THE
AGRIBUSINESS
EXAMINER
March 7, 2003, Issue #227
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!!!
 

FLORIDA APPEALS COURT ORDERS
AKRE-WILSON MUST PAY TRIAL
COSTS FOR $24.3 BILLION FOX TELEVISION;
COUPLE WARNS JOURNALISTS OF DANGER TO
FREE SPEECH, WHISTLE BLOWER PROTECTION

Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, the two former FOX Television (WTVT-13) journalists have filed appeals of a ruling that they must pay the legal costs and fees the broadcaster incurred defending itself in a landmark whistleblower case the reporters filed in 1998. The journalists estimate FOX spent than a million dollars on its defense.

The ruling assessing the fees came on the heels of a ruling overturned a August 2000 jury verdict and $425,000 award to FOX investigative reporter Jane Akre. Although jurors concluded she was pressured by FOX lawyers and managers to broadcast what the jury agreed was "a false, distorted or slanted story" and was fired for threatening to blow the whistle, the jury decision was reversed on a legal technicality when a higher court agreed with FOX that it is technically not against any law, rule or regulation

In setting the jury verdict aside, the appeals court ruled that in order to be protected by Floridaís Whistleblower Act, the alleged misconduct must violate a written law. The court said the FCCís prohibition against news distortion is merely a policy.

Fox lawyers had made the same argument on at least six occasions when it was rejected each time by three different judges in the trial court proceedings.

"First, the juryís decision is overturned on a technicality and a very narrow reading of the Whistleblower protection law, then the court sets the stage for FOX to destroy us financially," Wilson said. "This is cannot be consistent with the intent of state lawmakers who wrote a Whistleblower law to encourage and protect people who have the courage against all odds to stand up and call attention to wrongdoing."

"Nothing in the decision that reversed the verdict at trial absolved FOX of what the jury found to be misconduct in pressuring a reporter to go on the air with a false story just to protect itís advertisers," said Akre. "They may call it vindication but overturning  a juryís decision on a technicality that itís not illegal to lie on the public airwaves is not vindication in the mind of any honest and ethical  journalist.

"The truth is Rupert Murdoch and the big-money Washington law firm [Williams & Connelly] that represented FOX here have forced us to make another difficult decision about appealing these decision that set a dangerous precedent in two important areas," Akre continued.

"Our lawyers have told us there are ample grounds to appeal the decision that overturned the jury verdict. Left to stand, no other journalist can ever prevail even when, as in this case, he or she is pressured to deliberately lie on the air," said Akre. "What will that mean for honesty in future broadcasts when unethical station owners and managers put their own interests ahead of honest reporting?

"But also of vital importance," Wilson continued, "is the stateís ruling that sets the stage for future, well-intentioned whistleblowers who do not ultimately prevail in court to be saddled with the employerís legal fees and court costs. This is a precedent that will hush-up ever Florida whistleblower not only in journalism, but in medicine and finance and every other walk that can victimize residents of our state.

"Given the tens of thousands of dollars it costs to appeal to Floridaís Supreme Court, we are forced to choose one appeal or the other," Wilson said. "We have chosen to seek reconsideration of the ruling we see as the most dangerous of the two --- the one that could discourage all future whistleblowers."

The appeal on the issue of legal fees was filed on behalf of the journalists Friday, February 28.  The motion asks for reconsideration of the issue by the same judges, by all of the appeals judges in the Second District, or for a writ to take the issue to the Florida Supreme Court.

"If we had Rupert Murdochís money [$5.5 Billion], we could continue the fight on both fronts," Akre said. "We are just one family trying our best to stand up for what we believe is right. And we will not drop the issue that allows broadcasters the right to pressure reporters to lie distort the news.

"We are continuing to prepare a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission where we shall also challenge FOXís license renewal in wake of their misconduct here," she said.

"At the very least, if there is no law, rule or regulation against using the public airwaves to knowingly present news that is false and distorted, itís time the FCC or the Congress write one," Wilson added. "Clearly, our case shows you cannot count on all broadcasters to act  ethically and honestly in reporting the news and putting the public interest ahead of their own."
 

