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Author Topic: Post-SHTF cooperation avoids murder  (Read 6589 times)

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0zprepz0

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Post-SHTF cooperation avoids murder
« on: July 22, 2018, 11:10:11 pm »

Most post-SHTF scenarios assume that a large proportion of the population gets hungry and becomes a horde of ravening "zombies" that have to be shot.
Yep, there is no option, you have to be a murderer!
Umm ... Really?
You don't think that might be overdoing it a bit?

In 1850, about 25% of the population worked on a farm. They had steam but not much electricity. Why couldn't we do that again? When the hungry hordes come to your town, why not direct them to the farms where they are needed?
All the modern equipment is not going to do much without electricity and diesel.
Instead we'll need farmhands and milkmaids by the thousands. We'll need lumberjacks, bullock trains for transport, steam engines for running water, etc.

Or you can shoot all those potential workers and let the food rot on the farm - but where is the future in that?

The purpose of evolving this scenario is to ask the question, and suggest a hopeful and ethical approach to a post-SHTF world, and explore what would be needed to transition to a low-tech mode which allows for future progress.

Let's first look at the standard story, then examine what life was like in 1850 to see what clues it might provide us, and then suggest an option for the future that is not as bleak as normally painted, and examine common objections.
If anyone is interested in thinking about this scenario, I'd greatly appreciate any contributions.
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0zprepz0

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The standard narrative
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2018, 11:15:45 pm »

Let's first look at the standard narrative.
Some kind of grid-down event occurs and most people are unprepared. Within a week, they run out of food, go feral and get violent. Neighbours will come with axes to kill you for your stores, so you need to be prepared to kill or be killed.

This story occurs frequently on american prepper sites - its almost an article of faith. Now I don't want to try to argue against it as far as the USA goes - perhaps it will work out that way for USA? They have some problems we don't have in Australia. Despite the same access to guns as Canada (31% of households have access to a firearm in both countries), they have a firearm murder rate in the range of 20-30 times Canada's. So it seems that Americans are more violent than Canadians (and Australians), and maybe a just a teensy bit psychopathic. Certainly the suggestion on US prepper sites of mentally preparing yourself now so you can shoot down your neighbour when SHTF strikes me as more than a little psychopathic.

The narrative continues:
People begin to leave the cities, some on bicycles, many on foot due to roads clogged with accidents and cars that ran out of fuel. First a few, then thousands will arrive at your town demanding to be fed. The guy who was a computer programmer is now useless in a world without computers. He's just a member of the horde.
So you need lots of guns and ammo to protect your dwindling supplies.


The part about leaving cities is persuasive. Cities like Sydney have 5-6 Million people in them. A city needs a complex web of interconnected systems to support it, and lots of energy. If those systems go away, the city dies and people need to move out. Towns can survive with smaller sets of not so complex systems and support smaller populations. So it makes sense that people would leave cities to find a rural town to work in.

But do you notice how the narrative focuses exclusively on supplies (things)? Preppers already recognise that it is important not to focus entirely on things - supplies, equipment, tools and gear. Skills are also important. This may be where the narrative goes wrong. Do we need to keep track of how many logs were brought into the mill this week? Who already has the skills to design a paper-based system to keep track of things like that? People like computer programmers, that's who!
There are also certainly jobs today which require skills that will have no value when SHTF. But that is not the same thing as saying that those people do not have any skills or potential. A person often has much more to them than just the set of skills they currently use in the job they happen to be doing at the moment.

The problem with this standard narrative is that there is no future in it. So you kill the hordes, eat your supplies, and then what? How does the world get better? How are you able to build a better life for your children?
All you managed to achieve was to guarantee that most farmland is now unfarmed, because you killed all the people needed to work the farms. Congratulations!

The standard narrative is very keen on millions dying:
Farms these days run on diesel and with no fuel, there is no way the land can produce enough food to feed everyone. Typical estimates call for 90% population reduction.

