6 Shockingly Huge Stockpiles of Stuff
We already know that the government has crazy contingency plans for all sorts of apocalyptic scenarios, like alien invasions, or asteroid impacts, or Mad Max mailmen. So it makes sense that aside from preparing for the worst, they're also prepping for the worst, stockpiling hoards of essential supplies to get the country through various potential calamities. But there are also some not-so essential stockpiles as well. Vast vaults of reserves that'll make you go: "Really? We need that many raisins?" For example ...
The Government Has A Massive Stash Of Weed (And It's Making The University Of Mississippi Hold It)
Quick, who do you think has the most weed right now? Snoop Dogg? Willie Nelson? Bill Gates? While all these infamous potheads' stashes are probably very impressive, they'll never compare to the chronically chronicked, the biggest doobie brother, the O.G. reefer madman: Uncle Sam himself.
At any given time, the government has several thousands of pounds of Mary Jane stockpiled in a single location. And they don't confiscate this; they've been in the weed farming business for decades. In 2019, they grew their largest bumper crop in five years, an eye-watering 2,000 kilos, or about 5 million joints' worth of sticky icky.
And where is this Fort Knox of fine stuff? Where most weed is: within a 50-foot radius of a dorm. All official U.S. weed is grown, processed, and sold through the University of Mississippi campus. The school has held the exclusive contract to grow government ganja since 1968 -- 44 years before anyone else was allowed to. But the government isn't addicted; it's just for experimentation. Since this weed is the only FDA-approved weed, anyone researching the effects of cannabis has to buy the government-controlled version of the substance, making Uncle Sam the world's oldest pot dealer by a wide margin.
So what do U of M students think about studying atop one of the biggest pot farms in the land? According to the university growers, it's "a source of great interest on campus," probably because some genius thought it was smart to put the fields right next to student housing. On a completely unrelated note, only about 48% of Ole Miss students manage to graduate within four years.
Related: So Where Are We On Legal Weed?
The Military Had Depots Full Of Leftover Purple Hearts From World War II
Because Hallmark doesn't make a "Sorry we got you shot" card, Purple Heart medals are issued to any U.S. soldier wounded or killed in the line of duty. And when it was time to plan a ground invasion of Japan in 1945, the brass figured they were going to need a lot more of 'em. However, Japan surrendered after the atomic bombings, negating the need for any such invasion, which left the military with a surplus of 495,000 Purple Hearts -- a third of all made during the war. So in 1946, they had half a million medals and no bullet-riddled chests to pin them on. But they knew one thing for sure: Those hearts were going to get used ... eventually.
For the next 50 years, the military stockpiled their massive heap of hearts, dipping into it whenever a grim occasion called for it. Some more were made after the Vietnam War, but the government stopped when they realized they had 125,000 more of them lying around in another warehouse. The stash only dried up around 1999, at which point they started ordering new big batches -- an act that had become so unusual that the Pentagon had to reassure the public it wasn't planning another bloodbath. They were just so used to having them lying around.
The United States Squeezed Grape Farmers For A National Raisin Reserve
Even if we don't know or care about the details, we can take comfort in the fact that the government is making plans for the really critical stuff, should disaster ever strike. And that is what allows us to look our children in the eye and tell them to never fear, for they will never run out of wrinkled grapes.
That is the promise of the United States Raisin Administrative Committee, which reports directly to the secretary of Agriculture. Since 1949, it has managed the country's raisin supply and protected farmers from a drop in demand. The most direct way they did so was through the national raisin reserve, which stockpiled a certain percentage of each year's raisin ... crop? This way, the committee reckoned, not only would the price for raisins stay competitive, they could also use the mountainous surpluses to spread raisin cheer and raisin awareness, giving them to charities and schools, or exporting the surplus to any country also crazy enough to have a raisin budget.
But having to store their raisins left some farmers with a case of sour grapes, since the small print of the Depression-era order allowed the committee to take whatever portion of the crops they deemed necessary without explanation, justification, or most importantly, compensation. In 2015, raisin farmers finally had their day in the sun when the Supreme Court determined that the reserve was unconstitutional, and that raisins are still the ugly-looking fruit of someone's labor, not to be taken by the government willy-nilly. The reserve was abolished, though the Raisin Administrative Committee was allowed to remain and, like the fruit they so covet, wither away in obscurity.
