THE
AGRIBUSINESS
EXAMINER
January 13, 2003, Issue #215
Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness
From a Public Interest Perspective

EDITOR\PUBLISHER; A.V. Krebs
E-MAIL: avkrebs@earthlink.net
WEB SITE: http://www.ea1.com/CARP/
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CONTRIBUTION$ WELCOME!!!
 

AMERICA'S CORPORATE PLUTOCRACY
ONLY A FEW HANDSHAKES AWAY

BERNIE DEGROAT, NEWS SERVICE: Much like the Hollywood association
game "Six Degrees of KevinBacon," corporate America is an interlocking network
of company boarddirectorships separated by just a few handshakes, say researchers
at the Business School.

In a study of the connectedness of nearly 7,700 board directors at
Fortune 1,000 companies, the researchers found that each director, on
average, can reach every other director through 4.6 intermediaries
and that each board can contact every other board in 3.7 steps.

"What our findings reveal is that at the apex of the corporate
economy is a group of highly influential people who often either know
each other or have acquaintances in common," says Gerald F. Davis,
professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at
the Business School. "The Bush Cabinet, whose members have served on
the boards of leading corporations --- including Alcoa, Halliburton
and Reader's Digest --- is a good example of how these powerful
connections can work in high places."

(In their study forthcoming in the journal Strategic Organization,
Davis and Business School colleagues Wayne E. Baker and Mina Yoo
found that the "neighborhood" of the corporate elite is an
interlocking network created when boards are connected to each other
by sharing one or more directors, who, in turn, are connected to
other directors by serving on one or more boards together.

Board members may have face-to-face contact several times a year, or
even monthly, contributing to an intricate, ever-growing grapevine in
which information and innovation travel rapidly, the researchers say.

"Small worldliness," according to the study, is not limited to just
the business sector, however. It is part and parcel of all networks,
whether the members belong to an alumni association, civic
organization or country club.

However, the researchers say, the influence wielded by corporate
boards is far greater and more likely to impact high-level policies,
such as corporate governance, financial; disclosure, and shareholder
rights.

"With a small-world elite running corporate America, new ideas,
norms and even rumors spread as quickly as stomach flu in a day care
center," Davis says. "The upside is that positive actions benefiting
shareholders, such as corporate board reform and the discontinuation
of directors' pensions and options, can be communicated from one
board to another in a short period of time. The downside is that
negative actions, such as the poison-pill, a takeover defense that
shareholders generally hate, also can prove to be highly contagious
among boards.

"In all, we cannot argue that the small-world configuration of
corporate boards and directors is sufficient to forge a common world
view among directors or to generate substantial homogeneity in
corporate practice, but it is highly conducive to the spread of
information and ideas--whether or not these are acted on in practice."

From an article in the December 16,2002 issue of the University
Record, published at the University of Michigan. The study referred
to was done at the University of Michigan Business School.
 

ROBBER BARONS' FORTUNES PERSIST,
INHERITED STATUS MAKING A COMEBACK

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: America, we all know, is the
land of opportunity. Your success in life depends on your ability and drive,
not on who your father was.

 Just ask the Bush brothers. Talk to Elizabeth Cheney, who holds a specially
 created State Department job, or her husband, chief counsel of the Office
 of Management and Budget. Interview Eugene Scalia, the top lawyer at the
 Labor Department, and Janet Rehnquist, inspector general at the Department
 of Health and Human Services. And don't forget to check in with William
 Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and the conservative commentator
 John Podhoretz.

 What's interesting is how little comment, let alone criticism, this roll
 call has occasioned. It might be just another case of kid-gloves treatment
 by the media, but I think it's a symptom of a broader phenomenon: inherited
 status is making a comeback.

 It has always been good to have a rich or powerful father. Last week my
 Princeton colleague Alan Krueger wrote a column for The Times surveying
 statistical studies that debunk the mythology of American social mobility.
 "If the United States stands out in comparison with other countries," he
 wrote, "it is in having a more static distribution of income across
 generations with fewer opportunities for advancement." And Kevin Phillips,
 in his book Wealth and Democracy, shows that robber-baron fortunes have
 been far more persistent than legend would have it.