This idea of carrying capacity is highly contended in academic circles (that's a polite way of saying its hogwash). It is true that low-tech agriculture of 1850 produced less per hectare than industrial agriculture does today. The population in Australia in 1850 was not limited by agricultural production. So you cannot say: if technology goes back to 1850 levels then population has to drop to 405,000. It is likely that we could easily feed 25 Million people with 1850s technology BUT we would need to spread out. It is true that we cannot support a city of 5 Million with 1850s technology. But a few hundred towns of 50,000 people each? Why not?

We humans have developed through cooperation and specialisation. We develop systems to enable the blacksmith to concentrate on smithing and not need to spend a lot of time on his garden, because its better for everyone if he concentrates on what he does better than most. As systems become more sophisticated, specialisation increases, supporting greater population concentrations, so a city is more successful than a town. Eventually you get big cities with very complex systems. SHTF means shifting down to a lower level of sophistication, where the town is the right scale and a city is too big.

Once we shift the focus from protecting dwindling supplies to reconfiguring our production systems, then instead of fearing hordes and becoming murderers, we can welcome the arrival of willing workers and let them find where they can be most useful.

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0zprepz0

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Grid-down
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2018, 11:18:12 pm »

Most emergencies are recoverable. Bad as they may be, the bushfires/storms/cyclones/floods pass, and things get repaired. Meanwhile, not much changed for everyone in a city in another state. A long term power outage is another story.

A solar flare directed to Earth would cause a huge EMP, and could possibly destroy the entire electrical grid beyond any kind of quick repair. There was a government-sponsored conference in Australia a few years ago. From the published paper it was not clear what the conclusion was. It said something to the effect that "we reckon it'll be ok", but it sounded like the kind of thing a politician would say. On the positive side, the bureau of meteorology now has a space weather unit whose job is to monitor solar flares, and they estimate they could give 4-12 hours of warning. One would hope that is enough time for the vulnerable parts of the grid to be disconnected so we have a blackout for only 24 hours instead of a few decades. Unfortunately, the conference paper did not guarantee that disconnecting would be sufficient. The sense was "umm, it should be alright ... I guess".

A nuclear EMP is also possible, but it seems to be largely theoretical, by which I mean that I have seen no evidence yet of any nation actually developing such a weapon, or planning to deploy nuclear weapons in that way. The nuclear doctrines of USA, Russia, and China are all published and that's not the way they do things apparently. Not only that, but who would bother EMPing Australia? Nevertheless, maybe its a possibility, and it would carry no warning, so the grid could not be disconnected in time, and the risk of catastrophic overloads would be high in that event.

The probability of a solar flare hitting Earth is somewhere between 1.5% and 12% over the next decade. If you told me I had that risk of dying over the next decade, I'd get life insurance, right? But its more like you have a risk of heart attack, and if it happens the doctor reckons he can fix it ... probably. So its not unreasonable to consider a grid-down scenario as possible in our children's lifetime.

A long-term grid-down event would take us back to the 1800s in terms of technology: no electrical grid, no computers or telecommunications, no deliveries, no petrol. If we look at life in 1850, what can we learn?
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0zprepz0

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Back to 1850
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2018, 11:20:57 pm »

Back to 1850
What would we need?

1. Running water is one of the great advances of civilisation. Without it we're back to the days of dysentry and cholera, which I'm sure you'll all agree is best avoided. That means pumping water up into a reservoir so gravity provides the water pressure. And pumping means a steam engine. That means we would need someone to build a steam engine, or have one sitting around. Same goes for sewage treatment - it would have to be reworked, would probably need a steam engine pump of some kind.

2. Wood is needed to fuel steam engines, and for heating and cooking. That means we need lumberjacks cutting down trees the old-fashioned way, and hauling them away with a bullock team. People using wood-burning stoves for cooking and heating.

3. Bullock teams to transport food from farm to market, and lumber to the timber mill.

4. Farms would obviously run on a smaller scale, and with a lot more manual labour. Dairies would need milkmaids.

5. Towns would need to provide a number of services: markets, mills, various trades such as blacksmith, tannery, butcher.

