I don’t usually spend a lot of time on the “Financial Page” of the New Yorker magazine. Nor do I focus on the financial aspects of the Wall Street Journal. I’m a writer/philosopher: money has never been the prime motivator in my life. The philosophical arguments are what get my intellectual juices moving.
But, in the 25 September issue of the New Yorker, the money piece honed in on how to profit from deer farming. That’s right, the Bambi residuals, on the hoof. How many “deer farms” would you guess there to be in North America? I would have thought that a hundred might be a high number, but I would have been making the classic error of the “misplaced decimal.” Twice! Got to move that decimal two places to get the right number.
No kidding. There are not hundreds of deer farmers here, nor are there thousands. Nope, turns out that there are some ten thousand deer farmers on the North American continent. Now, most of them are farming for the meat, venison, or for hunting. The meat’s a little wild, for my taste, and I’m not much for guy-with-scoped-rifle versus unarmed critter, but there you are.
One example cited by Adam Davidson’s piece (entitled “Pissed Off”) focuses on a friend of his, an Amish farmer who eschews the hunting or meat models and, instead, farms deer for their urine. You heard me right: He’s after their liquid waste. Turns out there’s a good bit of demand for deer urine, which hunters spray on the ground to hide their scent from their prey. Turns out, deer urine is a $100 million dollar industry.
So far, so good for Davidson’s Amish pal. Right up until corporate-driven legislators (where have you heard this one before?), in an effort to curtail the deadly (to white-tailed deer, elk, moose and reindeer) chronic wasting disease, are making it illegal to import full deer carcasses, unprepared trophy heads or deer urine [italics mine] into New York State.
Makes sense, right? Up until you learn that the actual science behind the argument doesn’t hold up. In short, it would take 30,000 gallons of urine to come up with the amount of dangerous prions in one gram of infected brain tissue.
“Why,” poses Davidson, “is the lowest-risk bodily fluid banned, while meat, which may pose an equal or higher risk, is permitted? The reason is simple. The risk-mitigation plan, like all regulation, isn’t based purely on science; it also takes into account politics and economics.” In short, deer hunters are politically powerful; the producers of deer urine are not. This is called “regulatory capture: the process by which regulators, who are supposed to pursue solely the public interest, instead become solicitous of the very industries they regulate.” I.e. money and political power rule. Yep, the usual.
©2017 Richard Paul Hinkle