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Ed Fashing is a farmer who can speak his own mind, without fear or favor. This is one reason we have him on our editorial advisory board. Here(in some 3,700 words), Fashing gives us a mini-history of agriculture in the U.S. He indulges in some serious handwringing – things we do not much see in the general press, that we hope stimulates your thought – and your comment.

Multinational Corporations and Extremist Environmentalists Impact on Small And Medium Family Farmers

Edward Fashing

Introduction

            In 1815, Indonesian volcano Mount Tambora exploded.  About 100,000 died from the explosion and tsunamis.  The year with no summer was1815, when some countries had no summer crops.  On July 4th, southern Florida had a snowstorm and cisterns froze in Virginia.  The Irish potato famine and western migration from the northeast into Illinois and Indiana were due to atmospheric cooling from 12 cubic miles of debris thrown into the atmosphere.  Tambora’s explosion was 10 times larger than Krakatoa’s 1893 explosion.  Hundreds of thousands starved from both calamities.

            Today, millions go hungry or starve, since multinational corporations hijacked food distribution and destroyed local food production.  A world explosion worse than Mt. Tambora has hit: it is called Globalization.  There is enough food in the world to feed all even with this year’s production down 30 percent; food distribution is the problem.  World consumers, who several years ago could raise, buy, or earn enough money for food, are condemned to hunger by greedy multinational corporations’ rush to the hog trough.  According to The Economist, Aug 17th -23rd, 2002 p.7, the world’s top 100 economic entities include 29 multinationals. Multinational corporations get corporate welfare and are more powerful than many governments.  They buy grains and meats at low prices while farmers and ranchers are subsidized just enough to continue surviving and producing.

 

            To add to the problem: powerful extremists, not pursuing the intended ends of some founders, have hijacked environmental organizations.  The first environmentalists, farmers and ranchers, are falsely called polluters by extremists.  See Bjorn Lomborg’s book The Skeptical Environmentalist.  Lomborg is former head of Greenpeace.  He also wrote an article in the January Scientific American that was contradicted by four econuts.

            The cause of today’s world crises is loss of morality in the Church, international business, world government, international trade, trials, world commodity markets, and world banking.  The marketplace is often a collection of modern, moneychangers in the temple.  The most meaningful reality is a loving God in heaven Who, through liberal and conservative hands can fix the world’s evil problems.

            Today’s U.S. farm crisis is proportionately worse than in the 1980s and almost as bad as the 1930s; man’s inhumanity to man for profit is the cause of crises.  The greedy spirit of Judas Iscariot lives.  Ravenous multinational corporations, miserly international bankers, self-serving world leaders, effete Parliamentary representatives, incompetent bureaucrats, extremist environmentalists [econuts], unprincipled lobbyists, predatory farmers, voracious factory farms, misleading university economic professors, manipulative trial lawyers, hoggish chemical manufacturers, and pseudo-farm organizations produced a world farm crisis that spills over into many international spheres of influence. Morality must be restored in the rural economies of many countries by reintroducing ethics.

            I wish to discuss part of the situation in the United States facing small family farmers and medium ranchers in rural America. Let me give you a somewhat simplified scenario.

19Th CENTURY

            In the late 19th century, during the age of robber barons, the U.S teemed with immigrants seeking to escape European poverty and tyranny.  Many sought free land and to escape serfdom in the feudal European rural system.  These peasants sought the American dream where “streets are paved with gold” with the knowledge that if they worked hard dreams could come true.  Many came to the U.S. for an opportunity to be a wealthy rancher or farmer.  Some became merchants, miners, fishermen, ranchers, farmers, civil servants, politicians, or contractors.  Many descendents of these immigrants are now being returned to serfdom or slavery by relatives of the people and forces that enslaved their forefathers in Europe.

20th CENTURY

             Before WW I, economists established a system of measuring the balance in various sectors in the economy.  Parity was defined as the average price for a commodity from 1910-1914 adjusted for inflation.  America became a world power and along with the flu epidemic helped to end WW I.

            In the early 20th century, people rose up and got laws enacted to nullify the robber barons’ power.  Books like Upton Sinclair’s, The Jungle, and later John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath revealed problems that faced new and rural Americans.  Laws like the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust laws and Packers and Stockyards Act were enacted to control monopolies in meatpacking, oil, steel, and railroad industries.

            The Depression lowered rural America’s economy again to base level.

            World War II came and America became a world superpower.

