Invasive paperwork

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Mon, Jun 12, 2017 - 11:45am

What. The. Hell.   A few years ago, the USDA sent me an 8-page questionnaire about my "farming" operation. This was no doubt prompted by my buying a dozen big packages of peat moss and a few other large purchases when I set up my initial garden when I moved to South Carolina. The form was pretty detailed. How many head of cattle did I have? How many pigs and sheep? How many acres did I have, and what did I grow and how much money did I make selling my crops? 

I filled out the ridiculous form and informed them that I have 3/4 of an acre, with a house in the center of the land. It was a "kitchen garden," not a farm, and they were welcome to look at the Google Maps satellite view of the place to confirm. (Yes there is a wooded area behind that were we've planted a few trees but we don't technically own those.) 

It was not the waste of time filling out the form that bothered me, it was the possibility of some government official deciding to micromanage the farms in my country. In extreme cases governments have even nationalized all their farms and given those farms to those who don't know how to run them, and famines have been the result. It's been tried before, in Cambodia (although there was more to that famine) and in Zimbabwe, which used to be the breadbasket of that part of Africa. . 

For those who want more information on the subject, I heartily recommend John Ringo's book THE LAST CENTURION. Exquisitely researched, it deals with what would happen if you had a plague at the same time as a Maunder Minimum and the government overreacted via farm confiscation. Great prepper read, 

5 Comments

reflector's picture
reflector
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 20 2011
Posts: 265
why?

i definitely sympathize for your being hassled by government goons, wendy.

but what prompted you to fill out the original usda form in the first place?

was there some sort of threat associated with not filling out the form?

i've found that the best option is to eschew all contact with government whenever possible.

i have a UPS store mailbox set up as my legal physical address for all government purposes.

 

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1978
Because

There was some threat involved if you did not fill it out, although it was several years ago and I cannot remember the exact wording.

For me, it was an easy choice: tell them the truth. I have a tiny kitchen garden, not a farm. It was just fill out the form as follows: none, zero, none, none. But I can imagine the reaction of those who had actual farms. 

I once had occasion to call the local USDA representative to interview him a news article. I posed him a technical question. He was obviously a political appointee; I have never talked to a more clueless human being in my life. He went on and on about their mission and all sorts of inapplicable theory and even used the dreaded word "quotas." 

I ended up getting the answer to my question from a retired farmer who was running a feed store. 

Bytesmiths's picture
Bytesmiths
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 28 2008
Posts: 200
Retired Farmer?

I ended up getting the answer to my question from a retired farmer

"Retired farmer?" What the heck is that?

Yea, I fill out similar forms every year. Some of them carry threats (you lose your property tax break if you don't file an annual production report); others do not ("voluntary" gneenhouse survey), and some actually provide incentives. (Filing the greenhouse survey "qualifies" you for ecological grant programs. Got half my deer fencing paid for that way.)

I don't mind doing it. If you're on this website, you know that, should the excrement be applied to the ventilator, they won't have time or energy to hassle tiny farms, anyway.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1978
retired farmer

As in too old to work the land any more: that kind of retired. 

Yeah, TPTB  might be busy when it at first goes down but I have faith they will eventually hassle larger farms. 

Bytesmiths's picture
Bytesmiths
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 28 2008
Posts: 200
Goldilocks Zone

they will eventually hassle larger farms.

I agree. The trick will be to stay in the "Goldilocks Zone:" not too big, not too small, but just right. Too small, and you avoid regulatory scrutiny, but you can't readily command the resources you need for your tiny operation. Too big, and you can implement economy of scale, but can't avoid regulatory scrutiny.

I've been reading Joseph Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies (free download!), in which he postulates that root cause of civilizational collapse is complexity; that as a civilization grows, the need for complexity increases until most of that civilization's resources go into maintaining that complexity, to the point that there are no resources left for things like basic human needs.

Tainter's hypothesis really supports the "invasive paperwork" argument, but: the good news is that, if you are convinced that today's civilization is unsustainable, the paperwork will necessarily go away (or be vastly reduced) as civilization collapses.

Tainter's book belongs on every collapsnik's bookshelf (or hard disk). It's rather academic, and the first few chapters are dry reading, but Tainter is thorough, and devotes a lot of pages to review of the current anthropological thought on the reasons for collapse.

Tainter draws a clear line from complexity to energy, supporting my own hypothesis that civilizational collapse is energy-driven. But a better line between the two is ecologist HT Odum, who very clearly connects energy and complexity.

I guess I don't need to convince readers of this site that collapse is imminent, but I do think it is showing its teeth first in areas of bureaucratic complexity, with the Republicrats gutting the very programs that have the best return. In their zeal for "small government," they even cut the IRS budget, which is like trying to live longer by not breathing. Tainter points out that, while some anthropologists assert that high taxation causes collapse, even low taxation can cause collapse, if it prevents the operation of services that are crucial to civilization.

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