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Oregon Oysterman's Poop Problem Shows Need for Market-Based Regulations

If we want fresh oysters, good cheeses, and clean water, we should rethink how we regulate all three.

David R. Frazier / DanitaDelimont.comDavid R. Frazier / DanitaDelimont.comAn Oregon oysterman has sued state environmental regulators over pollution he says comes from dairy farms around his Tillamook Bay oyster beds. Oyster farmer Jesse Hayes says that fecal runoff from the farm is impacting his oyster harvests, and that the state has failed to protect him, his business, and the bay.

Hayes is suing the state, rather than any particular farmer or farmers, because it would be difficult or impossible to identify the specific farms where the fecal contamination originates.

The state countered, unsympathetically, that Hayes should have commented on regulations it established in 2001 before they were finalized. But a state court rejected the state's arguments last week, determining that Hayes's suit may proceed because the state failed to sign the regulations in 2001, making them merely a draft order.

Hayes's suit is set to go to trial next week. Hayes attorney says that if he loses the case, he'll sue the state agriculture department, seeking to crack down on the confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) he believes are responsible for the contamination.

This case raises several interesting issues. For one, it pits one category of food producer (oyster farmers) against another (livestock farmers). It also shows how regulations from one agency (here, environmental quality) may come into or create conflict with those of another (agriculture). And, while people have been quick to criticize current EPA leadership, for example, for being in bed with the industries that agency regulates, the Oregon suit shows environmental regulators in blue states may evidence exactly the same sort of capture.

As for the poop problems Hayes alleges, manure from livestock enters waterways as runoff, typically carried from farmers' fields—where it's used as fertilizer—by rain. Such problems aren't confined to Oregon. They're national and even international in scope. Similar issues exist in waters where agricultural runoff concentrates, particularly in the United States but also in Europe.

One classic example of runoff from livestock impacting shellfisheries comes from Maryland, where the state's large poultry and crabbing industries have battled over runoff for decades. A decade ago, the New York Times reported that Maryland's poultry industry produced 650 million pounds of chicken manure every year. A 2016 article suggests that number had since doubled. Yet pollution levels are down in the Chesapeake Bay. State taxpayers are now footing part of the bill to send chicken poop out of state, which the Baltimore Sun reports benefits both poultry producers and the Chesapeake Bay.

Another example is the so-called "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, which extends out from the mouth of the Mississippi River and is caused by farm runoff all the way down the river from its source in Minnesota, and has been described as similar in size to the state of New Jersey. A 2017 McClatchy article on oyster farming in Washington State put it bluntly: "There's just too much poop in the waters of Puget Sound."

Similar battles have pitted livestock farmers against oyster farmers in Tomales Bay, California. Fecal runoff from dairy farmers caused oyster harvests there to plummet in 2004, the L.A. Times reported, due in part to regulations designed to mitigate the impact of fecal runoff from dairy farms around the bay, which required oyster farmers to wait at least four days after any significant rain to harvest oysters. This was all despite the fact many dairy farmers had implemented a variety of plans to reduce runoff from their farms.

Other methods of transmission are also possible. In North Carolina, the recent hurricane, Florence, caused large pig-waste lagoons from the state's pork industry to overflow, spurring a smelly and potentially hazardous mess that's polluted waterways and neighboring property in the state.

Considering the breadth and frequency of these issues, it's clear current regulations aren't working for those who earn their livelihoods farming on land and sea. They're not working for the environment nor consumers, either.

Are stricter regulations the answer? I'm not sure that's the case. It's difficult to envision a top-down regulatory structure they can benefit or even balance the oftentimes-competing interests of oyster farmers and livestock farmers, consumers, and the environment.

If regulations haven't kept farmers, consumers, and environmentalists happy, and more stringent regulations are unlikely to ameliorate the problems, maybe it's time to consider broader adoption of some market-based options. These might include Pigouvian taxes, Coasean bargaining, polluter credits—which enable "farmers and manufacturers to buy and sell 'credits' they have earned by reducing their own pollution"—or some combination. If we want fresh oysters and good cheese and clean water—I, for one, want all three—then we should think and regulate differently.

Photo Credit: David R. Frazier / DanitaDelimont.com "Danita Delimont Photography"/Newscom

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  • SQRLSY One||

    Enviropig http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enviropig would be a partial (but huge and significant) solution to the pig-poop problem. But NOOOOOO, Government Almighty over-regulation, and dipshit anti-GMO popular idiocy prohibits it from being used! (Ag-animal GMOs in general). All you eco-freaks, either kiss my ass, or stop being ninny-nanny hypocritical assholes!

  • Woody Chip Hurrrrr?||

    Interestingly, that article says nothing about what Enviropig tastes like.

    with the capability to digest plant phosphorus more efficiently

    And that statement is not particularly clear. If it digests phosphorus more efficiently, that means it either needs less and leaves more phosphorus in its waste, or that it absorbs more and leaves less behind (!), in which case ... how does it absorb the extra phosphorus, and how does that affect its taste?

  • SQRLSY One||

    I've read about it over the years. It needs less phosphorus in it's diet (less feed supplements or less high-quality feed) means less mining of limited supplies of phosphorus), and, big deal here, less phosphorus in the poop, which causes fish kills and "eutrophication" ( see http://www.vliz.be/projects/is.....ation.html ) ... So it's good for the environment, in 2 different ways.

    Taste of the pig-meat? I have no idea.

  • Woody Chip Hurrrrr?||

    That's still not clear. How do they achieve "less phosphorus in its diet" -- by feeding it different plants with less phosphorus, or less of them? Different feed implies a different taste, and makes you wonder what normal pigs do when fed those same different plants. Les feed implies less weight gain, or less fat, or .... something ... which implies a different taste too.