6. Systems run on information, and before computers it was all hand-written (or typed). That means making paper and pencils. It also means lots of clerical workers to handle all of the paperwork.

7. Candles would be needed for lighting, so that means a lot of bee-keepers.

Many more, but that's a start...

But we don't have the skills

Yes, we don't find a lot of those skills around these days. How much would it take to develop those skills?
It is customary to denigrate modern people as generally soft and lazy, but its also true that modern people are accustomed to rapid change. So is it possible that we could develop new skills in a short time frame?

There are plenty of people with clerical/office skills and there would be plenty of that work to do too. The other 75% of people in the population of 1850 were not on the farm. There were jounalists, lawyers, bankers, tailors, etc.

We might need a book

Looking at the list of needs above raises questions like: ok, but how do you build a steam engine?
Good question. I don't know, but I wonder if I had a book on how to build steam engines, and I gave that book to a good mechanic, could he and a blacksmith work together to build a steam engine? If so, then we would all enjoy running water which, as I've said, is much better than dying of cholera.

So if a collection of books on certain topics, from steam engines to bee-keeping to native medicinal plants, was kept in the local library, we might have a good chance of building the necessary technology. Of course a working steam engine would be even better, but who is going to pay for it?
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0zprepz0

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Objections
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2018, 11:27:34 pm »

Objections

There might be some objections to this suggestion of reconfiguring our production systems instead of killing people. I've taken a stab at suggesting a few, and I'll add a post for each:

1. Carrying capacity
Using 1850 technology, the land can only feed XX Million, so YY% will have to die off

2. Zombies
People are terrible, you cannot trust them. We're only 3 meals away from anarchy...

3. No shelter for an influx
There is no shelter for hundreds of new farm workers on every farm

4. Food runs out immediately
There is not enough food for people in the town already. If we add more people, we starve sooner


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0zprepz0

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Carrying capacity
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2018, 11:28:35 pm »

1. Carrying capacity
Using 1850 technology, the land can only feed XX Million, so YY% will have to die off

You might be right to think this, but I think there is no evidence that you are.
When it was 1850 in Australia, we had 405,000 people in the country. We had farms and production systems feeding them all. 25% of people worked in agriculture and pastoral activities. That is what we know.

What we do not know is how many people could you add to work on more farms to feed more people etc etc until you got to the point where there was no more arable land left and adding more people would not increase the ability to produce food.

Nevertheless, if someone has hard data that proves a low carrying capacity, it would put an end to this topic quickly.

It is quite possible that many people would die post-SHTF. First there are those who need modern medical assistance. Next, many elderly would be unable to make a journey out of a city to a rural area on foot. Some would succumb to exposure or sickness along the way. It could truly be a catastrophe. The point of this topic is not to deny that some (maybe a lot of) people will die, but that it is unwise to kill them.
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0zprepz0

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2. Zombies
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2018, 11:30:51 pm »

2. Zombies
People are terrible, you cannot trust them. We're only 3 meals away from anarchy...

Perhaps these ideas reveal more about the frame of mind of the person thinking them than they do about the future.
Life without hope is sad. If people have hope, they will battle on. So give them hope.

Would you like to block the road into town with armed men and threaten innocent people?
Or would you rather encourage them to head on up the valley to the farms where they can sign on as workers?
Even being completely self-centred, it makes practical sense to divert a stream instead of trying to hold it back.
People who hope for a job and the promise of a future life are less likely to storm your compound and steal your food.

Nevertheless, order will need to be maintained, and hopefully that means armed police making sure people move through in an orderly fashion.
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0zprepz0

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3. No shelter for an influx
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2018, 11:32:03 pm »

3. No shelter for an influx
There is no shelter for hundreds of new farm workers on every farm

Yes, that could be a problem. I'm hoping someone can suggest something.
Maybe its tarps for a week until enough timber is cut for some log cabins?

