EXAMINER Issue # 42 July 23, 1999
Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness From a Public Interest
For the next three to four weeks I will be traveling throughout the land attending meetings, visiting colleagues, watching the passing parade, snooping around for stories and generally having a life. On or about August 15 I shall return.
Although there is no subscription fee for THE AGRIBUSINESS
EXAMINER, donations will, as always, be gladly accepted.
One of my subscribers says he pays $30 a year for 12 issues of
a Health letter, and my weekly will hopefully go up to 52
so he feels it is worth at least the cost of a monthly newsletter.
I hope you agree. Checks made out to A.V. Krebs, P.O. Box 2201,
Everett, Washington 98203-0201 [NOT to "Agribusiness Examiner"]
will continue to be received with much gratitude.
TEAMSTERS UNION CROON
"LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART"
Living up to its legacy as the nation's number one "corporate outlaw," IBP Inc., the nation's largest meatpacker, has once again thwarted efforts by organized labor to guarantee humane and safe working conditions for packinghouse workers in the company's plants.
The latest chapter in the company's checkered labor history, which has included payoffs to corrupt union officials and repeated attempts to bust unions seeking fair worker representation and just wages, was recorded in Pasco, Washington where striking slaughterhouse workers returned to their jobs at the IBP Inc. plant angry that their national union had not supported their month-long strike and had failed to negotiate a settlement favorable to the rank and file.
The workers, while represented by the Teamsters Union, walked out on their own on June 4 after IBP's plant managers refused to slow down the facilities assembly production line. A strike vote was called for and approved on June 9. On June 16 the strikers sent letters to USDA complaining of worker safety and animal-rights violations. Five days later the workers overwhelmingly voted down IBP's contract proposal, however, on July 7 the workers ratified a new contract by a margin of 18 votes.
Local 556, with about 2,200 members, represents numerous nationalities in immigrant-rich southeastern Washington State and is well-represented inside the IBP plant, which employs about 1,250 of the local's members, where a largely Mexican work force toils alongside Vietnamese, Laotians, and Bosnians.
Shortly after the strikers returned to work on July 9, many of them feeling bitter that they had been "sold out" by their union, their local was placed under trusteeship. Teamsters spokesman Chip Roth said the unusual move --- which substitutes leadership of the local with a person chosen by the Teamsters --- was needed "to protect the integrity of the union contract with IBP and to ensure that members' grievances will be effectively addressed." He said the situation was considered "an emergency," a necessary condition for changing a local's leadership without a public hearing.
Meanwhile, the Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a dissident wing of the labor giant, charged the move was calculated to derail several strike leaders who had hoped to gain control of the local in November. The leaders were aligned with the TDU, which had a full-time organizer at the picket line throughout much of the strike at the plant in Walulla.
"This is an attack on democracy," TDU spokesman Ken Paff told the Los Angeles Times Nancy Cleeland. "These workers didn't get the support of the international, and now the international is trying to strip them of their right to a democratic election."
"They're trying to rob our union from us," says Maria Martinez, the chief shop steward inside the IBP plant and an outspoken leader of the dissident group. She and others allege that union leaders aren't responsive to the immigrant work force. Martinez has been using her ties to the TDU as a platform to educate Hispanic Teamsters locally and nationally about their rights as union members, arguing that such a campaign is necessary because Hispanics pay dues "but don't realize they have a voice in the union."
Such lack of responsiveness, she claims, became apparent during the strike when Teamster union leaders "sold us out." In particular, Martinez and her supporters are angry that while their new contract provided immediate pay increases, it replaced a long-running pension plan -- in which the company kicked in as much as $1.50 an hour -- with a 401(k) retirement plan to which workers must contribute.
The dissidents also contend that national leaders backed the strike only halfheartedly, refusing to support their proposal for a national boycott of IBP products while the union negotiators overlooked issues of worker safety and consumer protection -- issues Martinez and her fellow workers claim were at the crux of the strike.
Roth says Teamster leadership rejected the boycott idea because IBP products aren't sold under the IBP name, but rather under numerous private labels. Under the new contract, Local 556 reported will bring safety and health officials and industrial engineers into the plant to investigate production-line speeds and other safety complaints.
Roth also declared that "there's no foundation" for allegations that the Teamsters didn't support the strike. He notes that Jon Rabine, international vice president for the western region and a member of the Teamsters' national board, negotiated the contract. He calls that "an extraordinary commitment," since local union representatives typically handle their own talks.