  • Woody Chip Hurrrrr?||

    You can use different fertilizer for plants which are modified to be more efficient in their use of phosphorus and other inputs, and reduce wastage and runoff. Do Enviropigs have to be fed Envirocorn, just as Roundup(™)-Ready(™) corn has to be treated with Roundup(™) for full effect? Enviropigs are not Roundup(™)-Ready(™) pigs, as much fun as that is to contemplate, because Roundup(™)-Ready(™) corn has the same nutrients as regular corn.

  • SQRLSY One||

    To my understanding, with the enviropig, farmers can save money by using less phosphorus. As far as I know,there's no other tie-in to roundup-ready or any other artificial chemicals.

    To flip it around, I have heard it put this way: Pigs (as they are now) have evolved to be weak in their ability to take up phosphorus, as compared to other farm animals. To make up for this, to make up for the genetic weakness of today's pigs, farmers have to do one of 2 things, if they want their pigs to be healthy and put on weight quickly:

    '1) Feed them supplements containing lots of extra phosphorus

    '2) Through their regular feed, give them higher-quality nutrients THAT HAVE BEEN GROWN with extra phosphorus fertilizers. That's where the excess eco-troublesome phosphorus comes from, partially... Excess run-off from the over-fertilized fields where pig-food (corn often) is grown, in addition to excess phosphorus in the pig-poop.

  • Woody Chip Hurrrrr?||

    OK, now I understand. You say that normal pigs require extra phosphorus from supplements or freak plants to grow large quickly, and Enviropigs change the freakshow so the pigs can get as large and grow as fast from normal plants.

    That's what wasn't clear. Thanks.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yeah, that's it.

    Now this is just me speculating, but pigs are omnivores. As they evolved, they ate higher in the food chain than they do now. Eating higher in the food chain (meat at times) may have given them more concentrated phosphorus, concentrated by the herbivores below them (unlike the other farm animals' ancestors, who were more purely herbivorous). But now we make the pigs eat lower in the food chain, so that we can live higher in the food chain, by eating the pigs! So GMO-ing them is tweaking them to our needs, so that they can live better at a spot lower in the food chain.

    But again, that's me speculating about the evolution angle of it...

  • ||

    It's actually quite clear if you read the wikipedia article SO linked to.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Ruh Roh ... SQRSLY apparently annoyed someone ....

  • SQRLSY One||

    SQRLZombie is back from the dead!

  • Dan S.||

    Might it not be possible to create a similar line of pigs by old-fashioned selective breeding, without the GMO business?

    I'm wondering why the lawsuits didn't target the dairy farmers directly, I guess if the state regulations explicitly allow them to dump the amount of poop they have been dumping, that wouldn't work. What about collecting the poop and using it for fuel? Maryland's chicken droppings are apparently being collected and sent "out of state", but surely it is a resource that a use could be found for, instead of just paying to dispose of it.

  • Ricardo Vacilon||

    Dairy farmers vs. oyster farmers could be treated as a matter of tort. If, as the article claims, it's impossible to marshal sufficient evidence to convict the dairy farmers, then there is either something wrong with the tort justice system or . . . the dairy farmers aren't guilty! However, I don't buy that there would be no traditional legal basis for suing a group of tortfeasors whose individual contributions to the tort could not be clearly measured. There seems to be some kind of mental blockage (education?) against trying to make the tort system work. Persons like this writer seem to default to thinking in terms of administrative solutions because that's how we're taught to think.

  • Woody Chip Hurrrrr?||

    The mental blockage is the same as with Coase's lighthouses: limited imagination, partly (maybe mostly) stemming from not believing in markets and thinking like a top-down control freak. As long as that government hammer is the top tool in the toolbox, it will be first to mind. After all, who wants to not need tools? Every Harbor Freight junkie can understand.

  • soldiermedic76||

    It would take several generations to produce enough seed stock via traditional breeding. It would take decades to acheieve the same results, if it were even possible. Genetic engineering greatly enhances the speed of introduction for a desirable trait while greatly reducing the chances of an undesirable trait also being introduced. Only fucking luddites are opposed to using the best science available to improving agriculture.

  • miketol||

    It seems that many environmentalists are not motivated by so much a desire to save the planet but by Luddism.

    The oyster fisherman has a legitimate environmental complaint, which is affecting his livelihood. The hog farmer is causing the problem, but he has a right to his livelihood too. Modern technology presents a solution that could make both parties happy: Enviropigs. The oyster fisherman would probably accept it, even it will not completely solve his his problem, but because it will mitigate his problem a great deal. The hog farmer will probably accept it too. The Enviropigs cost the farmer a lot in the initial investment. But they could render his operation more profitable in the long run as the can be healthy on a diet lower in phosphorous (cheaper feed).

    Now the Neo-Luddite environmentalist comes along and makes this amicable solution an impossibility. NO GMO EVER! At this point, I have to ask: Why does a person who has never been productive a day in their whole life get a say in how productive people are regulated?

    Most environmental problems would have probably long been solved if the Neo-Luddites would get out of the way. Global warming for example (I think the jury is still out on that): The best solution would be for the United States to build about 1000 nuclear fission plants. That would reduce carbon emissions from the United states about 50%. But NO you can't do that.

  • JFree||

    The problem is that there are no hog farmers anywhere. The poop problem is cow poop from dairy farms. And I'm not sure they'll buy the notion that the solution lies in milking pigs and selling pig cheese.

  • soldiermedic76||

    In this particular story cattle are the accused culprit, but the story also mentioned ouster farmers in Maryland who deal with pork and poultry farms.

  • FlameCCT||

    Chicken droppings contain high amounts of ammonium nitrate, which has several uses. Unlike cow patties that have been used for natural fertilization for millennium.