 But the past is only prologue. According to one study cited by Mr. Krueger,
 the heritability of status has been increasing in recent decades. And
 that's just the beginning. Underlying economic, social and political trends
 will give the children of today's wealthy a huge advantage over those who
 chose the wrong parents.

 For one thing, there's more privilege to pass on. Thirty years ago the
 C.E.O. of a major company was a bureaucrat --- well paid, but not truly
 wealthy. He couldn't give either his position or a large fortune to his
 heirs. Today's imperial C.E.O.'s, by contrast, will leave vast estates
 behind --- and they are often able to give their children lucrative jobs,
 too. More broadly, the spectacular increase in American inequality has made
 the gap between the rich and the middle class wider, and hence more
 difficult to cross, than it was in the past.

 Meanwhile, one key doorway to upward mobility a good education system,
 available to all --- has been closing. More and more, ambitious parents feel
 that a public school education is a dead end. It's telling that Jack
 Grubman, the former Salomon Smith Barney analyst, apparently sold his soul
 not for personal wealth but for two places in the right nursery school.
 Alas, most American souls aren't worth enough to get the kids into the 92nd
 Street Y.

 Also, the heritability of status will be mightily reinforced by the repeal
 of the estate tax --- a prime example of the odd way in which public policy
 and public opinion have shifted in favor of measures that benefit the
 wealthy, even as our society becomes increasingly class-ridden.

 It wasn't always thus. The influential dynasties of the 20th century, like
 the Kennedys, the Rockefellers and, yes, the Sulzbergers, faced a public
 suspicious of inherited position; they overcame that suspicion by
 demonstrating a strong sense of noblesse oblige, justifying their existence
 by standing for high principles. Indeed, the Kennedy legend has a whiff of
 Bonnie Prince Charlie about it; the rightful heirs were also perceived as
 defenders of the downtrodden against the powerful.

 But today's heirs feel no need to demonstrate concern for those less
 fortunate. On the contrary, they are often avid defenders of the powerful
 against the downtrodden. Mr. Scalia's principal personal claim to fame is
 his crusade against regulations that protect workers from ergonomic
 hazards, while Ms. Rehnquist has attracted controversy because of her
 efforts to weaken the punishment of health-care companies found to have
 committed fraud.

 The official ideology of America's elite remains one of meritocracy, just
 as our political leadership pretends to be populist. But that won't last.
 Soon enough, our society will rediscover the importance of good breeding,
 and the vulgarity of talented upstarts.

 For years, opinion leaders have told us that it's all about family values.
 And it is --- but it will take a while before most people realize that they
 meant the value of coming from the right family.
 

WHY DON'T MORE AMERICANS
WANT TO DISTRIBUTE MORE WEALTH
DOWN TO PEOPLE LIKE THEMSELVES ???

DAVID BROOKS, NEW YORK TIMES: Why don't people vote their own
self-interest? Every few years the Republicans propose a tax cut, and every
few years the Democrats pull out their income distribution charts to show that
much of the benefits of the Republican plan go to the richest one percent of
 Americans or thereabouts. And yet every few years a Republican plan wends
 its way through the legislative process and, with some trims and
 amendments, passes.

 The Democrats couldn't even persuade people to oppose the repeal of the
 estate tax, which is explicitly for the mega-upper class. Al Gore, who ran
 a populist campaign, couldn't even win the votes of white males who didn't
 go to college, whose incomes have stagnated over the past decades and who
 were the explicit targets of his campaign. Why don't more Americans want to
 distribute more wealth down to people like themselves?

 Well, as the academics would say, it's overdetermined. There are several
 reasons.

 People vote their aspirations.

 The most telling polling result from the 2000 election was from a Time
 Magazine survey that asked people if they are in the top one percent of
 earners. Nineteen percent of Americans say they are in the richest one
 percent and a further 20% expect to be someday. So right away you
 have 39% of Americans who thought that when Mr. Gore savaged a plan
 that favored the top one percent, he was taking a direct shot at them.

 It's not hard to see why they think this way. Americans live in a culture
 of abundance. They have always had a sense that great opportunities lie
 just over the horizon, in the next valley, with the next job or the next
 big thing. None of us is really poor; we're just pre-rich.