He says the Teamsters sent Rabine in because the strike had
created a "dangerous set of circumstances," with union
members resigning and circulating the decertification petition
that, the union says, had been signed by "well over 500"
BUSTING, LOW WAGES,
UNION PAYOFF SCANDALS MARK IBP'S HISTORY
Despite its preeminence in the meatpacking industry, IBP Inc. for many cattle ranchers and labor unions stands as a modern day corporate agribusiness "robber baron."
When former Arizona governor Bruce Babbit, now Secretary of
the Interior, branded IBP a "corporate outlaw"
during the 1988 Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses he singled
it out as "a monument to everything shabby and backwards
and wrong in the American economy -- not only because the company
lies and cheats, but because it believes its employees are the
problem and not the solution."
IBP has a reputation for running a "tight" operation -- and nonunion plants in a region where meatpacking unions once were formidable. It has maintained relatively low wages -- to remain competitive, corporate officials claim -- and when local residents are unwilling to take the jobs, it has brought in people to the Midwestern towns from elsewhere, including Mexican and Asian immigrants, to work at the plants.
The Dakota City, Nebraska headquartered company was also immersed in one of the major corporate scandals of recent years. The origins of the scandal involved the company's board chairman, the late C.J. Holman, who was later convicted for conspiring with an organized crime figure to bribe the company's way into the worlds largest meat market --- the New York City metropolitan area --- through a series of kick-back payments to both union officials and supermarket executives.
In "Vicious Circles: The Mafia in the Marketplace,"
(W.W. Norton & Co. , New York: 1979) a remarkable piece of
investigative journalism, former Wall Street Journal
reporter Jonathan Kwitny, describes this "anatomy of a bribe."
"Iowa Beef, though founded only in 1961, already in 1970 dominated the meat industry the way few other industries are dominated by anyone. Since then, in partnership with [Moe] Steinman and his family and friends, Iowa Beef has grown more dominant still. It was as if the Mafia had moved into the automobile industry by summoning the executive committee of General Motors, or the computer industry by summoning the heads of IBM, or the oil industry by bringing Exxon to its knees. Moe Steinman and the band of murderers and thugs he represented had effectively kidnapped a giant business. Its leaders were coming to pay him the ransom, a ransom that turned out to be both enormous and enduring."
"As a result of the meeting in the darkened suite at the Stanhope Hotel [in New York City] that day in 1970, Iowa Beef would send millions of dollars to Steinman and his family under an arrangement that continued at least until 1978. After the meeting millions more would go to a life-long pal of Steinman and his Mafia friends, a man who had gone to prison for using slimy, diseased meat in filling millions of dollars in orders [by bribing meat inspectors] and wound up on Iowa Beef's board of directors.
"Consequent to the meeting in the Stanhope Hotel, Iowa
Beef would reorganize its entire marketing apparatus to allow
Steinman's organization complete control over the company's largest
market and influence over its operations coast-to-coast. In 1975,
Iowa Beef would bring Moe Steinman's son-in-law and protege
to its headquarters near Sioux City to run the company's largest
division and throw his voice into vital corporate decisions."
"Because of their hold on Iowa Beef, the racketeers'
control of other segments of the meat industry would expand and
harden. And as a result of all this, the price of meat for the
American consumer --- the very thing Currier Holman had done so
much to reduce --- would rise. Meyer Lansky once said that
the Syndicate was bigger than U.S. Steel. When Iowa
Beef Processors caved in on that April day in 1970, the Syndicate,
as far as the meat industry was concerned, became U.S. Steel."
CHARGES NATIONAL BEEF PACKING COMPANY:
ENGAGING IN "AN UNFAIR AND POSSIBLY
UNJUST DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICE"
USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration has filed a complaint against Farmland National Beef Packing Company, L.P., Liberal, Kansas, the nation's fourth largest beef packer, alleging that the company violated the Packers and Stockyards Act.
The complaint alleges that Farmland changed its bidding and buying practices at Callicrate Cattle Company Feedyard, St. Francis, Kansas. The complaint says Farmland failed to make bids on or purchase cattle from Callicrate Feedyard after an article critical of Farmland written by Callicrate Feedyard's sales manager was published in a livestock journal.
Alleging that by failing to make bids on or purchase cattle from Callicrate Feedyard, the complaint charges Farmland engaged in an unfair and possibly unjustly discriminatory practice and subjected Callicrate Feedyard to an undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.
