CORPORATE POLITICS AND THE SENATE FARM BILL
WHO WINS ??? WHO LOSES ??? GUESS ???
Anyone who doubted Ralph Nader's contention in the 2000 Presidential election that the two major political parties in this country were incapable of enacting progressive legislation in the face of corporate opposition to such legislation got a lesson in corporate-dictated politics this past week in witnessing the surrender of Sen. Tom Harkin (Dem.-Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, to such politics.
It was at a 1999 news conference, that Harkin declared, "We've got to take this wreck of a Freedom to Farm bill and throw it on the trash heap of history." Last Thursday, after capitulating to committee Republicans in a blatant effort to send a bill to the Senate floor Harkin had a "conversion" of sorts. "There were positive features of the Freedom to Farm Bill," said Harkin, "including planting flexibility and increased resources for conservation."
The Des Moines Register's Jane Norman reported that those words prompted open astonishment among Republicans. Sen. Pat Roberts (Rep.-Kansas) and one of the principal architects of the disastrous "Freedom to Farm" legislation clutched his chest in feigned heart failure upon hearing of Harkin's mea culpa.
As one can read below concessions to corporate agribusiness in the Senate Ag committee's farm bill were the order of the day as Harkin and many of his Democrat colleagues failed once again to draw a line in the dirt and fight for family farm agriculture.
As Circle, Montana wheat farmer Helen Waller correctly charges, "It does not address the growing power of corporate agribusiness over our food system, which we are counting on the Senate to do . . . Farm policy that establishes a fair price at the market would provide economic security to benefit farmers at lower cost to taxpayers, while establishing food security for America's consumers."
One need only look at the recently released National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) preliminary farm index of prices received in October to see the failure of current farm policy. The NASS farm index of prices received was 95 (based on 1990-92=100), down a record ten points (9.5 percent) from the September index.
When compared to the historical base of 1910-1914, the index shows a 66-point
decline, becoming the largest month-to-month decrease in recorded history.
The previous record one-month decline was 57 points, and occurred between the
months of August and September 1973.
A significant downturn in prices for lettuce, milk, soybeans, hogs, corn, broilers, and cattle combined with seasonal shifts in marketings set the stage for the monthly downturn in the index. The seasonal change in the mix of commodities farmers sell often affects the overall index. Overall marketing changes accounted for six points of the 10-point decrease in the October index (1990-92=100).
Fortunately, one Senate Ag committee member with some backbone, Sen. Paul Wellstone (Dem.-Minnesota) is expected to introduce soon the Food >From Family Farms Act, a broad-based family farm consensus proposal to restore and maintain profitability on America's family farms and ranches while seeking to provide farmers with fair prices paid by those giant corporate agribusiness's that purchase their raw materials. (See Issue #124)
Basing such farm legislation upon fair prices for farmers rightfully addresses the fundamental problem facing agriculture today, basing such legislation upon income simply relegates it to a societal problem whereby the farmer becomes an indentured servant, the taxpayer pays the bills and their corporate masters reaps the profits.
One would hope and pray that Sen Harkin, as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and with a wary eye on his 2002 re-election campaign would publicly and whole-heartedly declare his support for the Food From Family Farms Act when it is introduced on the Senate floor.
It is also time for self-professed family farm organizations like the
American Corn Growers Association and the National Farmers Union to stop such
patronizing rhetoric as "commending" Harkin "for his leadership in passing a new
farm bill" and "the committee for their hard work to develop a much-needed farm
law this year," and start holding lawmakers feet to the fire and make them "walk
NATIONAL FAMILY FARM COALITION:
SENATE AG COMMITTEE FARM BILL "WILL NOT SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGE FARM POLICY DIRECTION"
KATHY OZER, NATIONAL FAMILY FARM COALITION: The Senate Agriculture Committee reported out their farm bill on Thursday November 15th. It is a five year farm bill. Despite two weeks of markup that spanned each of the titles, a lengthy process compared to the two-day debacle in the House Agriculture Committee, the outcome will not significantly change the direction of federal farm policy. Farmers still have no choice but to receive most of their income from taxpayer financed payments, instead of from the buyers of their commodities --- the corporate grain traders and corporate agribusiness. It increases the commodity loan rate and sets it as a floor instead of the House passed bill that allows the Secretary to further reduce it.
