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PACKER OWNERSHIP OF LIVESTOCK
BAN REINTRODUCED IN U.S. SENATE
CHERYL RAINFORD, AGRICULTURE ONLINE: Senators Chuck Grassley (Rep.-Iowa), Tom Harkin (Dem.-Iowa), Michael Enzi (Rep.-Wyoming), and Tim Johnson (Dem.-South Dakota), re-introduced a bill that would ban packer ownership of livestock. The new version of the bill tightens limits to be consistent with the mandatory price reporting law and other legislation Grassley has introduced in the past.
In comments to reporters Tuesday morning, Grassley noted he had been given a chance to sit on the Senate Agriculture Committee again.
"This I see as an opportunity to go back and work for some things that weren't included in the 2002 Farm Bill. There were too many important things that were left out that can help the family farmer," he said.
Toward that goal, Grassley said he planned to re-introduce his Livestock Packer Ban bill. "I offered this version on the floor during the debate of the farm bill, that removed the word 'control' so that packers couldn't beat us with 'red herring' arguments," he said.
"We've also tightened the limitation in this new version. The old legislation provided an exemption for packers that killed less than two percent of the nation's livestock per commodity. That meant that plants that killed less than 1.9 million pigs or less than 725,000 cattle were excluded."
"We've changed the standard to be consistent with the mandatory price reporting law and other legislation that I've introduced. That means that the new standard will be 125,000 for cattle, 100,000 for pigs.
Members of the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment (CFFE) say them met with Senator Grassley on December 4, in Des Moines, to encourage him to introduce the packer ban in the Senate as soon as possible. At the meeting Senator Grassley committed to do that, the group says.
"We appreciate Senator Grassley and the other co-sponsors taking this action," said Missouri Rural Crisis Center member Harold Beach, CFFE spokesperson. "When we met with Senator Grassley we told him we need to address the problem of corporate ownership of livest ock and excessive control over markets, and this bill begins to do that."
Missouri Rural Crisis Center member Rhonda Perry, spokesperson for the CFFE called passing the ban, "the single most important thing Congress can do this year to help independent livestock producers."
CFFE led a grassroots effort they say was successful in passing the packer
ban through the Senate during the 2002 Farm Bill debate. The ban was removed
from the final version of the bill during the final hours of the Agricultural
Conference Committee discussions. Grossly also said he planned on re-introducing
the limitation on mandatory arbitration, with Senator Feingold.
SEN. TOM HARKIN URGES
AG SECRETARY VENEMAN TO ACT
ON PACKER CONCENTRATION
JULIANNE JOHNSTON, AGONLINE: Senator Tom Harkin (Dem.-Iowa.) sent the following letter to Secretary Veneman [January 14] regarding the administration's stance on fair competition policy. In the letter, he says USDA has not effectively enforced the Packers and Stockyards Act.
January 14, 2003
The Honorable Ann M. Veneman
Secretary of Agriculture
200-A Jamie L. Whitten Building
Washington, D.C. 20250
Dear Secretary Veneman:
Livestock farmers, ranchers and poultry growers continue to call
attention to the
hard realities of agricultural consolidation and vertical integration in the livestock
and poultry sectors. The sweeping changes in these industries in the recent past
have left producers in an untenable position, with a severe decrease of bargaining
power, and the attendant susceptibility to unfair practices and one-sided contracts.
Agricultural markets have changed dramatically over the last fifteen years; forward
contracting and captive supplies have overtaken the competitive bidding process.
USDA faces a choice: continue to tolerate the "take-it-or-leave-it" mentality of large
agribusiness or enforce laws currently on the books to protect open and competitive
As the recently released 2002 Annual Report of the Grain Inspection,
Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) notes:
"Substantial changes are occurring in industry structure and the
behavior of firms
in the livestock and meatpacking industries. Feeding is more concentrated and
feeding operations have gotten larger. At the same time, packing industry
concentration has increased and packing plants have gotten larger. Market
participants at all stages of the live animal and meat production industry are using
more sophisticated vertical coordination and more varied pricing arrangements to
As concentration levels in all agriculture sectors increase,
enforcement of the
Packers and Stockyards Act should have increased as well. But the opposite is true.