According to the complaint, Farmland failed to make bids on or purchase cattle from Callicrate Feedyard, while routinely making bids on and purchasing cattle from other similarly situated feedyards located in the same geographic area as Callicrate Feedyard. The complaint states that Farmland failed to make bids on or purchase any cattle from Callicrate Feedyard for the sale weeks beginning December 21, 1998, through June 21, 1999, with the exception of the sale weeks of March 8, 1999, through March 22, 1999.
"Our job is to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act," said GIPSA's Administrator James Baker. "This case goes to the heart of the concerns that every small-and medium-sized producer has about possible retaliation, discrimination and denial of market access in the livestock industry."
Farmland will have an opportunity to respond to the
complaint and request an oral hearing before an administrative
CONSUMER FOOD PRICES INCREASE,
CORPORATE PROFITS MULTIPLY
While prices for wheat, corn and other major crops were being described as "confiscatory" by North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, while the USDA was reporting that retail food prices have risen 7.6% over the past three years as the cost of commodities like wheat, corn and cattle has fallen 10.7% corporate agribusinesses like IBP and Philip Morris were sizeable profits.
IBP, the nation's leading meatpacker, announced that its second quarter earnings totaled $77 million, up 126% from $34 million during the second quarter of 1998. Net sales for the quarter totaled $3.5 billion versus $3.3 billion in 1998. The company's net earnings for the first half of 1999 were $133 million compared to $47 million in the first half of 1998. Net sales for the first six months of 1999 and 1998 were $6.6 billion.
Likewise, Philip Morris Cos., the nation's leading food manufacturer, reported a 17% increase in net income, citing stronger food sales in the U.S. and higher cigarette prices. Its net income reached $2.03 billion, compared with $1.74 billion in the same period a year ago. The Company said operating income in its Kraft Foods North America unit rose 7% to $946 million, while revenue rose about 2%, to $4.63 billion. The unit's beverage operations posted double-digit growth in volume.The company's financial services unit's, Philip Morris Capital Corp., reported a 17.6% increase in operating income, to $60 million.
At the same time corporate agribusiness is prospering the nation's farmers are looking at still another price depression as the USDA recently lowered its projected prices for wheat by 15 cents a bushel from a month ago and for corn and soybeans by five cents. Soybean prices will be the lowest they've been since the early 1970s.
Meanwhile, Dan Balz of the Washington Post reports President
Clinton came to Iowa last week "to talk about preserving
America's prosperity by modernizing its aging schools and hiring
more classroom teachers. He had little to say, however, about
the Iowa's deepening farm crisis," offering no concrete pledges
of action, saying only, "We're working on it."
Yet, wheat prices are now expected to average between $2.45 to $2.95 a bushel this year because of oversupply. Three years ago, before a worldwide glut of grain drove prices down sharply, wheat was selling for an average of $4.30 a bushel.
In 1950, wheat sold for $2 a bushel, or $13.67 a bushel in 1998 dollars. A pound of bread cost 14 cents in 1950. The slump in commodity prices is expected to have little impact on consumers because raw commodities generally account for only a fraction of the price of food. For example, farmers receive seven cents of each dollar consumers spend on baked goods and cereal.
While farmers get 21 cents of each dollar Americans spend on
food, Philip Morris gets ten cents of every American food
dollar and ConAgra, the nation's second largest food manufacturer
an estimated six cents of every food dollar.
"I don't think there's enough people who make a correlation
between the wheat farmer and the price of bread or the cereal
in a cereal box," said Naomi King, who farms with her husband
near Jetmore, Kan. ``They don't understand how little the farmer
gets, that's for sure."
Meanwhile, at IBP "all of our major operating divisions have been running smoothly and successfully," Robert L. Peterson, IBP chairman and chief executive officer, boasts. "Strong performance by our fresh meat operations along with continued growth in the foodservice market have been the driving forces behind this earnings growth."
Brisk retail demand, according to the company, coupled with
IBP's continued focus on
growing margins and creating added value for customers, led to stronger beef profitability during the quarter. At the same time, the company was able to make efficient use of its processing capacity to generate improved pork margins for the second quarter.
According to the Company, larger feedlot placements over the past several months indicate cattle supplies will be larger-than-expected during the remainder of 1999 while increased placements coupled with continued heavy market cattle have led to upward revised forecasts by industry analysts. U.S. beef production in 1999, IBP claims, is now projected to reach record levels as hog supplies for the balance of the year are also expected to remain at higher levels than previously anticipated.
IBP Enterprises, a division that includes the value-added subsidiaries of Foodbrands America and The Bruss Company, continued to show yearly gains in sales and earnings as early second quarter acquisition of two prepared food companies, H&M Food Systems and Russer Foods, will add approximately $350 million in annual sales.
