EXAMINER Issue # 89 October 4, 2000
Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness From a Public Interest Perspective
As THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER begins it’s third year of publication its
editor\publisher is deeply indebted to that small handful of readers who have so
generously supported the work of the publication since its inception. In the
coming year it is hoped that not only will THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER’s
over 1000 readers find it and its accompanying website useful in their work, but
that they will see fit to financially contribute whatever they can comfortably
afford to its continued existence. Checks should be payable and sent to A.V.
Krebs, P.O. Box 2201, Everett, Washington 98203-0201. To those not already
receiving THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER just your name and e-mail address
sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will put you on the list to receive each and every
NADER UNVEILS NEW AG POLICY;
SHIFT CONTROL FROM CORPORATE AGRIBUSINESS
BACK TO FAMILY FARMERS
Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader has released an agricultural policy that would shift control of American agriculture away from corporate conglomerates and back to the family farmer. Nader also faulted the control of the food industry by corporate agribusiness for the serious economic, health and environmental problems that farmers and consumers are facing.
Nader called for a federal farm policy that would accord with consumer, environmental, worker and family farm standards of justice and sustainability. "This entails shifting government policy to provide research and information relevant to independent food producers, ensuring open and competitive markets, promoting new food infrastructures, and preventing pollution and the degradation of natural resources," Nader said.
Specifically, Nader's plan, "Toward a Better Farm and Food Policy," calls for:
* Enforcing anti-trust laws against agribusiness conglomerates and implementing a moratorium on mergers among the largest agribusinesses -Prohibiting meat-packer ownership of livestock production and grain-packer ownership of grain production
* Strengthening the farm program for grain commodities to include a farmer-owned grain reserve, a long-term land idling and conservation program and a non-recourse loan program for family farmers
* Redirecting USDA research towards less capital intensive, more ecologically beneficial production, as with organic farming, supporting value-enhancing agriculture, and increasing research in direct marketing methods for small farmers
* Crafting a policy on genetically engineered foods that applies the precautionary principle and takes into account environmental and food safety risks, and the need for informed consumer choice
* Targeting government food procurement towards small, local farms
* Allowing American farmers to grow industrial hemp, which is now legal to import but can't be grown in the U.S.
"By weakening the stranglehold that agribusiness has on the food industry, we will be able to increase farm gate prices and competition, which will consequently reduce food costs for consumers," Nader explained.
Nader cited the recent controversy over the Rieland Dairy in Fillmore County, Minnesota as a prime example of the failure of government to protect small farmers and citizens from the excesses of industrial agriculture. This past spring the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) retracted a nine-page report that detailed a number of serious environmental concerns that MDC had with the proposed development. The language of the report was absolutely unequivocal, stating that there is a ".high potential for the new confinement project to contaminate drinking water supplies in the area."
However, on May 16th after substantial pressure from the Minnesota
Department of Agriculture and state legislators, the MDH retracted the 9-page report and substituted a 2-paragraph memo that withdrew it's original request for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). On May 23, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Citizens Board voted 5-2 against requiring the Rieland Dairy to file an EIS despite vociferous appeals from local citizens-including farmers and environmentalists-and testimony from scientists and officials from the Department of Natural Resources.
JUDGE GLADYS KESSLER:
INAUDIBLY APPROVES DOFJ FINAL JUDGMENT;
OK’S CARGILL BUYING CONTINENTAL GRAIN DIVISION
Cargill Inc.’s purchase of the grain commodity division of Continental Grain has been given final approval by Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a Final Judgment motion with the court.
While the judge’s approval was expected the fact that her decision was made over three months ago on June 30, 2000 and only became public knowledge this past week after THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER learned from a DofJ attorney that such a judgment had been ordered left critics of the purchase puzzled and wary.
No mention of the judge’s decision can be found on the DofJ’s Cargill\Continental Case File web site nor in the news releases issued by the Dof J press office and, not surprisingly, no mentioned of the approval ever appeared in the media.
Judge Kessler in granting the DofJ’s Final Judgment said that she found the DofJ’s approval of the sale to be in “the public interest.”
In making that judgment Judge Kessler noted that “the legal standard for the Court’s public interest determination is a deferential one, allowing the Court to withhold its approval only under very limited conditions” and that “the Court may not withhold its approval simply because the proposed Final Judgment does not contain the relief the Court itself might have awarded after a trial on the merits resulting in a finding of liability.
