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Will Farm Labor See a Resurgence?

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Touch the Soil News #778 Farm labor is not a profession that is taught at schools or universities -an interesting situation in a nation whose roots are in agriculture. Established in 1910, is an organization called the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA). The organization has 2,500 members in more than 20 countries. The non-profit occupies its time with issues related to agriculture and food. Recently, the AAEA has concerned itself with farm labor, particularly here in the U.S. Their concern is over immigration from Mexico – the source of U.S. farm labor. Stephen Devadoss of Texas Tech University is preparing a paper for the AAEA and reveals that labor…

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Hang in there London

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Touch the Soil News #636 (feature photo – London City Hall – CC SA 2.0) The number one goal of most everyone that reads this news piece is to translate their work ethic and skills into dollars. We must connect into the mainstream flows of finance – which are what prop up Capitalism – through our jobs. So when it comes to people going hungry – when putting aside minor reasons – the basic problem is jobs and/or the low compensation of jobs. So, now that we’ve identified what most everyone knows already, it is interesting to see what is happening in London. London is one of the oldest capitalistic…

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Whole Foods Retracting?

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Touch the Soil News #622 (feature photo – CC SA 4.0) According to Whole Foods Market, it is operating 469 stores and has over 87,000 employees. The long term goal of Whole Foods Market has been to expand to 1,200 stores – they’ve got a long way to go. Unfortunately, sales have slowed dramatically. Whole Foods Market plans to open six stores this quarter, but shutter 9 stores for a net decrease of 3 stores. The company has had to endure six straight quarters of declining same-store sales. The reasons for Whole Foods Market in losing wind in its sails are complex – heavy competition from majors like Kroger and…

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Financial Stuff Outside the Box

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Touch the Soil News #616 (feature photo CC SA 3.0) The cornerstone of the financial system – upon which the economy hinges – is the banking system. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the Frank-Dodd Act tried to manage the risks banks take. In the process, banks needed to build more equity. The theory is that if banks have more equity, they will have a greater cushion for adversity before the FDIC has to step in and protect deposits. To make it simple, let’s assume the banking industry is a house worth $100,000. As of 12/31/2008, the banking system would have had debts of $90,700 against the $100,000…

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Food Chain Insights into the 2017 Economy

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Touch the Soil News #590 (feature photo CC. SA. 3.0) Roughly half of all American food dollars ($780 billion) are spent eating out – mostly in restaurants. The restaurant industry employs 14.5 million people, almost 10 percent of the nation’s workforce. So while economists and government bean counters tell us the economy is going great guns and things have improved, you would think that would show up in the restaurant industry. However it is not and some restaurant economists now question the official consensus that the economy is improving. The Nation’s Restaurant News (www.nrn.com) recently reported that 2017 doesn’t look so hot for the restaurant industry. Following are some of…

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Is the Economy Suggesting Container Gardening? – Yes!

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Touch the Soil News #589 (feature photo – Carlos Delgado CC-BY-SA) We are doing a News piece here that also includes an endorsement for Kelp4Less products. But before we go there, there have been a number of mega-trends that we noticed in 2016. Trends that suggest the economy may have improved for some, but the economics of the larger portion of the American citizenry is going sideways or retreating. Most everyone out there is having “economic” jitters. If not for themselves, then for friends or someone in their extended family. Growing food is becoming a necessity much like it was for the Americans of 80 years ago.   Trend #1…

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Got Minimum Wage Increase in 2017?

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Touch the Soil News #578 Arguments over minimum wage increases are the hottest in the food chain – particularly in the fast food industry. Workers say they can’t make a living and need more. Fast food operators say they can’t pay more and stay in business. The problem is both sides have truth in their positions. Top economists conclude that: The system cannot adequately afford both business and workers – so much for the American dream. Businesses in general can’t survive without consumers having purchasing power and businesses in general cannot afford to give workers sufficient purchasing power. Following is a listing of the states that in 2017 are making…

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David Versus Goliath

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Touch the Soil News #570 For most of agricultural history, the growth of large industrial farms was paralleled by the growth in tractor size – both of which had larger and larger price tags. Large tractors today can carry price tags of $300,000 plus. In stark contrast to equipment trends of ever higher technology and price, a new Alabama start-up called CleBer, LLC was formed to go the reverse. Founders Horace Clemens and Saul Berenthal, neither of which have manufacturing experience, have engineered the Oggun tractor. A tractor that could (due to cost and access issues) revolutionize the food chain. A food chain that is increasingly conscious about local, sustainable…

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Who is Right?

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Touch the Soil News #569 (Feature photo – Annette Bernhardt CC 2.0) The fight for $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers has recently hit the streets again. For people, good economics is when many people are working at a survivable wage. For example, one businessman once told me that good economics is when 1,000 people farm 10 acres each and all make a living. Bad economics is when one farmer runs 10,000 acres with an army of minimum wage labor. When it comes to finance, it can be the opposite of economics. Good finance can be when 1 person can run a 10,000 acre farm using hundreds of minimum wage…

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The Economy – Does It Need To Circulate Dollars Differently?

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Touch the Soil News #566 Boasting of new job growth, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported that on average, there were 180,000 new jobs every month in 2016. If that course continues for December, America will achieve 2,160,000 new jobs in 2016. The problem is that the announcement of 180,000 new jobs every month is absent any perspective. Given that the U.S. population has been growing by around 200,000 every month for the past 10 years, the job growth number falls materially short not only of keeping up, but bringing back the millions of jobs lost in the 2008 financial crisis. Recent news about the restaurant industry is that…

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