  • Rich||

    fecal runoff

    Wait until the election...

  • SQRLSY One||

    So when are the fecal runoff elections anyway? And are you going to vote for the pig feces or the cow feces? Or stay home and shit it out this time around?

  • Harvard||

    Great name for a rock band.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    " it's clear current regulations aren't working"

    Get it? "Current"? Rivers and streams? Get it?

  • SQRLSY One||

    That's shit over the dam already, there's nothing we can do about it any more!

  • Aloysious||

    That was a crappy pun

    Well done.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Excellent news!

    BREAKING: Migrants in caravan tear down border gate in Guatemala, rush toward border bridge into Mexico.

    I can't wait until they reach the US!

    #AbolishICE
    #NoBanNoWall
    #OpenBorders

  • Rockabilly||

    You forgot universal basic income for all upon entering what some call the 'USA,' which is just an imaginary line drawn by racists.

    And don't forget free education, health care, and housing. These are all 'rights.'

    #UBI

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Those are all fine ideas. But mostly I want them to get immediate voting rights if they can pass for 18 years or older.

  • Rockabilly||

    Of course they get to vote as soon as they cross the imaginary line. Then they get a ballot.

    #AbolishPassports.

    Did you know passports are slavery?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Today's bigots are no better than their predecessors, who targeted the Irish, blacks, gays, eastern Europeans, Catholics, women, Italians, Jews, agnostics, Asiana, atheists, and others. They are no likely to be more successful over the medium to long term.

    America -- especially after the most recent five or six decades of liberal-libertarian progress -- is better than its stale-thinking right-wingers.

    It is a free country, though, so carry on, clingers.

  • soldiermedic76||

    The funny thing is that you are so historically ignorant that you don't realize it was early progressives that were most at fault for targeting the groups you listed. Please read about how FDR and his cohorts worked to massively decrease Jewish immigration from Nazi occupied Europe, despite FDR being fully aware of how the Nazis were treating the Jewish population. We even turned back a ship full of refugees. They returned to Germany were the majority died in concentration camps. But considering how anti-Semitic the modern progressives are, I guess the leopard can't change his shorts.

  • Echospinner||

    The Evian conference was a sad chapter in history.

    The world seemed to be divided into two parts — those places where the Jews could not live, and those where they could not enter.

    Chaim Weizmann about the Évian Conference.

  • soldiermedic76||

    BTW, once again you can't do anything but resort to callow insults. Does you job involve asking if people want to add fries to that?

  • Eddy||

    "Today's bigots"

    You mean the Mexican government?

    "It is a free country"

    You mean Mexico?

    You realize it's Mexico these migrants are entering, and Mexican law they're breaking, right?

  • Sevo||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|10.20.18 @ 12:19PM|#
    "Today's bigots are no better than their predecessors, who targeted the Irish, blacks, gays, eastern Europeans, Catholics, women, Italians, Jews, agnostics, Asiana, atheists, and others...."

    The asshole's lack of self-awareness is breath-taking!

  • Rockabilly||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland

    When will you stop claiming to be a minister of the Anglican Church and fess up that you're a rural Pentecostal Minister and a certified snake handler?

  • FlameCCT||

    I thought he/she/it was a Pastafarian!

  • The Last American Hero||

    Sorry, but I don't want the oysters or the pigs to have access to the ballot box.

  • NoVaNick||

    I don't think OBL remembers Castro's boatlift in 1980-his/her parents probably hadn't even been born yet. But this sounds a lot like that, and it did not turn out well for the Democrats at the time.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Two words: mine field.

  • Rockabilly||

    OpenBordersLib-rarian told me mine fields are racist and must be blown up

  • Juice||

    Oh, I didn't realize they were massing at the souther border of Mexico.

  • Agammamon||

    What happened to the last wave of Guatemalans that everyone was so worried were going to swamp America because Mexico wouldn't stop their determined march north?

  • Echospinner||

    It is a long walk through Mexico. It seems a lot of them dropped off along the way. Some did get here are were processed. Don't know what happened since.

    These caravans are a terrible idea if you want to help people needing asylum. If you just sent people in small groups or as individuals they would have a much better chance. Now there is all of this blowback affecting both Mexico and the US. It is really cruel to put people through all of this hardship when there is little chance of any of them getting in as refugees.

    There is an NGO organizing this People Without Borders or something. They should stop this.

  • Agammamon||

    But we were told by those so scared that the Mexican government themselves were helping them North specifically to prevent that. That barricades and roadblocks were opened as they marched up.

  • The Last American Hero||

    No, they should purchase train tix from El Paso to Vancouver BC or Toronto and let Trudeau handle it.

  • Flinch||

    Ok, then lead by example: rent an arena, and pay for the bbq. You're going to need at least ten sides of beef and a ton of rice and beans, and a semi or two full of beer. You will be lucky if the bill is $75k.

  • Sevo||

    Moonbeam: The bad penny of US politics:

    "Jerry Brown on running for president: 'Don't rule it out'"
    [...]
    "When someone in the crowd yelled "president," Brown responded, "But I'd be 82 then," then paused before saying, "Don't rule it out."
    https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign
    /326670-jerry-brown-on-running-
    for-president-dont-rule-it-out

    The man whose greatest political achievement was turning control of the CA state budget over to the unions wants to 'help us' from the WH.

  • Longtobefree||

    Mock him all you want to; he still slept with Linda Ronstadt in her prime.

  • Rockabilly||

  • FlameCCT||

    LOL.

    Yet we never hear anyone saying:
    Mock him all you want to; he still slept with Stephanie Clifford in her prime.

