We’ve got something different today.
You’re going to love it.
Instead of us musing about this or that, we’ve got an interview that turned into something really quite special.
It involves us and a man that’s known all across the world. He’s beloved in some circles… and infamous in others.
Joel Salatin is known as the world’s most famous farmer. But don’t let that idea fool you. He’s doing a whole lot more than raising rows of corn and soybeans. In fact, I saw neither on his farm earlier this month.
Instead, what Joel is up to perfectly defines the value of our Triad.
His fierce focus on Liberty, Know-How and Connections is to be admired. They certainly deserve our attention.
If you aren’t familiar with Joel, here’s what you need to know.
His home is at a magical place known as Polyface Farms. We visited it several weeks ago and saw an operation that’s brimming with intellect, honesty and foresight.
That’s because Joel wags a finger at most modern agricultural practices. But he doesn’t just gripe… he’s done something about it. He’s become a global leader in the push for natural, safer agricultural practices.
But this isn’t a farm rag… or some environmental hype.
We’re not here to discuss free-range chickens and greenhouse operations. No.
As you’ll soon see, the man and his wisdom stretch far beyond the farm and the fields.
With his experience fighting Big Ag, Big Gov and Big Ignorance… he’s got a thing or two to teach all of us.
Here’s Part 1 of our interview…
Manward: You describe yourself as a “Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer.” In the mainstream mentality, some of those ideas seem to contradict each other. Most folks have been tricked into believing a capitalist could never care about the environment. Can you explain?
Joel Salatin: The reason I developed the moniker was because I got tired of being stereotyped into the liberal mindset since I was an “organic” farmer. Everyone assumed I loved bigger government, more regulations, higher taxes, liberals and abortion. At the same time, my conservative friends thought I had joined the commie pinko greenie weenies since I disagreed with U.S. empire building, chemical fertilizer, factory farming and Styrofoam lunch clams.
So rather than being frustrated about the assault from both sides, I decided to play with it using humor and developed the moniker to essentially say “Don’t put me in a box.” Interestingly, I’ve been courted to run for political office by the Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and Greens. Talk about bridge building.
The truth is that the folks who adopt each of these as a box have issues eventually. The Christians don’t care about stewardship because it’s all going to burn up anyway and, after all, we’ve been given dominion. So whatever we want to do to exploit creation, fine. The libertarians love freedom but also don’t care a fig about environmental stewardship. One prominent Libertarian [party] leader told me, “Of course I’m for Earth First! Use it up and then move on to Mars.” What a nut.
The environmentalists care, but they have no concern about expanded government tyranny and loss of freedoms. For sure, their bottom line is hatred of humans. Capitalists without a moral compass are not better than socialists, communists or fascists.
So Wall Street does not place any value on a dead zone the size of Rhode Island in the Gulf of Mexico. Nobody in corporate America is repenting in sackcloth and ashes for the 700 riparian dead zones we’ve created and the soil we’ve eroded with conquistador agriculture. All have something to offer; all have a significant weakness – without the buffering of the others.
Manward: I know you were quite young when your family owned a farm in Venezuela, but surely the economic and political activity in the country had to steer your opinions on the world. Do you agree? Does it affect what you do every day on your farm? Most important, do you see what happened down there ever coming to America?
Joel Salatin: That experience definitely colored my worldview on at least two fronts. First, regarding U.S. foreign aid and the ineptitude of governments… the U.S. was sending all sorts of money to Venezuela to prop up a corrupt government, assuring Americans that it was all for a good cause – when it was just being siphoned off on the black market and making leaders wealthy.
That’s why I’ve been a Ron Paul fan for as long as I’ve known him, and this is something the Republicans are as bad on as the Democrats.
We should not be giving money to anyone anywhere anytime for anything. It’s first stolen from Americans and then simply goes to corrupt leaders and to buy horrible things. I had a group of Army guys come to hear a presentation one time. They were getting sent to Afghanistan for rural development and rebuilding projects. A lieutenant colonel was in charge of the group, and he told me that after seeing my presentation, he realized that everything – everything – they were being asked to do over there was the opposite of what should be done. He asked whether I would be willing to go to the Pentagon and speak to the generals. I assured him I’d be honored.
Of course, that never happened because the agenda was set. The American corporations benefitting from the millions of dollars of “foreign aid” had their hands in the till, and nobody wanted to hear about actual solutions.
I had a wonderful visit about three years after Chernobyl blew up, from the Nos. 3, 4, and 5 leaders of Belarus. When they finished the farm tour, we had tea on the porch and they told me that their region was the dairy region of the Soviet Union. When the reactor blew, the radioactivity came down on the farms and lodged in the mammary glands of the cows. Nobody could drink the milk, and the country faced starvation because the Soviet Union had a very segregated agriculture – potatoes over here, dairy over there, grapes yonder, etc.
They said that the U.S. sent them several hundred million dollars to help out. The day the money was deposited in the central bank, every hotel was filled with representatives from American agricultural corporations – equipment, chemicals, seeds, etc. – and they spent that money in a few weeks on things they didn’t need and couldn’t use, and it was completely wasted. They told me that if they had spent it on the things I had just showed them on our farm, they could have fed themselves and had enough left over to export for many years. If not stealing [money] from Americans to give it to corruption makes me an isolationist, then so be it.
The second thing the Venezuela experience taught me was the value and power of good journalism. Dad had met with every minister he could to try to stay, to get protection, to get our land back. But nobody was interested in an ex-pat who couldn’t even offer a bribe. The only thing left was to leave the country and return to the U.S.
Right before we left, the journalistic muckraker and commentator Drew Pearson came to Caracas on a fact-finding mission, and Dad got an audience with him and told him our story. Pearson was outraged and promised to do something for us. True to his word, when he got back to the U.S., he contacted the Venezuelan ambassador in Washington, D.C., and told him that if he didn’t give the Salatins a settlement for stealing their property, he would feature our story on his national broadcast, and that would be the end of any more U.S. foreign aid.
All this took several months to negotiate, but the bottom line is that a couple of months after returning to the U.S., Dad got a call from the Venezuelan ambassador asking him to come to the embassy for a settlement. We drove up there and got a check – a token – for our loss. For Dad, it offered some closure on what had been his lifelong passion and vision: a farm in a developing country.
Our family would be classified as newshounds, and I grew up surrounded by news and political discussions at the dinner table and a deep, deep appreciation of the good that great journalists can do in a culture.
We’ll leave it there for today.
In our next installment, we ask Joel, “When it comes to farming and our food, what’s the greatest myth? What’s the big lie that we all believe?”
Get his juicy answer tomorrow morning.
And in the meantime, check out Joel’s new blog, Musings From a Lunatic Farmer. Click here.
P.S. In the second half of our interview with Joel, we get into the hot topic of hemp and marijuana. But if you can’t wait until tomorrow and are looking for a hot, fast-moving investment opportunity to invest in today, click here for an urgent update involving penny pot stocks to one of our most popular presentations ever. Click here now.