“Moreover, the Court must confine its review of the proposed Final Judgment to the violations charged in the complaint. Approval should be withheld only if: a) any of the terms appear ambiguous; b) the enforcement mechanism is inadequate: c) third parties will be positively injured; or d) the decree otherwise makes `a mockery of judicial power.’”
Just as did the DofJ dismiss the public comments challenging its divestiture order so did Judge Kessler in her nine-page “Memorandum Opinion.”
Those challenges included: a) the proposed settlement did not go far enough to ensuring competition; b) that the DofJ’s definition of the relevant markets was too narrow as the DofJ , considered only local and regional markets; c) after the merger Cargill would have the ability to depress the prices it pays to farmers, “who are a large and disorganized group of sellers, unable to assert any real control over the price they are paid for their grain;” d) the proposed Final Judgment did not address the problem of vertical integration in agribusiness; e) that there was no assurance in the Final Judgment that the divested operations would remain competitive forces in the relevant markets; f) that the DofJ failed to explain the benefits of the merger; g) that the DofJ failed to consider several other statues when structuring the proposed Final Judgment, and h) that the DofJ failed to consider the possibility of continuing anti-competitive behavior by Cargill after the merger, and the effect of the removal of Continental as a competitor of Cargill.
In sum, Judge Kessler wrote, “because none of the terms in the proposed Final Judgment appear ambiguous, because the enforcement mechanism appears adequate, because no third parties will be positively injured, and because the settlement does not otherwise make `a mockery of judicial power, ‘ the Final Judgment shall be approved.”
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE:
IGNORING ITS OWN MONOPOLY GUIDELINES
In its proposed Final Judgment filed on July 8, 1999 and its Competitive Impact Statement filed on July 23, 1999, which Judge Gladys Kessler relied on in approving Continental Grain’s commodity division sale to Cargill, the U.S. Department of Justice ignored its own anti-competitive guidelines.
Events surrounding the divestiture of the Cargill’s leased Port of Seattle elevator vivid illustrates such DofJ hypocrisy
Discussing the nation’s grain network the DofJ, in filing its “Complaint” on July 8, 1999, noted that in each instance, the geographic area from which a country elevator, river elevator, rail terminal, or port elevator receives grain is limited by transportation costs and is known as a "captive draw area" for that facility. Draw areas, they concluded, expand and contract only slightly in response to normal economic fluctuations in crop supply, crop demand, and transportation costs.
For many country elevators, river elevators, railroad terminals, and port elevators, draw areas overlap. Cargill and Continental often operated facilities that had overlapping draw areas, and they therefore competed with one another for the purchase of wheat, corn, and soybeans from the same producers or other suppliers.
In evaluating concentration is these “captive draw areas” under DofJ guidelines, any market with a Herfindahl-Hirschman Index ("HHI") above 1,800 is considered highly concentrated. The HHI is a way to measure concentration.It has more or less replaced the four firm concentration ratio. It is calculated by taking the sum of the square of market shares. A monopoly is 100 squared, or 10,000. Ten firms, each with 10 percent, would be 10 times 10 = 1,000. A duopoly with equal shares would be 50 times 50 = 5,000.
The DofJ’s Antitrust guidelines consider an industry with an HHI of 1,000 or less to be competitive, and an HHI of 1,800 or more to be pretty concentrated. An increase in the HHI of 100 is considered important enough to trigger a merger review.
In the Pacific Northwest “captive draw area” (which includes Western Minnesota, eastern North Dakota and northeastern South Dakota), for example, port range markets for corn and soybean purchases have been highly concentrated, with the top four port elevator operators accounting for 100% of all corn and soybean purchases in these markets. Cargill alone accounted for about 44% of all soybean purchases and 23% of all corn purchases while Continental, in a joint venture with Cenex Harvest States, accounted for about 50% of all soybean purchases and 30% of all corn purchases in the same port range.
Thus, prior to the proposed acquisition, the Cargill\Continental HHI was 4468 for soybeans and 3640 for corn, well beyond the HHI guideline.
