In this week’s podcast Saifedean is joined by Joel, a bitcoiner from Virginia-based regenerative farming business Untapped Growth. Joel explains the damage done to soil by modern agriculture, and how it has its roots in rising time preference and increased short-termism fostered by inflationary monetary policy and government interventions in the food and land markets. Joel explains why low time preference regenerative cattle grazing can fix soil, and how many farmers in America are switching to this model.
[00:03:40]Saifedean Ammous: Hello and welcome to another Bitcoin standard podcast seminar. In today's seminar our guest is Joel from untapped growth whose handle on Twitter is also @untappedgrowth. Joel works in regenerative grazing and his company Untapped Growth works on regenerating lands through cattle grazing.
[00:04:01] Joel has a very Bitcoin-centric view of this. And I think it's a message that resonates with a lot of Bitcoiners because grazing land and taking care of land for the longterm produces the food that is healthy in the longterm for human beings and makes the land healthy in the longterm. Whereas I guess in the fiat era, we saw low interest rates subsidies go to foods that generate a high profit in the short-term, but deplete the land in the longterm and deplete human health.
[00:04:31] Joel is not just talking about this, he's actually out there and fixing it. Joel, thank you so much for joining us today.
[00:04:40] Joel: Happy to be here, Saif.
[00:04:41] Saifedean Ammous: Tell us a little bit more about Untapped Growth and what is it that you guys do?
[00:04:45] Joel: I built my ranch publicly on Bitcoin Twitter while, a lot of the Bitcoiners knew I was working on this for a long, long time.
[00:04:55]The way this whole project evolved is just, locally, I run a little small business. I ended up running into a lady through normal operations and my small business who wanted to lease land to somebody because with her, she's stuck paying these high residential tax rates on her property that's zoned agriculture because they do recreational horses and stuff.
[00:05:18] I ended up getting set up as a low cost lease deal where I'm grazing a bunch of land for her, for like a buck a year rental. And then talking about this project publicly, I had some people join on. We ended up developing a bunch of herd shares that way a couple of wealthy Bitcoiners could get sustainable meat for their family and kind of control the supply chain all the way from the dirt, all the way to their family's dinner point.
[00:05:41] Right? And as that whole thing grew, I ended up having a bunch of people knocking on my door. I had a bunch of wealthy investors who are all like, hey, get us more of these herd shares, cause we want sustainable food for our family too. As well as like, it's a store of value and a very good diversification play in animal genetics of something that can actually survive the chaos of the world.
[00:06:03] If we have supply chain breakdowns and everything. And then I also had other people who wanted to hold real estate investments, trying to talk to me like, hey, could you find some people to help come graze my land? And then I had a bunch of ranchers talking to me, hey, how did you build your farm like this?
[00:06:17] And I was like, I think I just needed to start introducing people together. You guys all have mutual synergistic problems here. I booted up the Untapped Growth Cattle Co-op, kind of a little non-profit that we're building, and I literally am just doing matchmaking. I'm taking these different parties whose problems all solve each other's issues and bringing them together, helping facilitate some mutually beneficial deals.
[00:06:41] And we're going after building as many of these little branches that are doing regenerative grazing as we can, heal as much of the land and provide as much of a pure food chain for the Bitcoiners here in America that we can.
[00:06:52] Saifedean Ammous: That's fantastic. Now tell us a little bit more about regenerative regenerative grazing.
[00:06:57]It's a fascinating topic that I've read quite a bit about over time, and I find it absolutely fascinating. Tell us more about what it is, how it works and what it does. Basically, give us our guide, how to make our own steaks and make the land around us green.
[00:07:13]Joel: Modern agriculture is very much just strip mining, right?
[00:07:16] It treats the soil solely as something that just kind of holds plants in place, and then they go through and spray it with all sorts of fertilizers, pesticides, all sorts of support chemicals it needs to try to produce a crop. Now, there's no way that you can match the symbiosis of a life that's supposed to be found in the soil that grows crops. Regenerative agriculture treats the soil rather than just being a machine, we treat it as a living organism.
[00:07:45] It's more akin to romance than it is a reductionist type approach, right? What we do is we approach it as a system to understand the symbiosis between how the soil feeds the plants to create the healthiest crops possible. But on top of that, how do we, as we're raising something, also grow soil at the same time. Because plants are literally, they're just taking sun energy, they're capturing it, they're converting carbon from the air and building soil out of it. And they do it through not just growing matter.
[00:08:18] And then with the cows, they graze it. Cows are like a giant compost vat with their multiple stomachs, right. Then they just drop little compost nuggets everywhere. Not only building organic matter in the soil and biological matter in the soil from the cattle grazing that way, but you're also maximizing the capture of Sun energy.
[00:08:40] Grasslands are one of the best ways to capture as much photosynthetic energy as possible. And believe it or not, most of the carbon that gets put into a soil from these grasslands is actually not from that grazing, that decomposting process with the cattle. It's actually from root exudates. Plants, as they're photosynthesizing, actually put energy into the soil to feed the biology of the soil and then a healthy soil, those little microbiology, whatever different types you want to think about your fungus, your yeast or bacteria.
[00:09:14] They go into the soil and they mine it to bring back to the plant, what the plant needs. It's a very kind of like symbiotic web of life in the soil. We call it the soil food web, because if you think about just dirt, dirt is just, it's just crushed sediment. It's just rock matter, right. And that mineral was all over the planet, it's everywhere.
[00:09:33] Whether you're in a desert filled with sand or the clay over here like where I'm sitting here in Georgia. The difference between a dead dirt and a living soil is the presence of that organic matter. And then all of that biological activity that is going into that soil, to mine all that sediment layer for all the minerals and form what plants need in order for them to grow.
[00:09:55] And so those plants are getting fed by this really complex soil food web that's going out and not just getting the minerals, but it's actually manufacturing all sorts of complex carbohydrates, whole amino acids, and all the things that plants need to thrive. And when you run that system from a holistic approach, you can reach this place where it's gathering so much energy as that biological level of soil is mining the mineral layer that the plants are photosynthesizing, at such a high rate, that they're actually putting more root exudates of energy into the soil than the plants actually need to grow. Year on year, you're actually building more and more non decomposable carbon in the soil, and the top soil is getting deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper.
[00:10:41] What happens as that goes on? Like you think about, we were talking earlier about Jordan, a lot of areas that are becoming desertified, it's not that they don't get enough water. They tend to get water, it's this big dump, it all flash floods off the surface. It erodes a bunch of dirt and everything with it.
[00:11:00] Then it just goes back to being right dry again. When you've got this organic matter in the soil, built up for doing regenerative grazing systems like this, or even regenerative cropping, if you know what you're doing, you're able to penetrate all that flash of water into the soil, so it actually absorbs and holds it all.
[00:11:17] It'll hold the water all the way through, to keep the plant life and the soil covered, so it will continuously grow. That'll keep it shaded, keep the soil cool, keep it alive, all the way until you pass that seasonal cycle back to the rainy season again. You can use intelligence of managing these systems to literally regreen deserts to make it possible, to have things growing in climates that you wouldn't think it was possible at all.
[00:11:44] Is that a good little intro for you Saif? That is what you want to know?
[00:11:47] Saifedean Ammous: Yes, absolutely. It's really interesting because , the way we learn about it in school and university is that, there are different climates and there are different parts of the world. And then they're just the way they are because of the lottery of geography.
[00:12:00] Some places are desert and some places are lush forest and there's nothing you can do about it, but it seems like desertification might, in many cases be a function or a result of agriculture, right?
[00:12:15] Joel: Absolutely, because our modern agricultural practices are tilling and all the things are sprayed on the soil to kill the biological layer of the soil, it creates all sorts of erosion.