The U.S. Is Still Sitting On Several Billion Pounds Of Federal Cheese
Dairy, like any other commodity, has its fat years and its 2% years. The problem is that, unlike an oil pipeline, you can't just turn cows off and on like faucets. So when the market takes a dive, billions of gallons of unsold milk start building up, ready to drown the U.S. in a creamy tsunami.
To postpone said tsunami, in the '70s, the government started buying up milk as fast as the farmers could squeeze it out. And to lengthen its lifespan, they had it all turned into low-grade processed cheese, then hid it all in caves across the country like some weird cheddar ogre. But what does a government do with half a million tons of cheese and no mouse nations to bribe? In 1981, President Reagan offloaded 30 million pounds by donating it to food banks, schools, and various welfare programs. Nevertheless, by 1984, the government was storing 5 pounds of cheese for every single American (though not all in singles). In the 1990s, a desperate nation started selling the cheese to fast food companies for almost nothing -- a move that brought us such gastric travesties as the Domino's Seven-Cheese Pizza and the Taco Bell "Very Cheesy Quesalupa."
But the dairy industry isn't exactly doing better today, what with all these health commies guzzling almond milk and refusing to buy string cheese. According to the FDA, the average American consumed a mere 149 pounds of milk in 2017, barely half of what was consumed in 1975. Since 2016, the USDA has spent over $47 million on cheese to stabilize the dairy industry. That brings the nation's current surplus to an unprecedented 1.4 billion pounds. Of cheese. That's over 900,000 cubic yards of the stuff, which is enough to wrap around the entire U.S. Capitol. One USDA official suggested that the "cheapest and most practical thing would be to dump it in the ocean." But would it be worth the price of constipating every whale on the planet?
Related: Study: Hip-Hop Makes Your Cheese Taste Better (Seriously)
China Has An Emergency Pig Reserve To Stop The Porkchopalypse
The people of China really, really love their pork chops. The country is now the world's largest producer and consumer of pork, pigging out on 57 metric tons a year -- more than half of the pork eaten on the entire planet. So whenever China threatens to run out of sweet sausages, the government makes sure it has plenty of good meat on ice in their facilities. And no, we're not talking about the organs of executed prisoners.
Pork is perhaps the most important commodity in the country. A sudden decrease in supply (and increase in price) could not only cause mass civil unrest, but also singlehandedly mess up the inflation rate. No wonder, then, that the Chinese government has built up strategic reserves of bacon since the '70s. And although the exact number of emergency pigs is blanketed in state secrecy, experts estimate the National Pork Reserve holds hundreds of thousands of metric tons, both in the form of frozen meat and live hogs.
And it's a good thing they've been stockpiling, because Chinese pork stock has been getting wiped out. Due to a 2019 outbreak of swine fever, China is culling millions of pigs, and is at risk of wiping out a quarter of the world's pork population. To combat the shortage, the government opened its fridges, releasing several thousand pounds of frozen pork from its reserves in an attempt to help "meat" demand.
Canada Has A $30 Million Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve
You probably know that the United States has a Strategic Petroleum Reserve -- stockpiles of millions of barrels to safeguard our unending thirst for crude oil. No surprise, then, that our neighbors in the Great White North have a similar strategy, but for syrup. That's right, Canada is sitting on a 8,000 metric ton stash of sticky goodness, the Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve. But they're not very polite about sharing.
Valued at over $1,000 a barrel, maple syrup is about 25 times more expensive than crude oil. And Canada supplies 75% of the world's maple syrup. The trouble is, a maple tree's year-to-year production can be erratic depending on the weather, so farmers need a buffer in case they squeeze insufficient sap. To stabilize the industry, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (Canada's OPEC) established a syrup hoard big enough to give even the most ancient of dragons Type 2 diabetes.
But that much syrup is bound to draw people with sticky hands. In 2012, thieves stole 6 million gallons, for a grand total of $18 million worth of liquid brown gold. Like ants, the police were quickly on the trail, but couldn't catch the molasses marauders before they managed to unload much of the hot goo onto the ... Is there a black market for maple syrup? Maybe some Waffle Houses don't ask questions.
For more, check out 4 Shockingly Outdated Policies Of Modern Governments:
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