  • Ken Shultz||

    In commercial real estate, every landowner is expected to handle the water from their own property. You can't just grade your property so that all the water pools on your neighbor's property, leaving it under three feet of water. You're expected to handle the water that originates on your property through grading and infrastructure so that it drains into city, county, state, or federal infrastructure--that's meant to handle such water.

    It doesn't appear that farmers are being subjected to the same considerations as everyone else. This may be a case where the farmers are being given a free pass through regulation--procedures were followed!

    From a libertarian standpoint, we might question whether the government has any business in this area, but, be advised, handling drainage, irrigation, water overflows, and associated infrastructure has been a central feature of government since the beginning of civilization, going back to the land of Sumer.

    Meanwhile, yeah, if the government is leasing out federal grazing land to ranchers without taking drainage concerns from federal property into consideration, then the government is out there destroying other people's property, and it's hard to hold people responsible for damages when the government (no one) owns the land.

  • ||

    It's not so much that "every landowner is expected to handle the water from their own property", it's that if by developing (either residential or commercial) your property you change the amount and location of the runoff you have to retain/detain the increase on your own property and control the discharge in such a way as it does not cause flooding or other damage to adjoining properties.

    Unfortunately agricultural land is generally considered "undeveloped" for most purposes because developed generally means increasing impervious areas (buildings, roads, parking lots etc" and decreasing pervious areas (crops, landscaping, natural forest, grassland etc). More impervious area means less rainfall percolating into the ground and thus running off the land.

    While in some places changes in the quality of the runoff is considered but for the most part the exalted status and disproportionate political clout of farmers has left them largely immune to a lot of land use regulation that the rst of us have to live under.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If the undeveloped property were draining onto someone's property before, you're not getting plans approved unless that situation is resolved. There may even be liability associated with creating wetlands on someone else's undeveloped property by not properly accounting for runoff from your own undeveloped property I've seen it happen. There may be liability associated with not maintaining undeveloped property for weed abatement, especially in areas where fires are a major threat. The list goes on.

    Property rights are just like other rights that way. The Second Amendment protects our right to own a gun; it doesn't protect the right to violate other people's rights with a gun. The First Amendment doesn't protect violating other people's rights through perjury, fraud, or handing a threatening note to a bank teller. Owning land doesn't give you the right to violate other people's rights either. You don't simply get to disregard other people's rights because what you're doing that destroys other people's property is happening on your private property.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Cities, counties, states, and the federal government have built drainage and holding facilities to deal with pesticides, herbicide, and cow manure all over this country. Ranchers who harm other people's property because they're not accounting for the runoff from their own operations need to compensate the people whose property they're destroying, and if the federal government is leasing land to ranchers that doesn't drain into a holding area and is destroying someone's property, they need to compensate the property owner and either put in some infrastructure to deal with that runoff or stop leasing that land to ranchers.

    And that's all regardless of whether the property in question is developed. It's whether what people are doing on that property violates someone's property rights. We should all be free to do as we please so long as we don't violate someone's rights.

  • ||

    Ken none of what you say is something I did not already know. And nothing you said contradicts anything I actually said.

    If the undeveloped property were draining onto someone's property before, you're not getting plans approved unless that situation is resolved.


    If you live above someone else's property, chances are that your property has runoff that goes straight onto that person's (or people's) land. Hence the need for developers to have an engineer prepare a pre- and post-development drainage map.

    The only thing you've said is that it is perhaps more complicated than my comment indicated. But I kind of already said that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "It's not so much that "every landowner is expected to handle the water from their own property", it's that if by developing (either residential or commercial) your property . . .

    What I wrote seems to contradict that.

    We are responsible for our own property--developed or undeveloped. If we willfully disregard other people's rights and that decision inflicts costs on other people, then we are and should be responsible for their losses.

  • JFree||

    Maybe you should actually look at a satellite image of Tillamook County. 92% is highly-sloped forest - no pastures, cows ain't grazing there on any lease. The pastureland is the small valley right next to the river - which is basically coastal. All privately owned - probably all cows. In a very high rainfall climate where that valley already takes all the water runoff from the even rainier forest.

    Your solution isn't an actual solution that can work at the local level at all. Nothing top-down can work there - including the market. The only solution that will work there is very local - and almost certainly means diversifying land-use beyond dairycow and lumbering.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Your solution isn't an actual solution that can work at the local level at all."

    "Ranchers who harm other people's property because they're not accounting for the runoff from their own operations need to compensate the people whose property they're destroying"

    ----Ken Shultz

    Why isn't that solution appropriate in this situation?

    Why isn't a local jury deciding and a judge presiding over a trial an actual solution?

  • JFree||

    That is certainly a PART of any local solution. But implied in your notion of that is that the responsibility of one landowner to their neighbor is simply a transactional monetary issue that an impartial judge will decide on - based on laws/precedents that are entirely determined outside that locality.

    Problem is - every element of that particular solution - the pure transactionality, the use of an externally-defined money to price/value everything locally, the external laws/precedents - is the sort of 'solution' that was designed to resolve disputes of people who are half-a-world away from each other.

    This is so local that my guess is the prevention of a future wrong is far more important than a compensation for a past one. And that's more a relationship solution than a transactional 'rights-based' one.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "But implied in your notion of that is that the responsibility of one landowner to their neighbor is simply a transactional monetary issue that an impartial judge will decide on - based on laws/precedents that are entirely determined outside that locality."

    A preponderance of the evidence by a local jury is what I was talking about. There is no reason why a judge should decide such a case unless the plaintiff agrees to it.

    Farmer Smith's cow shit destroyed my oysters, and I can prove it by a preponderance of the evidence to a local jury--so long as an impartial judge officiates over the proceedings, and I can appeal if he rules incorrectly on procedure, evidence, testimony, or gives the jury bad instructions.