The Republican substitute in Committee was an effort to gut this change and Iím sure this issue will be revisited on the floor and will definitely be a major issue in conference. I am pretty sure that the language that gives the Secretary authority to negotiate down payments based on trade agreements is NOT in this package but is definitely an issue for conference especially after the U.S. role at WTO.
The final negotiated deal on commodity payments was clearly to get Senator Lincoln (Dem.-Arkansas) on board. This resulted in Harkin trading off the payment limitations that he had included in his original bill (S.1628), the indexing on the loan based on input costs, and the animal limits in the EQIP program. Arkansas is a major cotton, rice, and poultry producing state [Editors Note: Home state to Tyson Foods]. This continues large taxpayer subsidies to the nation's largest farming operations since it does not close the existing loopholes on LDP payments, keeps the certificate and forfeiture loopholes, along with $1.2 billion in annual EQIP funds being available to clean-up waste and no limit on the size of the operation. A dairy title and the House passed Peanut program were added. With these changes, Harkin had the votes of all the Democrats including Miller (Dem.-Georgia) and Lincoln and gained Hutchinson (Rep.-Arkansas).
The total cost of the commodity title has not been scored by the
Congressional Budget Office (CBO). This means that there will definitely
be negotiations and changes between now and when the farm bill reaches the
Senate floor at which time there will most likely be a "Manager's amendment"
which will include changes agreed to by the Committee. There were
discussions with press after the markup that they will push for Senate floor
action immediately after Thanksgiving. This means November 27/28 at the
earliest. . . .
SENATE FARM BILL DOES NOT ADDRESS
GROWING POWER OF CORPORATE AGRIBUSINESS;
BILL NEEDED TO ESTABLISH FAIR PRICE AT THE MARKET
TO PROVIDE ECONOMIC SECURITY TO BENEFIT
FARMERS AT LOWER COST TO TAXPAYERS
HELEN WALLER, WESTERN ORGANIZATION OF RESOURCE COUNCILS: America's farmers, ranchers, and consumers are working for a farm bill that provides long-term food security for our nation. The bill adopted by the Senate Agriculture Committee falls short of that goal, and we will fight to improve it on the Senate floor.
The Senate Committee proposal is better than the version passed by the House, for a couple of reasons. It is a five-year bill instead of ten. It provides for country of origin labeling for meat and fish as well as produce, allowing consumers to know and choose the origin of their food. And it does a better job of rewarding farmers for conservation practices to protect our precious natural resources.
But the Senate Committee bill does not raise the price of farm commodities in the marketplace, relying instead on unsustainable taxpayer subsidies. It favors corporate, factory-style livestock production over family farms with cheap grain and taxpayer-funded bailouts for polluting facilities [through the EQIP program]. It does not address the growing power of corporate agribusiness over our food system, which we are counting on the Senate to do.
Instead of setting supports for market prices, the Senate committee bill promises continued taxpayer subsidies --- but the money may not be there to fulfill that promise, for two reasons.
First, more money will be needed to pay for economic recovery efforts. Second, the payment levels will bump up against limits set by World Trade Organization rules for agricultural subsidies. The House bill even authorizes cuts in these promised levels of support if necessary to meet the WTO rules.
Farm policy that establishes a fair price at the market would provide economic security to benefit farmers at lower cost to taxpayers, while establishing food security for America's consumers.
[Helen Waller is past Chair of the Northern Plains Resource Council and the
National Family Farm Coalition, and the current chair of the Western
Organization Resource Council's Farm Policy Campaign Team. The Western
Organization of Resource Councils is a regional network of grassroots community
organization based in the Northern Plains and Intermountain West. Members
include family farmers and ranchers, small business people, students and
retirees.] For more about WORC go to
WHAT THE COMPETITION TITLE IN THE FARM BILL
WOULD HAVE DONE AND NOT HAVE DONE
FOR THE NATION'S FARMERS AND RANCHERS
Because there is significant mis-information about the Competition Title proposal, an Organization for Competitive Marketing fact sheet outlines what the Competition Title would have done and not have done for farmers and ranchers had it been approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee.
What would the Competition Title have done?
1. Promote fairness and transparency, and prohibit deception, in the marketing relationship between farmers and large processors. The provision would have harmonized the law of fairness and deception across agriculture rather than applying only to one or two sub sectors of agriculture, such as only red meats.
2. Extended the prohibition of unfair and deceptive practices from the long established consumer protection law to farmers and ranchers. There is no reason to continuing to exempt agriculture from laws on fairness, disclosure and deception when the rest of the economy must abide by such rules. Such rules apply not only to consumer relationships, but to markets in equities/stocks, pensions, mortgages, franchises, petroleum, credit reporting, commercial and consumer debt, and elsewhere.
3. Provided farmers with crucial disclosures of information about contracts in plain English rather than having farmers relegated to deciphering legalese which they do not understand. Disclosure of key information must occur in many other sectors of the economy where there is a disparity of power and sophistication among parties.
4. Allowed farmers to share contracts drafted by agribusiness to financial advisors, legal advisors and others to interpret them, determine their rights, decide whether to enter a contract, or for any other reason. Farmers should not be prohibited from seeking advice from others whom they trust or choose to consult.
5. Allowed farmers the right to choose whether to utilize arbitration,
mediation or civil litigation to resolve disputes with agribusiness. This is
accomplished through preventing agribusiness from forcing farmers to sign
contracts that require arbitration, which is often biased towards processors, in
every type of dispute that may arise. Agribusiness should
not force farmers into the dispute resolution mechanism of agribusiness' choice.
6. Increased the effectiveness of USDA investigation and enforcement of
competition laws through establishing an Office of Special Counsel on
Competition. That Office would have jurisdiction over the marketing of all
commodities, not just one or two commodities. USDA currently has little or no
expertise on competition matters as shown by past government reports by the
General Accounting Office and USDA's Office of Inspector General. Further, USDA
has no authority over such practices in sub sectors other than meat. Such an
office would also streamline and enhance efforts on
investigation and enforcement.
7. Provide consumers with information as to the country of origin of their food. Large majorities of consumers surveyed want such information. The law would extend the labeling rules applicable to clothing, toys and other products to food. This is especially important given the national security issues we face after September 11, 2001.
What would the Competition Title not have done?
1. Banned packer ownership of livestock. Many grassroots organizations like the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) that represent farmers and ranchers have called for such a ban.
2. Restricted captive supplies (packer controlled supplies of slaughter animals via contract and otherwise) of cattle, hogs or sheep. Again many grassroots organizations that represent farmers and ranchers have called for restrictions on captive supplies and/or for turning secret captive deals into an open, public bid market under auction principles.
3. Allowed USDA any authority over merger review in the food and agriculture sector. Some sources have alleged that the Office of Special Counsel on Competition will have merger review authority, but that allegation is untrue.
4. Create any liability or new regulatory requirements for producers of any commodity, unless they are processors that also produce.
Members of the Agriculture Committee  supporting the competition title included: Sens. Tom Harkin, Dem.-Iowa, Patrick Leahy, Dem.-Vermont., Kent Conrad, Dem.-North Dakota, Tom Daschle, Dem.-South Dakota., Max Baucus, Dem.-Montana., Debbie Stabenow, Dem.-Michigan., Ben Nelson, Dem.-Nebraska., Mark Dayton, Dem.-Minnesota., and Paul Wellstone, Dem.-Minnesota.
Members  voting against the fair and open competition measure included:
Sens. Richard Lugar, Rep.-Indiana., Craig Thomas, Rep.-Wyoming, Jesse Helms,
Rep.-North Carolina, Thad Cochran, Rep.-Mississippi., Mitch McConnell,
Rep-Kentucky., Pat Roberts, Rep.-Kansas., Blanche Lincoln, Dem.-Arkansas., Zell
Miller, Dem.-Georgia, Peter Fitzgerald, Rep-Illinois, Wayne Allard,
Rep.-Colorado, Tim Hutchinson, Rep.-Arkansas., and Mike Crapo, Rep.-Indiana.
OPPOSES FARM BILL COMPETITION TITLE
Text of a letter sent to members of the Senate Ag Committee signed by a wide range of corporate agribusiness groups who opposed a proposed competition title in current farm legislation.
November 5, 2001
Dear Senator ....
We are writing to urge your strong opposition to a competition title in the next farm bill.
While fair competition is an important issue to all businesses --- including agriculture --- we believe it is wrong to single out any business sector for separate and different legal standards or restrictions related to competitive business practices.
We represent thousands of businesses and millions of workers in all 50 states whose earnings depend upon a strong, free and fair marketplace. We believe existing laws adequately ensure that such a marketplace continues. Saddling our businesses with the cumbersome and unnecessary rules contained in this competition title could cause a flight of capital investment away from U.S. agriculture, hurting rural America and its workers at a time when the Senate Agriculture Committee is wrestling with strategies to strengthen these communities.
We live in uncertain times. Please don't worsen agriculture's lot by imposing new and unnecessary hurdles to our businesses. Please vote against a competition title in the farm bill.
American Cotton Shippers Association
American Crop Protection Association
American Feed Industry Association
American Frozen Food Institute
American Meat Institute
American Seed Trade
Animal Health Institute
CGB Enterprises, Inc.
Chicago Board of Trade
Corn Refiners Association
Food Distributors International
Food Marketing Institute
Grocery Manufacturers of America
International Dairy Foods Association
Louis Dreyfus Corporation
National Association of Manufacturers
National Chicken Council
National Food Processors Association
National Grain and Feed Association
National Grain Trade Council
National Meat Association
National Renderers Association
National Turkey Federation
North American Export Grain Association
North American Millers' Association
Oklahoma Fertilizer and Chemical Association
Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association
Oklahoma Seed Trade Association
Pacific Northwest Grain and Feed Association
Smithfield Foods, Inc.
Texas Grain and Feed Association
Tyson Foods, Inc.
United Egg Association
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
"NUDGING" FREEDOM TO FARM ???
MORE SUBSIDIES ADDED TO FARM BILL
PHILIP BRASHER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: The Senate's chief architect of a new farm policy has dropped his effort to cut payments to big grain and cotton farms, a move that was opposed by key southern Democrats. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, Dem.-Iowa, also increased price guarantees for many crops, trimmed his conservation proposals and added a subsidy program for dairy farmers. . . .
Harkin, a fierce critic of the Republican-authored "Freedom to Farm" policy enacted five years ago, admitted his legislation wouldn't make the major changes in farm policy that he once sought. "It's a nudge," said Harkin. "I would be the first to admit this farm bill is not a drastic change from what we've had in the past." Existing farm programs expire next year.
Under Harkin's plan, farms will still be allowed to collect crop subsidies in unlimited amounts, and they could get another $200,000 in payments under two other income-support programs. Critics of farm subsidies, including the Bush administration, say they encourage overproduction and drive up land rents, which makes it difficult for small farms to survive.
"We're just moving in the direction of subsidizing big farms to drive other
farmers and ranchers out of business," said Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for
Rural Affairs, an advocacy group. The 175,000 largest farms, which have
traditionally dominated subsidy programs, account for two-thirds of the nation's
agricultural sales and have average household incomes exceeding $135,000. . . .
SEN. KENT CONRAD (DEM-NORTH DAKOTA):
"THERE ARE GOING TO BE UNFORTUNATE SIDE EFFECTS"
AS SENATE AG COMMITTEE PASSES FARM BILL
ELIZABETH BECKER, NEW YORK TIMES: The Senate Agriculture Committee approved an $88 billion farm bill . . . that places no limits on subsidies to America's wealthiest farmers and increases spending for conservation and food stamps. Democrats from the farm belt blocked any reduction of payments to grain and cotton farmers, leading several Republicans to complain that if the measure passes, it would lead to overproduction and continue the current sinking farm prices.
Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who is chairman of the committee, had proposed limits on subsidies. But he acquiesced to the majority to win passage of a bill this week and ensure what he said was enough money for the five-year measure. "We have produced a very broad and balanced farm bill," Senator Harkin said . . . "A lot of people said we couldn't do this, but we did."
The House passed a 10-year, $171 billion farm bill last month that provides more generous subsidy payments to farmers and less money for conservation and food stamps. The Bush administration has promoted a shift in farm policy toward trade and conservation and away from strong dependence on commodity payments.
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman supported a farm bill proposed by Senator Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, the ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, [See Issue #132] that would have made the commodity programs based on need rather than acreage and increased spending on environmental and nutrition programs. . . .
"The way it favors the wealthiest, the bill we passed out of committee today is as bad if not worse than the House bill," Mr. Lugar said. He said he would offer his bill to the full Senate, but it will be only one of dozens of amendments offered.
In an open alliance, Senate Democrats and House Republicans from the farm
belt have succeeded in blocking the Bush administration's effort to revamp farm
policy. Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, said farmers needed the
large subsidy payments to compete with subsidized European farmers in the global
market. "I know there are people who have cogent arguments that this farm policy
encourages overproduction," Mr. Conrad said today, "but that misses the larger
reality. We are engaged in a trade war, and it's not pretty. There are going to
be unfortunate side effects" . . . . . .
ATTEMPTING TO BREATH NEW LIFE
INTO NATION'S STRUGGLING DAIRY FARMS
ASSOCIATED PRESS: A provision to establish a national dairy compact has been included in the version of the farm bill that won approval . . . from the Senate Agriculture Committee. The provision, modeled on the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact, was pushed by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, Dem.-Vermont., a senior member of the committee. Leahy's success ensures that the national compact will be debated by the full Senate when it takes up the farm bill after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The plan is similar to one pushed in the House by U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vermont. The Sanders proposal drew surprising strength from lawmakers in the Midwest who have been against the Northeast compact. Among the supporters was U.S. Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, a staunch and powerful opponent of the regional dairy plan.
The proposal would create a national dairy trust fund that would, in effect,
ensure that farmers are paid a steady price for milk. Dairy processors would pay
into a fund that would be distributed to farmers through newly created regional
boards. The system also would have incentives to stem overproduction. "While
very strong opposition remains, this is a very significant step forward in
making certain that family dairy farmers in Vermont receive a fair and stable
price for their milk," Sanders said . . . U.S. Sen. James Jeffords
said the Leahy provision "breathes new life into the fight to save our dairy
CORPORATE AGRIBUSINESS PRESSES CONGRESS
TO ENACT BUSH TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY
KIM ARCHER, DOW JONES NEWSWIRES: Eighty-two U.S. food and agricultural groups are urging Congress to quickly approve trade-negotiating authority for President George W. Bush. Trade promotion authority --- previously known as fast-track authority --- is a tool that would allow the U.S. president broad powers to negotiate trade deals that the U.S. Congress could not amend.
In a letter dated [October 19] and sent to each senator and representative the 82 groups said the U.S. won't be able to make more progress on increasing its exports without the authority. "We recognize the difficulties of crafting legislation that considers valid labor and environmental concerns without jeopardizing the fundamental objective of trade liberalization," the letter said. The groups said they believe HR 3005, the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2001, strikes a "reasonable balance" on those issues.
Proponents of the measure say the authority ought to be put in place before the start of the World Trade Organization's ministerial . . . in Quatar. U.S. farm leaders believe a new round of negotiations could be launched at that meeting.
The groups --- ranging from the American Farm Bureau Federation to Sunkist Growers to the Grocery Manufacturers of America --- noted U.S. agriculture depends heavily on access to foreign markets. "With 96% of the world's consumers residing outside U.S. borders, additional growth opportunities lie abroad," the letter said.
U.S. farm groups will need to focus its lobbying efforts on two key farm-state lawmakers, including Reps. Larry Combest, Rep.-Texas, and Charles Stenholm, Dem.-Texas. Combest, who is chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, pulled his support for the measure earlier this year after the Bush administration announced it would report $10.4 billion in U.S. farm supports as trade-distorting payments.
"USDA's decision to classify the 1998 payments as trade distorting is
equivalent to a unilateral disarmament that cedes ground and gains nothing in
return," he said in letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. But U.S.
Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said . . . winning trade promotion
authority is critical before the WTO ministerial in Qatar. "The eyes of
the world are on us. We could blow this," he told members of the National
Association of Manufacturers. "We need your support and energy to succeed."
WTO "ISSUES AT HAND" SUMMARY
ASSOCIATED PRESS: The 10-page declaration adopted by ministers at the World Trade Organization meeting agrees to negotiations among the organization's 142 members. It sets a deadline of January 1, 2005 for completing the talks covering the following issues:
Agriculture: Cuts in tariffs, reductions of export subsidies "with a view to phasing out" substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic subsidies.
Services: Increasing access for banking, insurance and other companies and increasing opportunities for people to work in other countries.
Nonagricultural goods: Reducing and eliminating tariffs and other barriers, particularly on products that are important to developing countries.
WTO rules: Subsidies for goods like steel and textiles and when "anti-dumping" duties can be imposed on them, improvements to the system for settling disputes.
Environment: The relationship between WTO rules and international environmental treaties, reducing or eliminating tariffs on environmental goods and services, fisheries subsidies.
Other issues: Include investment, competition policy, transparency in
government procurement and customs procedures, all of which could be subject to
negotiations in two years, if all governments agree.
STRONGLY CONDEMNS WTO DECLARATION
U.S. AND EU IMPOSED A NEW ROUND IN DOHA,
CITIZENS FURTHER PUSHED DOWN THE ROAD
OF CORPORATE NEO-LIBERALISATION
After an outrageous process the United States and the European Union managed to push their interests down the throats of the majority of the WTO members. Instead of showing leadership in constructive cooperation the "big two" just fought their corporate interests through at the expense of the vast majority of the world's population.
The final declaration is extremely unfair and biased against developing countries. This declaration has been drawn up in the most undemocratic manner with devious manipulative tactics that are totally unacceptable in an international organization. The decision taking process turned out to be worse than in Seattle. Hope for reform of the WTO seems non existent at the moment except for a small reference to the dispute settlement mechanism.
Due to a steadily better organized opposition, a large number of southern governments felt backed up and encouraged by a strong international coalition of social movements and resisted the bullying tactics of the "big two." In a successful last attempt India and a number of other countries blocked the launch of negotiations on four important new issues which would have included essentially a revival of the Multilateral agreement on investment.
However any attempt to evaluate and repair the disastrous effects of decisions taken by WTO were effectively blocked by the rich countries. On the contrary negotiations on liberalization of agriculture and services will be accelerated. Governments will remain under strong pressure to further liberalize their economies. Farmers around the world will continue to suffer.
Concerning the agenda on agriculture, Via Campesina remains extremely concerned. The negotiations on agriculture still seem to be a fight between the "corporate elephants of the agro-industry" represented by the European Union, the United States and the CAIRN group instead of a negotiation on how to come to fair, equitable trade relations that give protection to domestic food production and consumption and the world's environment.
After the Ministerial Meeting in Qatar Via Campesina is even more that an alternative frame work to deal with food production is urgent. A frame work that will be able to set limits and rules for the WTO and will establish the right of food sovereignty at the international level. Via Campesina together with a other organizations, all members of the Coalition "Our world is not for Sale" have launched their proposals in "Priority to peoples food sovereignty --- WTO out of agriculture."
Our Coalition "Our world is not for sale" will come together the beginning of December 2001 with representatives of all networks involved in order to define their common position on the Doha declaration. They will launch, after their initial phase in the run up to Doha, a broad Campaign against the upcoming New Round and put all efforts forward to block these negotiations in order to force the European Union, the United States and other industrialized countries to take into full account the interests of the vast majority of the world population. Via Campesina wants to be one of the main mobilizing forces of this coalition.
MAINTAINING A HOLIDAY TRADITION:
THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER
THANKSGIVING DAY MEAL
No other time of the year do we respect tradition as we do during each holiday season and THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER is no exception to that rule.
Thursday many of us will once again be sitting down with our families to celebrate Thanksgiving. We will all be looking forward with mouth-watering anticipation to the bounty that will be spread before us.
But for most Americans the turkey is not likely to be from Uncle Ray's farm, nor the potatoes from Aunt Jean's recipe, not the dressing from Grandma's stove, nor the biscuits from Mom's oven, nor the dessert from Aunt Belle's kitchen.
No, more than likely for most Americans the turkey might well be from Butterball or maybe a ham from Cook Family Foods; someone might suggest that a few Singleton Butterfly Shrimp be put on the "BarB" before dinner, the grill already hot from the Just Light Charcoal Briquets underneath; we might also want some Jack Rabbit Long Grain Rice; maybe potatoes from Golden Valley Foods, and someone might note that the flour in the bread is from Peavey Grain.
We also might want to enjoy some of our favorite private label pasta from the local supermarket; tomatoes from Hunt's; perhaps a touch of Oriental from La Choy; the pudding from Swiss Miss, or the frozen dairy dessert from Healthy Choice, topped perhaps with some Reddi Whip; the salad oil from Wesson; the cheese from Miss Wisconsin; the canned beans from Van Camps; some spices from Armour Dairy, and the tomato or apple juice cocktail from Mott's.
While watching the traditional Thanksgiving Day football game on television we might want to dip into the popcorn bowl for some Orville Redenbacher's served in buttery Fleischmanns Margarine, putting another handful on one of our Budget Buy paper plates for future munching, or we might also want to "partake" of the barley malt in a bottle of Carlsberg Beer as we watch the game.
All in all it will be quite a day and quite a meal, a testimonial to the cornucopia of food that most of us now living in America have come to take for granted in the land of Freedom of Choice and the Home of the Private Entrepreneur.
But wait one minute here, let's take a little closer look at that meal. True, we saw a wide range of different products that composed this Thanksgiving Day feast we so heartily consumed.
Yet, the reality of the matter is that all that food, all those products and all those brands came in fact from just ONE company --- ConAgra Inc. --- the nation's second largest food processor and manufacturer, where six cents out of every American food dollar is today spent.
Here is a company that operates "across the food chain" --- from seedling to supermarket --- in many different products where it totally dominates the market shares and where it reaps enormous profits at the expense of family farmers, workers and consumers.
In its 2000 Annual Report the company explains that each of the company's 27 branded foods has annual retail sales exceeding $100 million and its Food Service branch is the nation's largest provider of products for restaurants, fast-food outlets and other food service customers.
So, let's not forget that when we sit down to our modern day Thanksgiving Day dinners we are making an increasingly small handful of American and international corporate agribusinessmen exceedingly wealthy.
We can be forgiven, therefore, if we begin our holiday meal with the prayer: "Bless us O Corporate America that these thy `Healthy Choice' foods which we are about to receive, through the bounty of corporate agribusiness and ConAgra Inc. Amen."
bon appetit !!!
RENEWED APPEAL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS
With each issue of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER I am pleased to note the
additional readers that have been added to the circulation list of the already over 1000
readers throughout the world who are presently receiving it on a regular basis. At the
same time, however, it is disappointing to also see that the same mere handful of
generous financial contributors, whose help I sincerly appreciate, care to assist in
sustaining the work of the publication.
While THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER is a subscription free e-mail newsletter it
always welcomes contributions of any amount in the hope that readers still value THE
AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER to such the extent that they will willingly and generously
financially support its continued circulation as it enters its third year. Checks should be
made out to:
A.V. Krebs and sent to P.O. Box 2201, Everett, Washington 98203-0201
RECOMMENDED WEB SITE:
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Readers of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER are reminded that past issues of the
newsletter can be found at the Corporate Agribusiness Research Projectís web site on
the Internet. The CARP web site features: THE AGBIZ TILLER, THE
AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER and "Between the Furrows."
THE AGBIZ TILLER, the progeny of the one-time printed newsletter, now becomes
on-line news feature of the Project. In-depth essays dealing with corporate agribusiness
activities are posted here periodically.
In "Between the Furrows," besides a modern search engine, there is a wide
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director's "Publication Background," the viewer will find a helpful "Fact Miners" page
which is an effort to assist the reader in the necessary art of researching corporations; a
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