HOMELAND SECURITY GROUP
WARNS NEW FDA BIOTERROR
REGULATIONS COULD "DISRUPT"
U.S  AGBIZ IMPORTS OF FOOD
 
PR NEWSWIRE:  A new set of regulations proposed last month by the Food and Drug Administration aimed at combating bioterrorism could pose significant risks and penalties for domestic and foreign food manufacturers and processors that rely on cross-border distribution of food and beverages, cautions the homeland security practice group at law firm Venable LLP.

On March 4, the firm brought together over 70 senior commerce officials from more than 40 countries, including many of key US trading partners. Among the countries represented were Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Honduras, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Thailand, and Turkey, as well as the Commission of the European Union.

The briefing provided countries information needed to help their commercial food exporters participate in the public comment period as well as prepare for the new FDA guidelines. These exporters face more cargo inspections and the possibility of administrative detention or destruction of goods because of noncompliance.

On February 3, the FDA proposed regulations requiring domestic and foreign food facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States to register with the agency by December 12 of this year. Another regulation requires that importers provide "prior notice" of the arrival of food products into the U.S. Both regulations implement the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.

Although foreign distributors will feel the greatest impact of the new regulations, they will also have substantial effects on U.S. food and beverage companies that rely on imported ingredients, covering everything from beer to cookies to orange juice.

"The potential impact on the new FDA regulations is enormous for many of America's key trading partners, which deliver vast quantities of food stuffs to the U.S. each month," said Jim Jatras, partner in Venable's legislation practice.

"We thought this briefing would be of critical interest to embassy commercial and economic officers, who are on the front lines for businesses in their countries exporting to the United States," he added. "Many foreign food manufacturers have never had to deal with FDA. It is likely that many have not heard about the new regulations --- but by later this year they'll have to be in compliance with them." Mr. Jatras is a former senior policy analyst for the Senate Republican Policy Committee with an emphasis on foreign affairs and national security.

David Dickman, a member of Venable's homeland security practice who served over two decades in the U.S. Coast Guard and is familiar with port and shipping security matters, described the possible consequences if companies do not register with the FDA or notify the agency when a shipment is coming into a U.S. port. He noted that companies may not know how specific food products will be affected until the regulations go into effect.

Mr. Dickman also warned that any detainment or refusal of entry will affect the entire cargo load, including nonfood items. "This means U.S. companies waiting on goods delivered by a container with unregistered food products could also suffer severe delays and face unforeseen costs associated with an FDA-ordered detention," he said.

Venable warned of other consequences for noncompliance. If a company does not register or provide adequate "prior notice," then any shipments will be held at the port of entry until complete information is given to the FDA. Moreover, the cost of detention would be borne by the purchaser, owner, importer, or consignee. Any detained or refused shipment also cannot be delivered under bond; rather, it must be held at the port, face re-export or be destroyed, adding to the disruption that could befall the food distribution system across the US.

Once the food reaches the U.S., the FDA will be there to inspect more aggressively than in the past. The new bioterrorism law provides the FDA with increased powers to inspect and detain food for further investigation. "The FDA has publicly announced that it has hired 650 new inspectors who are now undergoing training," according to Anne Keys, Venable's food policy advisor.

The FDA has also publicly stated that it is conducting risk analyses to determine the places and types of products that are high bioterror targets. "Countries and their industries need to know more about these risk analyses, so that they now how to deal with real or perceived risks," added Ms. Keys.

An additional concern is how these new requirements will affect obligations on importers under existing trade agreements. "There has been insufficient consideration as to whether these new requirements will conflict with other U.S. trade obligations," noted Lindsay Meyer, partner in charge of Venable's international trade practice.

For example, country of origin declarations under the North American Free Trade Agreement may not, in all instances, be consistent with these new reporting requirements for FDA. Moreover, "it remains an open question as to whether these requirements meet our obligations of national treatment under other trade agreements," added Ms. Meyer.