During the entire 2002 fiscal year, GIPSA completed only 38 competition
complaints. What is even more discouraging is the fact that these 38 investigations
resulted in merely one letter of notice. This means GIPSA filed no administrative
complaints for competition violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act, assessed
no civil penalties for anticompetitive conduct, and issued no injunctions to restrain
packers from anticompetitive and illegal conduct. Farmers and consumers deserve
The annual report also notes that GIPSA finally plans to implement the
contract library that was mandated in the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act of
1999. Hog farmers have waited well over three years for this program that I have
repeatedly urged the Department to implement. Although I must repeat my
disappointment at the delay of implementation, I am hopeful that the library will
soon be available and provide some much-needed transparency in swine marketing
Finally, as you know, there is strong bipartisan support for
legislation to address the
problems associated with agricultural concentration. For instance, Republican
Senators Grassley and Enzi, as well as Democratic Senator Johnson and I
reintroduced the ban on packer ownership on the first day of the new Congress.
Because the Senate stands ready to act, I urge you and the administration to
provide timely recommendations to Congress on how to address the spiraling
consolidation and vertical integration in livestock and poultry industries. In addition
to your recommendations, I respectfully request the administration's position on
three proposals: (1) prohibiting packers from owning livestock, (2) creating a special
counsel for competition in USDA, (3) protecting livestock and poultry producers
from forced arbitration.
I look forward to working with you in the near future on this most critical issue.
Chairman, U.S. Senate Agriculture Commitee
NFFC SUPPORTS MEXICAN FARMERS FAST,
OPPOSITION TO NAFTA AGRICULTURE CHAPTER
January 8, 2003
To: Vicente Fox Quezada
Constitutional President of the United Mexican States
Dear President Fox,
The National Family Farm Coalition, an organization from the
United States of America representing thousands of family farmers from
across the nation, wishes to express its total support for the campesino
organizations who make up the movement "El Campo No Aguanta M?s."
We express our solidarity with the representatives of the
campesino organizations who are fasting at the "Angel de la Independencia"
in Mexico D.F. We fully support their actions of protest as well as their
participation in dialogue, in efforts to demand support or the rural
sectors and a moratorium on the agriculture chapter of NAFTA.
The NFFC recognizes the willingness of the Mexican Government to
enter into negotiations with the campesino organizations and hopes that by
the date established for an agreement, February 5, concrete mechanisms will
be established that offer relief to Mexican farmers. If these mechanisms
are not established, farmers in Mexico will suffer grave consequences with
the elimination of tariffs on almost all agriculture products.
As farmers and rural residents from the U.S., we too are
experiencing the negative impacts of trade liberalization and the
agriculture crisis that has intensified all over the world. Since NAFTA was
signed in 1993, thousands of family farmers in the U.S. have gone bankrupt,
unable to compete with large transnational agribusiness firms who are
taking over the world agriculture market. This is why we feel it necessary
to express to your government, as we have expressed to the U.S. government,
that national food security, the elimination of poverty and the ability of
farmers to receive fair prices for their products, must be first priority
in any trade agreement, above corporate profits and stockholder gains.
Since the U.S. is now entering into several other trade
negotiations with developing countries such as those of Central and South
America, it is even more urgent that Mexico take immediate steps to
establish policies that protect family farmers in all three trading
countries from corporate dominance. What the Mexican government chooses to
do in the next few months will set a precedent for countries all over the
world to put the well being of their own citizens, especially the most
vulnerable, above any pressure applied by the U.S. to do otherwise.
President, National Family Farm Coalition
CANADIAN NATIONAL FARMERS UNION
SUPPORTS MEXICAN FARMERS DEMANDS
FOR A MORATORIUM ON NAFTA
Mexican farmers are threatening to shut down key U.S.-Mexico border crossings in the first week of January if the government does not take some immediate action to resolve the agricultural crisis. During the past two weeks Mexican farm organizations have organized major demonstrations, closed down main highways, and met with government officials. Farm organizations have consolidated a united front called the "Countryside Can't Take it Any More " and are demanding a moratorium on the further implementation of the agriculture chapter of NAFTA accompanied by an overhaul of agricultural and rural policy in Mexico.
