol' Bloomberg try to raise his own garden. Fuck him. He'd starve.

Article referenced:  https://www.foxnews.com/politics/bloomberg-implied-farming-is-easy-in-2016-comments

Author's Note: I apologize for my use of profanity, but sometimes it's necessary. This is one of those times.

 

Brent D. Gardner, CLU, ChFC