            The second half of the century started with US rural and family farm prosperity.  Land was cheap and veterans bought land and homes inexpensively, raised children, and worked hard raising products to feed a starving world.  The Marshall Plan restored European prosperity.  Japan returned to being a world power.  The U.S. State Department started to buy international friendship with food.  The US Trade Representatives bartered away tariffs and US markets for political ends.  The government bribed consumers and people on welfare with a “cheap food policy” at the expense of farmers, ranchers, and rural community.  Each farmer fed 120 in the world.  Land Grant University Extension officials, under the influence of ever growing agribusiness corporations, urged farmers to expand acreage, get big, buy bigger machinery, get efficient, and use more chemicals to increase yields.  Farmers believed, “They can’t bust us all!”  Bankers and federal agencies forced many into bankruptcy.

            Farm Bill after Farm Bill was written to aid predatory farmers, farm factories, big agribusiness, big oil, exporters, and big bankers that hurt rural America’s economy and community.  In the 1970s, a dollar in the rural economy with the economic multiplier circulated 7 to 10 times; now a dollar circulates only 1 to 2.1 times since multinational corporations and factory farms send profit out of rural community.  A present dollar is worth about 10% of a 1970-dollar.  Several “farm” organizations, that never represented producers, totally abandoned small and medium ranchers and farmers and worked openly with corporate agribusiness.  Congresses, mainly controlled by big business, give small and medium family farmers and ranchers less attention every year.

            In 1962, biologist Rachel Carson, working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wrote SILENT SPRING.  Carson is the most respected science writer of the 20th century.  Carson became an expert on environmental pollution while writing sea ecology books.

            Carson’s first chapter in SILENT SPRING is a powerful vision of a bleak future.  Her book received derision from the chemical industry.  Soon afterwards Carson died of cancer and could not easily be personally attacked by the chemical industry.

            Environmentalists soon wrote other key books on: air pollution, overpopulation, water pollution, mine pollution, killing animals, and hurting “mother nature.”  By the 1970s a myriad number of environmental activists and organizations appeared.  At first their ends were accurate, and focused, but after inroads were made into environmental problems, environmental movement leaders did not want to relinquish power anymore than predatory big business leaders or international bankers did.  Today most environmental organizations no longer represent the will of informed members any more than some food producer organizations represent ranchers, farmers, or the rural community.

            In the 1980’s, the situation worsened, the farm crisis hit, and farm families needed at least two jobs to pay their bills; this caused chaos and divorce in rural families.  No longer were producers given unlimited credit on a friendly handshake.  Now consolidation of agribusiness, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and seed companies gave price control to a few new multinational corporations, joint ventures, partnerships, and cartels that looked at the bottom profit line.  Many local banks were absorbed and became part of a vast banking fiasco.  Local bank branches no longer knew farmers or ranchers by sight and forgot the concept of a limited agreement.  Land values dropped, lowering farm assets.  Some bankers resorted to misrepresentations, cheating at farm auctions, and spreading lies about customers.  Loss of business ethics grew with absolute power.  Millions of producers lost farms and ranches.  Existing farms grew in size.  Predator farmers seized acreage.  Subsidized factory farms proliferated.  In Oklahoma, where banking corruption was rampant, 500 farmers committed suicide.

            The U.S. Federal Government like Congress, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dept. of Interior, Commerce Department, and sub-agencies: Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Environmental Protection Agency turned on farmers and ranchers due to influence of the extremist econuts.

            In the late 1970s, bald eagle population doubled every seven years.  Water quality also improved.  BUT few heard any of this from econuts.  Econuts are afraid the people would “get complacent” and they would lose their power.

21st Century

            Greenpeace founder Dr. Patrick Moore wrote an introduction to Nick Nichols’s book RULES FOR CORPORATE WARRIORS condemning Greenpeace for present policies.  Bjorn Lomborg ex-leader of Greenpeace wrote a 2002 article in Scientific American that was answered there by several econuts.  Econuts can independently write unanswered articles but are always allowed to answer an article as Lomborg’s for balance.

            Nickols claims that from1970 to 2000 air pollution decreased by 64%.  Los Angeles’s unhealthy air days declined from 173 to 18 from 1990 to 2000.

            June parity statistics for 15 commodities yield an Average of 34.7%: rice is 15% of parity, oats parity is 49%, corn parity 30%, wheat 30%, soybeans 34%; cattle prices are 40% of parity.  {National Farmers Union NEWS, Vol. 49, No. 8, Aug.  2002, p5.}

             A multi-generation farmer is expected to pass-on the homestead to the family.  Not to do so is often treated with ennui, ostracism and rejection.  Often farmers plan an accident to leave insurance money for families.

