THE
AGRIBUSINESS
EXAMINER
February 21, 2003, Issue #223
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/
TO RECEIVE: Send name and address
CONTRIBUTION$ WELCOME!!!
 

COMMENTARY:
FARMS !!! NOT ARMS !!!

Although THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER has not made an appearance in the past two weeks its editor\publisher has made every effort to keep abreast of the news while traveling in my native state of California during that time, hence you may notice in this edition some stories dated in time, but nevertheless quite newsworthy.

During those travels yours truly was also one of those souls, among the 250,000+ individuals in the streets of San Francisco on February 16, protesting the President-Select's war mongering.

It was truly inspiring to see so many people from so many nationalities and cultures all coming together to raise their voices. And some of the signs they carried were wonderfully creative.

My favorites were: "Disband the Republican Guard," "Memo to Rumsfeld: Remember the French Gave Us the Statue of Liberty," "Stop the Mad Cowboy Disease," "Don't Pay Any Attention to Me, I'm Just Here to be Under Counted," a small hand-lettered sign being carried by an elderly couple "Old Folks for Old Europe," and my two personal favorites "Hey Texas Has Oil, Let's Bomb the Hell Out of Texas," and "Next Thing We Will Learn Is That Iraq Sank the Battleship Maine in the Gulf of Tonkin."

Your editor, of course, carried his usual sign of two badly drawn corn stalks and a mushroom cloud framed by the words on top and bottom "Farms - Not Arms." While I noticed quite a few people taking pictures of my sign and a few even coming up and complimenting me on it, I was disappointed to have seen only two other signs remotely connected to farmers and agriculture --- one being to legalize the growing of marijuana and another extolling the merits of PETA.

The absence of such rural related signs got me wondering to how visible family farmers were in other cities and towns throughout America in last weekend's world-wide peace demonstrations, while at the  same time remembering the words of the German theologian Martin Neimoeller:

"In Germany they came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time,
nobody was left to speak up."
 

REP. ROSA L. DELAURO, DEM.-CONN.:
"WE FACE A FOOD SAFETY CRISIS
THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE"
 
ELIZABETH BECKER, NEW YORK TIMES, FEBRUARY 11: When Representative Rosa L. DeLauro was two years old, she was stricken with salmonella poisoning, taken from her frightened parents and quarantined for two weeks in a hospital. Though she remembers little of the experience herself, her parents talked about their fears for years afterward.

Now Ms. DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, is on a campaign to clean up the nation's dirty food. For the sixth year in a row, she stood today with her fellow lawmakers and announced that she was co-sponsoring the Safe Food Act designed to strengthen food safety rules and streamline their enforcement.

''We face a food safety crisis,'' she said at a news conference, pointing to the record recall last year of 66 million pounds of meat that were potentially contaminated, nearly double the amount recalled in 2001. ''Even when the Agriculture Department knows a slaughterhouse is producing dirty meat it does not have the authority to close it down,'' she added. ''That is unacceptable.''

Today was the 10th anniversary of the deaths of four children from contaminated hamburgers sold at a Jack-in-the-Box in Seattle, and Ms. DeLauro was joined by mothers whose children had died or become seriously ill after eating contaminated meat over the past decade.

The mothers are part of a group called Safe Tables Our Priority, or STOP, which released a report today describing how 5,000 people die every  year from preventable food-borne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report outlined the measures the group would like enacted by Congress to ensure that no other children were killed by bad food.

Unmentioned was Ms. DeLauro's own serious illness, more than a half century ago.

''It was a long time ago when the only treatment was isolation,'' Ms. DeLauro, 59, said.

Her father was an Italian immigrant, her mother an Italian-American whose family owned a pastry shop. They were bereft that their only child was locked away in a New Haven hospital, where they  went  every day and sat on the hospital steps, waiting to know whether their daughter would survive. ''It was traumatic for them, Italians, to think that something they had fed me had nearly killed me,'' Ms. DeLauro said.

She heard stories of her illness throughout her childhood, and was told of her anger when she was finally released, her sense of abandonment and her parents' guilt.

By the time she arrived in Congress in 1991, Ms. DeLauro said she had put the ''family legend'' out of her mind. But a committee assignment brought her into contact with food safety issues and soon with Anna Teardo, a Connecticut woman whose daughter became blind in one eye from meat contaminated by feces.