 Americans read magazines for people more affluent than they are (W, Cigar
 Aficionado, The New Yorker, Robb Report, Town and Country) because they
 think that someday they could be that guy with the tastefully appointed
 horse farm. Democratic politicians proposing to take from the rich are just
 bashing the dreams of our imminent selves.

 Income resentment is not a strong emotion in much of America.

 If you earn $125,000 a year and live in Manhattan, certainly, you are
 surrounded by things you cannot afford. You have to walk by those buildings
 on Central Park West with the 2,500-square-foot apartments that are empty
 three-quarters of the year because their evil owners are mostly living at
 their other houses in L.A.

 But if you are a middle-class person in most of America, you are not
 brought into incessant contact with things you can't afford. There aren't
 Lexus dealerships on every corner. There are no snooty restaurants with
 water sommeliers to help you sort though the bottled eau selections. You
 can afford most of the things at Wal-Mart or Kohl's and the occasional meal
 at the Macaroni Grill. Moreover, it would be socially unacceptable for you
 to pull up to church in a Jaguar or to hire a caterer for your dinner party
 anyway. So you are not plagued by a nagging feeling of doing without.

 Many Americans admire the rich.

 They don't see society as a conflict zone between the rich and poor. It's
 taboo to say in a democratic culture, but do you think a nation that
 watches Katie Couric in the morning, Tom Hanks in the evening and Michael
 Jordan on weekends harbors deep animosity toward the affluent?

 On the contrary. I'm writing this from Nashville, where one of the richest
 families, the Frists, is hugely admired for its entrepreneurial skill and
 community service. People don't want to tax the Frists --- they want to elect
 them to the Senate. And they did.

 Nor are Americans suffering from false consciousness. You go to a town
 where the factories have closed and people who once earned $14 an hour now
 work for $8 an hour. They've taken their hits. But odds are you will find
 their faith in hard work and self-reliance undiminished, and their
 suspicion of Washington unchanged.

 Americans resent social inequality more than income inequality.

 As the sociologist Jennifer Lopez has observed: "Don't be fooled by the
 rocks that I got, I'm just, I'm just Jenny from the block." As long as rich
 people "stay real," in Ms. Lopez's formulation, they are admired.
 Meanwhile, middle-class journalists and academics who seem to look down on
 megachurches, suburbia and hunters are resented. If Americans see the tax
 debate as being waged between the economic elite, led by President Bush,
 and the cultural elite, led by Barbra Streisand, they are going to side
 with Mr. Bush, who could come to any suburban barbershop and fit right in.

 Most Americans do not have Marxian categories in their heads.

 This is the most important reason Americans resist wealth redistribution,
 the reason that subsumes all others. Americans do not see society as a
 layer cake, with the rich on top, the middle class beneath them and the
 working class and underclass at the bottom. They see society as a high
 school cafeteria, with their community at one table and other communities
 at other tables. They are pretty sure that their community is the nicest,
 and filled with the best people, and they have a vague pity for all those
 poor souls who live in New York City or California and have a lot of money
 but no true neighbors and no free time.

 All of this adds up to a terrain incredibly inhospitable to class-based
 politics. Every few years a group of millionaire Democratic presidential
 aspirants pretends to be the people's warriors against the overclass. They
 look inauthentic, combative rather than unifying. Worst of all, their basic
 message is not optimistic.

 They haven't learned what Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt and even Bill
 Clinton knew: that you can run against rich people, but only those who have
 betrayed the ideal of fair competition. You have to be more hopeful and
 growth-oriented than your opponent, and you cannot imply that we are a
 nation tragically and permanently divided by income. In the gospel of
 America, there are no permanent conflicts.

 David Brooks, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, is author of Bobos
 in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There.
 

CORPORATE FOCUS:
CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS
OR
CORPORATE BLACK CAUCUS ???

RUSSELL MOKHIBER AND ROBERT WEISSMAN, CORPORATE FOCUS:
The Congressional Black Caucus says that it has been "the conscience of
the Congress since 1969."

If that is in fact the case, why then is the caucus not taking a
leadership role on major progressive issues of the day?

Because like the vast majority of members of Congress, the caucus has
been bought off by the corporate commercial interests?