The FDA will apply a broad definition of what food products could be covered under the new regulations. Under the "prior notice" rule, FDA defines "food" as: "(1) articles used for food or drink for man or other animals, (2) chewing gum, and (3) articles used for components of any such article." The agency also has created a list of products for particular scrutiny, including: fruits, vegetables, live food animals, dairy products, raw agricultural commodities for use as food or food ingredients, animal feed and even dietary supplements.

Even imported wines and spirits will now have to comply with the FDA regulations. "Until passage of the Bioterrorism Act and the FDA regulations mandated by it, most alcoholic beverages entering the United States were not under FDA jurisdiction. That has changed," Mr. Jatras said. "This is one example of a tighter regulatory climate for imports that will be even more restrictive as tensions rise in the international area and homeland security concerns intensify. This is the beginning of a process, not the end."

Other members of Venable's homeland security practice who participated in the forum and are:

* Jill Deal, an attorney specializing in food and drug law, FDA approval and marketing of therapeutic products
* Michele Crown, an attorney at Venable who handles FDA matters and former General Counsel of the American Meat Institute

As one of America's top 100 law firms, Venable LLP has lawyers practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its base of operations in and around Washington, D.C. Venable prides itself on being attuned to its clients' business objectives, sensitive to their culture and structured to deliver true value.
 

TRUTH STRANGER THAN FICTION:
FORTUNE NAMES TYSON FOODS
MOST ADMIRED U.S. FOOD CO.

RAFI-USA E-BULLETIN #10: In its March 3, 2003 issue, Fortune magazine has ranked Tyson Foods Inc.as America's Most Admired Company in the food production industry.

According to Fortune, the criteria used to rank the companies included innovativeness, employee talent, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management, financial soundness, long-term investment value, and quality of products/services. Tyson rated top in seven of the eight catagories.

BUT! !! . . . RAFI-USA wonders whether or not the following information was considered in the ranking:

1. In December 2001, a federal grand jury in Chattaooga, Tennessee returned a 36-count indictment against executives and managers of Tyson Foods for conspiring to smuggle illegal aliens into the U.S. The indictments came after a 2 1/2 year undercover investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service which alleges that Tyson Foods hired smugglers to transport workers to the U.S. and helped provide them with false documents. The evidence includes 422 undercover audio tapes, 36 video tapes, and 360,000 pages of documents subpoenaed from Tyson.

2. According to the indictment, Tyson Foods maintained a corporate culture in which the hiring of illegal alien workers was condoned in order to meet production goals and cut costs to maximize profits.

3. Of the six Tyson managers indicted, two former Tennessee plant managers have pleaded guilty and one committed suicide when the charges were made public.

4. A former nurse at Tyson's plant in Missouri testified that Hispanic children, one as young as nine years old, were working in the deboning part of the plant; one worker in the plant aged 14 was injured by an auger. The nurse also testified that when news that a raid by federal immigration authorities was imminent, the Hispanic workers didn't show up forcing more than half the plant to shutdown for a week.

5. Tyson Foods cancelled contracts with 132 contract hog producers in Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma in a move the company said was made to reduce operating costs. When 80 contract growers sued for misrepresentation of the contract terms and false promises made to lure them into the business, Tyson Foods claimed that no court action was possible because of arbitration terms in their contracts.

6  .A Pope County Judge ruled against Tyson Foods and will allow the hog lawsuit to be tried in court.

7.Tyson Foods is named in an environmental lawsuit accusing the company of dumping chicken waste into the Grand Lake watershed which  covers portions of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas.
 

AG BIZ FRONT GROUP FORCED
TO SURRENDER DOMAIN NAMES
IN ATTEMPT TO IMPERSONATE
PUBLIC INTEREST WEB SITES

THE WEEKLY SPIN, PR WATCH : The Center for Consumer Freedom, a front group for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries, has been forced to give up the domain names of two web sites used to attack the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), in what CSPI called an "Orwellian" effort to create confusion among Internet users looking for CSPI's websites. CCF, part of a "shadowy trio of tax-exempt front groups run by Washington lobbyist Richard Berman" has been involved in several other failed attempts to impersonate web sites owned by health, consumer and enviromental groups.

