Thursday, October 22, 2020
The food service industry is betting big on vertical farming as the pandemic ushers in a heightened awareness of food safety and cleanliness. Vertical farming, or the practice of cultivating crops in vertically stacked shelves and often in a controlled indoor environment, allows produce to be shipped to grocery stores, restaurants and other dining services in a matter of minutes. A new report by Allied Market Research shows that the global market for vertical farming crops is projected to reach $1.38 billion by 2027 with a compounded annual growth rate of 26.2% from 2021 to 2027. Last year alone, the industry was estimated to be around $212.4 million. Amid the trajectory for growth, the coronavirus outbreak has accelerated the demand for fresh and locally grown produce. And as restaurants reopen, vertical farming has provided an innovative way to serve customers and ensure clean food. “The pandemic has certainly shed light on the fact that everybody is very aware of cleanliness and safety, and food is no exception,” CEO of Kalera Daniel Malechuk told FOX Business. “What vertical farming can offer is something that is local, something that hasn’t been in a journey to get to the end or touched by a significant number of people and something that is grown in a clean room where the product is not subject to harmful elements or exposure.” Kalera, an indoor vertical farming company with hydroponic technology, is on track for rapid growth, particularly in high dense urban markets. After opening the largest vertical farming facility in Texas, the ag-tech company has plans to expand to Atlanta where it will be the highest production volume vertical farm in the Southeast, as well as Denver by 2021. Aside from its typical operations providing lettuce and microgreens to theme parks and restaurants, Kalera has also entered the grocery space marked by a deal with Publix that went into effect in April...MORE
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Time is running out before Election Day as New Mexico election regulators push the political support group Cowboys for Trump to disclose its financial backers. The horseback-riding, New Mexico-based support group for President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged a U.S. District Court not to dismiss its lawsuit challenging state financial disclosure requirements. A trial could stretch into late 2021. The group was co-founded by Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin to support Trump on a variety of conservative themes, including gun rights, border security and opposition to abortion. The group says less-onerous federal campaign finance laws override recent New Mexico legislation aimed a greater financial transparency for independent political expenditure groups. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, says Cowboys for Trump has ignored a binding arbitration agreement that found it was a political committee, subject to state registration and financial reporting requirements. The group, also known by its C4T insignia, compared its plight in new court filings to the travails of the NAACP during the civil rights movement as Alabama sought unsuccessfully for disclosure of names and local addresses for members of the nation’s oldest civil rights group. “The NAACP showed that past release of its membership lists had exposed members to economic targeting, loss of employment, physical coercion, and other forms of hostility,” attorneys for Cowboys for Trump said...MORE
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
In my last update, I told you about the fiasco concerning my surgery and that the EKG showed I'd had a heart attack.
I then took the EKG to my primary care doc. He said I had a type of electrical blockage that would always show up as a heart attack if not read correctly. He said the electrical signal starts at the top of the heart, kicks off the two top chambers, then goes to the lower chambers to fire them off. In my case, the electrical charge goes to the first two chambers, then short circuits out the left side of my heart, goes clear around the top of the heart and then down to the bottom chambers where it enters and fires them off. Just like every thing else in my life, I just can't seem to do things the way most people do them. He wasn't concerned, and told me to come back in six months.
Next I received a phone call from the nurse who works for the outfit that comes and fills the baclofen pump every six weeks or so (she wasn't my regular nurse, because the nurse who usually came had sliced up her hand while cleaning out chile pods). She wanted to know how much baclofen they had put in the new pump. Hell, I was knocked out and didn't know, but assumed they had filled it up. (This is a pretty big deal. The pump has an alarm on it. If it goes off I'm instructed to immediately go to the hospital. Given the dosage I receive, if not treated immediately I will go into convulsions and die). She was unable to reach the surgeon, so called the physician who manages the pump. He thought they had just transferred the baclofen from the old pump to the new. If so, I only had a few days supply left. Then, for some odd reason, I remembered there was a pretty young lady in the room who was a tech for Medtronics, the maker of the pump. The nurse checked this out, located the tech, who said they filled the pump, so I'm not due for a refill till late November.