''That's when I remembered what my parents went through, and I realized I was now a part of an institution that has the ability to do something about this,'' she said in an interview in her Capitol Hill office.

Only one Republican, Tom Latham of Iowa, has signed on as a co-sponsor of her bill, which would create a single food agency to replace the 19 departments and agencies that have some responsibility for insuring that food is safe.

But with the record recalls of contaminated meat and a concern that terrorists could infect the food supply, Ms. DeLauro said she had new reasons to believe that meat safety rules would be strengthened.

Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, raised that issue at the news conference.

''If a terrorist had been responsible for killing those 5,000 people last year, don't you think we would be mobilized?'' Ms.Schakowsky asked. ''When it comes to food safety, we are on orange alert, too.''

Elsa Murano, undersecretary for food safety at the Agriculture Department, said she welcomed the work of STOP, but also defended the administration's record on food safety. ''Breaking the cycle of food-borne illness and improving human health is an important goal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,'' she said. ''The Bush administration has a strong record in its food safety efforts.''

The administration has asked for a $117 million increase for food safety programs in its budget for fiscal 2004, but Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said at the news conference that the money would only be available if Congress agreed to levy user fees on the industry itself. ''It will never pass,'' he predicted.

The American Meat Institute, a trade industry group, released a statement applauding STOP but disagreed with its approach to food safety improvements. Rather than change the rules about the level of pathogens tolerable in meat, Janet Riley, the institute's vice president, said her group would prefer ''using the best science and technology  available'' for irradiation of meat.
 

TYSON MANAGER TESTIFIES
COMPANY BUILT ITS BUSINESS
ON CHEAP ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT LABOR

ASSOCIATED PRESS, CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE, FEBRUARY 14: A fired Tyson Foods manager says the world's largest meat company used illegal immigrants willing to work for $7 an hour to build its business.

"We were able to keep our lines fully staffed," Charles "Chuck" Cook, a former personnel manager at Tyson's Glen Allen, Virginia., plant, testified Thursday at the company's federal immigrant smuggling trial.

Springdale, Arkansas.-based Tyson and three employees are accused of conspiring to smuggle illegal workers to its plants between 1994 and 2001.

Cook said hiring illegal workers allowed Tyson to maintain production and expand its plant at Shelbyville, Tennessee., to accommodate processing of 1.3 million chickens each week, up from 900,000 chickens. Cook said Tyson cut costs in one instance by eliminating a "mid-shift washdown" for employees and instead lowered the temperature in the work area from the "high 60s" to 50 degrees.

"The washdown decreased production," Cook said.

He said that change was uncomfortable for workers who stand in water while handling cold chickens. Cook said no additional clothing was provided for workers.

Cook said Tyson's starting hourly wage in 2000, about $7, was not competitive enough to attract legal applicants. He said before Tyson learned about the government's three-year undercover investigation into its hiring practices, he surveyed other businesses in the Glen Allen area and compared their pay to Tyson.

He said other businesses, such as home improvement warehouses and other major retailers, hired high school graduates and all had better working conditions and higher pay than Tyson. The businesses also gave employees pay increases after one year instead of three, as Tyson does.

Cook said some illegal immigrants on Tyson poultry production lines received less than $7 an hour as temporary employees supplied by referral services.

Agents have testified they delivered 136 illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America while investigating what a prosecutor has  described as a nationwide conspiracy by Tyson to hire cheap laborers. The company contends its top executives were unaware of any illegal and that agents used entrapment tactics in the investigation.

Along with Tyson, a December 2001 indictment charges retired regional human resources manager Gerald Lankford, 64, of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, Robert Hash, 50, of Greenwood, Arkansas, the company's retail fresh division vice president; and Keith Snyder, 44, of Bella Vista, Arkansas, the complex manager at Noel, Mo. Hash and Snyder are on administrative leave.

EDITOR'S NOTE: On February 7 AP correspondent Bill Poovey reported: "Tyson Foods managers paid for smuggled illegal immigrant workers with checks printed with the address of the food giant's corporate headquarters, a government agent testified Friday.

"The testimony spoke to federal prosecutors' central allegation in their conspiracy case against Tyson --- that top-level executives knew about and condoned the hiring of illegal workers. Outside court, a company spokesman said the checks do not bolster the government's case."
 

EVEN BUSH ADMINISTRATION,
MEAT PRODUCERS BACK AWAY FROM
ORGANIC STANDARDS BILL CHANGE
WHILE USDA REMAINS "NEUTRAL"

ASSOCIATED PRESS: The Bush administration and leading meat producers scrambled Friday to distance themselves from a backlash against an attempt by Rep. Nathan Deal, Rep.-Georgia, to relax organic labeling laws for meat and poultry.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials denied that they supported Deal's proposition, while major food firms with organic product lines denounced it.

Democrats in the Senate and House vowed to seek legislation that would overturn the one-sentence clause crafted by Deal and slipped into the 3,000-page omnibus spending bill that sailed through Congress on Thursday. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law.

Deal's clause would let producers use the organic label on meat from livestock that eat non-organic feed, if a USDA study begun last year shows that organic feed costs twice as much as conventional feed.

"This is a step backward," said General Mills spokeswoman Marybeth Thorsgaard. "We believe there needs to be a clear understanding by the consumer of what exactly the organic label means."

At Tyson Foods Inc., spokesman Ed Nicholson said, "We believe (the provision) can compromise the integrity of current organic standards."

The critics are overreacting, said Deal's chief of staff, Chris Riley.

"The point is, if there is ample 100% organic feed available, and it isn't too pricey, and that's reported by the Agriculture Department, this language becomes null and void," he said.

Requests for comment were not answered by officials of Fairfield Farms Corp., the family-owned poultry producer in Deal's district that opposed the requirement that organic meat comes only from animals that eat organic food.

"The language is a threat to the organic label," said spokeswoman Holly Givens of the Organic Trade Association, which consists of organic suppliers and sellers. "And the fact that it was done in an underhanded way should not be allowed to stand as a precedent for other people to try."

Republican leaders tacked Deal's provision onto the 90th page of the agriculture section of the Senate-House compromise version of the omnibus spending bill.

Officials representing the Department of Agriculture at that closed-door session neither supported nor objected to the proposal, said Alisa Harrison, spokeswoman for Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. "This department did not take a position on this," Harrison said.

But the department is ready to enforce the clause if, as expected, Bush signs the bill into law, she said. "We have to meet the will of Congress, so we will add a price component to a study that we began last year on the availability of organic feed."

The report from that expanded study, originally expected as early as mid-February, will become available later this year, Harrison said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, Dem-Vermont, and Rep. Sam Farr, Dem-California, said they intend
to introduce legislation that would overturn the clause, which Leahy charged "would gut the organic standards just recently enacted" by the department in October after 12 years of debate.

David Carle, Leahy's press secretary, said, "The bill to repeal the provision has been drafted, and will be introduced soon."
 

CALIFORNIA'S POINT ARENA
SCHOOL BOARD, FIRST IN THE NATION,
PASSES POLICY REJECTING
IRRADIATED FOODS FROM USDA
CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAMS

The Point Arena, California School Board has passed a policy against accepting  irradiated foods from USDA child nutrition programs or any other source by a  vote of 4 to 2 at its meeting on Thursday, February 6, 2003. While a few California school districts have organic-food only policies that effectively prohibit irradiated food, the Point Arena schools are the first to explicitly reject such food.

The policy was made necessary by the passage of the 2002 Farm Bill by Congress, signed by President Bush, in which an irradiation-industry sponsored rider required the dumping of unmarketable irradiated foods into the National School Lunch program and Child Nutrition program. It had been announced that irradiated foods could be sent to public schools as early as January 2003, but the foods have yet to appear in the system.

A long presentation to the Board was made by Christine Bruhn, PhD., who promotes irradiated foods for the USDA. A short statement was made by a staff person from Public Citizen, which has long opposed and investigated the irradiation industry. Over 50 parents and community members were present, most of whom did not want irradiated food served in the school.

The science of irradiated food was vigorously debated. Marc Lappé, PhD., a toxicologist, stated that the latest, most rigorous studies at the Pasteur Institute in France are very cautionary and need follow up studies. Because of these studies the European Union has halted the process of certifying foods to be irradiated.

"Mrs. Bruhn stated that it would be unethical to test irradiated food on adult humans or children. She stated that therefore no such tests had been conducted  by the FDA. That convinced me that we should not test this potentially dangerous product on our school children," said Board President Bill Meyers, who introduced the policy.
 

U.S. AND MEXICO FARMWORKER GROUPS
SEEK INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION
OF NORTH CAROLINA WORKERS' MISTREATMENT
UNDER H-2A "GUESTWORKER" PROGRAM

On February 10, two organizations seeking to improve conditions for migrant farmworkers, one based in the U.S. and the other in Mexico, filed a request for action by the governments of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.  The request for investigation and action occurs under the "labor side agreement" of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is formally known as the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC).

The request focuses on the treatment of Mexican citizens who are recruited to work as farmworkers in the state of North Carolina by several hundred agricultural employers and their recruiter, known as the North Carolina Growers Association (NCGA).  Mexican workers are recruited under a special visa program of the United States called the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program.  More than 10,000 of these "H-2A workers" are now hired annually in North Carolina, more than are hired in any other state.

The submission challenges the unequal treatment of these migrant workers under the U.S. labor laws and the failure of the U.S. government to enforce the labor laws with respect to the workers in North Carolina under the H-2A program.  The NAALC requires each of the three nations to cover "migrant workers" under its labor laws to the same extent as other workers and to enforce their own labor laws effectively.

The submission is being filed in Mexico City with Mexico’s "National Administrative Office" (NAO) for the NAALC.  The purpose of the submission is to (1) remedy discriminatory legal standards that deny the H-2A program farmworkers the rights of other workers, including other farmworkers in the United States, and deny workers rights guaranteed under international labor law, including the right to organize unions free from retaliation and to bargain collectively, and (2) end a persistent pattern by the U.S. Government of failing to enforce effectively the applicable labor laws, including the requirements of the H-2A guestworker program.

The submission is presented by the Central Independiente de Obreros Agrícolas y Campesinos (CIOAC), an independent labor union in Mexico that represents farmworkers and small farmers, and the Farmworker Justice Fund, Inc., an advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. (visit the website www.fwjustice.org for more information).

Under the NAALC, each nation has promised to cooperate to improve its treatment of workers and its enforcement of the labor laws.  The submission is designed to encourage intergovernmental consultations to produce some improvements for the Mexican farmworkers.

The submission to the NAO in Mexico City under the NAALC focuses on several problems, including the following:
 
* Exclusion of H-2A Migrant Workers from the federal labor law called the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act ("AWPA").

* Denial of right to join and organize labor unions and engage in collective bargaining.

* Restricting Workers’ Ability to Receive Visitors in Employer-Provided Housing and on Employer Property.

* Blacklisting

* Government Allows H-2A Employers’ Manipulation of the Length of Season to Avoid Obligations to Employees, including transportation cost reimbursements.
 

COMMENTARY:
WAL-MARTIZATION REPRESENTS
DESTRUCTION TO THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY
 
MIKE CALLICRATE: Our freedom is being stolen away in every Wal-Mart bag
 
Last week's USA Today article @ about Wal-Mart’s influence on the U.S. economy should be deeply troubling to all Americans interested in preserving a fair marketplace and healthy, sustainable national, state, and local economies.
 
Wal-Mart’s crushing market dominance is the result of unchecked anticompetitive behavior, including predatory pricing, worker abuse, and the shake down of suppliers. Wal-Mart is only the tip of the iceberg in the economic destruction resulting from ineffective U.S. antitrust law enforcement. Economists, from Adam Smith to Frank Knight, agree regulation of economic power is required to ensure the preservation of the free market system, which provides for the fair and equitable distribution of dollars within an economy.

The economic and political freedom of America will no longer be available to U.S. citizens or to most working people around the world without swift and aggressive U.S. antitrust action to protect our markets from abusive market power and monopoly. When we lose our markets, we lose our freedom.
 
Today’s Wal-Mart and other competition killing business trusts, should be broken up, as were the monopolist-oligopolist oil companies, meat packers, banks, and railroads of 100 years ago.
 
In the name of free trade and globalization, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway, and many other national and multinational food retailers have, with their supply chain partners, Tyson, Cargill, Smithfield, and ConAgra, promoted and driven the unlawful, highly-concentrated, centrally-planned model of business that is steamrolling independent businesses and busting our economy and many economies around the world. These dictator merchants and processors are not only harvesting and processing the commodities off the land below the true cost, but are also destroying the independent businessmen, farm and ranch families, and their futures.
 
Pandered, deceived, corrupted and frightened governments have facilitated the wealthy multinational corporations in forcing their irresponsible, dangerous, high cost, socially and environmentally destructive, industrialization of production, processing, and distribution of food and consumer goods on the global consumer.