More web links related to this story are available at:
http://www.prwatch.org/spin/February_2003.html#1045717202
 

FOOD "PROMOTIONAL ALLOWANCES"
INVESTIGATED BY DOJ; AHOLD'S
U.S FOODSERVICE WORKERS' CLAIMS
PAYMENTS WERE BOOKED WITHOUT
MANUFACTURERS' CONSENT OR KNOWLEDGE

CONSTANCE L. HAYS WITH SUZANNE KAPNER NEW YORK TIMES: Payments from food manufacturers to food service companies --- which supply restaurants and other food preparers like hospitals, schools and stadiums --- have been a long-accepted practice in the industry. But the use of such payments, known as promotional allowances, has become more aggressive in recent years, as the food service industry has consolidated and become more competitive, executives and suppliers say.

"The old days of slapping a guy on the back and giving him a check for $200 and putting the product in are gone," said Richard P. Boris of Palo Alto, California, a longtime sales manager for manufacturers who calls on food service companies as well as supermarkets. "It can cost you $15,000 a year now, or $50,000 if you want a package."

The practice has come under intense scrutiny after the disclosure last week by Royal Ahold, a grocer and food distributor based in the Netherlands, that it had overstated earnings by $500 million for the last two years as a result of accounting problems connected to payments made to an American unit, U.S. Foodservice. The promotional allowances to U.S. Foodservice were "in some instances booked too high," the chairman of Ahold's supervisory board, Henny de Ruiter, said.

The Justice Department has issued subpoenas for a variety of U.S. Foodservice documents, including financial statements, audits and minutes of board meetings dating to January 1999, further back than the period of the earnings restatement. The investigators are also seeking records showing promotional allowances, made by manufacturers to the company to help sell their products.

Former employees of U.S. Foodservice say they were asked to book payments from manufacturers without the manufacturers' consent or knowledge.

A spokeswoman for Ahold, Cindy Leggett-Flynn, said the company could not comment on the employees' allegations. "The investigation is still going on," she said. The investigation, she added, is confined to U.S. Foodservice, and does not extend to any of Ahold's retail supermarket chains in the United States. The company owns the Giant and Stop & Shop chains, among others.

In 2001, U.S. Foodservice acquired a rival, Alliant, from the buyout firm of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice for $2.2 billion. The former employees of U.S. Foodservice, who spoke on the condition they not be identified, said they had left in the wake of the merger with Alliant, upset because practices at the company soon changed.

Since the Alliant acquisition, hundreds of employees have been eliminated and several major distribution centers closed, all part of a drive to increase the efficiency of U.S. Foodservice. The effort, analysts said, resulted in lost business from customers whose orders were not filled on time.

While payments from manufacturers are an accepted, and legal, practice, some former employees contend there were irregularaties in the way such payments were recorded.

One former employee, who began at Kraft Foodservice, which became part of Alliant before the sale to U.S. Foodservice, said the company had forced managers at one division to report payments from manufacturers, and billed the manufacturers without their permission.

"They asked me to do a solicitation for money, followed by an immediate billing for products, saying you owe us this money," the former employee said. "The bill went out, was immediately deducted from our next payment to them, and there was no authorization from anybody on the vendor side to do that."

In food service, as in the supermarket industry, food manufacturers are known to call up toward the end of the month or the end of the quarter and ask clients to take an extra shipment or two so that the manufacturers will hit their growth targets. The payback comes the next month, when the food service company can send a bill for money owed, which is essentially a discount off a future shipment.

"It's kind of a compensation for buying outside the norm," the former employee who began at Kraft said. "If you normally bought a truckload of orange juice every week, they might say, `We're trying to make our numbers, so if you bought two truckloads this week, we can offer you a discount of X.' So when you receive the product, you can bill us for that."