Suppose 120,000 people come from the city to your town. Maybe half need to keep going to the next town, and you're going to absorb the other 60,000. 15,000 need to go out to the farms to work, leaving 45,000 new residents in and around town.
Well, you can't build ten thousand new houses in a week. Perhaps every house billets a family, depending on space available. Once they have a job they can pay rent. [edit - scratch that - billeting is probably a terrible idea.]
« Last Edit: July 24, 2018, 09:48:37 pm by 0zprepz0 »
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0zprepz0

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4. Food runs out immediately
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2018, 11:34:45 pm »

4. Food runs out immediately
There is not enough food for people in the town already. If we add more people, we starve sooner

It seems that thinking only about stored supplies misses the point.
If you think only about stores of food, then those stores will dwindle over time - it is quite right to worry about starving, and it is quite right that sharing means you starve faster. But you will starve at some point unless you build a system to make more food. We need to think about systems that produce food and transport it to market.

On the other hand, this objection could be right.
Local farms might not provide much of what we want, or might produce all one kind of product.
Depending on the season, there might not be much to harvest and bring to market anyway.
We might all starve before a distributed mixed farming model started producing enough food.

Does anyone live in a rural area and have a sense of what would be available locally?
For example, it could be a problem if you're completely surrounded by farms that produce bananas, and only bananas. I love bananas, but...
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0zprepz0

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Over to you!
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2018, 11:40:43 pm »

OK, so there is the challenge!
Can we avoid murdering our countrymen when SHTF?
Can we instead build new systems of production with the technology and resources equivalent to 1850?

If you've read this topic so far, Thank you for taking the time to read.
If you found it of any interest, please feel free to contribute, especially any facts or data that helps people to make up their minds one way or the other.

Zero out!
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Pedro

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Re: Post-SHTF cooperation avoids murder
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2018, 07:02:02 am »

Great stuff Ozprepz0!

Makes a pleasant change from preppers just itching to try their guns out on someone.

I agree with a lot of what you suggest, but not all.
Maybe details can be discussed later, but for the moment, just a few comments on what I see
for the situation here in Tasmania.

Carrying capacity.
Tassie has about half a million people.
Only two 'cities' but lots of smaller centres surrounded by farmland currently producing
vegetables, dairy, meat, fruit wines, timber, trout in the rivers, wallabies and possum everywhere.
Drinkable water just about anywhere.
When the JIT sytem stops there is food all around - just not packaged.

It's accessible (most able bodied people could walk to growing areas in a day or two).
I could walk out now and find potatoes missed by the mechanical harvesters, and without being seen - and getting shot.

Obtaining meat and some other foods will be problematic. Dairies won't function and cows will die in pain
but current owners may not be ready to allow 'their' cows to be eaten ("The gubmint will save us - back in business soon").

Zombies.
Critics of Tassie would probably say that we are a mob of zombies anyway, but although maybe not
as sophisticated as the city dwellers of Melbourne etc, are more practical when it comes to working
on the land.
Still there will be a proportion that will become Mad Max types.
Probably require local community organised vigilante forces.
Hopefully the government and existing police and military will have collapsed and we
can avoid 'martial law' or whatever system they would use to take what little we have - worse than zombies.

No shelter:
Practical types will soon figure out how to use tree fern leaves, tree bark, old corrugated iron, barns etc
for basic shelter. The original settlers and miners did about 150 years ago.
The 'old bark hut' complete with fireplace could make a comeback once food priorities are sorted.
Impractical types will get sick and die.

General:
Potential here to revert to the 1850 style of living.
Not easily of course, but the land, forests, water, travelling distances etc. could see a return to an
acceptable (or even better) way of life - no bloody TV, internet, poker machines hopefully.
Here in the North East, earthworks and most trackwork of the old railway between Launceston and Scottsdale is still there.
Currently there is a dispute here on whether to restore a steam train service or a bicycle track.
A steam train service would allow workers to be brought to the farming centres from Launceston and produce
to be taken back there. (But of course SHTF is not being considered - just 'jobs, growth, tourists , money, money, money')
The city could gradually become the light industrial centre it once was, with food, timber and other
raw materials (still some coal, iron deposits around) being produced by hand labour and transported
by steam train, ( or maybe horse and cart?).

