Worstall\’s addendum to Kip\’s Law

But report after report – the kind governments and big organisations choose to override – tells us that the best way to ensure that everyone is well fed, sustainably and securely, is through farms that are mixed, complex and low-input (quasi-organic). These must be labour-intensive (or there can be no complexity), so there is no advantage in them being large scale.

Those who advocate the return of peasantry never, but never, view themselves as being the peasants.

23 thoughts on “Worstall\’s addendum to Kip\’s Law”

  1. I particularly enjoyed the comment:

    this should be compulsory, with everyone doing some farm time on a rota, because 99% of the population have no clue about where their food comes from, nor how it’s produced.

    Pol Pot 2, here we come.

  2. Beat me to it TDK, I had read that far and was about to copy it here.

    Anyway, I’ll do my time on the farm (I’m a country lad anyway), just as soon as I can work out how to fit it in around my compulsory shifts at the power station, the PC manufacturing plant, the car factory and the pharmaceuticals lab, because I obviously need to understand where all those things come from and how they are produced, too.

  3. I’ve now spent a few minutes reading some of Tudge’s other stuff. He’s certainly produces, to recall a previous thread, enough shit to start a decent sized organic farm. Once you get rid of all the human parasites.

    Hmm, that’s ambiguous, isn’t it …

  4. Ooh, bravo sir. Very nice.

    Deogolwulf’s Fewtril 283: “In the fostering of culture and the forming of good taste and character, liberal-democratism has been so great a failure that it is believed by most to have been a great success.”

  5. I have dug up turnips and tatties by hand, helping my father who did a lot more backbreaking work on the farms until machinery took over.

    I shall quote this to the old boy. I bet he will propose to use this fellow as organic fertiliser.

  6. “Those who advocate the return of peasantry never, but never, view themselves as being the peasants.” In fact, they view themselves as the landlords and the rest of us as serfs. It’s worse than you thought.

  7. I grew my own tomatoes once. It’s surprisingly easy, although it takes a long time.

    They were *rubbish*. Tastleless, watery, mushy crap and they went mouldy after about two days. At which point I decided that the fact that there are people who make a living growing tomatoes probably means that they are going to be better at it than me, and I should stick to what I do, and use some of the profits to buy their tomatoes. That way everyone’s happy and gainfully employed.

    I’m not an economist, but I’m more of one than Colin Tudge.

  8. Ah, labour intensive farms. Must see about investing in some farm machinery, then undercut whatever the labour intensive farms are selling produce at….
    There’s a reason why farming doesn’t take over half the population any more….

  9. I’ve just watched a £250K combine harvester harvest over 100 acres of beans on my farm in one day, aided by a couple of £50-100K tractors carting them back to the store. Total of 35-40 man hours labour, and £400K of capital investment.

    I wonder how many men (and women, lets not be sexist about this!) it would take to do the same job by hand and how long it would take them? And how many people would starve waiting for the food to be harvested?

  10. Tomatoes have been crap this year.

    I always find it amusing when elderly relatives, impressed by my rather pathetic veg-growing efforts, suggest that it’s good to make do and it must save me some good money. Sure the world has changed and spending a few hours per tomato might have been a good trade-off in 1931, but I do it for fun and not for economic reasons.

    They, coming from that very different world, cannot appreciate that if I had the mental capacity to carry on at the day job all the time I spend vegtending I would do so, and spend the extra cash on eating caviar in the first class cabin of a Hong Kong-bound plane and still have some left over for commercially-grown tomatoes. By this analysis my tomatoes are by some stretch the most expensive food I have ever eaten.

  11. Jim,

    But a CiF commentator said this:

    But lets not be confused, a big mechanised farm may produce tax revenues but it does not necessarily produce as much food per acre as peasants. Maybe only peasant farmers can create enough food to feed the world’s billions.

    Surely you can’t both be right? You must see that his blind ideology trumps your reality? Because, of course, he CARES! And that’s what’s really important.

  12. @Jim ‘I’ve just watched a £250K combine harvester harvest over 100 acres of beans on my farm in one day, aided by a couple of £50-100K tractors carting them back to the store. Total of 35-40 man hours labour, and £400K of capital investment. I wonder how many men (and women, lets not be sexist about this!) it would take to do the same job by hand and how long it would take them? And how many people would starve waiting for the food to be harvested?’

    I was out for a bike ride with my 11-year0old daughter the other day, and we saw a large meadow containing two tractors, one bailing and the other scraping up the missed bits into neat lines for the second run of the baler. My daughter said, ‘I wonder how many farmworkers that would have taken years ago dad? Shame they lost their jobs. But I suppose it makes the hay cheaper, and then people can afford to buy other stuff so the farmworkers would get jobs elsewhere.’
    Made my heart soar, though I didn’t let on.

  13. “Maybe only peasant farmers can create enough food to feed the world’s billions”

    And how much of the food from that acre would the peasants consume themselves? Mechanised agriculture may or may not produce as much per acre as peasant agriculture, but it produces colossal surpluses which can feed humans specialising in other fields (pun intended).

    It would be a grand project to find out the postcode of every person who favours a return to subsistence agriculture / peasant farming. I would estimate that 99.5% of them would be urban. Not only do they never imagine themselves as the peasants, they have no fucking idea what they Re talking about.

  14. More /facepalm stuff:

    His land now addicted to agrochemicals would not grow older varieties, which were insect and disease resistant from years of selective growing, even if he did have the seed stock.

    Dirt gets addicted? Wow.

    Older varieties become untenable even with the chemicals? Really? I can just about imagine it with some of the induced nitrogen fixers but what the git really means is that “farmers can’t get the yields with older varieties that they’ve come to expect with the modern stuff.”

    Logicians’ hell, CiF.

  15. This idea that ‘peasants produce more food per acre than mechanised farming’ may be true, I couldn’t comment. The fact is its irrelevant. Its the total production per man hour that’s the important thing. Its called efficiency. Yes if you give 100 peasants 100 acres they probably would produce more food over the year than the 200 tonnes of beans my 100 acres produced. But the total man hours for that 100 acres of beans would be less than 200 hours. The 100 peasants would be working nonstop all year, so for a 40 hour week, 45 weeks a year, thats 180,000 man hours. Plus they would all eat some of the production, considerably more (as a %) than the mechanised worker would.

    So unless peasants can produce nearly 1000 times as much food as the mechanised workers, foods going to be rather expensive, and in short supply.

  16. Jim,

    only problem with your analysis is that they would work a lot more than 40 hour weeks and a lot more than 45 weeks per year

  17. “and spend the extra cash on eating caviar in the first class cabin of a Hong Kong-bound plane”???

    They still do that? Wow! Who?

    Haven’t had caviar on a plane since the Eighties!

  18. @Emil: I was trying to be generous! Lets say 60 hours a week, 50 weeks a year (we’ll allow the peasants 2 weeks off for piss ups at the solstices), so a total of 300,000 man hours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *