October 4, 2002   #195
Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness
From a Public Interest Perspective

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SCOTT KILMAN & PATRICIA CALLAHAN , THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: The crop damage caused by the drought is beginning to force some U.S. food companies to raise prices and others to take the unusual step of importing grain.

Great Harvest Bread Co. franchisees are beginning to raise retail prices of some loaves by as much as ten percent, or about 30 cents. "It's getting hard to find good-quality wheat," said Janet Tatarka, director of franchise services for the Dillon, Montana., chain of 167 bread shops. "And honey prices are ridiculous, too," she adds.

The executives of Heinemann's Bakeries Inc., a closely held Chicago baker, are facing the highest flour costs in the company's 73-year history. The bakery, which uses 4.2 million pounds of flour annually, might have to pay 13 cents a pound once its current supply contract expires in November. The company has been paying 9.3 cents a pound.

If prices don't weaken soon, "we'll maybe pass on some of the cost to consumers, and some we'll eat," said Paul Krug, inventory-control supervisor.

The price of the variety of wheat used to make bread, mostly grown on the Great Plains, has soared 63% so far this year. A drought has helped to cut the production of all types of U.S. wheat this year to the lowest levels since 1972. Droughts in the wheat-growing belts of Canada and Australia also are helping to slash world reserves by a whopping 20% from just two years ago.

The situation grew more severe when the U.S. Agriculture Department Monday cut its August forecast of U.S. wheat production by another four percent to 1.62 billion bushels, which is 17% less than last year's U.S. harvest. The move prompted grain traders to predict that U.S. wheat reserves --- the amount left over before the start of next year's harvest season --- will drop to the lowest level in 24 years.

"The food companies which haven't already locked in a supply of wheat are in for a brawl," said Daniel Basse, president of AgResource Co., a  Chicago commodity advisory firm.

Wheat is the crop hardest hit by the drought, which has persisted for several years in some parts of wheat-growing states such as Kansas, Colorado and Montana. Compounding the problem, the drought invaded other parts of the Midwest a few months ago, reducing the potential size of the corn and soybean crops there.

In another headache for the food industry, grain companies are beginning to detect a potent carcinogen called aflatoxin in the new corn crop. The toxin is excreted by a soil fungus called Aspergillus flavus, which flourishes during hot and dry weather.

The scope of the outbreak, which won't be clear for weeks, will further reduce the amount of good quality grain available to food companies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration bans the use in human food of any corn that contains more than 20 parts per billion of aflatoxin. Many dairy and livestock producers also avoid suspect corn.

The supply of good quality grain is getting so expensive that some U.S. firms are discovering that it is temporarily cheaper to import from across the Atlantic Ocean, a role reversal for the world's biggest crop exporter.

Smithfield Foods Inc., the nation's biggest pork processor, said Monday it is part of a consortium importing 25,000 tons of low-quality wheat from the United Kingdom. The wheat, which is slated to arrive by ship in Wilmington, North Carolina, this month, will mostly be used to fatten livestock.

Many of the nation's largest food companies are temporarily shielded from the drought because they lock in the price at which they buy crops for a year or longer. But many of these contracts will expire by next spring. If the drought hasn't eased by then, and grain prices remain high, then they, too, will see their commodity costs climb significantly.

"We aren't protected forever," said Frank W. Coffey, the chief financial officer of Interstate Bakeries Corp., which has brand names that include Wonder, Hostess and Dolly Madison.


Scott: Read your WSJ article on grain prices going up. So the Chicago baker is paying the highest price for flour in 73 years --- the price has increased from 9.3 cents per pound to 13 cents per pound --- 3.7 cents. Do you think there's more than a pound of flour in a one pound loaf of bread? In other words, a one pound loaf of bread only needs to go up 3.7 cents to cover the increased cost. Would the consumer even notice? Especially on one of the designer loaves at $2 or more a loaf. Why didn't you bother to include this reasoning? The price of a loaf of bread has obviously inflated over the years at a much higher rate than wheat. In fact the wheat price has actually gone down over the years when the price of bread doubled.

Similar stories are common about the "poor candy makers"--- Mars, Hershey, Cadsbury, etc.  A candy bar has easily less than five cents worth of sugar in it, yet it costs me 69 to 79 cents in the store. Those poor candy makers!

Did you ever think to mention those "poor farmers" who have been getting closer to bankruptcy every year and their ever declining communities?