Under ordinary circumstances, the money generated by such an arrangement, known as a billback, would go to the marketing division or be allocated for sales incentives, this person said. The Alliant computer system made it impossible to submit a financial statement in which money accepted by the food service company from a supplier was not matched by a corresponding expense in some other area, indicating there had been no agreement with the manufacturer.

The food service industry is dominated by U.S. Foodservice and its larger rival, the Sysco Corporation. They typically receive promotional allowances totaling millions of dollars from food makers eager for the high volume that institutional buyers control.

Often large food service companies have distributor "members," or subcontractors who handle smaller accounts, who also demand payments from food manufacturers, said Mr. Boris, who has spent 25 years selling canned and frozen food, toothpicks and cutlery to food service companies.

"You pay twice, just to get your product up and running," he said.

Markups also occur at various stages from the manufacturer to the consumer, he added. "Say the buyer buys a product for $40," he said. "There might be a 30 percent markup to the local distributors. Then the distributors come back to you," meaning the manufacturer, asking for promotional allowances of their own.

With billbacks, everything has to be in writing, Mr. Boris added. "It's legal," he said. "But if you offer one guy a special deal and you don't offer that to the next guy, you get called on the Robinson-Patman Act," which prohibits such unfair pricing.

Ahold executives apparently had qualms about the food service business in the past. In 1990, senior executives discussed the possibility of exiting the business, according to a person who took part in those discussions. At that time, Ahold's food service operations mainly consisted of several wholesale companies in the Netherlands that supplied restaurants, hospitals and prisons with everything from linens to tomatoes. But ultimately, Ahold executives decided that the industry was growing too fast to walk away from, and the company continued to expand, gaining a major foothold in the United States with the 2000 purchase of U.S. Foodservice.

"Ahold was clearly addicted to growth," said Stephen J. Hoch, professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. "There was this kind of potential for Ahold to come in and transplant their Dutchness and gain some more efficiencies at these firms. But that's not what happened."
 

CARGILL CHIEF EXECUTIVE NAMED
TO PRESIDENT'S NATIONAL ADVISORY
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE

JOSH SOSLAND, BAKING BUSINESS:  President Bush has appointed Warren R. Staley, chairman and chief executive officer of Cargill, Inc., to serve on the Presidentís Export Council, the premier national advisory committee on international trade.

Mr. Staley joins a blue-ribbon group of business leaders that includes chief executives of Bechtel Corp., The Boeing Co., Dell Computer Corp., Merck & Co., Goldman Sachs Group, ExxonMobil, General Motors Corp. and Eli Lily and Co.

The panel, which also includes several government leaders, promotes export expansion, advises the President on government policies and programs affecting trade and provides a forum for discussing and resolving trade-related problems.
 

NFU PANELWARNS FARMERS
AGBIZ INTERESTS IN INTERNATIONAL
EFFORT TO DRIVE CROP PRICES LOWER
AND PLAY ONE COMMODITY AGAINST ANOTHER

Trade negotiators place a low priority on agriculture. When negotiators do address agriculture, they are more likely to represent the interests of the industry rather than individual producers. That was the general opinion of panelists speaking to National Farmers Union members attending the organizationís 101st anniversary convention in Anaheim, California.

"Itís like our tax code. If youíve got a good attorney, you come out a winner," said Joaquin Contente, president of California Farmers Union.

John Hansen, president of Nebraska Farmers Union, explained that processors use international organized efforts to drive prices lower. The agricultural industry uses a political strategy to play one commodity against another. "Itís this whole divide and conquer strategy. You need to develop a broad-based coalition," Hansen added. That coalition needs to include producers of all commodities, and from all nations, he said.

"Agriculture is the most explosive piece of the World Trade Organization. Thatís probably because itís the newest piece of WTO," said John Stencel, president of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. Stencel said NFU believes trade agreements must assure global food security and safety, and enhance farm income.

