Taking it For Granted, Annie

dcarch7June 21, 2014

Annie, or whoever.

My other superwoman friend, who single handedly last year started "farming", bees, cows, goats, chickens, tomatoes----.

Got herself classified as a legal "farm".

Just approved for a $25,000 Farm Grant!

What are you waiting for, Annie? You basically do the same.


This post was edited by dcarch on Sat, Jun 21, 14 at 14:19

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Free money!!! ;-)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:55PM
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Just got another e. mail from her:

"----And I just got a whispering that I may get another 5-6 for a hoop house! ---"

I assume that is $50,000 to $60,000. My response:

"------- That's enough money to hire someone to fill out endless paperwork----- :-) ."


    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 8:26AM
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Good for her! What about what she's doing isn't farming? Why not support small farmers instead of big mega farms? I'm thrilled to see that individual people can get help with their farms. I'd much rather my tax dollars go to people like her or Annie than Monsanto and the like.

Okay, I'm off my soap box.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 9:16AM
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Thanks, dcarch, I'll check with the extension service and my ag agent again, maybe there's something new that I don't know about.

However, I've checked with my ag agent regularly and there are basically no grants available for someone who does less than $10,000 per year in "product". There was a grant to help seed pastures with bee friendly forages but they didn't want me to put the cattle out there. Since I have only 60 acres and that really IS my pasture, I didn't qualify. I am going to let Makayla sell the garden "over run", but I don't sell enough vegetables commercially to qualify for any small farm grants and I haven't owned the place long enough to be certified organic, so that's out too.

In other words, the government doesn't think what I'm doing is farming, or at least not farming the way they like it done. I don't even have a tractor with a tiller to make the garden any bigger and I'm relying on Dave with his equipment to put up the hay. Plus, I'm farming from 20 miles away, driving daily.

So, maybe, when we get the bee hives out there, the orchard replanted, the tractor equipped with some actual attachments besides just a bale spear, then maybe the government will think I'm a farm.

Since Dad never got a single penny in farm grants, ever, and none of the other small local farmers I know ever have, I'm not really optimistic, but there are a few opportunities out there for small farms that didn't used to exist, but you have to fit a certain "niche". I have found a few for "women farmers", but I never fit the parameters. (sigh) And I'd have to register the farm under the National Animal Identification System, something I think is incredibly invasive. At that point all animals are micro chipped, even my horse which I do not intend to eat. If I even wanted to eat a chicken for dinner I'd have to give the government 24 hours notice and get permission. Pfffft.

I'm kind of proud that I never do what the government wants me to, LOL. Heck, they won't even let me buy any amount of herbicide or pesticide because I'm not tested and licensed by the state of Michigan to use them. Not that I do anyway...

Good for your friend, I'm glad someone is getting some help, even if it isn't me!


    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:08AM
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Good for you Annie once you register and take from the government you will always be on their radar. I read something a few months ago about new legislation in Michigan that implied they want to heavily regulate small farms sounded like they wanted to do away with them. It was something about distances from homes and runoff. I thought of you at the time.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 2:18PM
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Claudia, Michigan has had a "Right to Farm Act" since 1981, as large numbers of people were moving from cities into farming communities and then suing farmers because they didn't like the noise, the smell, the animals, whatever. It was an affirmative defense to those lawsuits. Now a committee appointed by politicians has voted to amend the Act, and apparently they have the right to do so, without notice or input from voters.

Basically, the change says that a site with more than 13 non-farm homes within an eighth of a mile of the livestock facility or a non-farm home within 250 feet of the livestock facility is primarily residential and unless your local unit of government wants to give you an exemption, you cannot have livestock. That includes goats, chickens, ducks, perhaps rabbits and bees, any number of "farm animals". So my neighbor can keep three pitbulls and half a dozen cats, but I can't have a chicken. (sigh)

Of course, large corporations got their piece of protection, they are now allowed to "self assess", so they decide whether they are in compliance or not. Ahem. So a farmer with 50,000 chickens can "self assess" but I cannot, with my 15. Go figure.

There is widespread public opposition, of course, and I do not believe that an appointed committee has any right to deny Right to Farm protection to Michigan citizens as the law specifically sets out the protection and states that it cannot be abridged. I'm sure there will be court challenges but in the meantime, Big Ag gets protected and the small guy doesn't. Michigan is an agriculturally diverse state, second only to California, and the big guys do not want us little guys stepping on their toes.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 11:44PM
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Several years ago I took the classes, tested out and got a license in Indiana to buy and use pesticides and herbicides. What a crock! You have to know when to use them, how to use them and where to use them safely. Most of the farmers I see don't adhere to any of it once they get their license. You even have to get rid of the bags in a certain way. Nope, I've seen the bags floating in the wind because they were just dumped in a pile. I've also seen those chemicals used when the winds were really up (a no-no) and where they can drain into or drift over streams, another really big no-no. When will the governing groups realize that they can require the classes and tests to get a license, but when those farmers get the license, everything they were taught goes out the window.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 11:48PM
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Annie, you have educated me again. I like that about you.

