Beef price unchanged but egg price going up

Apparently the beef price is about to go up by 60%. Ours is not moving.

The reason our egg price is going up is that our input costs have gone up whereas on the beef side our production costs have remained the same. First I will elaborate on the beef and then the eggs below. There are going to be lots of photos with plenty of witty comments so don’t torture yourself and try to read this on a phone screen.

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We grow grasses and legumes in our multi species pastures. Inspired by Joel Salatin and Allan Savory. It is not costing us any more to grow grass this year than it has in years before. In fact we are using less water as we are upping the Carbon content of our soils. Our beef is carbon negative. Click here if you want to know what that means. We also use the free choice mineral lick system. We butcher all our beef on our farm under the supervision of 71 year old meat maestro Spencer Nicholls.

There are many folk who claim to be selling grass fed beef but their input costs are all going up and so they, like the confinement/grain fed producers, will be upping their prices soon. This happens when you feed chicken manure, molasses, sent distillers grain, urea, finish your cattle on grain and use growth hormones. There is a local laboratory that is very close to being able to test for Glyphosate. Once this is available their grass fed claims will easily be put to the test as all the foods that they feed these so called grass fed animals, even their favourite chicken manure, will contain Glyphosate which will then be in the meat. I wrote a short essay on Glyphosate here. It is a carcinogen consumed daily by all South Africans.

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Above is my Limousin bull. I will be selling my first bulls later this year. His sons. The rationale for buying Limousin is that your income (the calf) will be higher whereas your expense (the cow) will stay the same.

If you want to know how to get hold of our beef products then click at the top right of the page on BUY MEAT.

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The photo above was taken by film director, Natalie, at sunset yesterday. Our hens are what is known as outdoor hens and not free range.

The input costs that have gone up for the egg operation are both related to the 100% non GMO laying mash that supplements what they graze on the pastures. A month ago we started feeding them what I have been trying to source for 4 years. Dried maggots from the genuises at Agriprotein. These guys are taking 100 tons of Cape Town’s daily food waste and turning it into nutritious fly larvae. It will hopefully take the place of fishmeal, which is so widely used in animal feed, and hence reduce the pressure on already overfished oceans. These larvae don’t come cheap. In fact they are priced in Euros. I will no longer be needing sunflower and canola as protein sources. I have never had fishmeal in my feed rations.

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The second part of the input cost increase relates to our maize. We are migrating to organic maize and the story that follows is how we will be receiving this maize next month. It is certified year 1 in conversion to organic.

Converting to organic is an expensive process. I have witnessed it first hand on Spier Home Farm where I have been helping the conversion of the vineyards since 2009. Costs initially spike but then come down every year after the third year.

The man destined to become South Africa’s first certified organic maize grower is Bertie Coetzee (they have just launched the most awesome website but to get to that link you will have to read on as once you get onto their website you will not be coming back to mine). Bertie is South Africa’s version of Dave Brandt, albeit thinner, younger and hairier. The Coetzee’s farm near Prieska which is 900kms from us in Stellenbosch.

First, we went hunting with him on their farm in August 2015. Luckily our then 9 year old shot a blesbok at 250 metres which impressed Bertie enough to take the risk on our family.

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The next step was to get Bertie and Alette to come and meet the hens on our farm to understand how serious they are about eating organic maize.

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I agreed to pay Bertie what he would have received had he planted conventional/chemical/NPK maize.

I also lent him some of my books. For once I am the one with neater hair…

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The next step was for Bertie to apply manure and gypsum a month before rolling down the covercrop and planting the maize into the rolled down covercrop. Bertie had two reasons for this. First, manure is a slow release and second, Nitrogen can escape if spread onto bare soil. The covercrop had also been no till planted and so there were three layers, maize stubble/manure/green manure, in other words lasagne compost style.

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At this stage it is worth trying to understand that this is a very different way from the normal way of planting maize. It is planted into bare soil and then fed with artificial fertilisers that burn up soil carbon and then sprayed with a range of toxic chemicals, the most common being the micro nutrient chelator and carcinogen Glyphosate.