--- George Naylor, Churdan, Iowa farmer and board member of the National Family Farm Coaltiion.

Scott: I am a cattle producer.  I raise cows and grow 'stockers' on California rangeland. For the Wall Street Journal, your article on U.S. wheat and grain industry economics fell way short of complete. The institution of highly subsidized grain producers in the U.S and Europe have served to distort not just grain production, but also the livestock industry and now the fuel industry (ethanol).

For livestock, cheap subsidized grain has helped pork and poultry out-compete beef --- cattle being produced substantially on grassland and pork and poultry being produced almost completely on feed grains. The artificially low prices of grain have caused other countries to counter with subsidies of their own, even third-world countries, thus furthering the glut and destroying economically logical food production systems in both developed and third-world nations.

Further, subsidized grains have served to strongly assist in the consolidation of grain and meat industry agribusiness to the point that we in production agriculture now face an oligopsony of mind numbing proportions and near infinite political influence.

You have already heard from those who take issue with [bread] baker's proposals to substantially raise the price of bread based on proportionately insubstantial raises in their wheat-flower input costs.

As a daily reader of WSJ's editorial page for 38 years, I have grown to be highly critical of the hypocrisy and anti-logic found in today's world of corporate and political spin.  I have always relied upon your publication to present objectivity and to cut through hype.  This article did not quite reach that level of traditional reporting.

--- H. Clay Daulton, Madera, California cattle producer

Farmers, Ranchers and Consumers: Scott Kilman and Patricia Callahan need to hear your thoughts on the price of bread as compared to the low price of wheat at the farm gate. Big processors and retailers have the Wall Street Journal's global voice to condition people to accept higher food prices and to provide cover for their corporate wrongdoing.

Who's speaking for the farmer who is receiving the lowest share of the consumer food dollar in history?

Who's speaking for the consumer who is paying record high prices for food while U.S. farms and ranches go out of business?

Who is speaking for the taxpayer who is funding a farm bill that guarantees permanent farm poverty and a growing dependence on imported food?

Who is exposing the legislators that cater to big corporate interests while ignoring the interests of their constituents in supporting farm programs that fail to protect open, competitive markets, and that fail to provide a dependable and safe domestic food supply?

Who is speaking for the foreign farmer whose grain is being stolen by this same Wall Street global food cartel?

Who is speaking for the farms, rural communities, and main streets around the world that are being pitted and leveraged against one another, strip mined, and laid to waste by companies like Cargill, ConAgra, Tyson/IBP, and ADM?

Scott Kilman can be contacted at:
Patricia Callahan can be contacted at:

--- Mike Callicrate, St. Francis, Kansas feedlot owner


PAUL DYKES, BELFAST TELEGRAPH: Farmers staged a "bargain market day" in Belfast [Ireland] recently to show the wide gap between prices they receive to produce food compared with the prices charged by the big retailers.

Ten different items of farm produce were sold to passers-by at "giveaway" prices, with the mark-ups shown for processors and retailers further along the food chain. "We want the public to see the large mark-ups compared with the prices farmers receive," Joe McDonald from the Ulster Farmers Union said.

The protest market day in Castle Place enabled canny shoppers to buy produce such as milk, eggs, bacon, and potatoes at bargain "farmgate" prices." "For example, 1kg of bacon cost on average 83p to produce. Farmers received on average 81p, while the average supermarket price was 9," Mr McDonald said "A medium chicken cost the farmer 49p a kg to produce, yet the average supermarket price was 2.13."

He said farmers were frequently selling commodities at prices that barely covered the cost of production, which was totally unsustainable for farming families. The UFU is campaigning against a rural exodus and says that farmers must get a better deal from the food chain if they are to stay in business.

UFU president John Gilliland said the situation must change. "For the past five years farmers have been earning less than the minimum wage and working on average of almost 70 hours a week." The very poor prices we are receiving from the food chain is a major factor in the collapse in farm incomes.

"Consumers will be able to see clearly the price difference between food production costs, the farm gate price, and what the consumer actually pays for a range of local produce". The City Centre event is part of the UFU's CARE campaign, a Campaign Against a Rural Exodus.


STEVE LAW, SALEM STATESMAN JOURNAL: Global food manufacturers, chemical and biotechnology companies have poured in $4.6 million to defeat an Oregon ballot measure requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods.