[00:12:25] When you get that erosion going, you break off the surface level of the soil. So it's mostly just that dirt, that sediment layer, right? And when you have none of the root structure of growing plants holding that together, eventually you just lose your ability for water, to infiltrate and hold in the soil.
[00:12:42] It creates this negative spiral to where eventually you're just losing all the water through evaporation, and then it gets hot enough in a whole region that you get this heat cap above an area for a large enough area like the Sahara or something, where no more weather patterns arrange or even form anymore because you don't have any of the plants respirating.
[00:13:02] You don't have the soil hold in the water. You've just completely destroyed the entire ecosystem over a whole zone of the planet.
[00:13:10] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, but do you think this is also true for not just modern agriculture, but also for traditional agriculture? Because I think there's probably evidence that most cultures that sustained agriculture for centuries or millennia, did so with rotational grazing, where they would graze some land for a little period of time and then graze and move the planting to another plot and continuously rotate between the grazing and the plants. And then when people fail to do that, you witness destruction of the soil and then famines and desertification, right?
[00:13:47] Joel: Yeah, especially when they started trying to get into tilling hillsides and cut down the trees. Because I had a high time preference, I need to just make more and more production now, now, now, versus understanding that they needed to protect and invest in their soil as a culture. When they did that, you'd have the soil getting washed off the hillside until eventually this whole system happened or this whole cycle of downfall happened.
[00:14:11] This has been a very normal thing. I know Alan's reading the book I recommend to him, it's called Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations. It's a really good book where he goes through and talks about how, when a civilization is investing in low time preference in their soil, they can thrive for a millennia.
[00:14:28] But when they start stripping from the soil with a high time preference, trying to steal more productivity from tomorrow, that eventually these civilizations will collapse. This has been a trend in history. We rise and fall with our time preference. It's never shown more strongly than in farming.
[00:14:47]Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, absolutely. It's really fascinating, I don't know much about it because generally it's not mentioned a lot and it's mentioned as more of a consequence, that the farming collapsed and people starved. But I think people miss the story of the soil. It's about how well you manage the soil.
[00:15:04]When you preserve it for the longterm sacrificing short-term high profits, you're able to maintain it for a very long time. What is the damage that it has done? Modern agriculture in the US let's say, since you probably know that best.
[00:15:19]Joel: In the US, we have pretty much no soil baths. It's all just dirt.
[00:15:24] Our soil will not grow crops if we don't spray it with all sorts of fertilizers and amendments. I mean, it's to the point where one of my buddies, @BitcoinAndCows from the podcast, one of his neighbors went and bought some industrial farmway and tried to grow a crop of corn. And it got six inches tall and never bore any fruit.
[00:15:43] There's just no productive capacity left due to our tilling and our fertilizing for our programs. We've just destroyed everything.
[00:15:50] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. It's pretty, stark. When you fly over the Midwest, you see just an enormous amount of land that is mono cropped for mainly corn and soy, right? I presume those are the two biggest crops in the US at this point.
[00:16:05]During a few months of the year, they're green, but during the rest of the year, it's just dead desert. You just see endless brown patches. And historically, I think it was said that it used to be that the top soil in the U S was 10 foot deep before, European intensive agriculture. And before the murder of the buffalo, is that correct?
[00:16:27] Joel: That is correct. And it wasn't just the Buffalo. The buffalo were actually semi managed by the native American population that were indigenous here in North America. They intelligently were using control burns, and they maximize the migratory patterns through their hunting management, all that developed that 10 or 15 feet of top.
[00:16:45] In the Midwest, if you read Lewis and Clark's journals, they talk about the grass being so deep in the Midwest, that it was above the top of a horse's saddle while they were trying to cross the plains on their horse. It's incredible what it used to be. I mean, we used to be known as the bread basket of the world.
[00:17:00]We had this beautiful inheritance of incredible productive soil and it was like, the soil is your base productive asset of humankind, right? And we, with our high time preference, destroyed it.
[00:17:13] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, it was a pretty enormously fast descent in the quality of the soil. With the rest of the world, it was more gradual, I think because the rest of the world didn't have industrial technology until the last couple of years, last couple of centuries, basically, which is when the US got it.
[00:17:29] But the US had an advantage being at the forefront of technological advancement in agriculture that this stuff has been around for quite a while. And it's had an enormously devastating effect in the rest of the world, in Europe and in the middle east.
[00:17:43] And in many parts of the old world, the soil had been degrading slowly and you were having problems with population. But it was gradual and slow and manageable in most cases. But now in the US the stripping of the soil is happening at an incredibly fast rate. It's amazing. There's nothing much left.
[00:18:06] Joel: Do you know when it started?
[00:18:09] Saifedean Ammous: Let me take a wild guess 1971?
[00:18:12] Joel: 1972, that's when they started pushing the whole go big or go home thing when it came to industrial agriculture.
[00:18:20] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, absolutely. And I write about this in the Fiat Standard. I have a chapter on fiat food. It's very obvious and transparent that the driving motivation for a lot of agricultural policy at that time was making food prices go down.
[00:18:35] It was all about economies of scale, getting production faster, then making food prices go down to beat inflation because, obviously stopping the money printers is not a popular way of actually beating inflation, even though that is the only way that actually works. But of course you know, governments will always lash out at anything else rather than the solution.
[00:18:58]One of the things that they did is they massively subsidized the agriculture, industrial agriculture and subsidized it to grow at scale. Earl Butz, who was the secretary of agriculture at that time, he said, go big or go home. They consolidated all the farmers together. Why do they do that? And what were the implications you think?
[00:19:17] Joel: I think it was exactly what you're saying. They're trying to drive the cost of food down because of this whole inflation paradigm. They created this whole system where you had to compete with these economies of scale in order to actually play on the economic playing field here, but it was all about access.
[00:19:34] Once again, it was who was the biggest that had the best access to the debt window to get the biggest capital expenditure, to buy the massive equipment, to get the turnover rates, to sell into this giant forming mega industry, right? Just like everything the Cantillon effect centralized it.
[00:19:52] In the long run, what it did is it also monetize the land as we've had this whole inflation dynamic happen, right? Now modern farmers like Greg Judy was one of the ones who really first pushed this message of like, do you know who Greg Judy is? He's pretty big in the group for the regenerative grazing movement.
[00:20:08] Okay, so he was a mainstream cattle rancher. He pretty much went broke and lost his shirt and was like, there's gotta be a better way to do this. He developed this low cost lease model with regenerative grazing, where he went out and found a bunch of wealthy people who have recreational hunting properties in Missouri, and he went and knocked on the door and was like, hey, I'll manage your land for you. I'll make it look like Eden. I'll increase the value of the hunting because the wildlife will get more diverse, your deer will get more, quite higher quantity and higher quality of kills for you to come out here and hunt, give me your land to let me graze it for like a buck a year for all your property.
[00:20:43] And you'll never have to think about it again, right? He developed this whole system where now as a farmer, he doesn't have to carry the cost of the land out of his actual operating budget to the farm anymore. Because that usually, as a farmer, is your biggest capital expense, right? What he was discovering that he didn't really put into words at the time was that land due to this whole inflation thing, due to this whole centralization of farming thing where it got so big, land monetized just like gold, right?
[00:21:13]It priced out the productive use case of farming, because it's all just being held as an investment asset at this point. Small farmers can't afford to own land anymore. Your biggest asset that you should be valuing based upon productive capacity, it's not capable to use it to produce, which is why we've gotten deeper and deeper in this whole subsidy hole, trying to keep the whole thing afloat, which is pushing more and more towards the same mistakes that destroyed everything to start with of industrial destruction of the soil.