  • JFree||

    You're still trying to create a legal solution to an economic problem. The whole point of Coase's Social Costs article was that legal solutions - regardless of whether they are imposed from on high by the civil state or adjudicated by a judge/jury who are simply honestly trying to adjudicate a dispute - don't look at economic problems the way economic problems need to be looked at if they are going to be solved. It is not just the first form of 'legal solution' that is the potential problem. It is BOTH forms.

    Market/pricing systems really are not about contracts and rights and assessing harm. That's what LAW is about. That's not to say that markets/pricing systems can exist without law. They can't. But they're not substitutes for each other. And there is a real problem with libertarian ideas that seem to equate private law (or even common law) with markets/pricing systems that are working. The notion of - well there's a legal alternative so don't need to think much about what the actual problem is here.

  • Sevo||

    JFree|10.20.18 @ 9:04PM|#
    "You're still trying to create a legal solution to an economic problem. The whole point of Coase's Social Costs article was that legal solutions - regardless of whether they are imposed from on high by the civil state or adjudicated by a judge/jury who are simply honestly trying to adjudicate a dispute - don't look at economic problems the way economic problems need to be looked at if they are going to be solved. It is not just the first form of 'legal solution' that is the potential problem. It is BOTH forms."
    Bullshit assertion. Yes, the economic problems ARE solved by the legal efforts, regardless of your instability to see such

    "Market/pricing systems really are not about contracts and rights and assessing harm. That's what LAW is about. That's not to say that markets/pricing systems can exist without law. They can't. But they're not substitutes for each other. And there is a real problem with libertarian ideas that seem to equate private law (or even common law) with markets/pricing systems that are working. The notion of - well there's a legal alternative so don't need to think much about what the actual problem is here."
    Try that again in English; that pile of bullshit won't work.

  • Qsl||

    But libertopia doesn't offer any means of addressing externalities short of buying all the land surround (That's the way John Wayne would have done it. What type of commie shit are you advocating for, bub?) without violating someone else's conception of The One True Libertarianism through the court (legislating from the bench), the legislature (help, I'm being oppressed), or taxes (just hold a gun to either party's head, why don't 'cha). Effectively libertarianism has written itself into a corner. Libertarianism doesn't even offer a means of evaluating the types and degree of infringement for any of the above. All are state coercion; all are evil.

    If I were to take a page out of the socialist/anarchist playbook, the concerns of the rancher and oyster farmer are shared with either an evaluation made as to the most productive use of the land/water (and compensatory rent paid) or at an extreme profit sharing between the two (most likely via zoning), leaving them to work out the best compromise.

    Not to advocate for any, but which of these requires the least amount of government force?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Libertopia isn't a place where people never violate each other's rights. My Libertopia isn't a place where there isn't anyone to mediate civil disputes, either. The legitimate purpose of government is to protect our rights, and when the government confines itself to doing only that--such as in these disputes--we will be living in Libertopia.

    Adam Smith described a situation where someone walks out of his house towards the street, but before he makes it off his property, a cinder from his neighbor's chimney lands on his newly laundered shirt. Who is responsible for the cleaning bill? Surely, his neighbor's cinder landed on someone else's property, but, surely, his neighbor has a right to keep himself warm in his own house, too.

    Because these sorts of overlapping and conflicting rights will remain a problem so long as people live near each other, that doesn't mean libertarianism has no solution. Smith told us that the solutions that evolve to these things, like custom, culture, manners, etc. are far more complicated and far more effective than any government solution inflicted from above. Smith also pointed out that government has a legitimate role in adjudicating people's rights in such cases, as a function of its legitimate purpose in protecting our rights, and this dyed-in-the-wool libertarian agrees with him.

  • Qsl||

    That is grand, but that doesn't answer my question.

    Just as important as adjudicating competing rights, is how and the framework under which those rights are viewed. And again, libertarianism has a framework for viewing these conflicts as well as any other ideology, so why choose one over another? And it is quaint libertarians always in the right as to the legitimate function of government.

    The annual produce of the land and labour of the society, the real wealth and revenue of the great body of the people, might be the same after such a tax as before. Ground-rents and the ordinary rent of land are, therefore, perhaps, the species of revenue which can best bear to have a peculiar tax imposed upon them.

    Adam Smith apparently also laid out another means to address this very concern, and to no one's surprise is curiously absent (if not downright hostile) from the libertarian conception.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Taxing externalities certainly makes more sense than taxing income, profits, or capital gains--and sales taxes are far more libertarian than any of the other forms of taxation, for various reasons, as well. If dairy farmers are getting away with transferring the true costs of their production to third parties against their will, then adding those costs to the price of dairy by way of taxes can make a ton of sense.

    That dairy farmer will also bear the cost of third parties if the government protects the rights of an oyster farmer through legal remedies. That liability might be mitigated if the oyster farmer positioned his oyster beds in an area he should have known was unsuitable for oyster beds. The courts are there to adjudicate such things, and libertarians are fine with that. Even anarchists would have a means to adjudicate disputes.

    Meanwhile, because libertarians oppose authoritarian and socialist forms of taxation, like the income tax, the tax on profits, and the tax on capital gains, that hardly means we don't have any solutions for externalities. Meanwhile, your solution hardly conflicts with libertarianism. Your quote from Smith is tame compared with a quote from Hayek:

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, or of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation. In such instances we must find some substitute for the regulation by the price mechanism. But the fact that we have to resort to the substitution of direct regulation by authority where the conditions for the proper working of competition cannot be created, does not prove that we should suppress competition where it can be made to function."

    ----Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

    In short, your ideas about what libertarianism is and isn't seems to be off.

