Last night the Peyote Lorax got hit with an apparent cold, which led to a fever, which led to ridiculously intense fever dreams. And wouldn’t you know it, my fever dreams involved medicine. All night I was counting large amounts of peyote seeds. I’d keep waking up and would try to put it out of my mind but I’d immediately return to the overwhelming chore of dream counting peyote seeds. It was exhausting.
Then this morning I read a news report about a meeting with Native American Church representatives and other stakeholders scheduled for tomorrow in Oklahoma City. Tossing around the memories of my seed dreams along with the idea of the appropriations meeting scheduled for tomorrow inspired the fevered Lorax mind to write some ideas about how to best allocate the proposed federal contribution toward peyote conservation.
Recently, Native American Church leadership has been meeting with congressional committees regarding funding allocation proposals intended for conserving peyote and its native habitat in South Texas. These discussions center on a 5 million dollar conservation fund intended to establish conservation protocols. The following is a concept which may be the most immediately impactful means of spending 5 million dollars in a way that truly conserves peyote, and provides incentives for habitat protection. The general idea is that the 5 million dollar government fund will compensate pickers, dealers, and landowners using financial incentive strategies. These ideas are meant as an offering to the conservation conversation, and explore ideas as to how best to apply government funds efficiently, where it matters the most.
Temporary Financial Compensation Proposal Regarding Licensed Peyote Dealers, Harvesters, and Land Owners in The Peyote Gardens
The objective of the following financial compensation program is to initiate a timely conservation protocol for peyote harvested and distributed under the auspices of licensed peyote dealers working with land owners in South Texas. This program provides financial compensation to licensed dealers, authorized peyote pickers, and to land owners who enter into conservation oriented contracts. It also enacts a price freeze to authorized purchasers of peyote, maintaining the current cost as of October 2022. (Approximately $650 per thousand plants)
Licensed pickers conservation incentive- In order to create an incentivized moratorium on harvesting immature peyote plants, a US coin size reference will be utilized to grade compensation levels. (Using actual US coinage as a reference provides a readily available visual guide for proper harvest parameters.)
First, by contracted agreement, no peyotes under the approximate circumference of a US half dollar shall be harvested. (Actual size of half dollar = 30.6mm or 1.2 inches) Minimum harvest size would be rounded down to 30mm or 1.18 inches. This allows a US half dollar to be used as a harvest size guide. Each peyote plant of 30mm and above, up to the approximate size of a US silver dollar, will earn 50 cents per plant for the picker. (Current per plant price earned by picker = approximately 35 cents.)
Second, peyote plants of the approximate circumference of a US silver dollar will earn 1 dollar for the picker. (Actual size of a US silver dollar = 38.1mm or 1.5 inches.)
This size to compensation gradient incentivizes leaving smaller plants intact for the future, while offsetting the lesser amount of plants available to convert @ 35 cents each, and also increases the picker’s pay for harvestable-sized plants. While currently pickers are paid 35 cents each to cut peyote of all sizes, this program would raise the minimum harvest size and increase picker pay by 15 and 65 cents per plant, depending on size.
One intended consequence of the minimum size rule would be to lessen the overall number of plants harvested while increasing the mass (weight) of each sack sold to Native American Church members. As current prices will be maintained, this actually results in buyers acquiring more actual sacrament, by weight and price, even if fewer numbers are generally available for sale.
Licensed dealers conservation incentive- Under the auspices of this program, peyote dealers would pay pickers 50 cents and a dollar per plant, (dependent on size) but would also receive compensation of 65 cents per plant, regardless of size, but limited to plants half dollar sized or larger. This offsets their increased price to pickers while also compensating income loss resulting from having fewer number of plants available for sale.
Land owners conservation incentive- In addition to pickers and distributor’s conservation incentives, cooperation with landowners is an essential aspect in the overall conservation picture. Therefore, this proposal suggests that those landowners who enter into contractual arrangements with dealers based on harvestable quantities present on their land are also compensated at the annual rate of 10 dollars per non-residential, non-converted, acre of thornscrub land on their property. This encourages land owners to engage in harvest contracts with dealers while simultaneously disincentivizing root plowing and other land conversion practices. Most of these ranches are from 500 to several thousand acres in size so a $10 per acre conservation incentive does add up. Thornscrub surveys for establishing compensation rates should be managed by the oversight of the USDA and engaged in by neutral conservatory interests such as the Cactus Conservation Institute.
This three tier system of conservational financial incentives may hold promise as a method for promoting peyote habitat conservation while avoiding negative financial and sacramental supply chain issues.
Sacred medicine, help us help ourselves to find balance in our relationship with you. We depend on you for our health and wellbeing as people. Guide us in the ways to preserve your health and wellbeing on this sacred earth.
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