Why isn't the caucus taking a leadership role on moving the country
toward a solar economy?

Could it be because oil and auto companies like BP Amoco, Chevron, Exxon
Mobil, Shell Oil, Texaco, General Motors, Ford, Nissan, and Daimler
Chrysler give big bucks to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation?

Why isn't the black caucus speaking out against the tobacco, junk food
and alcohol companies that prey on the nation's young and old alike?

Could it be because Anheuser Busch, Heineken USA, Miller Brewing
Company, PepsiCo, Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, and Coca-Cola give big
dollars to the foundation -- and Ms. Tina Walls of the Miller Brewing
Company sits on the board of the foundation?

We wondered why the caucus has been silent on these issues, but never
really looked into it, until earlier this week, when the following note
came to our attention:

"The Congressional Black Caucus and Heineken USA hold a news conference
to announce the creation of the Louis Stokes Health Policy Fellows
Program to address issues contributing to the consistent gap in health
status between people of color and the majority population. Call Ruthie
Jones (212) 686 5300."

So, we called Ruthie Jones, who is a spokesperson for Heineken USA. She
is friendly and talkative.

It's a $250,000 grant over five years, she says.

We wanted to know how it could be that Heineken, a major alcohol
company, was sponsoring a health fellowship.

Isn't alcoholism a major cause of disease in the African American community?

She becomes less friendly and less talkative.

I'll have someone get back to you, she says.

Soon thereafter, we got a call from Aranthan Jones, who works for
Congresswoman Donna Christian-Christensen, Dem.-Vermont, who spearheaded
the Heineken health fellowship.

"The CBC, with Heineken's help, is sounding the alarm and aggressively
pursuing proactive solutions to address the healthcare crisis that
exists in America today," the Congresswoman said in the press release.

So we asked Jones, will the Heineken fellows look at the possibility
pursuing federal policies to curb alcohol use in the black community?

Don't know, he says.

But listen --- Heineken is a good corporate citizen, he says.

They have built health clinics throughout Africa next to their beer
plants, to take care of the people there.

But why was nothing said in the Heineken/CBC press release about the
ravages of alcoholism?

No answer to that. But listen, he says --- Heineken has great market
penetration in our communities. We can't bring back prohibition, he says.

Mr. Jones sees nothing wrong the caucus taking big money from Heineken USA.

That's the way of the world these days, he says.

We then ring up Reverend Jesse Brown.

Reverend Brown runs the National Association of African Americans for
Positive Imagery in Philadelphia
http://www.naaapi.org

He has been battling tobacco and alcohol industry in the black community
for 12 years.

"It appears that the alcohol industry has taken a page from the playbook
of the tobacco industry and is attempting to buy the silence of black
legislators," Reverend Brown says. "Black legislators were deathly quiet
on the impact of tobacco on the black community. Now, it appears that
the alcohol industry wants these black legislators to remain deaf, dumb
and blind about the toll that alcohol takes on the black community. It
also appears that the industry's agenda on health is to deliberately
downplay the health effects caused by alcoholism that is having an
extreme effect in the black community --- cirrhosis of the liver and the
need for liver transplants in the black community, pancreatic and
esophageal cancers created by the use of alcohol."

"We are disproportionately burdened with the effects of alcohol," he
says. "It shows up in other ways too. Relationships between men and
women, spousal abuse issues. Many of the crime issues are exacerbated by alcohol."

Over the years, Reverend Brown has attended the Congressional Black
Caucus Foundation events in Washington, D.C.

Over the years, to no avail, he has implored the caucus not to have
tobacco and alcohol ads at their events.

"We have asked them to take a much more active stand on the issue of
targeting of black youth by the alcohol and tobacco companies," he says.

To no avail.

Because of a strong public health movement, tobacco ads are coming down
off of billboards.

But Reverend Brown says that in his community, they are being replaced
by ads for alcohol.

Reverend Brown has been fighting for years against the alcohol industry,
especially against the high octane content of malt liquors.

He's gotten only the silent treatment from the Corporate Black Caucus.