             In 2001, G.W. Bush was elected president by many smaller electoral rural states, due to the extreme land policies of the Clinton-Gore Administration affecting farmers, ranchers, lumbermen, fishermen, miners and small businesswomen.  G.W. Bush continues most land-use policies of the previous administration angering many in the "flyover."  Extreme environmental actions continue at the expense of rural America.  Meanwhile some in Congress claim they favor producers but still vote for big business.

BIG BUSINESS

            Except for a few populists, there is almost complete big business control of newspapers, TV and radio talk shows.  Criticism is rare against environmentalists or business behemoths: Cargill, WAL-MART, ADM, Tyson-IBP, Smithfield, Exxon, GE, and others.  Big advertisers control by canceling ads when critical articles appear.

            WAL-MART, the biggest corporation in the U.S., buys products from huge corporations as ConAgra and countries like China using slave, serf, peon, and prison labor.  [See the Scientific American, April 2002, pp. 80-88, showing a map of  “The World of Slavery.”]

            Tyson-IBP, world’s largest meat processor, reports the second quarter of 2002 had profits that were six times larger than they were in the second quarter of 2001.

Cargill Inc. had profits for the fourth quarter that rose 131 percent.  Cargill processes and distributes oil seed, grain, sugar, malt, cocoa, eggs, pork, and poultry products in 59 countries.  Their motto is, “The Nature of What’s to Come.”  Some think that is Gahanna.

            ADM has been convicted of collusion in several chemical markets and is quoted as believing, “The competitor is our friend; the customer is our enemy.”  ADM’s motto is,  “Supermarket to the World.”

            Business behemoths and the U.S. Department of Justice, run by big business’s angel John Ashcroft ignore existing laws; Ashcroft does not even enforce existing laws.  The farm economy antitrust division of the Justice Department and USDA’s GIPSA Packers and Stockyards enforcement offices are purposely kept understaffed and under-funded to prevent enforcement of anti-trust laws.  Five corporations control the dairy, beef, chicken, pork, and other food industries. They use partnerships, cartels, joint ventures, and vertical integration.  The Department of Justice never saw a monopoly they didn’t like except AT&T and Microsoft.

            Due to meat packers and large store chain cartels, producers of safe U.S.-grown food are being squeezed out.  Foreign meat represents 15 percent of US markets and is increasing.  Antitrust laws must be made to clearly include oligopolies, vertically integrated corporations, questionable cartels, joint ventures and partnerships.  A recent scandal of ConAgra involved 18.9 million tons of ground beef.  A ground beef patty might come from a hundred sources.  WAL-MART and ConAgra have formed a powerful meat cartel.

 

            The courts protect the meat packers by interceding in suits against meat packer policies and mandatory meat checkoffs not wanted by cattle and pork producers.

Congress has passed a country of origin ban, COOL, that President G. W. Bush and USDA Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman hint will not be implemented.  The Senate twice passed laws saying meat packers could not own animals 14 days before slaughter to prevent price manipulation.   House of Representatives conference members followed packers’ wishes and eliminated the packer ban part of Congress’s new 2002 Farm Bill.

A PATTERN

            Ethics must be restored to the Church, business community, police, FBI, journalism, politics, and judicial, military, scientific, & technological communities. Those in training in these fields should take two ethics courses.  Ethics courses today in business schools are replaced by business law courses taught by businessmen or economists.  Business people teach how far you can go legally making money before being criminal. [The New York Times, op-ed, Page A 19, An Ethics Lesson for Business Schools, {Robert Prentice, McComb School of Business Law University of Texas Austin}, August 20, 2002.]

 

            Judiciary and law enforcement agencies are corrupt.  The National Farmers Organization’s milk suit brought by farmers took 21 years to come to judgement in favor of dairymen.  American Agriculture Movement’s soybean suit against the Chicago Board of Trade for market manipulation has taken 13 years to get a hearing.  A federal sting caught 52 Chicago crooked judges.  The Summerdale Chicago police district caught 75 policemen telling burglars whom to rob.  Most saw the FBI and Alcohol, Tobacco & Tax agents lay siege to the Davidians in Waco, Texas. Most politicians will take donations from multinational corporations, meat packers’, or exporters’ associations with no questions asked.

 

THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT AND OTHER ABSURDITIES

            The extremist environmentalists rarely saw a bird, fish or plants they would not defend from extinction.  If most econuts lived 65 million years ago, dinosaurs would have been fed human babies to prevent extinction.  According to Range Magazine, [Fall 2002, p.45] there are 1,258 listed endangered species.

 

            The Endangered Species Act has stopped grain barge traffic on the Missouri River to protect golden plover bank nests and spawning sites of the pallid sturgeon.