"If this round of the WTO is to do any good, it has to improve farm income everywhere. We donít want to sacrifice farmers in any country on the so-called altar of comparative advantage," noted Robert Carlson, president of North Dakota Farmers Union. Carlson said farmers and ranchers will be directly effected by WTO agreements that focus on the following areas: eliminating export subsidies, improving market access by reducing tariffs, and cutting funding for domestic farm programs.

Hansen said U.S. trade negotiators have tremendous power to effect change. "The world of trade policy is riddled with technical terms and concepts. A word here or there makes an awful lot of difference over how it plays out. We continue to give up advantage."

Carlson agreed. Trade negotiators are trained as economists, he said. "It becomes a question of policy. Is food security important, then trade policies must allow nations to support their own producers."

U.S. trade negotiators need to represent farmers and ranchers, according to the panelists. They vowed to continue pressuring the Bush Administration and Congress to remind trade negotiators of whose interests they actually represent.
 

NFFC ELECTS IOWA'S GEORGE NAYLOR
AS PRESIDENT OF 34 GRASSROOTS
FARM AND RURAL GROUPS' COALITION

The National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) elected Iowa farmer George Naylor president February 17, 2003, at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Naylor represents Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) on NFFCís Executive Committee. Naylor succeeded five-year president Bill Christison, a grain and cattle farmer from Chillicothe, Missouri.

"The slogan "Family farms, yes! Factory farms, no!" is often heard at Iowa CCI rallies and is shared by the thirty NFFC member groups from around the United States," Naylor said. "The slide toward corporate agriculture and the terrible social and environmental consequences we are witnessing in Iowa are apparent in other states in fact all over the world,"  stated Naylor.

Just like NFFC member groups, farm organizations in other countries recognize that todayís agricultural policies, particularly cheap grain policies like the latest U.S. farm bill, are outmoded if people want food produced from family farms, not corporate farms and animal factories. New thinking for agricultural policy is sweeping the world and participation in international farm coalitions, along with grassroots activism in the U.S. countryside, is giving the NFFC the potential for real change in the direction of farm policies.

"Itís been said that the solutions for democracy simply involve more democracy," Naylor said. "And whether itís the U.S. Congress or the World Trade Organization (WTO), family farmers and consumers must elevate their voices over the din of big business lobbyists."

NFFC and its member groups have urged every family farmer and consumer to tell their members of Congress that international free trade of food does not make sense for farm prosperity or for a safe and healthy food supply.

"Are the values of democracy, individual enterprise and responsibility compatible with current trade agreements and industrialized agriculture?" Naylor inquired. "No," he quickly answered, "and we donít have to put up with it anymore!"

NFFC member groups prioritized several vital issues relating to the corporate takeover of agriculture at its annual meeting. Near the top of NFFC groupsí list is coordination with Senator Grassley to enact a national ban on ownership of livestock by meat packers. The coalition is also working to establish a "Contractorís Bill of Rights," but aims to bring livestock ownership and production back to family farms.

Another pressing issue at NFFC is its active dairy groups that demand solutions to the nationís severely depressed milk prices. The NFFC dairy task force, aside from striving for better dairy legislation, declared a Kraft Foods North America Inc. boycott for its illegal use of imported "Milk Protein Concentrate" (MPC) in making cheese. Dairy groupsí complaints resulted in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sending a letter to Kraft demanding the cessation of this practice. So far, Kraftís response has been to re-label its "processed cheese food" as "processed cheese product" in an attempt to circumvent the law.

NFFC member groups in the Great Plains are working to stop the introduction of Roundup Ready wheat into their states. Flour millers in Europe and Asia announced at public hearings that once this genetically engineered wheat is introduced, all wheat from these states will not be bought, making their wheat only good for hog feed. "Weíve got enough hog feed already, and the family farmers and consumers must work together to regain control of their food system," concluded Naylor.

The National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), founded in 1986, brings together farmers and others to organize national projects focused on preserving and strengthening family farms. The organizationís mission is to serve as a national link for grassroots organizations working on family farm issues. NFFC membership currently consists of 34 grassroots farm, resource conservation, and rural advocacy groups from 32states.