    I'm not sure you're clear on what a "right" is either.

  • DesigNate||

    Qsl is a griefer that read about libertarians on Slate or Reddit and decided to come and try to poke fun at us. Unfortunately for them, they're horrible at it.

  • JFree||

    Adam Smith apparently also laid out another means to address this very concern, and to no one's surprise is curiously absent (if not downright hostile) from the libertarian conception.

    The issue isn't a failure of libertarian ideas. It is a failure of EVERYTHING from neoclassical/marginalist economics onward. Libertarianism is not much more than the worship of a marginalist-based market system. But the modern state is also entirely marginalist-based.

    Smith/Ricardo/Mill/George/Say/etc - all were classical not marginalist.

  • Qsl||

    "The issue isn't a failure of libertarian ideas."

    Well, you can't have the courts decide until there is a law. Can't have a law until there is a legislature. Can't have a legislature without a government. Can't have a government without either a means of enforcement or the consent of the governed. Can't have consent of the governed without some libertarian screeching about tyranny of the majority since they amount to a rounding error, god only knows why.

    I think that is a complete repudiation of the popular conception of libertarianism. Welcome to the free market of ideas.

    Third and final time... which of these requires the least amount of government force?

  • JFree||

    Govt already responded to that oyster guy - you had your chance in 2002 - now fuck off its too late

    Do you seriously think they have a solution here? Of course not. They are caught in the exact same problem as the 'market'. NONE of them have the slightest clue how to even LOOK at the problem.

  • Sevo||

    JFree|10.20.18 @ 6:01PM|#
    "Govt already responded to that oyster guy - you had your chance in 2002 - now fuck off its too late"
    "Do you seriously think they have a solution here? Of course not. They are caught in the exact same problem as the 'market'. NONE of them have the slightest clue how to even LOOK at the problem."

    And I'm sure your solution includes the provision that you are the one to make the choice, right? Or maybe you have no solution at all, more likely.

  • JFree||

    And I'm sure your solution includes the provision that you are the one to make the choice, right? Or maybe you have no solution at all, more likely.

    I've been very clear that almost certainly no one outside that county has either the solution or the means to achieve a solution. At most, outsiders (prob state level) have the ability to force the different parties into one room and deliver pizzas until the parties themselves come up with a solution to the problem.

    The major problem - for that county - being that:
    a)the market price for cow poop is not high enough to prevent poop from being seen as - well - waste.
    b)the county ain't gonna change the market price for cow poop. It ain't the Saudi Arabia of cow poop.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The question to ask yourself about externalities is whether someone's rights were violated.

    If a small state libertarian is someone who believes that the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect our rights, then suggesting that libertarianism offers no solution to the problem is externalities is to miss the point completely.

  • Qsl||

    Likewise, to ask if someone's rights were violated is to miss the definition of externalities completely.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Baloney!

    "An externality is the cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality

    The key phrase there is, "a party who did not choose to incur that cost".

    You know what a "right" is?

    A right is the obligation to respect other people's agency--it's their right to make a choice for themselves. If you violated someone's property rights without their consent, then you have violated their rights.

    Why are property rights ultimately choices?

    The answer is because owning something means you have the right to make the choices about who can use something, how it's used, when it's used, etc. That is the meaning of "property".

    If externalities are a problem, it's because they violate someone's property rights--and libertarians are all about protecting rights.

  • Qsl||

    Salami!

    If you read just a little further down

    "For example, manufacturing activities that cause air pollution impose health and clean-up costs on the whole society... If external costs exist, such as pollution, the producer may choose to produce more of the product than would be produced if the producer were required to pay all associated environmental costs."

    Best of luck assigning property rights to air or sunlight (although there are at least 5 ancaps that instantly drew wood at the prospect of privatizing the sun).

    While externalization can be about private property rights, it is by no means exclusive to that.

    Lies of omission... I am disappointed in you Ken.

    the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect our rights

    And again, specific to externalities, by what means? What legislation/regulation or otherwise do libertarians advocate to address this? What rube goldberg market force is being thwarted by the heavy hand of government to keep dogs from shitting on my lawn?

    The essence of intellectual honesty is at a minimum to accept there are realms beyond what any ideology can adequately address and either state "I don't know" or devise a better attempt to address the concern.

    Libertarians fail to do this, either by begrudgingly admitting some taxes or regulation might be good (at least temporarily) or refining their ideology to conform more closely to reality.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Best of luck assigning property rights to air or sunlight (although there are at least 5 ancaps that instantly drew wood at the prospect of privatizing the sun)."

    When I wrote that taxing externalities makes more sense than taxing income, profits, or capital gains, and when I quoted Hayek writing more or less the same thing, what exactly did you read?

    "What legislation/regulation or otherwise do libertarians advocate to address this?"

    You seem to be mystified by the existence of our court system. Proving that other people have violated your property rights and holding them responsible in court generally doesn't require new legislation or regulation.

    I've already answered this question several times, but you're either not reading what I wrote or you didn't understand what you read. You still don't seem to understand that taxing externalities is not fundamentally against any libertarian principles--even after you've quoted Smith saying that and I've quoted Hayek. You're simply not thinking.

  • Qsl||

    When you spoke of taxing externalities, it was in reference to land taxes. The two are not the same. Nor is even the quoted bit from Hayek specific to taxing externalities, but to regulation, of which taxation can be portion of, but to state that was what Hayek meant above all other types of regulation is disingenuous.

    Nor can you point to even a modicum of libertarian support for the obvious case of taxing externalities, the carbon credit, so to state this is entirely within the purview of libertarianism is also disingenuous, if not an outright lie. I'm certain 99.9% of libertarians would be shocked that they are in support of yet another tax.