Finance reports submitted Monday show the Measure 27 campaign could set a new record for initiative spending in Oregon, with nearly all the money coming from outside the state to oppose the measure.

Measure 27 would be the nation's first law requiring such labels, and the list of opponents reads like a who's who of the American grocery aisle: Nestle, General Mills, Proctor & Gamble, Pepsico, Kellogg and Hershey, to name a few. The biggest contributions, though, came from a group of six chemical and biotechnology companies who collectively gave $3.7 million to Croplife International, based in Brussels, Belgium. Monsanto topped the
list, contributing nearly $1.5 million.

"You're trying to reach more than one million Oregon voters about a measure that on its face may seem to have appeal," said Pat McCormick, spokesman for the opposition campaign. And broadcast ad rates are spiking for ballot measure campaigns, sometimes costing two or three times regular rates, McCormick said.

Katelyn Lord, the co-sponsor of the initiative, said grass-roots backers won't even try to match the corporate money on the other side. "They know they have a great deal of convincing to do,"  she said. "We have some recent polls that show Oregon voters are in favor of labeling by about 60%."

But McCormick's clients hired California-based Winner & Mandabach Campaigns to oversee the opposition effort. That's the group that helped overcome even higher initial support for an expansion of the Oregon bottle bill, a 1996 initiative that was solidly defeated after starting with sky-high poll numbers.

The genetically modified food proposal is one of seven initiatives on the November 5 ballot. Big-money campaigns also are brewing for measures to provide universal health care and bar payment of petitioners by the signature . . . .

EDITOR'S NOTE: Figures provided by Jeff Peckman, Oregon Measure 27 to Label GE Foods reveals the money sources for opponents of Measure 27 in Oregon.

The total contributions submitted by the opposition's C & E's totalled $4,591,164. Out of this, only $5,500 came from Oregon! This comes to one-tenth of one percent of all the money contributed as out-of-state corporations are funding the opponents campaign.. The Oregon Food PAC gave $5000 and the Oregon Food Issues Council gave $500. There were no contributions from individuals --- almost all corporations, with a few organizations thrown in.

Their campaign is being run by Winner & Mandabach, a PR firm out of Southern California, who contract with Conkling, Fiskum, McCormick to handle the local legwork. Californians are running their campaign. One expenditure showed that Oregonians for Food & Shelter (OFS) had been paid $110,000 by the campaign. OFS represents the biotech, timber, and agrochemical industries. The board of directors of OFS includes officers from Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta and Dow Agrosciences.

Although he didn't have to, Pat McCormick (opponent's spokesperson) listed the corporate donations that made up the Crop Life International donation:

Monsanto            $1,480,000
DuPont                   634,286
Syngenta               528,571
Dow Agro Sciences    396,429
BASF                        158,571
Bayer Crop Science:
Bayer                    105,714
Aventis                  396,429

Besides prime time TV ads there are lots of highway signs. As Annie Raye of Oregon Rural Action . . . in Eastern Oregon, notes, "driving through Morrow county on the freeway is like running the gauntlet between Mannix for Governor [GOP] and No on 27 signs."


MAUREEN DOWD, NEW YORK TIMES: The news that cats may soon start
multiplying more easily than they already do was not enthusiastically received in the nation's capital.

The White House and Congress are resistant to cloning.

And, unlike Venice, Athens and New Delhi, this is an alpha town that clearly favors dogs over cats.

Not only in maxims: That dog won't hunt. We don't have a dog in this fight. Attack-dog politics. Run with the big dogs. We're like the dog that caught the bus. I'll fight  `til the last dog dies. If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

And not only in political identity: Congress has blue dog Democrats, following yellow dog Democrats.

But dogs are considered better political assets by many pols --- more photogenic, more manly. Remember when the Clintons dumped Socks on Betty Currie and kept Buddy?

Remember how the Bushes started out with three cats and one dog during the campaign and ended up with two dogs and one cat in the White House? The six-toed Ernie was shipped off to a friend in L.A., deemed "too wild" for the White House, and replaced by the terrier Barney.

Giving Tom Brokaw a tour, the president let it slip that his remaining cat, India, is low pet on the totem pole.

Mr. Bush was recapping what happened on the night of September 11, when Secret Service agents heard of a plane and hustled the president and first lady out of their bedroom and downstairs to the bunker. Guiding Laura, who was not wearing contacts, he said, he was "holding Barney, holding Laura, and Spot chasing behind. Kitty was left to defend herself."