IBP also has announced that Wilton Foods, Inc.
will become part of Foodbrands. The New York based company
is a leading producer of hors d'oeurves, appetizers, premium kosher
meals and prepared foods, with annual sales of more than $20 million.
THOSE INGLORIOUS DEVICES FOR OBTAINING
INDIVIDUAL PROFIT WITHOUT INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY
Proving in one country that it is not beneath cooperating in economic blackmail while making it apparent in another country that it owes no loyalty to national interests when it comes to market share, bioengineer giant's Novartis and Monsanto continues to give new meaning to Ambrose Bierce's classic definition of a corporation: "that inglorious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility."
In a recent affidavit by Monsanto and Novartis, Novartis threatens that if Ireland does not permit the deliberate release of genetically modified products, then "it may well become uneconomic for Novartis to continue to supply traditional seed to the Irish market. Given the importance of Novartis on the Irish market, this would have serious implications for the Irish sugar beet industry."
Monsanto and Novartis both claim that any delays in the testing of their product will cause them to lose "millions of pounds" of potential profits. The companies are rushing to field test the sugar beets and get them on the market before the patent runs out in 2011. Monsanto has applied for licenses for five other field sites in areas all over the country.
On May 1, 1997 the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted Monsanto the first license in Ireland for a deliberate release of genetically modified organisms -- Roundup Ready sugar beet (a joint venture between Monsanto and Novartis).
Clare Watson, founding member of Genetic Concern! sought a High Court Judicial Review of the EPA's decision to grant the license. An interim injunction prevented Monsanto from planting the genetically modified sugar beets in the Carlow test site (a government research center), and a Judicial Review was granted.
The injunction was later overturned, and Monsanto planted the genetically modified sugar beets on the same day. Not long after, members of the Gaelic Earth Liberation Front (GELF) destroyed the crop. The Judicial Review was held on May 19, 1999. If the Court finds that the license was improperly granted, then Monsanto will be forced to abandon its plans to field test the genetically modified sugar beets.
The Roundup Ready sugar beets are designed to tolerate Monsanto's Roundup herbicide a product that currently accounts for 90% of Monsanto sales in Ireland. The sugar beets would be the first deliberate release of genetically modified organisms in the country.
In Argentina, meanwhile, where 72.6% of the 1998/99 crop of
soya was genetically modified (GM), Lindsay Keenan, now working
for Greenpeace UK and who previously ran Genetix Food Alert, a
group set up by the wholefood trade in the United Kingdom who
want to remain GM free, reports that Argentinean farmers did not
have to pay Monsanto any technology fee, that they
did not have to sign an agreement to use Round-up and that they
could save the seeds for use in the next season
(indeed they had already been doing so).
Keenan notes that Martin Pietro from Greenpeace confirmed "that yes this was also his understanding of the agreements in Argentina. This is interesting because it would mean that Monsanto is having to forgo the $5 per bag of seed (50lbs) that they currently charge farmers in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, Monsanto is also currently prosecuting many U.S. farmers for saving GM seeds.
"Clearly the cost benefit of Monsanto's package
will depend upon the actual price that Monsanto is selling
the package for," Keenan adds, "and if they sell it
cheaply enough it will be more interesting to farmers. Economically
and agronomically there is no particular reason why Monsanto
should be able to sell these products at a reduced rate. In fact
the increased costs of the biotechnology involved have indeed
led to increases in the basic seed plus weedkiller package for
farmers in the U.S. and Canada."
SECRETARY DAN GLICKMAN ON GMO FOOD
"I EAT EVERYTHING
IF ANYTHING IS THERE, I EAT IT.
I PRESUME IT IS SAFE AND GOOD"
As many nations throughout the world are increasingly challenging the concept of bioengineering in agriculture USDA Secretary Dan Glickman continues to shill for the biotech industry in the U.S. hyping the benefits of biotech foods, and downplaying the risks.
In one such effort at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. before a ballroom packed with biotech industry and agribusiness executives and reporters Glickman delivered his "How Will Scientists, Farmers, and Consumers Learn to Love Biotechnology, and What Happens If They Don't?" speech.
Some reporters, "Focus on Corporations" columnists Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman report, misinterpreted Glickman's "five principles to guide the oversight of biotechnology in the 21st century" --- an arm's length regulatory process, consumer acceptance, fairness to farmers, corporate citizenship, and fair and open trade --- "as meaning the government was serious about reining in an industry that has run roughshod over public health concerns."