[00:21:47] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, it's amazingly sad. It's the same thing that you see happen in housing, where, because you can't have a proper saving account in the bank that works as a saving account, you end up over investing in housing and buying properties that you don't really need because at least they'll hold onto their value better than, fiat money at a savings account or in government bonds.
[00:22:10] And the same thing happens with farming land. It's the same thing. Fiat money makes everything money. It makes everything else money. You have to monetize everything else. That puts a lot of premium on it, and then when you throw in the fact that that leads to people having an incentive to overexploit it for the short-term, you end up with highly unproductive land.
[00:22:29] So there's very little productivity to be able to do it. It's pretty sad. But yeah, as you said, your solution, I think works excellently for this because the farmer doesn't have to buy the land and the person who owns the land. Ends up witnessing enormous improvement in the quality of the land. Right?
[00:22:47] Joel: Exactly. You're allowing, rather than the goal of the land just to sit in a vault, you have somebody at the intelligence to know that land needs to have the deep value of productivity being stewarded. They're allowing their land and the volts to be farmed just because they understand that this is important.
[00:23:06] Saifedean Ammous: Ultimately, if you're not farming it, if you're not growing it you are degrading it, it's disintegrating. If it's just left and it's just accumulating more and more dirt then losing more and more soil, right? It's a great solution, and now tell us what you think Bitcoin has to do with all of this stuff. Why are you people so obsessed with Bitcoin? Why can't you just have your cows?
[00:23:31] Joel: So I was a Bitcoiner first, cattle grazer second. With me, if you look at self-sovereignty, the three legged stool, money, energy, food, bitcoin takes care of the money, we got a lot of guys working on energy at the stranded gas well mining and things like that.
[00:23:48] Nobody was doing food. So I figured if we're going to start building citadels, the whole thesis of the sovereign individual, right? It's going to disempower the state, and as this whole transition gets volatile, we need self sovereignty in our communities. That way we can tell the government, fuck you.
[00:24:04] If they try to make us do this whole vax passport nonsense or whatever, for us to be able to feed, our families and purchase goods and services, we need to have access to the whole supply chain, starting with the base productive asset of land and food supply to feed our families. I kind of started as a bit coiner, but what Bitcoin does from us here, it gives me confidence to make a play where essentially I'm shorting the entire agriculture industry in the belief that its monetary valuation will actually reach an equilibrium that makes more sense again, one day.
[00:24:41] We're investing all this effort to rebuild land measured with actual deep value fertility, even though land's not valued that way a day. I mean, most lands based upon just kind of fashion price, right? Of what's closest to the city centers or whatever.
[00:24:58] And then animal genetics is another thing we're doing because modern cattle have chased these fiat incentives so far where we had all the subsidies for grain and corn, right? And like fiat does with everything. It creates a race to the bottom of who can get the cheapest. We ended up developing our whole cattle industry around feeding them these cheap subsidy crops.
[00:25:21] And then we raced to the bottom faster and faster to where we started feeding them industrial reject products, like bakery rejects, like miscolored Skittles and sprinkles and things just to get more and more calories and for cheaper. And in that race to grow cows at the cheapest input price possible, we've created a modern cattle genetics across our whole country that literally can't survive on just grass for the majority of them. They can't maintain enough body condition without all this extra feed input, as well as all the medical care of your vaccines, your antiparasites and all these things we use as crutches to keep them alive.
[00:26:03] Our cows can't be used to steward the land anymore. They only work in feedlots. What I'm doing is I'm going after some of these old heritage breed animals, ancient genetics that are actually capable of being cows, right? And the problem is the whole fiat marketplace is based upon fats. Most of your cattle sales at the auction houses, they're all based upon these stupid metrics of these EPD sheets that are completely manipulated statistics, just like everything is in fiat.
[00:26:36] Whole cattle sale industry, it's based around these EPDs, it's all manipulated spreadsheets, just about pandering to those that are the top of the industry. It's all politics, just like everything else is in fiat, right? What it's done is, it's put a lot of us cattle grazers in this world where the cattle that we truly want to be raising, are not profitable to raise because they have no USD value to them.
[00:27:03] They don't resell. You've got these cows that are so sick that can't even graze on grass, they'll sell from anywhere like the breeding stock Angus from like 3,500 to 4,500, maybe five grand an animal, versus these heritage breed cows that are actually really quality animals. You're lucky to get 1500 to two grand out of them.
[00:27:23] So the whole marketplace is just broken. It incentivizes you...
[00:27:28]Saifedean Ammous: The reason they're much cheaper, the good animals are cheaper, is why exactly? Because they make less meat per animal?
[00:27:36]Joel: It has nothing to do with that. You could have these animals where they're bred, they're producing more meat of a higher quality and the industry still wouldn't care. What's happening is it's all based around the statistical analysis of what animals have the "best genetics", but the whole thing is manipulated based upon false metrics and even solving for the wrong questions in the first place.
[00:28:05] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I mean, shouldn't the market decide just in price, that's how it should actually just work.
[00:28:10] Joel: Yeah, you would think so, except for the fact that this whole market is centralized around these mega processors, right?
[00:28:17] We have four processors processing, 80% of the beat in our country. It's essentially like an OPEC thing where these guys are colluding with a perfect monopoly where when cattle prices start going up, they literally just stopped buying cattle. There's this whole collusion to keep the industry where it's at, because this is how these guys keep their power base.
[00:28:41] It's not a free market. With us, we're trusting that Bitcoin fixes the money and when the money gets fixed, it snaps everything to a hard money standard where prices actually go to their underlying value again. It gives us the confidence to hold these positions that have deep value of actual, real worth, because they're productive and useful rather than the current fiat fashioned value.
[00:29:09] That way, when Bitcoin fixes all this, not only do we have the assets, then in a collapse of agriculture scenario that are going to be able to survive and feed our families, but we have the assets that will actually be worth real money again, versus the broken stuff everybody else was holding due to the fads of fiat .
[00:29:27] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think Bitcoin is a much more individual solution, perhaps. It doesn't have to fix the entire global economy for you to be able to use it and do your thing. You can switch to a Bitcoin standard, you can lower your time preference because now you have a form of saving that you have very good confidence is going to be at significantly higher, if not at least at higher value than where it is right now in three, four years time.
[00:29:57] So if you're able to rely on something like this, and the more your confidence in this thing grows, the more certain your future becomes. The less you start discounting the future, the lower your time preference becomes, the more you act with sight of the future. I think you're able to do that whether other people do or don't because ultimately they're running on a monetary standard that is losing value every year, so they're having to discount things very heavily and that just ends up hurting them in the long run and helping you. That effectively means you're going to have better chances in the future in terms of, having better ability to command the assets, I think.
[00:30:40] Joel: Agreed. I mean, not only is it allows me to lower my time preference on my personal balance sheet, but it allows me to trust that, like we all say, bitcoin fixes this.
[00:30:50] I mean, you can't escape the consequences of somebody holding the money harder than you, right? Eventually it's going to fix all these things out there that are missvalued, because it's going to create a clean measuring stick again. It enables me to make a bet on that entire industry that's broken, knowing that that measuring stick within the next 10 to 20 years is going to actually be fixed.
[00:31:16] And when it does, the world would value all the work I put in right now that doesn't look like it has any USD valuation.
[00:31:24] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I think when you can turn a desert into rib eye, that's going to have a very good valuation by the market I think the market values rib eye quite well and meat prices are going up enormously recently, a lot of people I see reporting all over the US that meat prices have gone up significantly.
[00:31:44]How do you see this affecting the meat market and what are your thoughts on the meat market and on the different kinds of cattle that are out there? What do you think of the quality of supermarket meat, commercially produced meat in the US?
[00:31:59] Joel: Most commercially produced meat's pretty poor quality because going through this whole industry, we were talking about the race to the bottom of feeding them all this cheap, low cost inputs, right? In the long run meat should be one of our cheaper foods, red meat in particular.