    And you seem to be oblivious to the near constant wailing from libertarians of any government encroachment. Note this case isn't against the dairy farmers, but the government regulators, and in fact the government has failed to protect his rights.

    You've answered nothing but to substitute something only mentioned by you, taxing externalites, to the same crowd that professes "taxation is theft". Best of luck in explaining how dairy farmers paying more taxes somehow makes the oyster farmer whole.

    You're simply not thinking.

    No, you're simply not hearing what is being said.

  • JFree||

    Not sure this is really directly about runoff (ie terraforming the earth). Sure, if we were inclined to price land so it had to be intensively used with high yield, then terraforming/terracing might make sense.

    More accurately, its about what agriculture has been since the very beginning - and is increasing over time. Annual-based monoculture. Annual-based, biologically, is highly disruptive (basically neo-slash-and-burn every year) with huge external inputs so the annual plants grow quickly enough to harvest without competition. Monoculture means long parts of the year where there is not enough living in the soil to absorb/recycle all those inputs. Dairy is just using cows to harvest monoculture pasture. And my guess is they are indoors during rainy/winter season eating imported feed (mostly annual) and pooping huge amounts when the pasture is not in its growing season. And Tillamook is cow cheese - not diverse agriculture or even cheese from goats or sheep.

    Perennial agriculture (the alternative to annual) is still basically in the Stone Age - and polyculture doesn't have a chance v industrial-scale and neoclassical/marginalist pricing.

  • Sevo||

    "More accurately, its about what agriculture has been since the very beginning - and is increasing over time. Annual-based monoculture. Annual-based, biologically, is highly disruptive (basically neo-slash-and-burn every year) with huge external inputs so the annual plants grow quickly enough to harvest without competition."
    Which is almost 100% the opposite of 'slash and burn', you idiot.

    "Monoculture means long parts of the year where there is not enough living in the soil to absorb/recycle all those inputs."
    It means nothing of the sort.

    "Dairy is just using cows to harvest monoculture pasture. And my guess is they are indoors during rainy/winter season eating imported feed (mostly annual) and pooping huge amounts when the pasture is not in its growing season. And Tillamook is cow cheese - not diverse agriculture or even cheese from goats or sheep."
    So? Was there a point worth considering in there somewhere?

    "Perennial agriculture (the alternative to annual) is still basically in the Stone Age - and polyculture doesn't have a chance v industrial-scale and neoclassical/marginalist pricing."
    Good. I'd rather eat than whine.

  • Cy||

    This is a REALLY complicated issue. The runoff from the dairy farms aren't the poop it'self, it's that it's so rich it causes other life to explode while eating it and that in turn effects the shellfish.

    So, are we going to standardize the type of water and mineral content allowed to shed from your land that you're not supposedly entitled to keep anyways?

    The "poop" isn't technically pollution. This is a very treacherous path of legal pitfalls. The slippery slope argument is cow farts and air.

  • Rockabilly||

    "The slippery slope argument is cow farts and air."

    Indeed. But what about human farts? Surely there are more humans than cows. Think of all the farts humans produce. I know I let one loose from time to time each day. Multiply that by every human on the planet and you'll understand what the climate must deal with.

    Will flatulence suppressors be mandated to control climate change?

  • Oli||

    Human farts produce around 1.6Tg methane globally p.a. Cattle emits (mostly through their mouths, btw.) around 150Tg. So we've got some leeway still.

  • ||

    Unfortunately, "cow burps" is not nearly so satisfying to the second-grader within us all, so cow farts" it is.

    Contrary to popular belief, farts, whether human or bovine are mostly just plain air.

    On the other hand cow burps do contain large amounts of methane, a byproduct of converting cellulose (something the human alimentary canal simple eliminates undigested) to sugar in the rumen or first stomach. The quantity of the methane is determined by the amount and type of feed. Cows with a higher sugar lower cellulose diet produce less.

  • Sevo||

    "Cows with a higher sugar lower cellulose diet produce less."
    So grain-finished cows are lower 'polluters' than grass-finished cows.

  • ||

    Uh, pretty much, yeah. They're also tastier, even the Australians agree. :)

    On the other hand, feedlots tend to produce much greater single point sources of pollution than pasture feeding does. Not necessarily more polution, just pollution concentrated into a small area.

  • ||

    Again. OTOH, I'm told that young, very green and well watered grass actually has a quite high sugar content.

    Thus cows that mature in wet climates (the British Isles, Florida etc) probably produce less methane than those that mature in arid climates (the American West, the Australian Outback etc).

  • Sevo||

    "Uh, pretty much, yeah. They're also tastier, even the Australians agree. :)"

    Agreed here and I prefer corn to rice.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Ban fiber!

  • Juice||

    Surely there are more humans than cows.

    Maybe, but the cows produce a far greater volume of farts than the humans.

  • Juice||

    Oops. Already answered (quantitatively).

  • Rockabilly||

    Fascinating - thank you for your deep understanding.

  • EscherEnigma||

    From a quick search, there appear to be about 94.4 million cattle in the USA, compared to the ~320 million people. So somewhere between a third and a fourth the size.

    Now, as cattle average about 1600 pounds, and people average somewhere around 150-200 pounds, there are definitely more pounds of cattle in the US then pounds of people.

    And here's a fun part! Most solid and liquid waste from humans in the US goes through a sewer system. Most solid and liquid waste from cattle... does not. It ends up in water systems, and causes problems for other land-users down the line, as discussed in this article.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Oysters vs. bacon?

    I know which I choose.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I'm thinking no more oysters or Maryland crabs for me after reading this.

  • Juice||

    So no bacon-wrapped oysters then?