There is strong interest here in steam power and quite a few machines in working order.
I even have a 1902 engineers diary which is full of information on steam engine design.
(cost me 35 cents in 1972 - but somehow I knew it would come in handy someday).

Look forward seeing more discussion on working out some of the more tricky transition details.


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Gympiegoat

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Re: Post-SHTF cooperation avoids murder
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2018, 10:16:52 am »

Very good posts OzprepzO,

I agree with much of what you say. The most likely cause of collapse of society in Australia would be the follow on from a collapse overseas, probably a financial collapse. One could then expect a failure of world trade & then few or no petrol & diesel shipments coming into the country. Other countries would still trade for food - wheat & meat unless there was a total collapse worldwide for whatever reason. The follow on after a collapse would most likely quickly lead to mass death in the cities in particular from starvation causing disease & then maybe a epidemic similar to the 1918-19 flu which would be worse than the 12,000 dead then because of the now higher population. All that is not a certainty of course but the so called bottleneck of creating a organized restructuring of society may or may not work.

I went to 2 private seminars on the Sunshine Coast 8 & 10 years ago & there were a couple of experts there who advised Fed. Gov. on emergency procedures for ALL imaginary contingencies. The Fed. Gov. does have plans for everything. Whether they would be effective who knows. All I know is the army & CES can only do so much & not nationwide at the same time & in a collapse situation the manpower may evaporate but Australia does have a history of pulling together, look at the Brisbane floods, I did relief work there after Cyclone Tracy took out Darwin. I was living in Hervey Bay when Gympie, Bundaberg, Maryborough & Hervey Bay were cut off by floods for a week & Hervey Bay brought in voluntary bread & milk rationing. We are talking of a much bigger scale of course & people would know there is no real change coming long term. We knew the water would go down.

Here in Gympie the local council brought out a 98 page Resilience Toolkit info pack in 2012 in case of emergencies so I know Gympie Regional Council does not have it's head in the sand. Whether it functions without fuel is another matter but we have a working goldmine, working steam sawmill & working steam locos & railway from Gympie to Imbil & that could easily be extended to the Ipswich railworkshops

1. Carrying capacity-die off. 24 million now. One fifth take some sort of medicine for mental heath issues in any given year. Either for something as simple as not sleeping or as complex as deep depression or split personality. How many of these will not want to survive. The baby boomer bulge is growing, I'm one, so Australia has 2,500,000 over 70 years of age. What are their chances of surviving tough times, and another 1,200,000 65-70, you do not see many older people amongst the refugees out of Africa & the Middle East on the roads to Europe. The young, old, infirm, sick & drug takers will sit in the cities till they die & cause disease & a further die off. Failed water & sewerage systems will see to that. It will not be all peaches & cream.

2. Zombies. Crims, bikies, gangs, druggies etc will add to the die off. They will not have petrol either so unless they get out of the cities fast & early will not be a major problem. It would not surprise me if they were not executed by rogue police or special army units. 

3. No shelter & food. Humans, especially the young are very resilient. There are plenty of farm sheds & outbuildings that can be used. A carpet of people on the floor will sleep well after a day of weeding, chipping, watering or planting. Simple food, meat & damper, should not be a real problem since we would not be exporting wheat, sheep, beef, canola etc overseas. If the farmer has seeds there is always sprouts.

4. Forget the 1850's.  Lifestyles would be a real mishmash. Bicycles would make a big comeback but not the primitive pennyfarthings etc. We would not lose current technology, your solar panels would still work & so would your car. You would just have to convert it to a woodburner or lpg, we would not be exporting lpg either so befriend & keep your local engineer alive, all the knowledge gained since 1850 is still out there, the rail lines will still be there. We would need a lot of coal shovelers. Rail would make a big comeback.