Kitty was left to defend herself against terrorists. Nice. This from a man who told me that his favorite cultural experience had been "Cats."

And, of course, there is that wacky story going around about how John Ashcroft wants calico cats shooed out of his sight because they're signs of the devil.

So you can imagine how alarmed the attorney general must have been when he saw the copycat calico kitten on front pages on [February 15]. It must have evoked Stephen King's "Pet Sematary" --- a nightmarish vision of zombie calico clones creeping, limping and hissing down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Justice Department.

Once we thought the disturbing thing about cloning was that rich egotists like Ron Perelman, Donald Trump and Martha Stewart would Xerox themselves, or that bad guys would pull a "Boys From Brazil" and try to bring back Hitler or make a matched set of Saddams.

But now we are confronted with a creepy specter, Animal Planet meets "The Monkey's Paw": Obsessive pet owners bringing their little darlings back to life, for an endless parade of Frankencats and Dracudogs. As Dr. Arthur Caplan, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist, observed: "The commercial future of cloning is absolutely in animals."

Genetic Savings & Clone, which financed the cloning of the first cat at Texas A&M, was founded by an eccentric Arizona millionaire who wanted to recreate his own dog, Missy. The Web site says its research is "focusing on what we call the `Big 4': dogs, cats, cattle and horses. . .. .  soon we'll add divisions for Wildlife & Endangered Species, and Assistance and Rescue Dogs. Regardless of whether your animal is a champion bull, a rare white tiger, or a beloved mutt, GSC is the best place to store its DNA --- and perhaps clone it in the near future!"

We've always worried that biology was racing ahead too fast, before the ethics were sorted out. But biology is merely catching up to the culture.

We live in a facsimile society, where movies, TV and music are all imitative, where we see the same templates over and over. Studios clone plot lines and unmemorable stars. Plastic surgeons clone women with Barbie breasts and lips. Networks clone chiseled anchors and beautiful blond anchorettes. Politics clones poll-shaped pols.

Every neighborhood mirrors every other, with Starbucks, Borders, the Gap and Victoria's Secret.

Until biologists got into it, life used to be the last bastion of the unique. Perhaps we have become so saturated with remakes, replications, homages and franchises that cloning no longer unnerves us. Maybe now we are more unnerved by the prospect that something in the universe may occur just once.

What if originality happened and we missed it?


BLOOMBERG NEWS: DeCoster Farms, a poultry and egg processor in Iowa, has agreed to pay $1.53 million to settle government allegations that migrant employees were raped or harassed by supervisors. Some of the money will go to women who said they were sexually assaulted or harassed by supervisors at the company's poultry and egg farm in Clarion, Iowa, about 80 miles north of Des Moines. DeCoster Farms did not admit liability, and the supervisors have been fired for unrelated reasons, said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit.


GREGG JONES, LOS ANGELES TIMES: As the clock ticked toward midnight, Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers union, faced a momentous decision.

It was August 31, barely three hours from the time when the California Legislature was required by law to adjourn, and the UFW had a historic offer on the table. After trying for months to block union efforts to rewrite the state's farm labor law, Gov. Gray Davis was offering to sign a bill giving farm workers mandatory mediation, a powerful new weapon when contract negotiations with growers stall --- but only for three years and 35 cases.

Rodriguez agonized over his decision for a minute or two, then spoke into his cellular phone to union advisor Richie Ross at the Capitol: Call the governor's bluff and send him a bill for five years and 75 cases --- a bigger program that stood a better chance of ending decades of poverty and failed contract negotiations for farm workers, UFW leaders reasoned.

"It was a gamble, there's no doubt about that," said Rodriguez, son-in-law of the late UFW founder Cesar Chavez. "Cesar taught us that sometimes you need to take risks to make progress. If he were here, I think he would have done the same thing."

The gamble paid off this week when Davis decided to sign a pair of UFW bills into law --- a decision union officials and their political allies are hailing. The legislation gives the United Farm Workers of America --- and a handful of other unions representing agricultural workers --- the right to request a form of binding arbitration in 75 cases over the next five years.

Growers say the governor's action will cripple California's $27-billion agriculture industry.

In signing the bills, Davis turned aside political pressure from the growers, who have contributed endorsements and hundreds of thousands of dollars to his reelection campaign. Some of those growers reacted to the governor's decision by withdrawing their endorsements this week.