With the DofJ divesture order, the elevator Cargill had leased from the Port of Seattle, Washington since 1970 was in turn leased to Louis Dreyfus who assumed the remainder of Cargill's five-year lease. The Port will continue to receive more than $1 million a year in rent, including 50% of all dockage revenue generated from the facility. Dreyfus will have the option of renewing the lease once it expires in November 2005.
Cargill in turn assumed 50% control of the nearby Tacoma, Washington
port terminal with Cenex while some 100 miles to the south on the Columbia River, ConAgra, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and the Mitsubishi Corp. a leading Japanese trading company, operate the Kalama Export Company LLC, affording western Washington State a who's who of the international grain trade.
In all of the ten U.S. facilities ordered divested by the DofJ, half of them have are now part of the Louis Dreyfus corporate structure. The Louis Dreyfus Corporation, with world headquarters in Paris, France and U.S. headquarters in Wilton, Connecticut, traditionally has been ranked among the four largest grain traders in the world, behind Cargill, Continental and the Bunge & Born Corporation. In 1999 the privately-owned company generated $18 billion in revenue.
DONALDSON, LUFKIN & JENRETTE:
LARGE PRIVATE EQUITY FUND
BIDS TO PURCHASE IBP STOCK
For approximately $2.4 billion in cash plus the refinancing and assumption of approximately $1.4 billion in debt Rawhide Holdings Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of DLJ Merchant Banking Partners III, L.P., a private equity fund affiliated with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc., has reached an agreement to purchase the outstanding stock of IBP.
Upon completion of the purchase , project to be in early 2001, DLJ Merchant Banking Partners III and affiliated funds will become the majority owner of IBP, the nation’s largest meatpacker. Other investors will include Archer Daniels Midland Company, a Booth Creek Partners and certain IBP management employees.
Thompson Dean, Managing Partner of DLJ Merchant Banking Partners III, said, “We are excited to invest in a company that has such exciting growth prospects as well as strong management. We look forward to providing management with the capital to aggressively grow these businesses.”
The surprise bid of $22.25 a share by DLJ , one of the nation's leading integrated investment and merchant banks of IBP, which has been branded as the nation’s “number one corporate outlaw” immediately has raised a number of questions.
"I don't think it's a fair price at this point," Christine McCracken of Midwest Research told Dow Jones Newservices after reviewing the all-cash offer from DLJ, IBP's long-time investment banker. "Shareholders should expect something much higher" than what DLJ bid, she said. "On a strategic basis, this company should have at least a $27 or $28 stock," McCracken said.
Analysts who argue that IBP is worth more than what DLJ bid cite the meat
processor's move into its Thomas E. Wilson’s branded fresh meats, called "case-ready" meats. Increasingly the nation’s big four meat processors, are
replacing in-store butchers at supermarkets by delivering pre-cut products,
such as sirloin steaks, that bear a branded name.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., for example, are rapidly expanding into the grocery business, and project that they will shift responsibility to processors such as IBP for its packaged meats.
"It's a huge step up in profitability," Midwest Research's McCracken said of the yields on case-ready meats as opposed to commodity-type cuts that are shipped to supermarkets, where store personnel do the final carving and wrapping.
She estimates that case-ready could be "60% more profitable for IBP." In
assessing why IBP would agree to go private now, McCracken suggested that the move would give them the "financial flexibility to move ahead a little more aggressively (into the case-ready business) than they would if shareholders were an issue." By her calculation, IBP has about a 30% share of the beef-processing market and 18% of the domestic pork-processing market.
Prudential Securities Inc.'s John McMillin, who has tracked IBP for years, agreed that "the bid's too low" and said, "The $64,000 question is, will
another bidder emerge?"
Among those who have been suggested was Smithfield, Virginia’s Smithfield Foods Inc., the nation’s largest pork processor and producer, who recently took a 6.3% stake in IBP, its biggest rival. Noting that IBP stock was trading around $15 when Smithfield disclosed its stake, a company spokesman admitted, "We made some money on our investment."
Jerry Hostetter, the Smithfield spokesman, said the company has recently increased its stake in IBP to seven percent but noted that Smithfield had filed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) forms indicating it was also a passive investor. Of the merchant bank's offer, Hostetter said: "We just learned about it. We're studying the situation."
Another question raised by the DLJ purchase relates to the fact that DLJ itself is in the process of being acquired by Credit Suisse First Boston for $11.5 billion and the IBP deal would be DLJ's biggest acquisition.