University and government economists, who are the economic equivalent of an Arthur Anderson accountant, hype the lies of globalization, the need to "give access to get access" in trade, and pile shame on U.S. workers and farmers unable to produce at Chinese or Brazilian prices, which are mostly dependent on slave wages and destruction of the environment. Everything vital to human existence, from commodities to consumer goods, and industries from agriculture to textiles, is at risk of being further controlled by a handful of companies.
 
This abusive, exploitive, and destructive economic model promoted by Wall Street, some universities, and this Congress and Presidential administration, is in my opinion, the greatest present threat to world safety, economic well-being, and peace. This concentrated money power has become overwhelming and abusive political power.
 
Deceived and manipulated people, communities, states, and countries are wondering what happened to globalization's promises of jobs and prosperity as tax revenues decline and spending deficits explode and as they decline dumbfounded into deep economic and social ruin. Additional once-prosperous farm communities, where healthy, safe food and responsible farm kids were raised, will be turned into ghost towns. Left unchecked, we will soon wake up to find our life-sustaining food and fiber industries lost, and probably most tragic of all, our sovereignty.
 
This fearsome economic and political force, known as globalization, has turned our world into its own private colony of serfdom, to be strip-mined and plucked like a chicken.  Under this corporate-controlled WTO globalization plan, cheap goods sourced in low cost, poverty stricken countries are sold by Wal-Mart and their friends for exorbitant profits in the highest priced consuming markets, like the U.S.  Living wage U.S. jobs in manufacturing and production continue to be sent off-shore, avoiding the higher mandated costs of doing business in our once safe, solvent, prosperous, and free country.
 
Mutually beneficial trade between people lies in sharp negative contrast to the hate and discontent that results from unethical corporate dealing as it exploits low-cost, off-shore production. Global traders, with comparably little investment, are vacuuming up dollars created from production and manufacturing that once circulated and multiplied in our communities, along with precious equity, lost to below-cost-of-production prices, below-living wages, and higher consumer prices than a competitive market would allow.
 
The well-being, liberty, and freedom of every country, independent business, and person is threatened in the leveraging of people against people, and country against country, as these killer greed driven corporations, empowered by WTO rules, search the globe for higher and higher profits in the lowest-cost commodities and in the most desperate people that will work the cheapest.
 
Liberty, God’s gift to humanity, is not available under this U.S. sponsored, global economic dictatorship.  If American’s won’t take a stand against this economic
genocide, who will?
 
Some people who have spoken out for liberty, justice and freedom:
 
"The people who own a country ought to govern it."
    - John Jay, first chief justice of the United States, 1787
 (From Wealth and Democracy, by Kevin Phillips, First edition 2002)
 
"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime, and the punishment of his guilt."
    - John Philpot Curran, Irish lawyer and politician, July 10, 1790
 
 
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in  society, they create for themselves in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."
    - Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1846.
 
"As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong  its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.  I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war."
 - Abraham Lincoln, letter to William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864.  Archer H. Shaw, ed.,
The Lincoln Encyclopedia 40 (1950)
 
@ U.S. economy follows the Wal-Mart way, By Jim Hopkins, USA Today:
http://www.delawareonline.com/newsjournal/business/2003/02/03useconomyfollow.html
 

CORN GROWERS CHALLENGE
USDA 2003 NET INCOME FORECASTS,
LITTLE OR NO BASIS IN FACT

TILDEN, NEBRASKA: John Dittrich, National Policy Analyst for the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) on February 10 expressed his reaction to the previous week's USDA release of initial 2003 net farm income forecasts. "As they have many times in the past, these figures caused raised eyebrows and consternation  in farm country," explained Dittrich. "While the New York Times recently reported on the general decline and massive exodus from rural America, USDA again painted a rosy picture of a projected 39% increase in Net Farm Income in the U.S. in 2003.

Dittrich first officially challenged USDA Net Farm Income figures in Washington, D.C. in 1992 while working with Nebraska Farmers Union. He has had a particular interest in them since, and has more knowledge than most about how USDA figures are assembled and what they represent.  Dittrich's response to USDA release was, "There they go again".

Dittrich went on to explain that USDA Net Farm Income figures actually do little to educate the public about what is really going on in farm country. "In fact, I consider the Net Farm Income figure as a rather meaningless measure of the income of actual farmers, or 'farm operators' as USDA would define them. The USDA composite Net Farm Income figures include curious categories, which most farmers would not consider income, such as 'Non-cash' income for example. This figure includes the potential  rental value of farmers' homes if they did not live in them."