Mexico is bracing itself for yet another phase of liberalization in the countryside. According to the NAFTA, on January 1, 2003, tariffs on all major food products entering Mexico will be eliminated. Corn, beans and powdered milk are exempt until 2008. Since 85% of Mexican trade is with the U.S.A., the new year will bring a flood of highly subsidized food products into Mexico. Elimination of the current 59% tariff on chickens means the displacement of Mexican chicken production. An estimated 70% of people working in the Mexican pork industry will lose their jobs.
"Mexico was once self-sufficient in basic grains but now, largely as result of NAFTA, it imports 95% of soy for consumption, 58% of rice, 49% of wheat, and 40% of its meat" explains Nettie Wiebe, member of the National Farmers Union, who recently traveled to Mexico to meet with Mexican farm leaders.
Wiebe stresses that "the NAFTA has devastated the Mexican countryside: rural impoverishment has reached a crisis point with over 75% of rural Mexicans living in poverty. Everyday, an estimated 600 peasant farmers are forced off their land. Clearly, this next phase of trade liberalization simply cannot be tolerated. "
Wells, President of the NFU, agrees wholeheartedly with the demands being made by the Mexican farm organizations. Wells says that "the NAFTA has not brought wealth and prosperity to either Mexican or Canadian farm families. Both of our governments have systematically dismantled many of the programs and infrastructure that benefited us as farmers. Now, we are all producing for an international market in which prices have fallen dramatically while input costs continue to rise. The major winners in NAFTA are the transnational agribusiness corporations who increased their market power through globalization."
Nettie Wiebe concludes: "The Mexican farm protests are part of a worldwide
opposition to free trade in agriculture. The V’a Campesina, a global peasant and
farm movement, rejects trade liberalization in agriculture, whether in the World
Trade Organization (WTO), the Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA) or the NAFTA.
Instead of free trade of food, which is really `forced trade,' we demand
food sovereignty. That is, that all people have the right to produce their own
food in culturally appropriate."
SACRAMENTO BEE EDITORIAL
CALLS FOR UNFREEZING IMMIGRATION
SACRAMENTO BEE, DECEMBER 28, 2002: Before 9/11, the United States and Mexico seemed to be moving warily toward an agreement to give some form of legal status to many of the Mexican workers already in this country illegally. The terrorist attacks put that idea in the deep freeze.
Despite justified concerns about relaxing immigration controls in the face of the terrorist threat, it's in both countries' interest to normalize an abnormal situation whose worst elements are intolerable in human terms. And the need for a humane solution will soon become more apparent.
On January 1, sharp reductions in cross-border import duties prescribed by the North American Free Trade Agreement will make Mexico's agricultural economy even more vulnerable to competition from high-tech U.S. farmers. Mexico's border taxes on most farm products will drop from fairly high levels to zero, with remaining duties -- on corn, sugar and some dairy products -- set to end by 2008. This is likely to accelerate the exodus of Mexicans from the countryside, and many will head for the U.S. border.
Rolling back NAFTA is no solution. Since enactment of the agreement, Mexico's economy has expanded sharply, the number of Mexican factory jobs has soared, and trade between the two countries has doubled. But the pain on the farm is real, and could be eased with a "guest-worker" program that lets Mexicans work here legally, gives U.S. growers a reliable source of labor, and increases the flow of expatriate workers' savings (already an estimated $10 billion a year) back home.
While a worker program could hardly solve all of Mexico's economic problems, it promises real short-term benefits. Mexicans already here could come out of the shadows. But to be effective, any worker program would have to be backed by strong enforcement and a guarantee of fair wages, benefits and working conditions.