Advocating opposition towards agriculture vertical integration, NFFC also correlates grass roots efforts for the following issues: farmer pricing agencies and true farmer-owned cooperatives; farm and trade policy centered on cost of production plus profit pricing at the farm level; environmental stewardship; an affordable food supply; educational campaigns about biotechnology and corporate control of food production; and petition campaigns to repeal mandatory federal producer checkoffs.

For further information about the organization, call 1-800-639-3276 or visit
http://www.nffc.net.
 

DR. WALTER GOLDSCHMIDT:
HOW MUCH FREEDOM ?
HOW MUCH EQUALITY ?

"I said earlier that one aspect of the Protestant ethic . . . is a belief that each individual's value is established by his accomplishment, and that for that reason each person should be allowed to grow as wealthy and powerful as he can. But this unfettered growth of wealth and power threatens the very social framework out of which it has emerged. It is not an easy dilemma to solve, for it confronts freedom with equality --- an age-old issue . . .

"How much freedom? How much equality? Very much is at stake, not only for the farm communities, but for the whole of the American polity. If, as  I have suggested, the growth of corporate control of agriculture is not a product of efficiency, intelligence and hard work --- of virtue according to the Protestant Ethic--- but a consequence of policies and manipulations, the matter takes on a different character. The task, is to reformulate policies respecting agriculture so that the competitive advantage of large scale operations are removed, so that the ordinary working farmer has an equal chance. If this is done, it may not be necessary to resolve the dilemma between freedom and equality."

--- Dr. Walter Goldschmidt, "The Rural Foundation of American Culture," Gregory Foundation Memorial Lecture, University of Missouri on January 26, 1976.
 

FLORIDA FARM WORKERS END
HUNGER STRIKE AT TACO BELL HDQRS
VOW TO CONTINUE EFFORTS FOR
BETTER WAGES, WORKING CONDITIONS

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Protesters ended a10-day hunger strike on Wednesday outside Taco Bell's Irvine, California headquarters over the wages of Florida tomato pickers.

The 30 protesters included members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which represents migrant workers from Florida.

The strikers ended their fast at the start of the Lenten season at the urging of religious leaders who were concerned about their health, coalition leader Laura Germino said.

The protesters want Taco Bell, one of the largest purchasers of Florida tomatoes, to pressure the state's growers to improve pay and conditions for workers, who earn about $7,500 annually.

``We feel their efforts are misdirected at our company,'' Taco Bell spokeswoman Laurie Gannon said. ``We don't have the power or the influence to gather the farm growers to meet with us or the coalition.''

The coalition has enlisted students, church groups and labor groups in a nearly two-year boycott of Taco Bell.

                                             EDITOR'S NOTE

Readers of the THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER can now view all 226 editions of the online newsletter at the Corporate Agribusiness Research Project's website
http://www.ea1.com/CARP/

A convenient on-site "Search" engine will also now allow the reader easy access to all the subject material contained in the aforementioned back issues.

In addition, to these issues the web site also provides readers with THE AGBIZ TILLER, and
"Between the Furrows."

THE AGBIZ TILLER, the progeny of the one-time printed newsletter, is an on-line news feature of the Project. In-depth essays dealing with corporate agribusiness activities are posted here periodically.

In "Between the Furrows," there is a wide range of pages designed to inform and educate readers on the inner workings of corporate agribusiness. In addition to CARP's "Mission Statement," "Overview" and the Project director's "Publication Background," the viewer will find a helpful "Fact Miners" page which is an effort to assist the reader in the necessary art of researching corporations; a page of  "Quotable Quotes" pertaining to agribusiness and corporate power; a  "Links" page which allow the reader to survey various useful public interest, government and corporate web sites; a "Feedback" page for reader input, and a page where readers can order directly the editor's The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness from Essential Books in Washington, D.C.

The CARP web site was designed and produced by ElectricArrow of Seattle, Washington.
http://www.electricarrow.com

Likewise, CONTRIBUTIONS FROM READERS are always appreciated and are 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.