Bertie then had equipment specifically made up to enable him to plant or drill the seed into the big green sward of covercrop.

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The massive roller below crimps or crushes the covercrop and then behind the tractor is the actual planter with the blades above cutting the green sward to enable the planting trench to be made and the seed to be dropped into the trench.

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Now follows a series of photos showing the planted in action, Bertie’s supervisor (his dog) and a maize kernel perfectly planted.

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The actual growing of the maize went well except for the porcupines which ate, by Bertie’s reckoning, enough seed for an extra 2 tons per hectare of yield. This problem of creating good food is a common one for organic farmers as even the wild animals know that this food is tastier than the conventionally produced version. Below are photos up until recently.

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Bertie is already working on the next planting and he is getting help from the best friend any farmer could have, earthworms.

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I did promise you the link to the Coetzee farming enterprise which is here.

Egg price increases vary from 5% to 12% depending on what the size of the eggs are.

Tangentially you would be well served to acquaint yourself with the fraud that goes on regarding egg sizes. 

Harvesting of the maize took place yesterday and today and so from next month the maize component of our laying mash will be Bertie’s mielies/maize/corn.

Angus

18 May 2016

 

Food insecurity is going to get worse and government’s hatred of farmers. Land claims etc etc.

Greetings.

Our government hates farmers. It matters not if you are a black or white farmer, not a single policy from government is in place to help farmers which means that food prices will continue to go up and at some stage this will cause a lot of unrest in the country. Neither the ANC nor the DA nor the EFF are aware of this and their utterances on the matter show that none of them have a plan to reverse the situation.

 

Before we get into the various man made headwinds that farmers face, lets focus for a moment on the countrywide drought. We are in a very serious drought. Less than half the normal maize crop has been planted. This has already caused food prices to go up by 9% as we have, in our stupidity, made our diet maize dependent. In a previous column I have elaborated on the ubiquity of maize in our diet. Very soon the effect of having no grazing will be felt in meat prices going up substantially. It takes years for things to normalize after a drought as serious as this one.

 

Of all the headwinds farmers face, only the treatment from national chain retailers, is more serious than the debacle around land claims.

 

The land claims policy has been a total failure. Not a single farm that is now managed by the claimants is successful. It bears repeating. Not a single farm that was subject to land claim is successful. Not only does this land not produce food for the country it has all become economically sterile. South Africa’s biggest pecan nut farm no longer produces a single pecan nut.

 

This is of course not important to our politicians. All that matters is that the white farmer loses land. Robert Mugabe is a hero to the majority of South Africans for the simple reason that he got rid of white people, in particular farmers. The fact that this action of his has totally destroyed his country is entirely irrelevant. What matters is that the white man does not own land anymore. Zimbabwe has gone from being the bread basket of Africa to having to rely on food aid to feed it’s people. Not only is our government determined to copy Mugabe, the EFF is vocal in it’s support of Mugabe whereas the DA is petrified of being called racist for criticizing Mugabe.

 

The hot air around land is exactly that. The government is the biggest landowner and considering it is a black government, how can this be problematic? In addition the tribal chiefs, who are also black, are the second biggest landowners. For example, they own 40% of the land in KZN which could be used to grow food for the people but instead they ruin it through overgrazing. Finally only 20% of farms are free of debt so the banks would be delighted if the government kept buying farms.

 

However the government has no intention of doing this as they are pushing through the Expropriation Bill which will give them the power to take land (and your business, shares, mining rights and patents) without paying you compensation.

 

Farm murders. 4,000 farmers and their wives have been murdered on their farms since the new government took over in 1994. There is no outcry as the subliminal message is that they deserved it. Imagine 4,000 plumbers were murdered since 1994. No one would be mute on this. Remember once the farmer is murdered his land becomes economically sterile as his farm workers become unemployed and there is no one to reinvest in the farm or manage it. My first farming mentor was kicked off his farms in Zimbabwe. He has managed to start afresh but the 350 families that he employed have not been able to.

Angus

10 May 2016

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