Episode 305. Varroa Update and Sustainability Overload

This is The ChangeUnderground for the 15th of August 2022.

I’m your host, Jon Moore

Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!

Varroa

Sunday 7th of August from the DPI Varroa Mite Emergency Response web page:

Quote:

Varroa mite response – Daily Update

Two new cases of Varroa mite have been detected at Seaham and Anna Bay. This brings the total number of Infected Premises to 79. These cases are located within existing eradication zones and are geographically related.

Beekeepers in the surveillance zones should continue monitoring their hives for the presence of Varroa mite. 

End Quote:

The number of infected hives continues to increase but within the eradication and surveillance zone so this varroa infestation might be brought under control and eradicated. One would hope so. 

Sustainability?

Ah “Sustainability” , one of my least favourite words. We have an article from ABC rural entitled:

Natural, organic, regenerative or conventional farming: Do labels help or hinder producers?

Quote:

Demand for food bearing labels such as ‘organic’ or ‘sustainable’ is soaring, but some farmers are questioning if the name is really worth the pain.

While some industry groups say labels help consumers make a choice, and getting the right credentials can offer a valuable point of difference for producers, others fear they present a barrier for those wanting to adopt some of the practices associated with them.

Consumers are driving the push, but when they are buying organic, natural, regenerative or conventionally farmed produce, do they really know what it means?

End Quote

If this is indeed being driven by consumers, why? The vast majority of people I talk with at work and out and about, don’t actually care. The importance of soil carbon, regenerative grazing, permaculture or even “organic” are not matters individuals outside the food conscious upper middle classes get a toss about. 

Most people, especially as the current bout of inflation hits all economies with any exposure to export markets, so not North Korea, most people are looking to cut costs wherever they can. I’m not sure those under greatest financial pressure will give a toss where their food came from, most don’t most of the time anyway. Caged eggs sell for a dollar less a dozen than barn laid and several dollars less than free range and they fly off the shelf relative to the barn and free range. 

[Podcast Footnote:

In this case caged means battery hens with little more than an A4 sized area to exist in for all of their overworked, over fed miserable lives. Barn raised means sheds with 10,000 birds and a square metre each whilst free range, under the minimum standards here in Australia means the same as barn raised but with access to a strip of roofless land either side of the shed. It can mean regeneratively raised pastured chickens with mobile homes and access to a large area of paddock but it doesn’t necessarily have to to be described as “free range”.

End Podcast Footnote.]

Now it’s possible people haven’t heard of battery hen setups, the vast majority of people know very little of how their food is produced so maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe. The point is price wins out with many people, especially if it means having a meal on the table or not. My feeling is the use of labels like regenerative or sustainable will be of use to some producers but only in niche markets of relatively wealthy food conscious individuals. Whilst ever there’s a price premium for these foods, they will be much slower sellers at the supermarket.

That caged eggs are so cheap is because their full environmental impact, poo mountains and animal suffering to name but two and their carbon costs, air conditioning, trucking feed, trucking poo and so on are not included in the direct cost to the consumer but paid for through the health system with degraded waterways, soils and less healthy individuals, (have you ever cracked a battery egg next one from your own flock? Wow, the nutrients might be similar but the colour, texture and flavour are worlds apart). Anyway I digress, until the full cost of caged eggs is placed upon the direct consumer, it’s unlikely they will be any less profitable nor saleable.

Only after this cost is passed on will the regenerative/sustainable labels have a level playing field to explain how and why they were produced in the manner they were and why they are worth buying.

Demand and Supply

There’s a fair argument we are living through a period of demand inflation. OECD governments pumping monies out during the pandemic to keep economies semi functioning has more money chasing the same number or less of goods. So prices go up to rebalance the demand/supply curve.

Well that works the other way too. An oversupply of a good will tend to drive down its price, especially in an agricultural commodity. So bumper wheat crops and the price falls, war in Ukraine, drought in North America and Western Europe, supply contracts and the price of wheat jumps. Wheat is one of those commodities that can and has toppled governments. “Land, bread, peace.” being the catch cry of the 1917 revolution in Czarist Russia.

This oversupply though can occur in products that are less essential.  

Avocados

From Australian Rural and Regional News comes an article entitled: An ‘avo-lanche’ of avocados – Australia needs to consume and export more avocados as production continues to soar: Rabobank

Quote:

Australia will need to both consume and export more avocados as the nation’s growers navigate a period of soaring production growth over the coming five years, specialist agribusiness bank Rabobank says in a new report.

This year alone, ‘per capita (person) supply’ of avocados is estimated to be up 26 per cent on the previous 12 months to 4.8 kilogram – equating to 22 avocados per Australian.

End Quote

About five years ago, avocados were selling for around $5 a pop, if memory serves me correctly. Many individuals and agribusinesses saw this as an opportunity to make a few bob. Trouble is, quite a lot of these people and agribusinesses had the same idea at the same time. Great if you sell avocado breeding stock. Those particular decisions are starting to come home to roost. The supply of avocados as quoted has jumped. The price has fallen to as little as one dollar in the supermarkets. I heard of a grower in Western Australia who wasn’t bothering to harvest earlier this year because his returns were less than the cost of harvest. Toss in his irrigation costs, trellising and other establishment costs and he’s in deep trouble. Especially as this year was the maturation of about 20% of what he’d planted in expansion with, obviously, 80% more production coming in over the next few years.

I’m not sure we can either eat our way out of this nor export our way out. Bulldozers will be put through avocado vines in the near future, I fear. Of course running pigs under vines and selling “Avocado Pork” might be a better solution than the bulldozer but that requires skills beyond the art of growing avocados and agriculture/horticulture has become, I would argue, over-specialized. Looking at this from an evolutionary perspective,species that become hyper specialised, think Pandas and Koalas, get to exploit a particular niche that no other species can. Trouble is once those food species come under threat, land clearing, climate change etc, the hyper specialised tend to be wiped out. I think this is a concept that modern industrialised agriculture has yet to grasp but may have forced upon them.

Soooo, as I’ve said before, growing a multi species food garden may well be the most revolutionary thing we can do, right now that actually makes the world a better place. 

Certainly a world with better flavour. So let’s all grow some food.

If you’d like help, the discount is still on for the No-Dig garden Course over at World Organic News. It’s currently selling for $17 dollars not the usual $149 until the world starts to return to a little more normality. 

So if you have been put off in the past, now is the time to jump in and learn. If you know anyone would be interested and the more people we can get growing the better, please let them know. I’ll have a link in the show notes or you can go to the World Organic News.com website and click the course tab. Please spread the word, we need to get as much food happening as possible as close to the people eating it as we can. The best time to move from consumption to production was probably 50 years ago, the second best time is now.

Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!

Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back next week.

~~~~

LINKS

No Dig Quick Start Course

https://worldorganicnews.com/courses/no-dig-gardening/

buymeacoffee.com/changeug

email: jon@worldorganicnews.com

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1546564598887681

 

Varroa mite emergency response

https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/emergencies/biosecurity/current-situation/varroa-mite-emergency-response#:~:text=Varroa%20mite%20tracing%20and%20surveillance%20work%20has%20confirmed%20three%20new,fall%20within%20existing%20red%20zones

An ‘avo-lanche’ of avocados – Australia needs to consume and export more avocados as production continues to soar: Rabobank

https://arr.news/2022/07/26/an-avo-lanche-of-avocados-australia-needs-to-consume-and-export-more-avocados-as-production-continues-to-soar-rabobank/

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