 

            Four firefighters died in the west due to a delay using creek water possibly inhabited with an endangered fish.  Water to be used fighting western fires in some areas must be chlorinated to prevent spreading a fungus.  Land owners’ access roads are closed off.

            Tanks or bulldozers used for war-games or to fight forest fires must be preceded by a walker to prevent hurting land turtles or endangered wildflowers.

            Woods used by generations of Indians to gather winter firewood are declared a habitat for the Mexican Spotted Owl when none had been seen in decades.

            Seven northwest states and federal conservation workers planted lynx hairs so the upper tier of American states could be falsely declared a Canadian lynx.  None were fired and names have been withheld.  Bears, wolves, coyotes, elk, and mountain lions are stocked by federal workers, in the back yards of rural Americans.

            Environmental Liberation Front [ELF] extremists burned forest trophy homes in the west because the ELFs believe these forest homes offend Mother Nature, their god.  Western fires burned some 5.5 million acres this past summer.

MISUNDERSTANDINGS

            World Bank [WB] and International Monetary Fund [IMF] officials find no third world nation from which they would not extort funds from the poor after known crooks run their countries into bankruptcy and shifted their money to Switzerland.  Many import companies use the US State Department to force foreign governments to import products.

            Salaried workers and urbanites do not understand the problems, risks, and financial requirements of farmers, ranchers, and small business people.  Small farmers are forced into bankruptcy from low cash flow, lowering of land values, or a death tax if a family member dies.  They may spend $250,000 for equipment to run a $1,000,000 farm to earn $50,000.  The average farmer makes $25,000 farming per se; 7% of farmers receive 45% of subsidies.  [Scientific American, Aug. 2002, P. 27, Down on the Farm, Rodger Doyle]

            Much that has been discussed applies to world farmers and smaller countries.  World agreements as the World Trade Organization [WTO] and the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] enable many problems discussed.  Under Chapter 11 of NAFTA a company cannot be prevented from making money even if their product is dangerous and polluting.  An example involves the use of MTBE in gasoline; California banned the additive found polluting public water supplies.  METHANEX sued for $970 million.

SUGGESTIONS

            The US is not a socialist country and the actions of federal agencies to void private ownership of lands are not acceptable.  The US is a participatory democratic republic. Here are some stated goals of several farmer and rancher organizations, including the National Farmers Union, the American Agriculture Movement Inc., and the Organization for Competitive Markets:

1.      To foster strong farm and ranch families.

2.      To work for thriving rural communities.

3.      To value hard work and responsibility in rural life.

4.      To develop value-added farm products to enhance profit for farmers.

5.      To get a fair parity price for commodities.

6.      To have real farmers and ranchers participate in planning farm legislation.

7.      To have all announcements on farm and ranch legislation passed early enough so producers can adequately plan for the future year.

8.      To control meat packers, multinational corporations, and food cartels so monopolies are controlled.

SOLUTIONS

1.      A modified Endangered Species Act that will protect endangered people.

2.      Realization that environmental problems are slowly improving.

3.      Federal land take over must stop.

4.      Wild animal populations should be controlled:

a.      Deer, geese, bears, and wolves eat producers’ pastures, crops, and livestock.

b.      Wolves, coyotes, buffalo, elk, and bears should not be re-stocked in the wild.

c.      Infected wild elk and deer with Chronic Wasting Disease and other diseases must not be killed and not fed to “wild” bears, wolves or coyotes.

d.      Excessive numbers of geese and gulls spreading e-coli in lakes and streams.

e.      There is no reason 1258 endangered species should be protected.

f.       Timber in federal forests should be harvested and replanted for fire control.

5.      Farm Bills must address farmers and ranchers not big agribusiness or food aid.

a.      Actual Farm Bill amounts given farmers and ranchers must be stated.  It is below 20 percent.

b.      Corporate agribusiness and multinational corporate welfare must cease.

c.      Factory farms should not get welfare hastening small family farm eradication.

6.      Federal agency workers [as BLM, NPS, USDA, DoI, EPA, FWS] should not:

a.      Burn out ranchers.

b.      Falsify endangered species’ presence in forests or lands.

c.      Stop landowners’ profiting from land on which they pay taxes.

d.      Increase in numbers due to a subtle “political spoils system.”

e.      Be protected when caught cheating or fired when they are whistle blowers.

f.       Feign following orders while following their own agendas.

7.      USDA must work for producers not environmentalists or multinational corporations.

8.      The inertia of the last 40 years destroying rural America’s economy must change.

9.      Peace and justice must be restored to the rural sector of America.

10. Ethics courses must be taught or stressed in the home, schools, and businesses.




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