Not to worry. Carl Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Association (BIO) which represents member companies such as Monsanto and Genentech, thought "it was a good speech. We are quite comfortable with his five principles. As you get into the details, I could not find much to quibble with. It is in no way a blow to the biotech industry. It was quite positive."
After the speech was over a group of reporters, including Mokhiber and Weissman sought some clarifications from Glickman.
"We asked Glickman why the USDA spent $100,000 to help develop the terminator seed technology --- if farmers plant these seeds, still in final development, the resulting crop would produce seed that is sterile, and farmers would be forced to buy new seed from the companies. At first, Glickman handed the question over to his aide, Keith Pitts. But we wanted Glickman to answer the question.
"'I certainly don't like the name of it --- it scares the hell out of me,' Glickman said. Okay, so the name scares you. But what about the technology itself? Does that scare the hell out of you? `We need to study this,' he said.
"But sir, do you think this technology should be allowed onto the market?
"Another Glickman associate yells that `he has answered the question.' But Glickman realizes he hasn't answered the question. `In the future, we have to be very careful at USDA so that we don't finance the kind of arrangements that exclude family farmer choices,' Glickman said."
Glickman made the point that genetically engineered foods are already in the food supply. For 1998 crops, 44% of U.S. soybeans and 36% of U.S. corn were produced from genetically modified seeds.
"Are you concerned Mr. Secretary that we are already eating genetically modified foods without knowing it, without it being labeled? `You may be, I don't know if you are or not,' Glickman responded. `I eat everything. If anything is there, I eat it. I presume it is safe and good. By and large, people have confidence in this country's system of food safety regulation,' Glickman said. `The FDA is viewed as independent.'
"Glickman was dismissive of the Europeans for opposing biotech imports from the United States. `When you go over there [to Europe] the attitude is -- don't confuse me with the facts,' Glickman said.
The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) has raised the question -- "do we have the right to experiment with, and commercialize, the building blocks of life? I personally have no wish to eat anything produced by genetic modification, nor do I knowingly offer this sort of produce to my family or guests," Prince Charles has said.
When Mokhiber and Weissman asked about Prince Charles' critique, Glickman was flip. "I don't ask him to be Prince, and he doesn't ask me to be Secretary," Glickman said.
"Before boarding the elevator to leave the Press Club, USDA communications director Tom Amontree accused us of being `rude' and not `nice.'
"In what sense were we rude?
"You are rude because you were being `very argumentative'
and you were asking `leading questions,' he said.
CORPORATE AGRIBUSINESS GOES
SO GOES MAINE?
People living in Hancock County, Maine are concerned about a possible increase in water-borne garbage and they have every right to be since such a problem already exists in nearby Washington County, home of Atlantic Salmon of Maine (ASOM) a Fairfield, Maine-based salmon farming company.
Currently ASOM operates salmon farming facilities in Washington County, and are planning to expand their operation to the Blue Hill Bay area in Hancock County.
At an April 15 hearing ASOM presented the necessary plans and research necessary to acquire a permit for their Blue Hill operation. They also explained plans unrelated to the lease process: They intend to transport fish and feed by barge from their Washington County location, and to process the Blue Hill salmon at their Machias, Maine facility.
They also indicated they will attempt to keep the area free of garbage. The lease, however, is not contingent on these plans being carried out as ASOM has no legal agreement with anyone to prevent garbage accumulating on area beaches.
The fact that this has already been a problem in their Washington county facility is underscored by the fact that the majority ownership of ASOM is held by two of the United States' largest agribusiness companies, Continental Grain Company and Seaboard Corporation.
Continental, with its subsidiary Premium Standard, and Seaboard Corporation, both with their corporate hog facilities and cattle feedlots scattered throughout the Midwest already have a very poor reputation for being odorous neighbors and repeatedly degrading the environment.
Thus, considering the reputation these two companies have,
their lack of accountability in the fact that both companies are
privately-held with no community control over how they operate,
the citizens of Hancock County have every reason to be concerned
about allowing these two corporate agribusiness giants to move
into their area.
"DOESN'T BODE WELL FOR FUTURE WHISTLEBLOWERS"
Legal experts are still scratching their collective heads on the rather curious sentencing of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) executives Michael Andreas, Terrance Wilson and Mark Whitacre. The three were convicted of fixing the price of the feed additive lysine and Judge Blanche Manning sentenced both Andreas and Wilson to two years in jail and a $350,000 fine.