A guest-worker program was tried once, between 1942 and 1964, and there were many abuses of braceros, as the Mexican workers were called. There is still reason to fear that. But if Congress and the Bush administration are serious about a workable solution, such a program might work. And to the extent that it helped strengthen the Mexican economy, it also could ease the pressure to emigrate.
Those who oppose any form of amnesty complain that it would reward lawbreakers. To a point that's true. But the workers are already here and they're needed. Guest work permits could be temporary, subject to renewal and ultimately conversion to permanent U.S. residence for those who still want it. No blanket amnesty, which Congress might be reluctant to approve, would be necessary.
As for the threat to national security posed by immigrants, normalizing
foreign workers' status would serve U.S. interests by making them part of a
system that could be monitored, rather than leaving them to live precariously in
the shadows, from whence threats to security are likelier to come.
WHY IMPORT MORE FARM WORKERS
WHEN WE ALREADY HAVE TOO MANY???
MARC GROSSMAN, SACRAMENTO BEE: Seeking "a more humane solution," as The Bee's editorial phrased it, to America's current immigration system is a worthwhile aim. Unfortunately, the editorial promoting a "guest-worker" program for agriculture works in the opposite direction. Cesar Chavez believed agribusiness' chief farm labor strategy for decades was maintaining a surplus labor supply to keep wages and benefits depressed, and fight unionization. It's simple economics. If there is too much of a product, that lowers its price.
An agricultural guest-worker program can only be justified if there are real labor shortages. All the objective data say as a rule shortages don't exist. That was the conclusion of a recent General Accounting Office study. State unemployment figures consistently show even during harvest months in heavily agricultural California counties, joblessness is usually much higher than state or national averages. When they are frank, most grower groups must admit if undocumented workers are counted, there are no labor shortages.
So why bring in hundreds of thousands of additional farm workers from outside the country when there are already more than enough here to do the jobs? The 1942-1964 guest-worker scheme, the infamous bracero program, was fraught with abuse. So is the successor guest-worker system, the current H-2A program. Despite The Bee's call for "strong enforcement" of "fair wages, benefits and working conditions," imported guest workers --- now mostly in the South where they toil in tobacco fields --- are denied promised pay and suffer retaliation and blacklisting for complaining. Domestic workers' jobs have been illegally handed to the more compliant and easy-to-exploit guest workers.
Twice, H-2A workers were allowed into California, all during the last year. Guest workers in Ventura County sued their employer over a host of violations, including failure to pay minimum wage and overtime. Domestic workers sued because they were replaced by a San Diego County grower with imported guest workers despite the law's mandate that U.S. workers have first pick at jobs.
At the core of inequities in any guest-worker program is the fact every guest worker is tied to a single employer. When the grower says the job is over --- or workers complain about mistreatment --- the workers are immediately deported. Guest workers are at a greater disadvantage than undocumented workers, who at least can walk away from the job if they are unfairly treated.
The only humane and practical solution is compromise legislation negotiated in 2000 by the United Farm Workers and the nation's major grower organizations. It would allow undocumented workers and their immediate family members in the United States to earn legal status by continuing to work in agriculture. Undocumented workers who have labored for a minimum period of time could qualify for temporary legal status. They could earn permanent residency by working in the fields for minimum periods over a number of years.
This proposal would also relax some procedural strictures of the H-2A law about which growers have complained without weakening any current worker protections.
This compromise measure nearly became law in the Clinton administration. During the last session of Congress, the UFW sponsored identical bills by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Dem.-Massachusetts and U.S. Rep. Howard Berman, Dem.-Los Angeles.
Permitting undocumented farm workers to legalize their immigration status by working in agriculture would give growers what they say they want: a legal and stable work force. It would let many undocumented farm workers who are already here emerge from the shadows of fear that have plagued them for so long. It is a plan all people of good will can embrace.