Time for a revolt.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor,
http://www.multinationalmonitor.org
They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the
Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press; http://www.corporatepredators.org
 

CBS ATTACKED FOR NEW "REALITY" SERIES,
SEEN AS INSULTING DIGNITY OF RURAL POOR

 ALESSANDRA STANLEY, NEW YORK TIMES: For a while, it seemed as
 if the sole virtue of reality shows like  "Survivor," "The Bachelorette," "Joe
 Millionaire" or "Extreme Makeover" was fairness --- no participant, regardless
 of race, creed or gender, is spared humiliation in the pursuit of entertainment.

 Last week, however, a class war broke out over CBS's plan to create a
 reality comedy, "The Real Beverly Hillbillies," based on the 1960's CBS
 comedy, but with actual yokels. CBS producers have been scouring poor,
 rural patches of the country for folks who might marvel over things like
 indoor plumbing and the "fancy eating table" in the billiards room.

 The Center for Rural Strategies, a nonprofit organization based in
 Whitesburg, Kentucky., took out large ads in The New York Times and other
 major newspapers in protest.

 "A lot of rural families are hardscrabble," said Dee Davis, the president
 of Rural Strategies, in an interview, "it won't be hard for CBS to find one
 willing to trade their dignity for hundreds of thousands of dollars and a
 chance to live as wealthy people. But singling out a family because they
 are poor and inexperienced just to make them the butt of a national joke is
 reprehensible."

 Mr. Davis, a Kentucky native and a former documentary filmmaker, is
 eloquent, but it is not clear why he is so convinced that the show would
 cast rural people in a bad light. It is hard to believe that any family, no
 matter how unwashed, would come off worse than the beau monde of Beverly
 Hills. Consider Winona Rider.

 CBS executives, however, are sounding defensive. "We have not committed to
 the show --- it depends on finding the right family," said Chris Ender, a
 spokesman for CBS Entertainment. "We are mindful of their concerns, but we
 hope they reserve judgment until a program exists. It is not our intention
 to humiliate anyone."

 That, of course, is silly --- humiliation is the point of these reality
 shows. But the people who should be taking out ads and organizing boycotts
 are Tori Spelling, Wolfgang Puck and Ms. Ryder.

 Yet while CBS is under attack for planning such a show, Fox, the network
 that is constantly topping its own Olympian record for shamelessness
 ("Temptation Island" and "American Idol"), is, for now at least, in the
 clear and enjoying the huge ratings of "Joe Millionaire," a subversive
 refinement of "The Bachelor."

 It could be that Fox is more battle-scarred. The network was heavily
 criticized three years ago when it turned out that Rick Rockwell, the
 bridegroom on "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire," was neither wealthy nor
 eligible. In fact, he was the subject of two restraining orders from women
 he had dated.

 "Joe Millionaire" turns such flaws into a virtue. This time, the women are
 competing over a 6-foot-4 bachelor they believe to be a millionaire, but
 who is, in fact, a construction worker. (Turns out he is also an underwear
 model --- but close enough.)

 The rural community did not complain when Fox followed the
 CBS announcement with talk of its own version of a 1960's comedy series.
 Fox is developing a  "Green Acres" reality show, with an affluent family or,
 better yet, a celebrity, willing to trade the stores for the chores, plunked
 down in a rural wasteland.

 Perhaps CBS is held to a higher standard than younger networks. "When I was
 growing up, CBS was the gold standard, the network of Edward R. Murrow and
 60 Minutes," Mr. Davis said sorrowfully. "I cannot believe that Viacom and
 the network that broadcast `Harvest of Shame' are going to make `The Real
 Beverly Hillbillies.' "

 Or it could just be that Fox is more adroit at picking contestants who have
 no lobbying group. There is no American Association for the Advancement of
 Ditsy Gold Diggers.

 Mr. Davis vowed to continue his fight. He has already won one round, simply
 by getting his organization and his cause, into the media with ads that do
 not mince words: "CBS C.E.O. Les Moonves may fly over rural America on his
 corporate jet but that does not give him the right to look down on the real
 hard-working people who live there."

 He drew attention by expressing the kind of outrage that most people have
 moved beyond. Audiences and participants seem to have grown inured to the
 degrading aspects of most reality shows. Network executives have grown
 accustomed to the financial rewards of coaxing seemingly normal people to
 make fools of themselves for cash and a moment of fame.