Davis acknowledged growers' concerns Wednesday on San Francisco's KGO-AM (810), noting that "farmers are under a lot of pressure from international competition" and "consolidation in the supermarkets." But, he added, "very few people on the planet Earth live under more difficult circumstances than farm workers, and if this helps allow them to convert some of their elections into contracts, I think it's a good thing."

How the UFW managed to pull off such a triumph after years of declining membership and failed negotiations is a story of legislative skill, political brinkmanship and 1960s-style street tactics, say union leaders, lobbyists, labor experts and other analysts. "This is truly a historic piece of legislation," said Kent Wong, director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UCLA. "It's a major breakthrough for the farm workers."

UFW leaders are quick to share the credit with everyone from Senate leader John Burton (Dem.-San Francisco), who carried the original bill and subsequent versions through the Legislature, to Davis, who ultimately dropped his opposition to the UFW legislation and engaged the union in serious negotiations, union leaders say.

The success is also testament to the growing clout of Latino legislators in Sacramento, according to UFW leaders and others involved in the battle.

Monday's victory was the culmination of three years of efforts to position the UFW as a political force in Sacramento, said Ross, a longtime UFW advisor and political strategist.

As the UFW tells the story, it was an effort that began with the union's successful attempt in 2000 to block and then rewrite a bill making Chavez's birthday a state holiday. And it built on Davis' August 2001 signature on a bill aimed at preventing labor contractors from cheating farm workers out of wages--- the first time in more than 20 years the UFW had gotten a piece of its legislation signed into law, labor experts say.

The seeds of Monday's success were planted in December, as UFW leaders were discussing possible bills for the 2002 Legislature. Ross received a call from Richard Rios, a labor consultant for Assemblyman Herb Wesson (D-Culver City). Rios had worked on a Wesson bill the previous year that gave backstretch workers at racetracks the right of binding arbitration in contract disputes with employers.

Rios "calls me up and says, `Mr. Ross, have you ever thought about binding arbitration' [for farm workers facing stalled negotiations with growers]? As soon as he said it, I knew that was it," Ross said.

In January, the UFW leaders and Ross drafted a bill inspired by Wesson's approach, but the UFW quickly ran into its first roadblock when Wesson ---just taking over as Assembly speaker --- wouldn't agree to carry it, Ross said. With the deadline for filing bills less than a week away, the UFW went to Burton. The Senate leader, a longtime friend of labor, agreed to lead the UFW charge by carrying the bill.

Burton was certain to deliver the Senate, so the UFW turned its attention to the Assembly and lined up 41 coauthors.

"I knew ultimately the governor would go to the speaker [Wesson] and say, `Listen, I need a favor, I'm going to do this bill next year, I need you to put the brakes on it,'" Ross said. "I understood that once they got us to the Assembly, the play would be to slow it down, negotiate, we'll do it next year . . . . I wanted to head that off." The growers quickly found themselves playing catch-up.

"They had 41 coauthors in the Assembly, I think, before we even found out about the bill," said Mike Webb, a lobbyist for the Western Growers Assn., which represents 3,500 California and Arizona farmers.

By June, Ross said, he had secured a crucial commitment from Wesson: When the inevitable call from the governor came, the Assembly speaker would tell Davis he couldn't help him on the UFW bill. If the governor was poised to call the speaker, Wesson beat him to the punch. He says he phoned Davis to tell him he was supporting the UFW legislation.

For the UFW and the governor, the endgame began August 5, when an amended version of the binding arbitration bill won final approval in the Assembly and returned to the Senate. With the Senate poised to take up the revised legislation, senior Davis aides laid out their concerns in a tense meeting with UFW leaders. Davis' Cabinet secretary, Susan Kennedy, accused the union of trying to paint the governor into an election-season corner, Ross said.

Kennedy says she "definitely made it clear that this office wasn't happy about being jammed. I said friends don't jam each other. Why didn't you come to us?" Ross quickly fired back, boasting to reporters that he would organize a political shunning of Davis if he vetoed the UFW legislation and spreading the word that Dolores Huerta, the union's fiery 72-year-old co-founder, was going to fast until Davis signed the bill.

The warning Ross hoped to convey: Davis faced a public relations disaster, especially among Latinos, if he spurned the farm workers.

UFW leaders and Ross now say they knew by August that they would have to compromise to have any chance of getting a bill that Davis would sign. That process began around the third week of August, when a key Davis labor advisor, Marty Morgenstern, began facilitating a series of meetings between UFW leaders and growers.