Marc Grossman, Cesar Chavez's longtime aide, is spokesman for the United
Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO. He wrote these comments in response to The
Bee's editorial "Unfreeze immigration / U.S.-Mexico agreement is still
needed," which appeared December 28, 2002
CALLS FOR A GRAIN RESERVE PROGRAM
TO THWART CORPORATE AGRIBUSINESS
EFFORTS TO DRIVE GRAIN PRICES DOWN
DAN MCGUIRE, AMERICAN CORN GROWERS ASSOCIATION: Those who are calling
for a grain reserve program are absolutely on target. Those who doubt that logic
only need look at how the grain and soybean markets and prices were hammered last Friday by USDA's final crop production and supply/demand reports.
The market conditions did not justify what USDA did and as one well known market analyst said, "Who's kidding who here" when referring to the excessive reduction USDA made in domestic corn feeding. The analyst continued, "It's conflicting information when you say the beef production will go up and feed usage down, unless there are clear signals." Another analyst observed, "For instance, the latest cattle on-feed report indicated higher placements. Also, as current cash-cattle prices at $78 push ut to the $83-$84 level, there could be some improvement in animal numbers. That would start moving feed usage higher."
A grain reserve would be serving as an economic damage control mechanism to hold prices up in the face of that seriously negative USDA report, which as many such USDA reports of the past, was biased in favor of grain buyers, processors and exporters to drive grain prices down just as they were maintaining some upward momentum. The farm groups and others that claim grain reserves act as a ceiling on grain prices need to re-evaluate their old thinking given the corporate concentration and control that now exists in ag markets.
Corporate concentration is the real ceiling on market prices. Indeed, the control and/or manipulation of futures, cash, processor exporter and importer bids is in the hands of a few multinational entities that do both the exporting and the importing. Most farmers understand that reality but some farm and commodity organization leaders seem to be in denial.
Establishing a grain reserve is not rocket science. A reserve can be a price enhancing tool for farmers with provisions to channel corn and soybeans from the reserve to ethanol and soydiesel processing plants. You also make an essential point about multinational companies importing grain into the U.S. to hold our domestic prices down. And lets never forget that U.S. production technology and infrastructure development has been transfered to South America and other countries via U.S. federal and state tax dollars for many years, subsidizing the very competition that U.S. farmers now face from imports.
The U.S. will need to reinstitute Section 22 in federal law as soon as possible to stem those imports in the future or our market prices will be forever hammered by our so-called "agribusiness friends." . . .. Some of us have warned that this scenario was inevitable under the agribusines-driven "market oriented/globalized" farm policy that has been in place and getting worse since 1985. This country and our national security isnot served by such a farm and trade policy. of the grain trade, by the grain trade and for the grain trade.
Dan McGuire is Policy Chairman, American Corn Growers Association
WAL-MART AND J. SAINSBURY EXPECTED
TO BID FOR UK SAFEWAY IN COUNTER OFFER
SUZANNE KAPNER AND ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, NEW YORK TIMES:
Wal-Mart Stores and J. Sainsbury of Britain are each drawing up plans to make a counteroffer for Safeway, Britain's fourth-largest supermarket chain, which last week agreed to be bought by William Morrison Supermarkets, a smaller rival, for £2.7 billion, or $4.3 billion, in stock.
The board of Sainsbury, a big rival grocer, met today and agreed to continue working on an offer. The chief executive, Sir Peter Davis, [was] expected to update investors when Sainsbury announce[d] its sales results for the Christmas season on Monday, people close to the company said. Wal-Mart, which owns Asda in Britain, is also considering its options.
Sainsbury is the second-largest supermarket chain in this country, while Asda is third. Though both trail Tesco, the market leader, by a wide margin, analysts said they are big enough to face antitrust hurdles in their effort to acquire Safeway.
To avoid such problems, Wal-Mart, America's largest discount retailer, and Sainsbury had initially considered making a joint bid, and then dividing Safeway's 490 stores, people involved in the negotiations said. But those discussions broke down in October, after Wal-Mart insisted on keeping roughly two-thirds of the stores.
Since then, these people said, Sainsbury has begun sounding out private equity firms, including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, about forming a partnership to bid for Safeway.
William Morrison is smaller than Safeway, and its offer, which has the backing of Safeway's board, is not expected to draw a lengthy antitrust review. Executives from William Morrison are expected to make their case to Safeway shareholders in meetings this week.