Dittrich says other figures tabulated by USDA appear to be more representative of the true picture of farmers. These figures are "Average Income to Farm Operator Households", which are published monthly with little or no fanfare, and were covered by an Omaha World Herald article in September of last year.

These USDA statistics say that on a national average basis, farm income to the average farm household was $2,622 in 2002, a 51% decline from the previous four-year average.  Even if this figure increased 39% as USDA projects for "Net Farm Income" in 2003, it would still be only about two-thirds of the previous four-year average. "And as a farmer, that projected increase appears unlikely to me, since the slightly higher prices we are receiving look like they will be wholly offset by lower government payments," says Dittrich.

Dittrich explains that the "Farm Operator Income" figures are skewed somewhat by very small farmers. "However, it is interesting to note that if you multiplied the 2.1 million farmers in the USDA data base by their average  farm income in 2002, you arrive at a national composite "Net Farm Income of Farm Operator Households" of 5.5 billion dollars."

This contrasts with USDA's "Net Farm Income" figures of 36.2 billion dollars in 2002.

Dittrich concluded by saying, "It appears to me that according to USDA figures, American farmers and ranchers earned about five billion dollars for producing all the food in this country in 2002, which was sold to the consumers for over 800 billion dollars. And that five billion dollars includes all their labor, risk, and return on investment from the over one trillion dollars of farm assets used by farmers to produce that food."

"If that's the case, that's the real story of "Net Farm Income".

For more information visit the ACGA website at
http://www.ACGA.org
 

GAO REPORT CHARGES
60% OF U.S. MEGA FARMS
AVOID FEDERAL, STATE
ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS

MIKE WAGNER AND BEN SUTHERLY, DAYTON DAILY NEWS: About 7,000 of Americas 11,500 largest livestock and poultry farms and the waste they generate have avoided federal regulation, according to a report recently released by the General Accounting Office.

Many of those farms exempt from federal regulation were overseen at the state level. But Greg Kosarin, who led the investigation for the GAO, Congress' investigative arm, said those state programs lacked one or more fundamental elements of the federal program including public participation in the permitting process.

The GAO's report follows a Dayton Daily News examination that found the increasing concentration of animals on large livestock and poultry farms, while revolutionizing food production in America, has overrun regulators and caused untold harm to the environment.

In Ohio, the number of megafarms have more than tripled in the past decade, to 139 farms.

State Rep. John J. White, Rep.-Kettering, said February 7 he is hoping to rally broad support among state legislators and interest groups for a small pilot project that would monitor water quality upstream and downstream of a handful of megafarms. If that project shows the farms aren't polluting the water, "there won't be further need for regulation," he said.

White said a task force to study air emissions from Ohio's megafarms remains one of his long-term goals. The Daily News examination found that half the 46 states with so-called megafarms don't require large livestock operations to meet air-quality standards. Only four states Minnesota, Nebraska, South Carolina and Wisconsin enforce limits on ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and other gases released from the big farms.

"That issue is not going to go away," White said.

While they must have state permits, virtually all of Ohio's megafarms have not received a federal permit through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program. An Antwerp dairy farm last year became the first Ohio farm with an NPDES permit; several others have applications pending.

Until now, only operators of Ohio farms that have discharged waste into surface water or run a high risk of doing so have been told they must get a federal permit. But a new rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency changes that. The rule affects all farms that confine 1,000 cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2,500 swine, 10,000 sheep, 125,000 meat chickens, 82,000 egg-laying hens and 55,000 turkeys.

The new rule means the number of megafarms that must have a federal permit to operate will more than triple, reaching as many as 15,500 nationwide by 2006.

In announcing the rule last December, EPA Administrator Christine Whitman acknowledged the agency had failed to keep pace in recent decades with the growth and spread of megafarms, whose waste, she said, "poses an increasing threat to the health of America's waters."

U.S. EPA officials said the GAO report presented a fair and accurate portrayal of shortcomings associated with the federal permitting program for livestock and poultry farms.

But they argued that the revised EPA guidelines will solve some of the regulatory problems. For example, the revised rules would eliminate many broad exemptions cited in the GAO's report. Among them:

" An exemption that let large livestock and poultry farms avoid permits if they discharge manure or other waste only during large storms. The U.S. EPA has acknowledged that many farms covered by the exemption had discharges as a result of overfilling manure lagoons and other waste storage facilities, accidental spills and improper spreading of the waste on cropland.