[00:32:13]I agree with Greg Judy, with Joel Salatin, where he talks about red meat should actually be cheaper than chicken. You're putting in all this grain and feed it, but right versus cattle, they're literally just eating scrubby, carved carbon matter. That's just rough roughage cellulose that you could be grazing just on any marginal land.
[00:32:33] That should reach an equilibrium that's at a reasonable price again when the markets actually function in a healthy way. But today you look at the short term, they're doing this whole thing with Bill Gates, buying up all the farmway in the US. You've got this whole centralized process industry, colluding against farmers to drive the price of cattle down and meat up.
[00:32:57] It's really interesting to think about. I'm not sure how that's all going to play out. In the long run, I would think meat's going to become reasonably cheap again, once we have farms that are capable of producing again, which is going to be after the collapse fiat, we have to get there first though.
[00:33:16] Saifedean Ammous: The way that commercial agricultural works in the US they still graze the cattle for, I think a majority of the cattle's life, but then that they lock it up in a place where it can't move and they feed it. Basically they put it on a standard American diet.
[00:33:28] Feed it something similar to what they have rich American eats more or less, and they lock it up at home, which is becoming an increasing occurrence, not just for Americans, all over the world of course. And then that gets them extremely obese. And then they kill them just before they start developing serious diseases, but that's at the point where they have the most meat.
[00:33:46] People who do regenerative grazing generally prefer to just take the meat straight from grazing to slaughter without that extra period. Does that end up hurting the economics, you think? That's why it ends up being a little bit more expensive? Or is it because of the cattle feed being subsidized? The fact that all of that cattle feed is corn and soy, that ends up getting a ton of subsidies.
[00:34:08]Joel: The biggest thing driving the cost difference is literally the regulations around animal processing. I can out-compete them with my low cost input. Cause all I'm feeding my cattle was a little bit of salt and then just brush on my scrub land.
[00:34:23]The input costs are extraordinarily low, but when it comes to processing the cattle and selling them, that's where these mega producers all have the inside tract. If we could get rid of the regulatory burden in the US to where I was actually able to butcher my cow and sell it directly to my friends and family and the community around me at large, I could get the price of meat down like crazy for them.
[00:34:45] It's literally just the regulation issues that make them out-compete the little guys so bad.
[00:34:52]Saifedean Ammous: You can't just sell meat to your friends and family?
[00:34:55] Joel: No, it's completely illegal. In Texas, one of the freest states, if I go to a non USDA inspected butcher, have them process my cow off my farm. I'm allowed to drive that meat from that non inspected processor back to my house.
[00:35:11] Once it's at my house, I am not allowed to transport it anywhere else. I can't give it to a starving family at church. I can't give it to family or friends. I can't give it to the homeless. All I'm allowed to do with it is cook it for myself. And if you were a guest in my house, I can share some of what I cook with you. That's it. Everything else is illegal.
[00:35:29] Saifedean Ammous: Wow. But is that in all American states now?
[00:35:33] Joel: Pretty much all of them, except for Wyoming, but technically Wyoming has just loophole'd it.
[00:35:38] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, the case for Wyoming continues to get more compelling for Bitcoiners. They've got a Bitcoiner Senator from Wyoming, Senator Cynthia Lummis, and they've got capital freedom.
[00:35:50] They have the free meat. Free as in freedom, not for free. And they've also got, good Bitcoin regulations that they're working on. This definitely seems encouraging.
[00:36:04] Joel: Wyoming's really interesting too, in that they actually do all their taxes on their land based upon the productive capacity of the soil.
[00:36:13] So they measure AUMs of how many cattle you can run on the property, and that's what your tax rate is in Wyoming.
[00:36:19] Saifedean Ammous: Oh, Interesting.
[00:36:21] Joel: Yeah, it actually makes.
[00:36:24] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I guess. Kiki is asking, you're leasing these farmland so as to avoid high property taxes on unfarmed farmland, right? If it's unfarmed then it's treated differently from farmland for tax purposes, right?
[00:36:39] Joel: Yes. That's what the value prop is for a while, the people who are trying to hold onto owning the land, is when I come in and help find somebody to graze it for them, it gets their tax rate down significantly. Not only that, but you're building real value because you're increasing the fertile capacity, their soil. In the long run that will increase property value.
[00:37:00] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, but do you think these tax arrangements can continue? That it will continue to work? Or do you think that they could change the regulations around this?
[00:37:08] Joel: If they start changing things like that to charge more for people doing agriculture, there will be no agriculture left.
[00:37:17] They're throwing subsidies at agricultural left and right. Because if they don't the nation starves. So it's not just tax benefits that you get for agriculture, but there is so much easy money out there right now around it too. But once again, all that easy money flows to the Cantillioners who are the closest to the cheap debt window and all the other parts of these processes. So it's centralized in the mega corporations all over again.
[00:37:41] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, and I think people have a lot of romanticism around their idea of farms and they think farming subsidies are out there helping the small American farmer, keep his family on their farm and feed themselves and make a nice little basket of peaches that comes into your supermarket from the organic farm that he has it's not, it's the farmers that are left are essentially running the industrial operations, that are industrialists basically. It's working extremely high efficiency industry is depleting the soil and it's spraying all kinds of pesticides.
[00:38:18] Incidentally, I think one very important point that doesn't get made enough, people are always given the perspective in the media of eating meat, being evil, because it kills animals. And, you know, the idea, the counter of course, is that if you go vegan or vegetarian, then you're getting your foods immaculately without any blood having to be shed and without anybody having to lose their life.
[00:38:40] And of course, just take a look at one of these giant corn fields, google corn field and look at "combine harvester" and just go to Google and type "combine harvester corn fields", and look at the pictures of these massive factories on wheels, basically that are chopping up the corn or wheat or soy.
[00:39:02] And just imagine the kind of, efficiency of this industrial operation. The farms are all monocropped, they're all identical. There's only one species that lives there and all the other species are being killed. And that includes all kinds of things, you know, deer and rabbit and rats and turtles and birds.
[00:39:24] And bees, and it's just an entire ecosystem that gets completely destroyed because it would eat the food that we're trying to go there. And that's kind of the eternal dilemma of agriculture, which is that if you try and grow a plant, if you grow it, you have to grow to nature and there'll be other creatures that can get to it.
[00:39:44] And if they get to it, they're going to want to eat it. Whether it's insects or birds or squirrels or rabbits or deer, they're going to want to have your things. You can't have agriculture without essentially killing animals that transgress on your property, otherwise you would lose it all in one way or the other.
[00:40:01] So you end up probably causing far more devastation because you're destroying complete ecosystems. Think of all that land that's turned into monocropped land, it's all identical. There's only one species, more or less that lives there. Everything else is being eradicated. On the other hand, if you had cows grazing, there'd be an enormous richness to the ecosystem.
[00:40:22] Deer and the turtles and the rabbits and the snakes and all that stuff, it would be there. It would be rich and the soil would hold them all.
[00:40:31] Joel: Yeah, I've got such a wild ecosystem diversity in my property. I know people that are actually using cattle down in Mississippi, where they're coming through and they're doing controlled burns to rejuvenate ecosystems that are fire dependent.
[00:40:47] And what they're finding is, when they do these controlled burns, they're bringing back endangered species ground cover plants that used to be in these areas, but everybody thought what was mostly extinct. And when they bring these things back, and then they're using the cows to go in to graze it and they'll come in and clip the seeds of some of these endangered species plants and spread them around the properties after the burns.
[00:41:06] So you'll have them where they'll grow up. There'll be a lot of char everywhere. Then the send the cows and cows spread it all around. Then they bring the cows out when it all grow back up again they bring them back . What they're finding is that using the cows as a part of that system, growing back the endangered species plants is actually bringing back endangered species animals that were dependent upon those plants.