"We will explain the advantages of the deal to shareholders, customers and employees," a William Morrison spokesman said. Representatives from Asda, Sainsbury and Safeway declined to comment today.
If Wal-Mart proceeds with a bid, it is expected to make it all in cash, while Sainsbury would probably offer a mix of cash and stock. The offers are expected to exceed £3 billion, or $4.8 billion, people close to the companies said.
Britain's supermarket industry has become fiercely competitive since Wal-Mart bought Asda in 1999 and introduced the concept of everyday low prices. Today, price wars among the biggest chains are common as the chains battle for customer loyalty.
Analysts have expected Wal-Mart to expand its presence in Britain, as it
seeks to take advantage of economies of scale that would allow it to negotiate
the best prices from suppliers. But some have questioned whether Safeway makes a
good fit. Safeway stores tend to be smaller than Asda's and more of them are in
cities, where Asda is predominantly in the suburbs and rural areas. Until 1987,
Safeway was owned by Safeway Inc., which is based in Pleasanton, California
UK'S GOVERNMENTS' "LOVE-INS"
WITH BIG RETAIL, TIMIDITY OF
COMPETITIVE AUTHORITIES ACCELERATES
DEMISE OF SUPERMARKET CHAINS
FELICITY LAW RENCE, CONSUMER AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE GUARDIAN: You might think that the UK grocery market, with a turnover of more than £70bn a year, could support more than three supermarket chains, but apparently not. The chronic timidity of our competition authorities and successive governments' love-ins with Big Retail have reduced our shopping choice to this.
A takeover battle for Safeway's 485 stores began last week with a bid from the Yorkshire-based Wm Morrison. Sainsbury's and Asda are sure to counterbid. They cannot afford not to. Whoever ends up winning the prize, the concentration of power will be extraordinary. Our food shopping will be controlled by just four companies who will between them have stitched up nearly 80% of the total grocery market. Moreover, analysts agree that whoever is left in fourthplace is unlikely to survive. In a few years we shall have only three supermarket chains to choose from.
Perhaps what is most astonishing about all this is the fact that the advantage ascribed to the Morrison bid is that it is likely to be nodded through by the competition commission. The takeover would give Morrison a mere 15.9% of the market --- the same share as Asda, compared to Sainsbury's current share of 17.4% and Tesco's whopping 25.8%. Since the office of fair trading decided just before Christmas that Tesco's bid to add an instant one percent to its market share by taking over the chain of convenience stores, T&S, did not need to be referred to the competition commission for a full inquiry, Morrison is probably right in thinking it would be waved on.
The OFT's view on T&S was apparently influenced by Tesco's argument that it would be able to reduce prices in the smaller shops. If the battle to be top dog in the grocery market has resulted in a price war and we all get cheaper food, does it matter who owns what?
Of course it does. This is not a zero-sum game. Someone has to pay for those price cuts, and it ain't going to be the supermarkets. The big five --- Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Safeway and Morrison's --- made £2.2bn combined profits last year. Farmers who actually produce our food meanwhile faced an agricultural slump, not just in Britain but across the world.
We now have not so much a food chain as what the Soil Association has described as a fear chain. The buying power of the big supermarkets is already terrifying. Tesco not only controls over a quarter of the UK market: acquisitions in eastern Europe will also give it about 25% of the Hungarian market and a significant presence in Poland, the Czech republic and Slovakia too. Asda can call on the worldwide clout of its parent company Wal-Mart. So when the supermarket buyer with his or her monopolistic power comes to producers and demands a price cut, they have to jump and pass the cut down the line.
When a rival farmer or processor is undercutting you by using cheap, and increasingly illegal, foreign labour, it can be hard to hold out, as many producers will own up to privately. A Transport and General Workers' Union study estimates that 40% of the workforce employed by the supermarkets' suppliers are tied up with gangmasters and illegal labor. The impact on the low paid is devastating. A few pence off your beans is all very nice but not much use if your wage packet is kept permanently depressed.
