Fast Food Nation I came up with an idea, which I am seriously considering putting together.
There are abandoned poulty houses in Arkansas. Like a lot of them. Tyson Foods, a huge chicken processor, shrewdly owns chickens but no chicken farms- they pass on all the capital risk and labor to independent contractors, usually small farmers. These contractors generally have to take out a huge loan, spend $150k on a poultry house, and about half of them go bankrupt. That’s a lot of abandoned poultry houses.
Soo… remember Banker to the Poor and the Grameen Bank? They have a fisheries project- there was a giant abandoned fishery and they took it over, staffed by small businesspeople loaned money by the bank. So why couldn’t we do that in Arkansas?Of course, as with all of my projects, I am always looking for guidance or volunteers. If you know anything about finance, nonprofit organizations, chickens, or the business of poultry production, drop me a line! Steps to accomplish this project:
- Contact Eric Schlosser
(author of Fast Food Nation) for a quick pointer to his sources for the actual locations of these bankrupt farms
- Contact local AR banks and see who has the best deal on abandoned poultry farm foreclosures… preferably near unemployed people
- Research the legal structure of the Grameen fisheries project-
- How is it connected to Grameen Bank?
- How much do the debtors own of the fisheries?
- Contact the micro-lending programs in AR and get their involvement
- Market & Logistical concerns:
- Who would the resulting chickens be sold to? Maybe a side loan involving small restaurants?
- How does one transport chickens and chicken products economically on a small scale?
- Is the chicken market as a whole improving or degrading?
- Is the organic chicken market improving share?
- What are the tradeoffs in making a chicken operation organic? Free range?
- Could we alternatively combine this effort with agricultural research? Companion farming? Alternately, GM chickens?
- Environmental concerns:
- How do we minimize / reuse the waste generated by a chicken farm?
- How do we guard the local water supply from pollution?
- Can we grow the chicken feed on the lot? How about a crop which improves the soil?
- Write some grants!
- research recruitment methods of Grameen to get people to run this thing