Happy New Now!!!

4thJan. × ’22

Happy New Year! Or as we like to say Happy New Now! As your local meat, egg, herb and flower farmers for the last 10 years we are always educating ourselves on the next movement in farming. Whether that be a new tool, new crop or new legislation and how it affects you, our neighbors. 

It is an interesting time for the meat industry. Two things happened: in California Prop 12 went into effect and Biden had a virtual summit with meat producers and processors. 

First thing we are going to unpack here is the passage of Prop 12. This law establishes minimum space requirements for farm animals and prohibits the sale of meat and eggs from animals raised in housing that doesn’t meet its specifications. This is a great win for animal welfare! This law will usher in more “cage free” eggs and make it so breeding pigs will be able stand up and turn around. That seems like a basic animal welfare thing, but historically sows are kept in a “furrowing crate” where the sow is only able to move a couple inches for basically her entire life. Sad but true. Naturally momma sows like to make a burrow or nest and have her piglets there. Out here at TurkeyTail, we honor that.

What does this all mean for you? 

The price of pork will go up as a result of added expense for farmers and supply becomes scarce. We detest confinement operations, but that said we don’t wish hardship on any fellow farmer. Margins are often narrow for food producers, and for many hog producers the cost of retrofitting barns will be too great. Since even imported pork will be regulated, the implications of this law has impacts that will ripple through the meat packing industry all the way to Iowa. So, a great win for animals rights but will be negatively affecting the pocketbooks of John-Q-Public. In addition, we expect the dominate industry to continue practices of animals living on steel grates, warehouses of animals packed together, the practices of chopping of tails, clipping of teeth and the widespread use of GMO feeds and antibiotics. 

What does this mean for TurkeyTail? 

This law will not affect us here at Turkeytail. Both our pigs and ducks are totally pasture raised. We utilize mobile electric fencing to move animals around the property to allow them access to fresh graze, acorns and insects. In addition the CSA model allows us to offer the best possible pricing. We haven’t raised our pork or egg prices in a very long time, even as we rebuilt the farm after the “Camp Fire”. I’m not going to say we won’t ever raise our prices; hay, straw, feed, fuel, and processing costs all continue to go up, and in some circumstances doubled. That said, we have all had a couple tough years, and we are committed to making high quality food for our community.

Next the Biden meat summit. Some good things came out of this and some bad things came out of this. First Biden acknowledged the excessive consolidation of the meat industry. “Four big corporations control more than half the markets in beef, pork and poultry. Without meaningful competition, farmers and ranchers don’t get to choose who they sell to,” said Biden. 

To combat this issue the Biden administration is aiming to provide $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to help expand independent processing capacity, and provide funding that would give independent meat producers access to cold storage and other equipment to improve distribution of their products. This is mostly a good thing, but we’ll be curious to see if this money makes it to small scale farmers and processors (like TurkeyTail Farm). Small scale meat cutters are a scarce commodity. There are regulatory challenges, the equipment is expensive, skilled labor is in short supply, and the pandemic has created a boom in the demand on these facilities. Also, what  wasn’t acknowledged are the greater issues in the meat packing industry, especially labor practices. This was exemplified by the fact that the crowded meatpacking facilities were a hotbed of covid outbreaks. The labor force is commonly comprised of undocumented immigrants, and as such it is a community that is rarely afforded a voice, risking deportation if they speak up.

Oddly all this is aimed at bringing the price of food down to battle inflation. While this would be good for the consumer, we feel America needs to break its addiction to cheap food. If this plan does successfully create a greater diversity in the packing industry and disrupt the price-fixing and oligopoly in the meat industry that would be great, but the people who actually grow and package our food are desperately overdue for a raise and better job security.

What can you do about it?

You can vote! “Eating is an agricultural act,’ as Wendell Berry famously said. It is also an ecological act, and a political act, too. You can also support your local farmer, rancher, farmers market and co-op. 

Interested in our farm-direct food from TurkeyTail Farm? We are accepting new customers for our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm-share program January 2022. Each week we bring you an assortment of pasture raised organically fed lamb, pork, duck eggs, oyster mushrooms, herbs and cut flowers. We have $20 and $40 per week options, and delivery to Chico is available for a small fee. We source the highest grade and organic inputs for our farm, and due to our considerable attention to animal welfare we are able to raise our animals without antibiotics or artificial dewormers. At TurkeyTail we are proud to work with local, small scale meat  processors. Get your subscription to high grade food and support as small farm in recovery from wildfire.

For more information about the CSA

 Email us info@turkeytailfarm.net

“Eating is an agricultural act,’ Wendell Berry


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