In any case, price cuts introduced while the big boys carve up the market are not likely to last. A previous competition commission investigation found that the supermarkets charged more in areas where there was no local competition. It also matters because consolidation in the grocery market has decimated small shops and local economies.
When a new supermarket opens, an average of 270 jobs are lost locally. In the five years to 2000 we also lost 30,000 or one-fifth of our independent shops, pubs and post offices, according to a report by the New Economics Foundation. These aren't just economic outlets: they are the glue that hold communities together, the places where people meet. When they are gone we all suffer but the vulnerable, the old, the poor, suffer most and often end up in food deserts.
New Labor has worked hard to tackle poverty and social exclusion, and has pledged to give farming a future. Yet it shows no political will to curb the monopolizing tendencies of the supermarkets. With Lord Sainsbury in government and Blair advisers passing to and fro between the Cabinet Office and Tesco, the revolving door between Downing Street and the supermarkets no doubt makes it a little awkward to rein them in.
The food industry also now happens to be our largest manufacturing sector.
New Labor is determined to be seen to be friendly to big business and the
market. The irony is that those who are so loud in voicing the virtues of the
free market spend so much energy trying to escape it. A market in which 80% of
business is controlled by three or four companies, in which those companies are
able to abuse their buying power, in which there are insurmountable barriers to
entry for small and medium players, is a market which is failing.
"CITIZEN JOURNALIST" SARAH MCCLENDON
DIES AT 92, SOUGHT TO SERVE HER COUNTRY,
THE PEOPLE AND THE PUBLIC INTEREST
TODD S. PURDUM, NEW YORK TIMES: Sarah McClendon, the tiny, klaxon-voiced White House reporter who covered, pestered, lectured and often infuriated presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt, chiefly as the leader of her one-woman McClendon News Service, died January 9 at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C.. She was 92.
First mocked in an almost all-male press corps, then scorned as a vocal crank and finally honored as a pioneer, Ms. McClendon was the nation's longest-serving White House reporter, from 1944 to the early days of the current Bush administration. She became celebrated for questions at presidential news conferences that included local concerns in Texas, her home state, and government lapses overlooked by others.
In the 1950's, she identified herself successively as the representative of so many of her small-town newspaper clients that Dwight D. Eisenhower once demanded to know, "Do you get fired every week?"
Helen Thomas, the veteran White House correspondent recalled: "She made the veins stand out in Eisenhower's head, because he would get so mad. Sometimes people thought her questions were off the wall, but other times, she hit them right in the eye."
Indeed, Ms. McClendon once advised Eisenhower to "leave off some of your golf and go out and visit some of the small cities." She later apologized.
"Citizen journalist is a mission I took for myself," Ms. McClendon wrote in her 1996 memoir, Mr. President, Mr. President! My 50 Years of Covering the White House. "It offers the best opportunity to serve one's country, the people and the public interest." . . ..
EDITOR'S NOTE: In Richard Leiby's tribute to McClendon, which appeared in the January 9, Washington Post, he recalls: "Fifteen years ago she founded the McClendon Study Group, a public affairs round table that has met every two weeks (including last night). Its purpose, she once said, is to examine "the sins of the federal government," with discussions sometimes led by intelligence specialists and people fighting cover-ups, among them those who thought the government had evidence of UFOs. Maybe some journalists considered her a crank, but she believed in shedding light in the dark corners of government --- and that the public had the right to hear all views. `She was always writing for the little guy,' said John Hurley, chairman of the study group. `Sometimes she had guests no one had ever heard of --- she had Castro's mistress there one time --- as well as people of great public notoriety.'"
In April, 1999 while most of Washington was obsessed with Bill Clinton's libido one of McGlendon meeting featured guest lecturer Nicholas E. Hollis of the Agribusiness Council who appeared at her National Press Club study group --- focusing on ADM as a case study of corruption in the agribusiness food sector.
Good lady, R.I.P.
Preparing to post this year-end 216th edition of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER it
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
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To that small cadre of contributors this editor can only express his profound
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
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
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
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