 MR. DAVIS may not change CBS programming. But his campaign may, for a
 second, at least, stir forgotten embers of conscience.

 "Obscene and ultimately terrifying," is how William Agee disparaged his and
 Walker Evans' assignment to study the lives of Depression-era Appalachian
 tenant farmers. Agee, then in his late 20's, began his classic book, Let
 Us Now Praise Famous Men, by confiding his fear of "parading the
 nakedness, disadvantage and humiliation of these lives," in the name of
 what he sardonically called "honest journalism."

 Mr. Ender expressed less self-doubt. "These fish-out-of-water stories shed
 light on the absurdity of urban life," he said. "They wind up validating
 country and rural values."
 

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
RAPIDLY BEING INFILTRATED
BY CORPORATE AGRIBUSINESS FOOD COMPANIES

SARAH BOSELEY, HEALTH EDITOR, THE GUARDIAN: The food
industry has infiltrated the World Health Organization, just as the
tobacco industry did, and succeeded in exerting "undue influence" over
policies intended to safeguard public health by limiting the amount of fat,
sugar and salt we consume, according to a confidential report obtained by
the Guardian.

The report, by an independent consultant to the WHO, finds that:

*  food companies attempted to place scientists favourable to their views on
WHO and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) committees

*  they financially supported non-governmental organizations which were
invited to formal discussions on key issues with the UN agencies

*  they financed research and policy groups that supported their views

*  they financed individuals who would promote "anti-regulation ideology" to
the public, for instance in newspaper articles.

"The easy movement of experts --- toxicologists in particular --- between
private firms, universities, tobacco and food industries and international
agencies creates the conditions for conflict of interest," says the report
by Norbert Hirschhorn, a Connecticut-based public health academic who
searched archives set up during litigation in the U.S. for references to food
companies owned or linked to the tobacco industry.

He finds that there is reasonable suspicion that undue influence was exerted
"on specific WHO/FAO food policies dealing with dietary guidelines,
pesticide use, additives, trans-fatty acids and sugar.

"The food industry is considerably engaged in genetically modified foods and
the tobacco industry has studied the matter closely with respect to its
product; there is evidence the tobacco industry planned also to influence
the debate over biotechnology."

The WHO and FAO need the scientific input of the food industry, says the
report, but that input must be transparent and subject to open debate.

"One industry-led organisation, International Life Sciences Institute
(ILSI), has positioned its experts and expertise across the whole spectrum
of food and tobacco policies: at conferences, on FAO/WHO food policy
committees and within WHO, and with monographs, journals and technical
briefs."

Some of the strongest criticism in the report is levelled against the ILSI,
founded in Washington in 1978 by the Heinz Foundation, Coca-Cola,
Pepsi-Cola, General Foods, Kraft (owned by Philip Morris) and Procter &
Gamble. Until 1991 it was led by Alex Malaspina, vice-president of
Coca-Cola.

Dr Malaspina established ILSI as a non-governmental organization "in
official relations" with the WHO and secured it "specialised consultative
status" with the FAO.

Eileen Kennedy, global executive director of ILSI, said that the funding of
its regional groups came exclusively from industry, while the central body
received money from the branches, from government and from an endowment
set up by Dr Malaspina. Nonetheless, she said, ILSI regarded itself as an
independent body.
 

WAL-MART TO OFFER BASIC
FINANCIAL SERVICES TO CUSTOMERS

NEIL BUCKLEY: Wal-Mart is introducing basic financial services for U.S customers, using the same low-margin strategy that has turned it into the world's biggest retailer.

The entry of the discount superstore giant into financial services has always been feared by financial competitors worried that it could undercut their margins while facing a lighter regulatory burden.

The retailer's move could provide stiff competition to rivals including banks, Western Union, and the U.S. Postal Service, which handled 220 million money order transactions in 2000, according to the Nilson Report, a credit card research group.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, has twice tried to buy banks in the past three years but was thwarted by changes in state and federal legislation.

An attempt last year to offer banking services in up to 100 new stores in partnership with a U.S. subsidiary of Canada's Toronto Dominion Bank ran into regulatory problems.