However, it was one of Judge Manning's finding in the sentencing that has left legal experts perplexed. She determined that Whitacre was a manager of the conspiracy -- and thus liable to heavier penalties -- even though he was outranked by at least one of his co-defendants, whom she found to have no managerial role.
Whitacre was sentenced to two and a half years in prison even though, just a few months after the price-fixing conspiracy began, he brought the matter to the attention of the government and for years afterward, he worked as a government informant in the case, secretly tape-recording his colleagues and competitors as they met to fix prices.
Judge Manning's ruling stumped legal experts. "She's taking a very, very bizarre view of the word manager," Gerald Lefcourt, a prominent defense lawyer in New York City told the New York Times Kurt Eichenwald. "The vice chairman is at the higher level of the conspiracy. Not to give him a managerial role and to give it to someone who carried out the price fixing is pretty silly." Prosecutors in the case said that they could not explain the ruling.
In part, Eichenwald speculates, the outcome stems from the complex workings of the federal sentencing guidelines, which use a complex formula for determining ranges for prison terms for each defendant.
The fact that Whitacre wound up with the longest jail sentence stemmed from the fact that after raids on ADM in 1995, Whitacre was soon discredited as a witness, losing his immunity from prosecution, when it was learned that he had been allegedly illegally taking millions of dollars from the company, even while working as an informant. Whitacre, however, claims the so-called "illegal" money was actually "kickbacks" that was part of ADM's corporate culture.
But the fact that Whitacre was judged guilty helped to account for some part of the odd outcome in the price-fixing sentence. In 1997, Whitacre pleaded guilty to fraud charges and was already serving a nine-year sentence. As a result, under the sentencing guideline calculations, Whitacre was treated as a repeat offender which automatically added to the sentences under the guidelines.
In addition, by ruling that Whitacre was a manager in the conspiracy, while his co-defendants were not, the judge increased Whitacre's "offense level" to the highest of any of the three executives.
Only 20 months of Whitacre's new sentence will be on top of his current term, with the additional 10 months served concurrently, thus the amount of time he will actually serve in prison for price fixing will be a few months less than the sentence of Andreas or Wilson.
Eichenwald reports that some legal experts worry about the
message that that future possible informants might take after
seeing that Whitacre's actual sentence was the longest of anyone's
in the case. "I could not have imagined a whistleblower,
even this kind of self-destructive, unreliable whistleblower,
being turned on this harshly by the government," said John
C. Coffee Jr., a
professor at Columbia University Law School. "It doesn't bode well for future whistleblowers."
Andreas and Wilsons sentencing also had it bizarre twists. For example, Judge Manning was told Wilson's poor health should exempt the former head of ADM's corn processing unit from any actual jail time as Wilson's heart was so weak that he had received special permission from his country club to drive his golf cart off the club's cart paths to hit his golf ball because he didn't have the wind to walk.
Andreas, the son of former ADM CEO and board chairman Dwayne O. Andreas, also had his advocates arguing against any jail time for the one-time heir apparent of the company. At the sentencing Manning noted she had received several letters testifying to his outstanding character. One, dated February 16, 1999, came from the political fixer Robert Strauss, the former Democratic Party boss, congressman, ambassador to Russia and current ADM board member. Strauss wrote:
"I was disturbed to learn ... of the allegations of greed being leveled by the Government at ADM and Mick Andreas and his family . . . Market fights between U.S. companies," Strauss explained, "attempting to deal with the potentially destructive competition of Asian companies are, in my experience, seldom a product of greed. Rather they are more often an attempt to find ways to survive the onslaught of foreign industries who have often been protected by their own governments and allowed latitude to compete unfairly in the United States."
But, as farm columnist Alan Guebert rightfully notes "of all the testimony offered at the July 9 sentencing hearing, the most honest came from Whitacre, linked by phone from his South Carolina prison. `I was both young and stupid to play the risky and unethical corporate games of the ADM elite. Life in prison has been better than life at ADM,' said the busted biochemist."
And yet, as Guebert points out, life in the ag markets goes
on. On June 25, the three major U.S. lysine makers--ADM
("Supermarkup to the World"), BioKyowa and Heartland
--- all raised bulk lysine prices from 44 cents per pound
to 59 cents per pound . . . and all within minutes of each other!!!
A POLL FROM PROGRESSIVE FARMER MAGAZINE
What effect do you think recent consolidation in agribusiness
(example: the Cargill/Continental merger) will have on your operation?
No effect: 9%
Positive effect: 5%
Negative effect: 86%