" An exemption that let dry-litter poultry operations the bulk of the nation's farms that produce eggs and meat chickens avoid regulations that other large animal farms must follow. The GAO said that exemption alone allowed about 3,000 confined poultry operations to avoid federal permits.

The new rule takes effect this month, but Kosarin said he's skeptical it will be thoroughly enforced.

"There were glaring loopholes under the old rules, and one has to wonder, even with the new rules, if the EPA and states will take the needed steps to increase oversight of these farms," Kosarin said. "A lack of manpower, resources and tight budgets will also hurt the chances of providing real reform in how the farms are regulated."

The new rule makes the challenge of enforcement even more formidable for the U.S. EPA and state agencies, Kosarin said. And neither U.S. EPA nor the states that the GAO reviewed have developed plans for carrying out those additional responsibilities.

"Nobody had really given it much thought," Kosarin said. "That was a real concern of ours."

Ben Grumbles, deputy assistant administrator with the U.S. EPA's water office, said $20 million in additional federal grant money has been proposed in the 2004 fiscal budget unveiled Monday. He also noted that additional money to clean up and head off pollution on livestock and poultry farms is part of the 2002 farm bill.

U.S. EPA officials said that they are aggressively reaching out to state agriculture departments and environmental agencies to ensure the program is implemented.

"Probably the only unfortunate thing was the timing of the (GAO) report," said Jeff Lape, chief of the rural branch chief in the U.S. EPA's wastewater management office.

Many states have taken steps to improve their regulatory programs in recent months changes that were not reflected in the GAO report, Lape said. Michigan, a state authorized to issue federal permits since 1973, just issued its first permit, he said.
 

SOYBEAN FARMERS CLOSING IN ON CBOT
WITH APPEAL BRIEF FILING IN LAWSUIT

DES ARK, ARKANSAS: According to Arkansas soybean farmer Harvey Joe Sanner, one of the original named plaintiffs, it's been nearly 14 years (July 11, 1989) since the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) issued the infamous Emergency Order that depressed soybean prices and caused a lawsuit to be filed November 14,1989.

Sanner said, "We have been in court all this time and the CBOT's case was based on lies from the beginning, yet they have used their money and power to avoid justice and confuse the facts in a stalling campaign that is finally nearing its end." The appeal brief requesting a new trial has been filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on behalf of a class of soybean growers (see web link below). This case has been before the Appellate Court three times and each time the decisions of the lower court was partially or completely overturned.  In 1992 the CBOT argued that they  were immune from antitrust liability. They lost that argument."

"Perhaps the most telling decision that goes to the heart of the dishonesty employed by the CBOT in this case was the 1995 Appellate Court ruling that granted farmers standing to sue the CBOT.  The CBOT argued for six years that farmers had no right to sue the Board and claimed that their futures market activities didn't impact farmers who use the cash market.

In a 1990 Top Producer magazine interview, Cash Mahlmann, Chairman of the CBOT said this, 'All farmers have a stake in whatever happens at the Board, because all farmers use the Board in some form to sell their crops.' As one can see, Mr. Mahlmann admitted that all farmers are impacted by the Board but they spent tons of money and court time denying that truth.

The same disregard for the truth happened when Mr. Mahlmann swore under oath and denied that Cargill, a major grain trader who benefited from the Emergency Order, had complained to him about the market conditions in 1989. Trial evidence proves that Cargill had numerous contacts with Chairman Mahlmann urging him to intervene in the market and he complied with Cargill's wishes."

Sanner suggests that a good question for the CBOT would be why they  convinced a judge to place a seal or gag order on the evidence of this case back in 1989. They should also answer why they recently asked the Appellate Court to seal all the evidence presented to them. The appeals court denied their request.

"I guess the most amazing thing about this whole issue is how someone can be proven dishonest and continue a defense based on dishonesty for all these years.  If a local yokel is caught  lying to a court here, the wrath of a judge would hit him like a thunderstorm.  But you can go to Chicago, hire a fancy law firm and a public relations guru short on scruples, and live a lie forever, or at least for 14 years."

For a copy of the appeal filed with United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, go to:

http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/efn/efns.fwx?submit=showbr&caseno=02-3844&shofile=02-3844_001.pdf

                                         EDITOR'S NOTE

Preparing to post this year-end 223rd 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.