The Vermont Governor’s annual “State of the State” address was interrupted this year by a loud group of protesters, who refused to stop screaming bizarre slogans until the Vermont State House session was closed so they could be physically escorted from the building. Amidst their shouts of “I’m afraid I’m going to die!” and “Climate justice is migrant justice!,” were repeated condemnations of Vermont’s “dairy industry.” This vague “industry” boogeyman is actually nonexistent in Vermont. The state’s dairy farms have steadily declined, and even its largest operations are puny in contrast to the mega-dairies elsewhere.
The irony of attacking dairy farms by those who claim to be motivated to “save our planet” is instructional. Approximately 40% of Vermont’s water pollution supposedly arises from agriculture, but as with all things environmental it is not as simple as a percentage -- much of the phosphorous that washes into Vermont’s waterways was spread decades ago, with federal subsidies, and at the urging of federal and state agriculture departments. Now the few remaining farmers are being castigated by activists who produce no food.
But the activists do produce waste, of which they are apparently unaware because they are consumed with scapegoating farmers (and white people, and men) for all the world’s problems. Yet, 60% of the pollution in Vermont’s waterways arises from urban and suburban development, especially along Lake Champlain. The farmers haven’t had time to protest this growing problem, in part because they must implement expensive improvements to clean up their food-producing businesses while these radicals do nothing to restrict their own consumption behaviors.
Many who reside in Vermont are so utterly disconnected from farming and food that they do not perceive their own peril from consuming fossil-fuel and fertilizer-dependent foods from California. They appear to believe that “Cal-organic” food products are lifted magically from the subsidized San Joaquin Valley and plunked neatly in their shopping carts without polluting the ecosystem. But this is just one of many delusions the “new stupid” has indoctrinated into their shallow minds. They are oblivious to their own peril.
We farmers stay physically fit producing food -- I have moved hay bales to feed my animals almost daily for more than twenty years, keeping my heart and joints healthy while producing local food that is not trucked 3,500 miles. (I raise lamb. Most commercial lamb is flown, refrigerated, from Australia for city people, who thereby consume more fossil fuels rather than pay the higher prices for local products). The hay I feed was created fully from solar energy, then harvested with fossil fuels (as I am not Amish). But those fuels create food.
The protesters who disrupted Vermont’s Legislature for the first time in its history are not food producers -- they are food consumers. Industrial agriculture (the real kind, where soils are depleted rather than regenerated, in vast faraway spaces that Vermont lacks, including Mexico, China, and Chile) is unsustainable, and we local farmers know this. We watch what these toxic invaders consume, putting us locals out of business because they value cheap over sensible.
As a farmer, I do not possess a gym membership with Planet Fitness. I am fit without pills, and certainly without driving a fumey car or truck to a building constructed, heated and lit for me to mount an electric machine constructed from oil-dependent plastics, to “exercise” on a petroleum-derived tread while watching a bank of flat-screen televisions all tuned to liberal news channels (so I’m told). I have never owned a flatscreen TV, nor have I ever owned a regular television that was not used (recycled).
These “city folks” are destroying my grandchildren’s future food supply. They “commute” to work, and mow huge lawns with inefficient mowers, spreading toxic fertilizers and weed killers that flow into Lake Champlain with the rest of their moronic suburban runoff. Perhaps the farmers should stage a sit-in at area gyms and try to call attention to this idiotic hypocrisy. But then, that’s just not our style, and we don’t have the time or money to invest in such virtue-signaling antics. (I suspect most farmers increasingly “feel” that when the economy implodes, we should just “let them eat cake.”)
These childish fools have attacked Vermont farmers instead of looking in the mirror to find ways they could actually improve the planet. The “carbon tax” and “Transportation Climate Initiative” (TCI) work the same way -- they impose restrictions while doing nothing to actually reduce pollution. For instance, instead of lowering the speed limit to 55 MPH (which would actually reduce consumption, though I am not here advocating for such), they wish to have everyone pay the government a gasoline tax to burn fuels driving 70 MPH. This is a difference in means, not ends.
What do these foolish miscreants propose as an alternative method to produce food for their future, assuming that is an end they even contemplate? Carpetbagging elitists have flocked to Vermont for its clean air and water, its rural culture, and its panoramic views, but now threaten all of those beautiful assets by disrupting our legislature and demeaning our culture in a witless venture to destroy rather than contribute. (These spoiled brats should perhaps be fitted with nose-rings, so they can be tied in their Orwellian stalls while the grown-ups solve the problems they compound.)
A square bale of hay typically weighs about 40 pounds and can be purchased locally for $3-4. If all Vermont’s gyms were closed by state statute, erstwhile members could stay home and exercise using just two bales, which can be used to develop biceps, triceps and leg muscles without contributing any fossil fuel consumption -- indeed, stomach crunches are improved when sitting on a square bale! Video games, televisions, cellular phones and computers could be seized if not directly employed for food production. That would do a great deal to save our planet, and then maybe theses kiddies would read a book.
Humanity’s future depends on sustainable agriculture. Vermont’s urban elites are not immune from this dependency -- they are just profoundly ignorant of it. Consumed with their rush to eviscerate the Constitution to impose their social justice fantasy on fellow citizens, they have also abandoned civility and respect for others. With more self-awareness of their own consumption they might gain the humility to treat others as equals, respectfully. When the economy declines, and food prices spike, where will they get their organic bean sprouts? They perceive they will just reap more government bureaucratic harvests and impose their tyranny on the farmers. But the farmers will be gone, along with their accumulated wisdom, their fertile lands, cleared fields, and their stubborn work ethic. Will these protesters get their food delivered via uber while they sip lattes on their treadmills? They seem to think they will always have an app, or migrant worker, to serve them.
The protesters at Montpelier are unaware of the true disaster they court -- they are so hell-bent on using “their” climate to enslave the rest of us that they have lost sight of how unfit they are to save the planet. Their disconnect from their own farm sustenance has disconnected them too from simple farming wisdom and common sense, especially the old farming adage which applies so aptly to their immature antics: “even a pig knows not to s--t where it sleeps.”