So, let me get this straight. My next door neighbor in the city I live can go to the local big box store and buy whatever pesticide he/she wants, use it how they want, but if you live in the country you're not allowed to buy pesticides? I'm not following you. Or, is it that if you register as a farm you have to be licensed to buy and use pesticides?


    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 8:53AM
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Sally, only to buy amounts large enough to use on areas larger than the normal lawn. I could go buy 10 gallons of Round Up, I suppose, and pour it into a big tank, but it's gonna cost. The ag stores have larger amounts, sort of like the bulk food store, and it's much cheaper. To buy them, or some other "controlled" pesticides, I have to be licensed and certified.

However, as Becky pointed out, there is no enforcement or even any random checking of usage, so I could take the test, buy any amount of stuff I wanted and use it as I wish, or distribute it to others or whatever. So, you pay the state a fee to be tested and certified, and then nothing is done about anything, but the state has the fee so its happy.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 7:20PM
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beachlily z9a

Annie and Sally, the products available in bulk are much stronger than those that individuals can purchase from the big box stores. I can't even control cinch bugs in my lawn with products from the big box stores. I have to hire done because professional yard services use stronger products than I can. They also don't use masks or gloves while they do it, either.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 6:55PM
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Beachlily, you're right, the concentration is greater on the agricultural products than on the normal lawn/garden stuff. The farmer is supposed to dilute it to the appropriate strength when using it, so instead of pouring 100 one gallon containers into a big sprayer, they can pour in one 10 gallon or 20 gallon container and add the appropriate amount of water. Not that they necessarily do, as you well know.

Since I don't use any of the stuff, I guess it shouldn't matter to me, but I'm somewhat offended that a small farmer is treated so much differently than a big corporation. Not surprised, just offended.

I don't know if it would work for cinch bugs, since I have no experience with them, but I've found that the best way to get rid of squash bugs is to suck them up with the shop vac and pour them into a bucket of soapy water. I tried feeding them to the chickens, but the "girls" don't like them any better than I do, apparently.

Right now my problem, as usual, is deer. They've eaten an entire row of greasy short cut beans, several butternut squash plants, some cucumbers, nearly all of Elery's pink half runner beans and even a couple of tomato plants. It's like a buffet in my garden. As usual.

Our options seem to be electric fence around the garden, a nasty smelling concoction on their "favorites", or some motion activated device. We've got Irish Spring soap hung around the perimeter, so they can clean up before meals. (sigh)


    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 8:49PM
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beachlily z9a

Sorry, Annie, cinch bugs live underground and eat grass roots. Luckily, deer don't live on this island--king-sized pests! Unfortunately, neither of us have inexpensive, effective choices.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 9:32PM
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What small farmers need is a scaled down version of electrostatic sprayer, like the ones used by big farmers except smaller.

I worry about "local Farmers". They just don't have the technologies to be economical, so they over spray and over chemical everything.

Big farmers can count fractions of a penny using GPS driven computerized machines.

Electrostatic sprayer can spray the front and the back of leaves and around branches to avoid over-spray and minimize drift.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 10:57PM
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The cynic in me thinks that the licensing is more about weeding out bombmakers than educating farmers. :\

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 3:39AM
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Chinch bugs attack grass blades, not the roots. Grub worms eat the roots. You can treat the former with Diatomaceous earth and the latter with beneficial nematodes. There is no need for harsh chemicals for either.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 9:48AM
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Plllog, this was before the Oklahoma City Bomber even. It's all about money, i.e., licensing fees. When it's computed as part of your day's income, it's a large portion for the small farmer and a tiny fraction for the big corporations. If I have 10 acres, I need certification. If the corporations have 100,000 acres, they still need only that one single certified worker. Much like NAIS, where the small guy is expected to pay to micro chip every chicken, but there's a "blanket" exception for the big corporations.

I think I'm fortunate to live in an area where so many people have gardens that a small town tried to start a new farmer's market and could only get one vendor to sign up, because everyone has a garden and small roadside stands selling produce dot the roads.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 10:01AM
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Well, there were fertilizer bombs way before OKC, but I do take your point. I actually think there might be some merit in the education, but not the fee structure. They should also require that anyone handling the materials be licensed, not just the lead guy. In California, we've had big issues with big growers not informing field workers about the crap they've sprayed and not issuing the correct protective equipment and all. Poisoning the food and the earth and the people should not be encouraged! OTOH, I was just reading about how the FDA is being pressured to bring down cockamamie regulations on small organic growers because of food safety issues that didn't even come from them.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 3:58PM
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