My annual trek to the urologist was today. Always glad to get my visit with that finger waggin' dude over with. However, got a phone call from his office this morning. The doc had been exposed to the coronavirus, so was cancelling all appointments and they would call to reschedule. With my luck, it will probably be around Thanksgiving, only it won't be the turkey that is getting basted.
Still having issues with health insurance, ira's, tsa's, and others, all related to paperwork concerning the loss of Sharon.
Been also spending a lot of time studying blockchain technology, crypto currencies, etc. in an effort to understand how they will affect us in the future.
All of this is offered to explain why, as I'm sure you've noticed, the posts to The Westerner have fallen off. Its also causing me to assess where I'm at right now. Here is a list of what I produce or work at every day.
Monday, October 19, 2020
...Business is also booming, in part, because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened up new sales channels for Iowa farmers who use the slaughterhouse. Iowa joined a federal program earlier this year allowing farmers and ranchers to sell animals slaughtered under the supervision of state inspectors across state lines, bypassing a logjam created by the limited number of USDA-inspected slaughterhouses. The program allows Story City’s customers who farm in western Iowa to sell their meat at the bustling Omaha farmers’ market just a few miles across the border, an example of the type of regionalized food economy that the program aims to promote. Iowa is one of eight states admitted to the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program and one of 27 authorized for state-inspected slaughterhouses. Both programs of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) were designed to address a narrowing bottleneck in meat processing. Meanwhile, state and federal lawmakers are pursuing new grants and other regulatory fixes to spur a revival of small slaughterhouses. Their efforts are timely as the pandemic has highlighted the shortcomings of a long and consolidated food chain and prompted more consumers to seek locally produced food. “I think the ideal model would be to adopt real, trustworthy inspection in the states, with local veterinarians, vet techs, and animal science grads providing inspection, allow trade among states, and let USDA, with their essentially non-inspection model, and emphasis on serving big multinational corporate interests, worry about imports and exports,” said Mike Callicrate, a Kansas-based cattle rancher and advocate for rural communities...MORE
Can't help but notice how changing to a centralized federal program has contributed to industry consolidation.
The widespread consolidation in the meat industry—four firms control more than 80 percent of the beef processing market, for instance—and federal laws requiring large animals to be processed at a slaughterhouse under the supervision of a USDA inspector have left many small meat producers in a bind. There are approximately 800 federally inspected livestock slaughterhouses in the U.S. and about 1,900 state-inspected or custom facilities. That’s down from nearly 10,000 meat processing plants in 1967, when the law mandating USDA inspection was passed.
Also note the legislative proposals.
As the pandemic has shone new light on the failures of this system, U.S. representatives Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) are aiming to encourage the development of more small- and medium-sized meat packing plants. In late September, they introduced the Strengthening Local Processing Act (SLPA) to do just that. When outbreaks of COVID-19 in large meatpacking plants led to temporary closures, it resulted in pork and beef shortages in stores and farmers having to euthanize their animals, Pingree says, “It became painfully clear that sometimes it’s better not to have everything consolidated.”...Currently, the USDA only allows custom slaughterhouses to process animals for personal consumption by their owner. If the agency were to begin allowing these facilities to be used for commercial sales, that would be a game-changer, she added. “Our members would be driving much [shorter] distances, which is better for their transportation costs. It’s better because it doesn’t stress out the animals, and usually farmers and producers feel that they have a stronger say in exactly how meat gets processed there.” Another bill first introduced in 2015 called the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act would also allow for that change. The bill’s sponsors re-introduced it this year as the pandemic underscored the problems created by a consolidated meatpacking industry.
...Farms with assets above the estate tax exemption often must liquidate some of those assets to meet estate tax obligations, which can reach as high as 40% of the taxable amount. Estate taxes are a particular concern for farmers and ranchers because they are based on the market value of the asset; given the consistent appreciation in agricultural land and assets, this can be very high for farm and ranch families. A limitation on the estate tax exemption means that each year, fewer and fewer farm families will be protected from the estate tax– a clear risk to the continuity of family farms.