"My goal always was to get something that works [and] that accommodates both sides" --- not dictate the governor's desires, said Morgenstern, a veteran labor leader and mediator. But the meetings failed to find any common ground between the union and growers.

"We made it clear that binding arbitration in whatever form was unacceptable," Webb said. "We listened to the UFW and what their problems were with the system. The UFW outright rejected everything we had to offer." UFW officials say the growers wanted to do little more than create a blue ribbon panel to study the reasons farm workers were failing to win contracts from growers.

In an effort to break the impasse, Morgenstern sought ideas from Bill Gould, a Stanford University labor law professor and former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board under President Clinton. Gould referred Morgenstern to a book he had written, which discussed various forms of mandatory mediation adopted by several Canadian provinces.

Morgenstern laid out some of the Canadian solutions during his meetings with UFW leaders and growers. Ross took notes. Ross rewrote the UFW bill and began touting the new version as the "Morgenstern proposal"--- a useful exaggeration that suggested Davis' imprimatur, Ross concedes with a chuckle.

Meanwhile, the UFW was turning up the pressure on Davis. On August 15, waving the red-and-black Aztec eagle flags that evoked powerful memories of Chavez, Rodriguez and Huerta began leading a 160-mile march through the Central Valley to Sacramento. "We knew we had a shot now," Ross said. "There was genuine dialogue between us and Marty Morgenstern. We needed to create a focal point."

The march ended August 25 with a raucous Capitol rally that attracted several thousand people.

The following day, a perturbed Davis phoned Rodriguez. I don't know why you're doing this to me, Davis said at one point to Rodriguez, according to UFW officials familiar with the conversation. "Artie was giving it right back to him," said Ross, who was in the room at the time. "On three occasions, I heard Artie say: `Governor, I don't tell Dolores Huerta what she can and can't do.'"

Kennedy, who was in the room with Davis, said the governor told Rodriguez --- a longtime friend--that he was disappointed the UFW hadn't sought his personal input on such an important piece of legislation. In the governor's eyes, the UFW had "waited to the end of the legislative session and jammed him with a PR campaign," Kennedy said.

At the end of the hourlong call, Davis asked Rodriguez to call . Negotiations on the second UFW initiative --- the mandatory mediation idea --- got underway, with Davis aides proposing to limit the remedy to two years and 25 cases. The union asked for seven years, but said the number of cases was negotiable, Ross said. Webb says growers weren't aware these negotiations were taking place.

On Saturday, August 31, the final day of the legislative session, Barry Goode, the governor's legal advisor, made a new offer: 35 cases over three years, but applying only to companies involved in long-running disputes with workers, a proposal that Ross dismissed out of hand.

About 8 p.m., Goode returned with a final offer: Davis would sign a bill that would include all growers, with caps of three years and 35 cases, according to Ross. Ross phoned Rodriguez, who was at the UFW annual convention in Fresno.

"Artie, I don't even know if I can get a bill and do this. I only have three hours and I have to go through both houses of the Legislature," Ross recalls telling Rodriguez. Rodriguez decided to gamble: Five and 75, he told Ross. Shortly afterward, Ross and Goode gathered with legislative staff in a Capitol office to finalize the language of the revised UFW bill.

The moment came to fill in the length of the program and number of cases, and Ross sprang his surprise on the governor's negotiator: "Gentlemen, it's five and 75," Ross announced. Goode walked out of the room. An hour before midnight, the revised bill cleared the Legislature.

Throughout September, Davis kept UFW leaders guessing as to whether they had overreached. Finally, on Monday, with two strokes of the governor's pen, the UFW bill that was finalized in the closing minutes of the Legislature and a companion measure approved a night earlier became the new framework for resolving conflicts between California's largest industry and its workers.

Growers are bitter about the outcome.

"To have this significant a change to the [1975 farm labor law] unilaterally pushed on us in the waning moments of the legislative session, with absolutely no opportunity for agricultural input, is the wrong way to go about making public policy in California," said Webb, the lobbyist for growers.

Morgenstern says he hopes that growers "will recognize the governor took the best option available to him" and will give the program a chance. "It's a modest approach," Morgenstern said, a characterization that growers dispute. "Take a relatively small number of cases and see if we can bring labor and management together where they want to be, which is working together."


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