Welcome to 2013 Kid, This Was Going On A Long Time Before You Got Here.

Corporate Farming

From the “Morguefile” Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever been in a room or a meeting of like-minded people and heard someone tell a story that doesn’t quite make sense and watched as the rest of the people in the room say; “uh- huh”, as if they totally understood and agreed with what the speaker had just said.  You may have shaken your head and muttered under your breath “but that’s crazy” how could the majority of those people seem to know that, and not be shouting from the rooftops.

Contrast that with a well known phenomena in our social dealings with one another known as the “True Believer” who immediately upon discovering something of ideological value runs out and attempts to convince everyone he meets about the merits of his “new idea.”  I must confess that I am new to the whole idea of the concerted effort to change the way we eat and feed us more efficiently.  I have spent the last several days researching things that have been going on long before I was born. I have no political axe to grind, I am an equal opportunity non-fan of what I see going on in Washington on both sides of the aisle. I tend to come down on the side that is not especially fond of the cradle to grave care package. The “Life of Julia” is not for me. Live, respect the rights of others and let live.  I’d rather have a hand up than a hand out!

Think about it, Americans for the most part are extremely hard working people who are just chasing the dream.  We get up in the morning and head out the door to go to our 6 to 4  or 9 to 5  adding in time for the commute.  We like the fact that there is a McDonalds or Subway just down the street for lunch and the fact that we can stop at the super market for a frozen dinner on the way home, that we can pop into the oven on the way to soccer practice or after we get home.   Our access to food products has followed our lifestyle, giving us what we want; convenient foods.  In order to provide us with our desires the food purveying companies have spent a great deal of money studying us and coming up with products that they think will satisfy our needs.

Note that when they find a winner they promote the heck out of it to establish and maintain market share.  You do know that shelf space in supermarkets is sold by the inch, right?  When you stop buying it they head back to the drawing board and design another to tempt you.

There are few things to understand here in order to understand what is going on.  No matter what side of the political fence you are on there is a political component involved.  The farmers of this country could tell you some interesting stories.  They have been and continue to be in the middle of a huge battle for survival.  The small farm with just a few acres planted in whatever crop has to compete with the largest farms and the agribusiness giants.  That means he needs to have the equipment that is capable of doing the harvesting when the crop is ready.  He must vie for water rights, purchase the center-pivot sprinkler, buy the seed, the fertilizer, the pesticide and the herbicides.

Farming,Corn Harvest

From the “Morguefile” Creative Commons

 

For the small farmer to own a fancy “John Deere”  tractor that cost $100,000 means a substantial loan from the bank that depends on his ability to get his crop to market and to get a fair price when he does.  If he is late with the payment in September, he may not get a loan for next year.  A bank can call the loan at any time they deem regardless of credit rating and it has been known to happen during downturns in the economy.  I’ve  seen that happen to perfectly honest hardworking farmers.  It is not easy to live and work on a farm, the days are much longer that their “city” counterparts and the work is much harder.  Volunteer to help put up hay some time.

Farming

From the “Morguefile” Creative Commons

So the point is that these hard workers are the originators of wealth.  They took some seed nursed it into plants, weeded them, watered them and finally harvested them.  If you count the number of seeds they started with and the number of seeds they finished with they increased their wealth.  Did they get paid for all the hard work?  Usually not.  Are they incredibly efficient and good at what they do?  You Bet!

Agriculture has been the mainstay of Americas greatness for 150 years.  We have not only been able to feed ourselves but also to have lots left over to sell or send over seas.  The farmers have not always been compensated proportionate to what they produce.   Beginning in the 1930’s the congress has tied various legislative measures to help them receive compensation for their efforts.  Parts of this legislation have not been friendly to the farms at all.   One of the strong voices to address this issue is Brad Wilson who has written several articles on his blog explaining the current state that the family farm finds itself in.

 

The Call for Low Prices and Overproduction to Run Farmers Off of the Land
"The US family farm justice movement has been fighting agribusiness exploitation for well over the past 50 years, and also back prior to the New Deal.  One example of the agribusiness mindset is the document, “An Adaptive Program for Agriculture,” from the Committee for Economic Development, a think tank with 200 corporate members.20  That program called for a drastic lowering of price floors on corn, rice, cotton, wheat and other commodities, in order to run “one third” of US farmers off of the land “in a period of not more than five years.”21  That was the goal for the decade, and they  complimented themselves in a 1974 report for accomplishing their goals, through the US Congress.  That didn’t just hurt US farmers.  It hurt farmers all over the world.  That was a policy cause for the “long term trend of declining prices” that has played a major role in food poverty all across Africa."

 The above quote references a report written in 1962 >

AN ADAPTIVE PROGRAM FOR AGRICULTURE
A STATEMENT ON NATIONAL POLICY
BY THE RESEARCH AND POLICY COMMITTEE
OF THE COMMITTEE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Available to view at http://www.normeconomics.org/adaptive.html

Why is this important? As a matter of policy,  farmers have been driven off their farms and into other occupations.
From the MillsLegacy website we read:

Actually, the farm crisis of the 70s and 80s accelerated a process that had been going on for some time.
In 1935 the number of farms in the United States reached an all-time high of 6.8 million farms.
By the mid-1980s, there were only 2.2 million farms.
By 1989, farm residents made up only 1.9 percent of the total U.S. population.
[i.e. the Plains states saw a very rapid change in their demography;
they experienced a loss in population that included their children.]

There is much more to be learned about the plight of the farming community in the US.  Here is where the quote originated:

http://www.nebraskastudies.org/1000/frameset_reset.html?http://www.nebraskastudies.org/1000/stories/1001_0100.htm

http://www.nffc.net/Learn/Fact%20Sheets/CompanyFeedSvgsFeb07.pdf

http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2013-april/understanding-farm-income%E2%80%99s-role-in-farm-household-finances.aspx

Today we have a situation where the bulk of our grown food stuff comes from relatively few suppliers.  These are the corporate farms who have the financial wherewithal to play the growing game.  Buy the genetically modified seed from one or two sources, grow it and turn it over to their pre-established markets which convert it into the sugar, the bread and or the animal feed that it is destined for.  It is all a part of a huge complex of corporations  that trace back to still larger holding companies which operate on a global basis.   Read  “Foodolopoly” which is available where ever you wish to purchase it, my kindle copy cost $9.99 and the reading application is free.  While you are there here are some more. “Pandora’s Lunchbox” by Melanie Warner, “Eating in the Dark” by Kathleen Hart, and “Threats to Food Safety” by Fred Pampel

As to the foods we eat, you are the experiment. The FDA has been effectively circumvented by political maneuvering.  GMO foods are here to stay unless it can be demonstrated that they are somehow bad for consumption.  The lawsuits have been filed and lost so don’t look for that to change anytime soon.  The Pew Foundation seems to be doing some great things for healthy food advocacy, Their latest endeavors involve taking on the animal feed industry to reduce the amount of needless antibiotic feeding that is going on.  It seems that there is so much that the consumer is in danger of being immune to treatment for infection when they need it , having already consumed it in the daily foods they eat.

Antibiotic Chicken

 

”Overused Antibiotics are Becoming Ineffective 

“As a nation, we need to exercise greater care with our use of antibiotics, in both humans and animals, so that these medications remain effective in treating serious bacterial infections.

What can you do?  Buy the freshest food you can afford.  And Learn how to cook.

 

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