[00:41:28] And they're having some incredible things that were thought to be extinct start to come back on some of these properties, like badger tortoises and all sorts of amazing animals.
[00:41:37] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, I keep hearing these stories of species returning that people think are extinct, but they're just out there hiding from us and from our barbaric agricultural practices.
[00:41:49] Joel: Yeah, you'll find this interesting Saif, there's some guys, John Kempf would be his name. He runs a company called Advancing-eco agriculture. He developed this thesis that not just is good soil feeding good plants, but good plants feed good soil. So he got into this whole process of biological based agriculture, but even doing large-scale cropping systems, where they'll come through and they'll do foliar sprays of nutritional amendments, not chemical stuff to feed the plants in order to get the plants photosynthesizing at a high enough rate that the plants are feeding the root exudates, like feed the soil again.
[00:42:26] What he discovered through the system that they developed was what he calls a plant health pyramid. Where a plant, as it has stronger soil with a stronger biology, that biology is bringing more complex and complete nutrients to the plant. It's kind of like a symbiotic relationship, right? That these plants actually, when they reach the peak of that pyramid of plant health, they're actually completely disease and pestilence proof.
[00:42:56] For example, they had a field that was in the middle of an area that was being ravaged by locusts. The locusts wouldn't touch their fields. Their plants, due to the symbiosis with the soil, the whole metabolism of the plant was based upon complete amino acids and complex carbohydrates. The digestive track of the locust can only consume simple sugars.
[00:43:22] So when you had these plants that had the stronger baseline health, the pestilence couldn't consume them because there was none of these simple sugars for the locust to eat. When their soil got stronger, you could be in the middle of a biblical plague and your crops were safe versus your neighbors who are all getting ravaged because you'd invested enough depth in the soil to make the soil grow stronger and healthier plants.
[00:43:48] Saifedean Ammous: That's incredible, and it's very analogous to human health because it's the same thing. If your body is full of simple sugars, disease feasts on you, just like the locust on the land. Whereas, if you invest in your body by eating things that make your body healthy and not eating things that mess up your body, then disease has a hard time with you.
[00:44:12] Joel: Yeah. What they found is the locusts would come through on their properties and all it would eat was the weeds, cause their soil was so strong, it was given a competitive advantage to the crops rather than the weeds, because the weeds actually had a lower state of health because the soil was strong enough it was out competing the weeds.
[00:44:27] Saifedean Ammous: Oh wow.
[00:44:29]Joel: So the locust would come through and eat all the junk stuff and leave their crops alone.
[00:44:34] Saifedean Ammous: That's amazing.
[00:44:36]Joel: And these are the things that are possible when you steward your land appropriately. With a long time preference.
[00:44:43] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, there's a great saying, I think it's Francis Bacon who said it, nature must be obeyed to be commanded.
[00:44:51] It's amazing, the kind of realizations like this, that you've come across once you've figured out how to run things in a way that goes in accordance with nature. Once the land is living in a way that nature finds productive and conducive to more life emerging, all kinds of things emerge out of it that are amazing to us.
[00:45:13] Joel: Yeah. It's like when we try to treat things like a machine and we do this with human health and the body, right? You cause a systemic fragility where you're just chasing, solving one problem after another problem, after another problem with all these interventions, and we've done the same thing with farming and the soil where we just have to keep chasing problems that shouldn't exist in the first place, because we've got respect for the wisdom of the right first principles.
[00:45:39] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, now we're getting a little bit more practical, for the average Bitcoin carnivore listener, who's considering getting into this, what's the smallest herd of cows or other animals you think, and what size of land do you need to make a difference in the quality of the land and the size of the land.
[00:46:01] Joel: What that really comes down to is having enough animals that you can simulate mob behavior. Like you think about it in the wild, like the bison over in the great plains, the behavior that we're trying to simulate to do the regenerative type grazing is where they're tightly packed together, competitively.
[00:46:20] The reason they used to do that in the wild was because of predator pressure, they're bunching together for safety, right? And now when you're bunched together in a mob, you eat intensively and non-selectively because if you don't eat it, your neighbor will say just munch, munch, munch, munch.
[00:46:35] And then all the food's gone, you trample it, manure it, and then they migrate, and that lets it rest for a long period of time until they come back again at a different season, right? The bison used to do that over huge swathes of North America, and that's what grew all the top soil, was the way that that grazing pattern matches the proper life cycle of grasslands and prairie ecosystems, right?
[00:46:59] Saifedean Ammous: Small little interruption, I remember reading that a flock of bison would be, if they passed you it would take them days to pass, that's how big they used to be, is that correct?
[00:47:10] Joel: They were huge. I've read a lot of different accounts as far as the numbers, but by all intents and purposes, it was extraordinary, the amount of carrying capacity of the great plains
[00:47:21] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, sorry, go ahead.
[00:47:24] Joel: We follow that same pattern, but rather than using predators to punch the animals, we just use what electric fences, right? We've got little step in posts and a poly reel that we put around the animals to model them all together. We let them graze.
[00:47:38] The goal is to keep them bunched tight enough, you get that same non-selective intensive grazing behavior. And then you've matched that to certain patterns with grass recovery cycle and moving it and resting it and moving it back for its recovery, right? It seems like you need 15 to 20 animals to really get that behavior where they're really going at that aggressively.
[00:48:01] If you were just a small homesteader wanting to really build a lot of soil, you could start with sheep. That way, they're a little smaller. You can have less land to get as many animals to get that real competitive behavior of them grazing while they're all bunched together, you can do it a little bit smaller and kind of just run some compromises that still makes it work.
[00:48:21] But really the larger the herds, the better you're going to have as far as the output of growing soil. You'll get better behavior out of the animals, that whole mob mentality. You'll have an easier time doing that whole natural pattern.
[00:48:36] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. So when you say larger, what are good numbers?
[00:48:39]Joel: As far as the herd size, I'm telling people often the 20 to 30 animals is your minimum. Ideally, you'd like to be up in a couple of hundred, like one to three hundreds for most people who are running their regenerative grazing operations. But some guys will run them all the way up to thousands or more. Real big herds.
[00:48:59] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. And you know, the bigger, the herd, obviously the better the soil does, right?
[00:49:04] Joel: Exactly.
[00:49:05] Saifedean Ammous: So how many acres do you need for 20 head of cattle?
[00:49:09]Joel: It depends on the part of the country. I'm telling a lot of people, two to four acres per animal for where I'm at, Virginia or down here in the panhandle of Florida. That used to be cattle country. Other places that are less productive and dry or like Wyoming, you could be a lot higher than that anywhere from like 10 to 30 acres per animal.
[00:49:28] Saifedean Ammous: Oh, okay. And how many of the cows would be breeding stock, coach Kiki out there with the really, really good, useful practical questions.
[00:49:40] Joel: So for my cow calf operation, my whole herd is female, except for a couple bowls to breed them all. One bull can breed 20 to 30 females typically is what they say. So the majority of that herd is just females making babies every single year. One of the things that I'm trying to do with the Bitcoin community, cause a lot of us are trying to get self-sovereign, but get back to the land to have control over our own food supply.
[00:50:05] I'm trying to get guys raising herds, kind of like I'm doing with these larger cow calf operations. And then we'll wean off steers that are, would typically be kind of sold into the feedlot industry for normal cattle guy, but instead, what we'll do is have a bunch of different homesteaders that are small scale that I'll have my trailer, and I'll bring you a couple of cows every six months and you finish them out.
[00:50:30] You have 5, 6, 7, 8 cows at your own little homestead that you sell to your friends or family. That way we have this whole distribution network for these easy keep and feed your animals. That way I can focus on raising more of them rather than having to sell them into the feedlot industry.