But Wal-Mart --- which rents out space to local banks in many stores --- says there are services such as cheque cashing, wire transfers and money orders that it can offer without owning abank.  All three have been introduced into at least some stores in recent months, and are now being expanded across the U.S.

Analysts see the move as a possible first step in a broader push into financial products.

"I think financial services is an opportunity," Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's chief executive, said. "I'd like to do it more along the Wal-Mart way than other people's.

"Rather than pricing off the market and [saying] if the market's at a 70% margin, we could be at 50% and make a lot of money and still be cheaper, I'd rather say, what is a fair return on doing that?"

Wal-Mart hired Jane Thompson, a former executive with McKinsey, Procter & Gamble and Sears, Roebuck eight months ago to head its financial services efforts. She presented plans to Wal-Mart's board last month.

Ms Thompson says Wal-Mart will offer payroll cheque cashing at a flat $3 charge up to a certain value, compared with rivals' three to six percent commission rates. It will charge 46 cents for money orders, against an average $1 cost at the post office.

Both services are important to Wal-Mart customers, more than 20% of whom have no bank account, Mr Scott says.

Wire transfers are widely used by its many customers who have relatives outside the U.S. The retailer will also introduce discounts on the services to its one million U.S. staff.

Ms Thompson plans to introduce improvements to Wal-Mart-branded credit cards, a retail card with GE and a MasterCard with JP Morgan Chase, to attract more customers. But she says Wal-Mart has no plans to run and manage its own card.
 

TYSON EXEC CLAIMS IBP ACQUISITION
HAS CHANGED COMPANY FOR BETTER,
WILL SEEK TO REPLACE BUTCHERS, MEAT CUTTERS

ALICIA STOGNER, LITTLE ROCK DAILY NEWS: Speaking at the Little Rock Rotary Club on January 7, Greg Lee, co-chief operating officer at Tyson Foods Inc. in Springdale, told members how his company has changed since it acquired IBP Inc. last year.

Before acquiring IBP in a $4.6 billion merger, Tyson generated about $8 billion in sales annually. Today, its sales are near $24 billion. It is also the largest processor of chicken in the world, Lee said. It now employs more than 120,000 people in 32 states and 21 countries, including 24,000 in Arkansas.

"I hope you've grown more confident in our choice to make this acquisition,," Lee said. "Size is nice, but the real strength offers us an opportunity to build the brand."

As for the future, Tyson will focus its efforts on being the world's first choice for all protein, although it already holds 23% of the market share in the chicken industry, he said. Lee also said Tyson hopes to lead the prepackaged meat industry, replacing butchers and meat cutters as more stores go to a "supera" format and remain open 24 hours a day.

Tyson also expects to bring home $35 billion to $45 billion in sales in the next five to ten years based on growth in the international market. The meat processing giant will accompany many of its customers as they move abroad, he said.

Lee also defended his company's use of antibiotics to treat chickens, saying only sick birds are given the medicine. Even then, "that's only about two percent of Tyson's poultry population," said Lee, who believes the issue has been blown out of proportion.

                                        EDITOR'S NOTE

Preparing to post this year-end 215th edition of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER it is
gratifying to know that over 1100 people throughout the world are currently receiving it on a
regular basis and judging from comments received feel it is a valuable source of information.
However, it is also quite troubling to realize that less than 4.5% of that readership has ever
seen fit to make any contributions toward its continued existence.

To that small cadre of contributors this editor can only express his profound gratitude and
appreciation for I realize that in some cases even a small donation was a sacrifice for them.

From the outset it was never the purpose of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER to
charge a subscription fee for the original intention of this newsletter was to get it into as many
hands as possible as a vehicle for monitoring corporate agribusiness from a public interest
perspective, just as was the establishing of a web site
[http://www.ea1.com/CARP/]
to provide facts, background, analysis and educational information on corporate agribusiness.

Thanks to the generosity and creativity of the editor's oldest son David and his business
colleagues at ElectricArrow in Seattle, Washington that sight is being maintained on a virtual
pro bono basis.

Having said all this, may I repeat CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS are always and will
always be most welcomed for editors of such publications as THE AGRIBUSINESS
EXAMINER can not always live on bread and water alone. Such checks made out to A.V.
Krebs can be sent to P.O. Box 2201, Everett, Washington 98203.