Uniting for a Conservative Environmental Policy

Elizabeth Nickson25 Oct, 2023 4 Min Read
Sometimes bigger isn't better.

You can laugh at Gwyneth Paltrow all you like, but her upper class followers, millions of them, determine the future via their purchasing power. Their focus is their family's health, and they only buy clean food. In that lies an end to the pitched fight over the environment. Chemical free, humanly raised, local, small batch, caring. Marketing 101. Aspiration determines choice. Axiom.

In fact, anyone with sense and a little extra money buys organic food. And farmer/thinkers on both the right and left, see, argue, agitate for, and write about the drawing down of Big Ag, combined with a deliberate, policy-led revitalization of the country. Regenerative farming is a growth industry on both the right and the left, because rural people understand the depletion of the soil, the poisoning of the waters and air. Joel Salatin and Wendell Berry, natural political opponents, both want the same thing, which is to say a revitalizing of farming country and a hardening of property rights, the opposite of current policy on both sides of the fence.

Renewing a sense of community.

A new book, Small Farm Republic: Why Conservatives Must Embrace Local Agriculture, Reject Climate Alarmism, and Lead an Environmental Revival, argues for the overturning of rapacious Big Agriculture behavior and a re-envisioning of environmental policy on the right. Its author, John Klar, a tax lawyer, ill with one of those mysterious modern conditions, moved to a dairy farm with his wife, and dove in. This book is the result of painstaking analysis, deep reading, and lived experience. Another recent entry is Saying No to a Farm-Free Future, the Case For an Ecological Food System and Against Manufactured Foods. Chris Smaje, a Brit, argues from the left for a nation of small farmers, spread across the land, engaged in deep stewardship of both land, animals and adjacent community. Both believe that the economic prosperity resulting from that would light up a dying economic model.

Klar, as does everyone, ran smack into the regulatory manure-storm federal and state governments have launched against rural people. He took his hard-earned knowledge and ran for the Vermont state senate last year for the Republican Party, following an unsuccessful long-shot bid for the governorship two years earlier, a heroic act. Big Ag receives nearly a trillion dollars a year in subsidy-- globally -- and, courtesy of its lobbyists acts virtually without supervision. Regulations are only for small farmers, actual family farms who are Big Ag’s principal competition. As Klar points out, all the environmental costs are offloaded onto local communities, waters, air, depleted soil, processing "the earth’s bounty into addictive unhealthy products... peddled to children and a vulnerable stressed out generation of Americans." Monsanto/Bayer's annual revenues are $15 billion, and 21,000 employees are paid an average of $87,000, via "a prolonged infliction of environmental destruction."

Klar argues that food liberty is at the base of all liberty, and in this he is in line with John Dickenson, who in 1768’s Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer pointed out that the unconstitutionality of British revenue laws were also economic folly. American farmers now labor under laws written by multinationals and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The goal being all Big Ag, no small farms. This is part of its 2030 Agenda, which sees the rural demographic as the greatest threat to total control, according to Klar.

Take it from John Dickinson.

Instead, Klar proposes distributism, an economic structure whereby those who raise food, control and retain the profits of their labor. “All of society benefits when families tend the soil,” says Klar. Today, any sustained drive into rural America demonstrates the results of a three-generation hidden policy to take people off the land and grab that land, whereby it ends up in the portfolio of hedge funds, as carbon credits. Devastation reigns from coast to coast in ex-urban America. The policy is entirely wrongheaded. It has led to cultural decay, bad human health, creation, says Klar, in reverse.

This bog-stupid plan did not factor in the cultural zeitgeist, the felt need for authenticity, simplicity, and above all, the stopping of the seemingly endless proliferation of toxic chemicals dumped into water, air and earth. And for those made paranoid by climate hysteria, if only 11 percent of the world's cropland improved the community of soil microorganisms, notes Kristin Ohlson in her 2014 book, The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet, the amount of carbon sequestered would offset all our current emissions of CO2.

By 2020, says Klar, small farming became increasingly profitable and would be more so if taxpayers refused to subsidize Big Ag. As he points out, farms revitalize a community like nothing else. A rancher and farmer said recently on a roundtable with RFK, Jr., that when he shifted to regenerative agriculture, his profits grew so fast that his payroll is now over six figures a month. In fact, the job multiplier of resource industries is larger than that of any other sector.

One thing that neither Smaje nor Klar mentions is that in restoring small farms around rural communities lies the solution of one of our most pressing problems, alienation and division. At American Stewards, Margaret and Dan Byfield teach farmers and ranchers how to counter the regulatory onslaught of Big Ag, Big Government, and Big Conservation. Using the Tenth Amendment and something they call “co-ordination,” they show how to assert the equality of the values of rural communities in the face of federal and state government demands.

As people move back to the land to find a saner pace of life, they will encounter the regulatory prison and they will have to find a way to fight. Nothing cements community relations faster than fighting for that community. Solving the problem of miserable, atomized, submissive consumers may take nothing more than a plot of land, some chickens and a farm shop by the side of the road.

Elizabeth Nickson was trained as a reporter at the London bureau of Time Magazine. She became European Bureau Chief of LIFE magazine in its last years of monthly publication, and during that time, acquired the rights to Nelson Mandela’s memoir before he was released from Robben Island. She went on to write for Harper’s Magazine, the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, the Sunday Telegraph, the Sunday Times Magazine, the Telegraph, the Globe and Mail and the National Post. Her first book The Monkey Puzzle Tree was an investigation of the CIA MKULTRA mind control program and was published by Bloomsbury and Knopf Canada. Her next book, Eco-Fascists, How Radical Environmentalists Are Destroying Our Natural Heritage, was a look at how environmentalism, badly practiced, is destroying the rural economy and rural culture in the U.S. and all over the world. It was published by Adam Bellow at Harper Collins US. You can subscribe to her Substack at elizabethnickson.substack.com/


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2 comments on “Uniting for a Conservative Environmental Policy”

  1. Frankly the Eco-Freaks should just stop trying to force everybody to live the same away they do and they should just go live without any modern Convinences for a whole Year

  2. Watching the Amazon Prime show "Clarkson's Farm" was an eye opener. I knew the regulations were terrible, and while the show takes place in the UK, I don't doubt things are equally restrictive in the US. The government works to control every aspect of the small farmer's business, with petty bureaucrats ready to restrict any and all activities. It is amazing that any small farmers survive.

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