[00:50:48] Saifedean Ammous: I see. The average farm to get started, if you let's think terms of 20 animals, 20, 30 animals, and the land that you needed, that kind of start up costs for somebody who wants to just do it, how much do you think it costs in current fiat bucks.
[00:51:04] Joel: So what it comes down to is getting the land, and that's the biggest problem, because the land is so hard to get your hands on with it being monetized. With what we're doing, if I can get you matched with somebody who just holds the land as a part of their portfolio, and then you're grazing it for them, startup costs are very minimal.
[00:51:23] I mean, I've fenced the back 20 acres of my farm for probably two grand and then put in some water lines. So your infrastructure costs are fairly cheap. Then you just got the cattle. That's what we're booting up at the cattle co-op doing the herd shares that way, everybody's buying in ahead time to give you the upfront money you need to get your farm going. But if you think in these heritage breed animals, you're probably looking anywhere from one to two grand an animal, you're probably looking if you've got a herd of 20 or 30 animals and you're running on call it a hundred acres or so probably.
[00:52:01] 10 to 15 grand of fences and infrastructure, so you're probably looking 20, 30, 40, we're probably looking $60,000 - $80,000 startup costs not counting the land itself. Then the land's pretty variable, but working with the system we're developing, it makes a lot of that more feasible too.
[00:52:22] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. That's currently about two Bitcoins these days, it's not that huge of an investment when you think about how inflation is impacting everything. I mean, that's one year tuition at a fiat university. One year, that'll get you a quarter of a BA in human rights or, some other social science at a fiat university. Think about it, and you know, that could be enough to secure...
[00:52:44] Because if you have 20 cows, how many cows do you get to slaughter every year?
[00:52:49]Joel: Every one of my cows has a cap every single year. Then it takes about 30 months to finish them out, to be ready for butchering. So you need enough carry capacity if you're trying to finish them all for actually carrying those animals all the way through being finished.
[00:53:02] But you're spitting out a calf per year.
[00:53:06] Saifedean Ammous: How much?
[00:53:07]Joel: A calf per year, so all my females are going to have a calf every 11 months or so.
[00:53:14]Saifedean Ammous: So after a couple of years you were at like 20 cows a year, more or less, you could be making 20 a year and that's enough to feed something like 20 families.
[00:53:28] Joel: Yeah.
[00:53:28] Saifedean Ammous: So two Bitcoins today to feed the 20 families in perpetuity, they just keep regenerating the land, making the land better and they grow the crops. Effectively they'll get better and better at it, so that's really quite attractive if you think about it. If people want to live like in a community of 20 people next to some area where cattle are grazing, you don't need a lot of cattle to just secure enough food, whatever happens in the world.
[00:53:51]If you live next to this, this is the thing, like if you live next to an area where this happens, you guarantee that the soil around you is good, it's healthy, it protects from national natural disasters like flooding and landslides. It means delicious, healthy meat. What's not to like?
[00:54:09]Joel: If you do it over large enough tracks of land you're even purifying the water tables and things, because that biological layer of the soil is what actually breaks down all the petroleum products and will actually clean the whole soil and water table as it's infiltrating through it.
[00:54:26] Saifedean Ammous: Nice. And you think this is also workable in lands that have been desert for quite a while, for hundreds of thousands of years, not just modern agriculture victims, but even the deserts, like in the middle east?
[00:54:39] Joel: Absolutely. It's harder to get it started. If you look at Allan Savory's work, they've really proved out the system to how to do it, but it's definitely possible. You just need enough rainfall to capture it all that keeps things growing through the course of the year, but they've proven that you can actually refill the aquifers and actually bring back historic water patterns of Springs and creeks and rivers and things that used to be there.
[00:55:04] It's pretty incredible. When you look at what Savory is doing over in Africa.
[00:55:08] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, it's absolutely mind blowing because he posts before and after picture of lands and you see that it was a dead land, and then a couple of years later, well maybe not a couple, but a few years later, it's lush forests with water and it makes sense because you know, a lot of water falls from the sky.
[00:55:26] And then when it falls from the sky, if the land is desert, if it's flat, the water just lies on it and then evaporates. Whereas if the soil is rich, it gets absorbed and then it goes into streams and it stays in the land and then it gets, uh, evaporate more often. And then that leads to more rainfall. So you can literally make the deserts green.
[00:55:48] Joel: Yep. I saw the question go by about US versus other countries. The US, we've heavily chased the industrialization. Other places like Argentina do a lot better job raising grassfed beef. I'm not sure how many countries like Argentina that are really pushing the deep regenerative practices. There's a lot of good education being done out there that's starting to try to get this to take more and more root in the industry. The more people doing it the better.
[00:56:15] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. There's a lot of regenerative agriculture in Argentina where they use Llamas. What about other animals other than cows? What do you think of using bison and lamb and camels? Do you have any thoughts on these?
[00:56:28] Joel: Anything that's a ruminate can be used for the exact same purposes. The bison are difficult in particular because they're hard to fence, how do you mob them, right? How do you put them together in a way where you can move them around to manage the soil, they just go right through fences. But any animal that is a ruminant that can eat just the roughage cellulose, and then turn it into compost, is an animal you can use the green the deserts. As long as they can survive on whatever the given climate conditions are, their local area. That behave calmly enough to be managed by humans.
[00:57:01] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, and goats are really good at this because they'll go on any rocky surface on any desert, they'll withstand anything and eat anything. They don't care, right?
[00:57:12] Joel: Yeah, I'm using fresh cows, which are really cool because my cows pretty much eat leaves and trees and weeds and all the same stuff goats would eat.
[00:57:22] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, fantastic. All right, who's got a questions. Anybody want to ask any questions?
[00:57:28] Peter: So I could ask one about, specifically it would be good to go into a bit more detail Joe, on how you see the financial system playing into this, these practices and farming. So we've talked a little bit about regulation and how regulation is keeping meat prices high and limits the way in which you can sell your mince. But specifically, how is it that the kind of debt-based fiat monetary system encourages these practices in a way that having, having sound money, would not encourage them?
[00:58:02] Joel: Good question. So partly right, you've got this whole debt-based system, which is what incentivized this chase to the bottom of low cost inputs based on just pursuing, surviving the hamster wheel of debt. That's all what happened previously. Where we're at now. Is everything is so broken that it's being kept afloat by subsidies.
[00:58:27] And we've got this whole new ESG system being developed, right? Where it's all about these carbon offset credits. Which once again is kind of like crony capitalism 2.0, for example, recently at Land O'Lakes, they took one of their feedlots, they put in a bunch of solar panels and LED lights and now they've got bare dirt, all of this property.
[00:58:48] And you get carbon credits that they're selling on the open market because they did these little things, right? That whole thing is starting to infiltrate into the farmer farming industry, where if you do certain things, you can get like four or five tons of carbon credits per cow, per year. But this whole thing is just going to be this whole Cantillionaire all over again, where you had this high upfront cost that only the big guys can afford to pay to play these games.
[00:59:19] You've got a whole regulatory system based upon giving the approvals to your buddies who are playing the game and checking the box to keep the whole Cantillionaires happy all the way to the top. And it's going to centralize the whole industry and destroy small farmers once again, where some of these farms that are making credits on cattle are making nearly as much money on the carbon offsets as they are raising cattle themselves.
[00:59:43] So it's just, we're throwing more mechanistic authority of just top down decision making at the industry, again trying to fix it because it's so broken and all we're going to end up doing is just centralizing it in a crony system that gets even worse and causes even more destruction. We just really just need it to pop.
[01:00:06] If the whole thing went away, us small scale farmers would take over everything tomorrow. It's we'd need the economy to de-financialize and that's kind of where Bitcoin comes in.