5. Remember all the hard work is already done. The land has been cleared, the rails laid, the building built & there will be huge surpluses everywhere & a lot less people. Brisbane, Gympie & Maryborough used to be surrounded by small crop farms. The Brisbane ones were pushed out to Gatton etc by urban sprawl. Local ones up here just shut down because they could not get pickers & machinery took over on large scale farms elsewhere. The land is still there.

6. Any capable engineer would soon have a alternate electric power supply system working. Crikey, Doomprepper is not an engineer & he could do it.

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grenadier

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Re: Post-SHTF cooperation avoids murder
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2018, 12:01:49 pm »

Great Topic.I can see a huge demand for hand tools and horse drawn implements and harness needed. Cross cut saws, axes, adzes, hoes, mattocks, picks and shovels and crowbars. There would be industry growth to make handles for them. Long term, need shearers with hand clippers. Spinning wheels and looms to use by candle light night. The list goes on. Sort of "romantic" in a weird way?
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OzHippy

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Re: Post-SHTF cooperation avoids murder
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2018, 03:03:27 pm »

More than half of Australians receive some type of welfare - now you want to make them work!!,  and as has been mentioned there is a huge aged population, many of the best agricultural areas have been taken up by city development.    People had to live next to water those areas are mostly no longer available for agriculture.  Today with water been pumped around there are many rural areas that will also become desolate. 


There is also a high risk of invasion 104 million Filipinos,   267 million in Indonesia etc...  that cant feed themselves so invasion is very likely.  Back in the 1850 there was still need for military, and security was a big issue.  The next wars will be nuclear and use of biological weapons, devastation will be widespread and global climate and pollution problems ensue - things will not be so happy.  Isolated and communities that work together should be ok.


Yeah technology would still be around, with modern hydroponics cities can feed themselves.  A 20 story office block can be converted into a hydroponics centre and can feed a city in the millions.  Pumping and some electronic will be needed. There are some options but strong discipline like in the 1950 (whipping) will be needed to keep law and order and prevent theft etc...
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We live in interesting times!!

Red

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Re: Post-SHTF cooperation avoids murder
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2018, 03:49:22 pm »

As far as the carrying capacity of land goes: 50% of the cereal grain crops we grow in Australia are exported. 25% fed to livestock  (both in feedlots or as supplementary feed for pastured livestock) and 25% is used for domestic consumption. As far as beef and veal production goes only around 32% of what we produce every year is consumed domestically and the rest is exported. We can safely assume that the same sort of figures apply to other ag industries in Australia as well. So a lot of what we produce isn't used to feed those of us in Australia, meaning we could produce significantly less and still feed the 25M bludgers we have here.
The problems encountered with that would be: having the gear to do the job. There are only a handful of working bullocks and horses in Australia still, and the single furrow ploughs etc that they can pull are also pretty well non existant. The current farming methods, which get the most out of the land, involving high usage of chemicals, fertilisers, trace elements, soil balancers (such as lime) and additives used to improve soil such as gypsum for clay, clay for sands etc etc wouldn't be feasible. None of these would be available in this scenario. As far as big broadacre cropping enterprises go (some places crop 50,000 acres a year) they spend a good 2-3 months seeding with  500hp tractors pulling 60ft air seeders, running 24 hours a day to get the crop in in time. Without this technology, using manual labour you'd get maybe 1% of that done per day.
In our area there's a place called War Rock, where unemployed men were sent during WW2 as a sort of work for the dole scheme. They built rock walls to channel water into a dam for the area, and were fed in return. The same sort of scenario could definitely be enacted on farms to provide labour.
Providing shelter for those people to work on farms would definitely be a problem, and the idea of building them shelters by cutting trees isn't going to work on most farms as they've already been cleared in order to be able to be farmed. Most farms however have sheds for storage. These could be used as accommodation.
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