  • Juice||

    determining that Hayes's suit may proceed because the state failed to sign the regulations in 2001, making them merely a draft order.

    It's bullshit like this that makes "the law" a fucking joke. Everything seemed to hinge on whether someone made comments at the time or signed a document. Nothing about the actual case or the interest of justice matters. Only procedure and minutia.

  • Juice||

    Are stricter regulations the answer?

    Some brilliant entrepreneur out there needs to find a way to use all the shit for something besides fertilizer. Maybe it could be a fuel (methane) precursor or something, but it's assuredly not cost effective at the moment.

  • Harvard||

    It can be. Large dairy farmers around here (1000 head and larger) all utilize methane recovery to run the barns and milking equipment. It serves two purposes, as the amount of manure produced at such a site cannot serve as fertilizer locally. It must be trucked ever farther away as the nitrogen levels in the soil reach toxic levels. The rate at which a crop utilizes the nitrogen is finite as is the length of time it remains captured. Methane recovery isn't cheap, but neither is trucking cow shit.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Isnt oyster poop contaminating something?

    We want government out of business as much as possible but these types of interstate and interjurisdiction problems relating to business are exactly why there is a commerce clause and states have authority to regulate business.

    If the government is not solution for these types of problems, then people need to to sue the other property owners for harming their property rights.

    This guy has oyster beds in a Bay and that Bay would be owned by the state, not some private oyster farmer.

  • Echospinner||

    Oyster farming is one of those eco friendly double plus good things. You don't have to add anything, farming reduces pressure on wild oysters, and they actually clean up the water.

    Also they are delicious.

  • The Last American Hero||

    And they help you get your big sexy on too!

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    We've got some epic "global warming" taking place throughout the upper midwest today!

  • Juice||

    Hey, that's what you get for living in Minnesota.

  • Bronze Khopesh||

    "Oysterman's Poop Problem" sounds like a title out of Marvel Comic's new TMI series.

  • THCorCBDthatistheQuestion||

    The only way to solve this problem is for people to stop eating so much animal flesh and animal lactation.

    Animals make poop, and with the number of animals being kept for their flesh or lactations it will continue to be a problem with no solution in sight except reducing the number of animals.

  • librich||

    Yes, stop eating so much animal flesh. And to solve the water shortage, stop washing your dishes and taking showers.
    To eliminate housing shortages, live in a tent. To solve traffic congestion, don't go to work. Hey-- Do you think there might be too many of us for the carrying capacity of the land? Maybe we should think about that.

  • Sevo||

    THCorCBDthatistheQuestion|10.20.18 @ 2:15PM|#
    "The only way to solve this problem is for people to stop eating so much animal flesh and animal lactation."

    You first. Me never.

  • Longtobefree||

    What a shitty article.

    I prefer beef to oysters, so sink the damn boats!

  • librich||

    Yet another example of how Libertarian blindness about population growth leaves the Reason dogma in the dark. What Reason can't seem to grasp is that the differences between central planning solutions and market-based solutions are irrelevant if the fundamental driver of a problem isn't addressed. Same with immigration. Same with Affirmative Action. Same with housing shortages. America had 150M people when I was a kid. Today we're at 320M. How do you think we're going to resolve conflicts between farming of Oysters, poultry and cattle when there are 1B people in America? 2B?

    On quite a few topics, the Reason dogma is rational. On this one, Reason is brain-dead.

  • Echospinner||

    It is more difficult for central government to rule the larger the population. You hear talk about California breaking off. We might and up with a sort of federation consisting of 3 or more governments eventually.

  • Sevo||

    librich|10.20.18 @ 4:12PM|#
    "Yet another example of how Libertarian blindness about population growth leaves the Reason dogma in the dark."

    And yet here we are more prosperous, healthier and longer lived than you could have ever hoped for then, you ignoramus.

  • Agammamon||

    America could double its current population and if it remained in the same areas, would only be as dense as the UK is today.

    And the UK uses less than 10% of its land for housing and commerce.

    To say we're running out of land is absurd - even if you consider the desert lands out here in the Southwest as unusable.

  • The Last American Hero||

    And they're so dense they embraced national health care and ignored child rapists in the name of political correctness.

  • Sevo||

    The Last American Hero|10.20.18 @ 10:16PM|#
    "And they're so dense they embraced national health care and ignored child rapists in the name of political correctness.
    Sarc?
    Non-sequitur?

  • Echospinner||

    There is nothing funny about boiled over cooked meat. And who wants to eat dpotted dick whatever that is

  • EscherEnigma||

    Partly, sure.

    But you shouldn't forget that "rural red, urban blue" is a real correlation that is, quite probably, causal. If we increased significantly in population density, it's likely that most of that population growth would either be in the cities, or in elevating towns to cities, and that growth would be disproportionately "blue".

    That said, by the time that happens the political fault lines would have shifted such that there's a new "balance" between whatever the teams are, but there will be more support for many of the things you currently association with "liberal values" regardless of what the names are at that point.

    Or to make a long story short: libertarianism and conservatism, by their current political definitions, will not survive such a stark population growth.

  • Echospinner||

    They are usable, or a lot of it. You just need desalination from the coastal areas to get enough water and intense recycling. Also microdrip irrigation and modified crops that will grow well in the desert. All of that is being done. Israel is an example.

  • Miter Broller||

    Laboratory created 'meats' and/or vegetable-based alternative 'meats' cannot come soon enough. Neither require an animal to be housed or fed which produces the requisite discharges. Watch 'The End of Meat' for greater insight into these innovations and watch 'On the Road in Duplin County' for a perspective on the human impact of CAFOs.

  • gphx||

    You can keep your frankenfoods.

  • gphx||

    Does it really matter when they're full of oyster poop anyway?

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