[01:00:18] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, demonetizing land I think is the goal here. A lot of people used to say things like we're going to tokenize the world, that we're going to make a token out of everything.
[01:00:28] And I think a good way of understanding what Bitcoin does is the exact opposite of that. Bitcoin is going to quite seriously de-tokenize the world and that is going to stop people having to make a token of money out of everything. Instead of everything being money, we just have one money that works as money because it works as money across space and across time.
[01:00:51] And so you don't need to keep, any of all these other inferior money that, that we keep having to deal with.
[01:00:59] Joel: I saw the question go by about solar panels too. My land, that I'm leasing from my landlord in Virginia...
[01:01:05] Saifedean Ammous: If you don't mind Joel, William is asking, I hear that solar panels receive higher rental values than cattle raising per acre, to the extent that they cannot compete. Is that true?
[01:01:17]Joel: Absolutely true. My landlord in Virginia, she had two solar panel companies offer her leases for her property. One offer 800 bucks per acre per year, and the other offer 1200 bucks per acre per year. This whole market, once again, is just based upon carbon offsets. They're selling power back to the grid, but really it's just because of the whole crony offset system, right?
[01:01:40] It's ESG stuff all over again. Your average grazing lease in the US is $15 per acres per year. So this whole system due to this whole crony capitalism carbon offset market, is creating a competitor that's a completely fake competitor for the productive value of land. That's almost a factor of what, a hundred X of what a farmer can afford to pay for the land.
[01:02:08] And now it's forcing the farmers to have to play the carbon offset games, to compete with these other guys, like your renewable energy company is playing the carbon offset games. And we're all just having to chase, trying to pander to the agenda here in order to survive.
[01:02:24] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, it's absolutely amazing. These solar panels are the gift that keeps on giving. So these things practically, I mean, they would probably exist in some small capacity. You know, people will have it as a heater for water. Particularly in sunny locations, it's something that works great. It keeps your water hot most of the day, but the notion that you will use it to generate electricity is just an enormously fiat idea.
[01:02:52] And I have a whole chapter on this in the Fiat Standard called the Fiat Fuels, which is incidentally, I should mention now is now available for pre-order. You can pre-order the Fiat Standard on my website, go to saifedean.com/kickstarter and there's a chapter on fiat fuels, which is in my mind, particularly solar biofuels and wind.
[01:03:14] And in particular, the idea that you can generate power from solar and wind. These are intermittent sources. They're not on at all times, but people need electricity at all times. So they can't function on their own. They need to be backed up by reliable energy sources like hydrocarbons or nuclear, or hydroelectric power.
[01:03:37] You need to have these, and you need to have these be able to deliver 100% capacity because solar and wind could go to zero. And the solar goes to zero every night and wind can always go to zero if the wind stops blowing. At night, if the wind's not blowing, they both could be zero, but it could be a night at which you have peak demand because it's cold or because people are using a lot of power because there's an important TV game, a game on TV or whatever it is.
[01:04:04] So you need to have the capacity to run your power plant, your reliable energy power plant. You need it, it takes up a little bit of land, and it's able to produce a lot of power reliably at all times. So you need to buy that anyway. It takes very little land, produces very little pollution. And so the notion that you are benefiting somehow from investing in these enormous amounts of land to use it to generate energy, that's superfluous, it's really, you know, it's not just intermittent, I think it's superfluous.
[01:04:38] Because you already need to have the capacity to provide at peak load from the reliable energy sources. So it's a complete waste of resources. And the only reason that it happens is because it gets subsidies. And it's just been the same story for many years now, where we keep hearing about these energy sources, they're gonna change the world and they're going to save the planet and they're gonna get much better, but they don't, they just keep getting more and more subsidies.
[01:05:06] But the interesting thing is, I'm wondering how new these solar. Panels treat the land. Have you heard from landowners who have implemented this, put a large amount of solar panels for power generation and then found out what happened to the land? I'd imagine it can be good to cover it from the sun for so long, right?
[01:05:27] Joel: So some companies are getting into doing symbiotic things where they're putting in panels that are taller so they can grow actual ground cover and do pollinators and stuff underneath of it and or gray sheet or something underneath the panels. That's not terrible. They try to work pretty hard to do low impact where they're driving the steel beams in, and then you can just pull them right back out and they have very minimal concrete pads for some electronics [???]
[01:05:54]Those aren't super destructive. Some companies don't care about that at all. And they're coming in and putting concrete in. Pretty much just being destructive. It very much depends upon the principles the company applies. Thankfully, a lot of solar panel companies are starting to get into integrating with regenerative agriculture, especially sheep operations.
[01:06:16] They're using their kind of fiat monetary success to the carbon credits to give really cheap lease rates for like, or even sometimes they pay for the sheep as grazing as a service where it's like, they pay you to be their landscaper, to keep the grass down, right. The local communities aren't letting them put in solar panels anymore.
[01:06:36] Like when they go to the county to get approval for permits, can we like put in solar panels on these lands? The local communities are all up in arms and like you're buying up all the farm land. So they're using regenerative agriculture as a way to maintain political support, which is interesting.
[01:06:53] If we just got rid of the carbon offset markets, this whole thing would make sense because prices would dictate what actually was sensible to be doing.
[01:07:01] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, exactly. You know, we just need markets. Markets will tell people what is worth. It's amazing how hard it is for people to get this. But there's hope because there's Bitcoin, I guess.
[01:07:13] All right. Anybody else got any more questions for Joel?
[01:07:17] Student 1: Yeah Joel, I was confused by your comment on selling, you're in Texas, I think, is that correct?
[01:07:25] Joel: Virginia, I use Texas as an example, because it's known as a freedom loving state. So it shows just how bad it is here in the US.
[01:07:35] Student 1: The restrictions you're talking about, are those just federal inspection process or are you, like here in Kansas sides of beef and whole beef all the time. No issue, now it has to go through a federally inspected processing plan. And I can't resell it retail, but I can buy all I want. I assume the same is true there in Virginia.
[01:08:06]Joel: Yes, so the federal inspection process, USDA inspection for me is a crony system that's very unevenly enforced. If a small business tries to boot up a processing facility, one, you have really high up front expenses in order to get all your approvals and everything taken care of. But on top of that and Joel Salatin talks about this a lot in his book, Everything I want To Do Is Illegal, where he was trying to do on farm processing chickens and get USDA approval to set up a little open air processing unit.
[01:08:38] That way he could sell chickens to his customer base at scale, right. With the little guys that try to do this, the USDA inspectors come through and they are ridiculously really strict about all sorts of inanity and they let all that stuff slide with the big processors. So they've created this competitive landscape where the regulatory burden for the little processors is extraordinary, and then they let it all slide with the big guys.
[01:09:10] For us little guys, we have to be willing to eat the cost and all the headaches of working with the big processors in order to get our meat processed. And they'll do stuff to us, a little guys often where they won't even, I'll give you my cow to have you process it as a big processor, they'll give me back meat for a different animal, and they'll just keep my cow because it was the better meat and they'll sell it to their buddies because traceability is a huge issue at these giant processors and the little guys can't compete enough due to this regulatory stuff to make it even possible for me to have another option as somebody that'll treat me better as a small guy.
[01:09:51] And with that, the whole cost of processing is very controlled by these giant centralized mega corporations, which makes it really hard for the little guys to compete. Currently with a post COVID world, your lead time on getting an animal butchered. Last time I checked was 18 to 20 plus months. You had to get scheduled just to get one or two cows processed by some of these places.
[01:10:18] Student 1: I've noticed here, my wife and I have always purchased bulk beef. so we're real disciplined and how to go about consuming it, which is the problem most people have, they fill a freezer and then they don't know what to do with it. But buying in bulk, we buy all grass fed beef, we bought from the same producer for probably 15, 20 years, and he has not raised his prices.
