There were just over 21-hundred jobs in the agriculture and mining sector in Lee County, by the last census numbers.
Our Dispatches from the Swing State project dropped in on one of the less conventional agriculture positions at the Umbuzi experimental farm in Buckingham, Florida.
Herald photographer Patrick Farrell and I are driving around the state to cut straight to the Florida voters and issues of the 2012 presidential election.
At the Umbuzi farm, we met award-winning goat cheese maker Jim Ellis.
The farm is owned by a wealthy mining equipment manufacturer. It started as a retreat property and Jim Ellis started as an on-site handy man.
While we were in the presence of his animals he explained their unique dynamic between farmer and livestock, and about the humble beginnings of the business. “When the strangers are around sometimes they get shy. Goat milking is, yeah, it’s a relationship between the farmer and the goat. They get to know you and we get to know them...it sounds kind of weird.”
He hand-milked five goats for awhile and eventually sold the owner on expanding to what is now more than 60 goats and automatic pumps.
Ellis has even bigger plans, but says his boss is getting squeezed by ramped up restrictions on the mining industry and potentially higher taxes on wealthy Americans. “...it’s like well we can’t do that right now because cash flow is short. When you have mining companies going out of business and they cancel their orders the cash flow subsides. So then we can’t hire new people and do these new things and do the research and development that it takes.”
Ellis says it’s a first-hand example of how trickle-down economics would help.
He isn’t crazy about either candidate, but will be voting for Romney in November.