[01:10:47] And I have looked religiously. We actually probably pay the same price for grass fed beef that we would pay for regular beef, if we just visited the grocery store regularly. The point I'm making is, I don't think a lot of people really understand it's even available. I tell people this and they look at me with a pretty blind stare, like I'm surely lying.
[01:11:20] Joel: We can raise it so much cheaper when we're doing actual, like low input grazing. The problem is just these processors eat up so much of the margins and even getting them to reliably process our animals so we can sell them to our customers. Seems like you guys got a good local set up there where it's actually they've got enough inventory or something to make it work.
[01:11:40] Student 1: He delivers, he backs his trailer up to our freezer.
[01:11:44] Joel: That's awesome.
[01:11:45] Student 1: It's the simplest thing in the world.
[01:11:50] Joel: I wonder if he's doing it off the books or if he's actually going through the inspected process?
[01:11:55] Student 1: No, it comes directly from a federal inspected butcher and we supply all butcher expects. So we get all the Oregon meat, we get all the liver. We also get all the bones from, the whole beef. Since we're the customer that'll take them. Then we can make gallons of broth.
[01:12:18] Saifedean Ammous: Nice. So do you get the brains? I heard that you can't get brains in the US, is that true?
[01:12:24] Student 1: I cannot get them.
[01:12:26]Saifedean Ammous: Joel?
[01:12:27] Joel: I've never been able to get them, Saif.. I've never been able to. There's some stuff they just won't give me.
[01:12:34]Saifedean Ammous: That's amazing. I remember in Canada there was a butcher that used to import them from Australia, for some reason. They managed to get it, but it's very hard to get it in North America, in the US and Canada, it's very hard to find places that sell brains, but brains are a great food.
[01:12:50] They're extremely nutritious and delicious, highly recommended to you if you live in a place where they're illegal.
[01:12:55] Student 1: It was my mom's favorite food was brain and tongue.
[01:13:00] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, they're both extremely delicious. If people tried to, appreciate the entire animal. I think , there's something really nice about eating the entire animal and eating all the organs.
[01:13:10]People talk about, there's no variety, but actually there's a lot of variety in an animal there are very different cuts and organs and they taste delicious, I think. So you just not need to know how to prepare them.
[01:13:22] Peter: I'm going to add that to my list of things that are less regulated in China and the rest of the world, you can get brains and absolutely anything you want in China.
[01:13:34] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah, these things matter a lot. I think having the freedom to get your own food is a huge deal. And it's a, it's a freedom that's being taken away. I think all over the world, you see more and more regulations coming up. And now you see these hysterical people want to stop people from eating beef in order to eat their industrial slop.
[01:13:54] Incidentally, you know, see people like Bill Gates, talking about needing to feed the planet with artificial meat. And of course all that artificial meat is going to be made out of industrial crops that are farmed on his land. America's biggest landowner and possibly the world's biggest land owner as well.
[01:14:10] His lands are just enormous, enormous monocrop factories, making all the crops that are going into all the industrial, well mostly industrial manufacturers. Yeah, of course he thinks there's a very good reason for you to stop eating meat and start eating all that processed industrial slop. He stands to gain significantly from it, but to be fair to him, I'll always credit him this, at least he believes his own bullshit.
[01:14:35] We can tell by just looking at him that he clearly believes his own bullshit when it comes to this. Like he clearly also, I bet, Bill Gates has like a private lab, which he doesn't talk about where he has hired enormous number of very smart scientists to try and work on developing the best plant-based foods for him, because he really thinks this is how you save the planet.
[01:15:00] And, it's very convenient for him to believe this, obviously, because it helps him invest in all of this agriculture and make money from it, and he thinks he's saving the planet from it. He's he's saving the planet as much as he is saving his own health. And if you look at him, he doesn't look too well.
[01:15:17] I think that it's because he eats the industrial slop that is farmed on his farm land. It's almost certain that is the case. And he believes that that is bad for Earth. Sorry that he believes that that is good for Earth and good for him. But I think it's pretty obvious for anybody to see that this is like the equivalent of flat earth beliefs these days.
[01:15:36] If you think about just something that's so completely out of any rational consideration, it's clear that this is not how the Earth thrives. You're depleting the soil and people are getting sick from eating this. And interestingly enough, you know, if you look at Switzerland, Switzerland is like the country that maintained the gold standard for the longest. They were on the gold standard up until the 1970s.
[01:16:00] And they had the most, I think grazing. It's a country that has a lot of grazing and a lot of cattle and a lot of cows. And they also have the lowest obesity rate in all of Europe. I found this an interesting data point. You know, I always, whenever I think about something, I look at Switzerland and you compare Switzerland to others and they always make the case for why sound money and hard money does a society good.
[01:16:30] So under hard money, they had zero unemployment and zero inflation practically up until the 1970s, as I discussed in the Bitcoin standard and under hard money, they've managed to have the least obesity, they've maintained their soil quite well.
[01:16:46] They have a lot of grazing and not a lot of farming. But I think things are changing now. They're becoming much more of a fiat economy because they've gone off the gold standard and they're joining everybody else and just becoming fiat strip mined. You know you fly over Switzerland now, you see more and more corn fields and soy fields unfortunately, amongst the grazing cattle. But hopefully Bitcoin fixes that too. Anybody wanna ask any other questions?
[01:17:18] Student 2: Joel, I would just ask, it sounds like you have a lot of dairy production going on. If you are favoring female cattle, what are you doing with the dairy? Is that being shared among consumers?
[01:17:33] Joel: I am only raising them for beef. It's the easiest model economically to bootstrap the operations for getting going with more of these regenerative farms. So my cattle in particular produce just enough milk to get the babies to grow into a satisfactory size, to wean them off, to get them growing for finishing the meat.
[01:17:53] I do love raw grass fed dairy, trying to get that to work as an economical model that we can scale is a completely different problem.
[01:18:03] Saifedean Ammous: It's illegal in most of the US, right?
[01:18:06] Joel: Yes, sadly. In Virginia, I actually have some herd shares with a local farmer who actually keeps dairy cattle, pay him to board my animals, and he delivered some raw milk to a local like house that a bunch of us have heard shares where we just go pick up the raw milk from the fridge in the garage.
[01:18:24] It's crazy. They're very strict about raw milk here in the states. There's actually been SWAT teams raids on natural raw milk farms. Insanity.
[01:18:35] Saifedean Ammous: Yeah. I mean, this is a great case for, without government who would raid the farmers? Checkmate anarchists!
[01:18:49] Joel: Ridiculous. Yeah, I love using raw dairy as one of the cornerstone nutrition sources for families and homesteads.
[01:18:59] It makes sense for everybody at a homestead scale to have their own family milk pal. My goal with the cattle co-op and a lot of the projects I'm running is to get as much land and food. Security developed is possible for as many Bitcoin families and communities as possible. The upfront labor and knowledge required to do the dairy is a lot higher than doing these really rugged, low input beef cows.
[01:19:26] So there will be like a much higher cost of training and equipment and capital goods and things to get dairies going. So for now, I'm just focusing on the easy win of getting people that don't know how to do the grazing up and doing it with the easy keep and beef pals with the lower capital expenditure, and then maybe down the road a couple of years when we have guys that know what they're doing, we'll scale it into other parts.
[01:19:52] Saifedean Ammous: Fantastic. All right well, thank you so much, Joe, for joining us and thank you everybody for joining us was a lot of fun and quite an inspirational story. I hope a lot of people listen to you and make the world's deserts bloom with beautiful capital and delicious ribeye, thank you.
[01:20:10] Joel: Appreciate it Saif.