Also, the chairman of DLJ, John S. Chalsty, is a longtime IBP director. He also chairs the company's compensation committee, which last year awarded IBP Chairman and Chief Executive Robert L. Peterson a $6.3 million bonus on top of his $1 million salary. In FY 1999 Peterson received a total of $7,672,917 in executive compensation.
Technically, DLJ's bid was made through an affiliated private equity fund
called DLJ Merchant Banking Partners III LP. The acquisition announcement said that and other affiliated funds would become the majority owner of IBP. Significantly, the group also includes ADM, “Supermarkup to the World,” which holds 13.3% of IBP's common shares, and thus takes it out of the running as a counter-bidder.
According to filings with the SEC, ADM bought the IBP shares as a passive investment about two years ago. Larry Cunningham, a spokesman for ADM, said his company now owns "roughly 14%."
Booth Creek Partners is a holding company controlled by businessman George Gillete. Gillete also once served as the chairman of Corporate Brands Foods, which the Dakota Dunes, South Dakota.-based IBP purchased.
According to a February report by Michele Conklin of the Denver Rocky Mountain News Gillett's company lost $18.8 million last year “and could be on the rocks if it can't make projections this year,” according to documents filed by the company. Vail-based Booth Creek Holdings Inc., formed in 1996, owns seven ski resort complexes in New Hampshire, Wyoming, Washington and California, including the Lake Tahoe area.
Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette is a leading integrated investment and merchant bank serving institutional, corporate, government and individual clients. DLJ's businesses include securities underwriting; sales and trading; investment and merchant banking; financial advisory services; investment research; venture capital; correspondent brokerage services; online, interactive brokerage services; and asset management. Founded in 1959 and headquartered in New York City, DLJ employs approximately 11,300 people worldwide and maintains offices in 13 cities in the United States and 16 cities in Europe, Latin America.
SENATOR PAUL WELLSTONE:
WILL DEMAND DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
“SCRUTINIZE” POSSIBLE “ADM-IBP MERGER”
Sen. Paul Wellstone (Dem.-Minnesota) upon learning that Rawhide Holdings Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of DLJ Merchant Banking Partners III, L.P., a private equity fund affiliated with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc., has reached an agreement to acquire the stock of IBP Inc. for approximately $3.8 billion, promised that he would "press federal antitrust officials to scrutinize" the proposed acquisition.
Because the investment group includes Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), Wellstone speculated that ADM may double its present 13.3% stake in IBP if the deal goes through --- which IBP confirmed to Dow Jones NewsService.
Wellstone fears that family farmers could be "squeezed" by the same company that sells them grain and buys their fed livestock in what he called "an ADM-IBP merger that would signal an unprecedented case of vertical integration. ADM is one of the biggest feed producers in the world --- they make the inputs. IBP is one of the largest packers --- they take the outputs. So family farmers will be squeezed in the middle.
“I will call for close antitrust scrutiny," he promised. "How much more concentration has to occur in agriculture before we demand a moratorium?" Wellstone asked.
By an overwhelming 71-27 vote the U.S. Senate earlier this year defeated an amendment by Wellstone to impose an 18-month moratorium on mergers within corporate agribusiness.
The moratorium would have applied to all mergers where one company had net revenue of more than $100 million and the other had more than $10 million. Farmer-owned cooperatives would have been exempt from the measure.
Vowing to lead the nation’s "Prairie Populists" to fight for broader antitrust laws Wellstone, while expressing disappointment that the expected 40 Senate votes supporting the moratorium failed to materialize, emphasized that, "We have to have thousands of farmers and ranchers and rural people here to shake up the Capitol.”
Lamenting how his colleagues had caved in to what he called food industry lobbying,. Wellstone told Successful Farming’s Dan Looker, "They don’t want to offend any of the big conglomerates for anything. I do. I want to take on the economic interests."
MORE URGE TO MERGE
Pilgrim’s Pride Acquires WLR Foods
Pilgrim's Pride Corp. announced last week it has reached an agreement with WLR Foods Inc. to acquire WLR for approximately $300 million in a deal scheduled to be completed in December.
The acquisition will make Pilgrim's Pride the number two chicken
company in the U.S. and move Pilgrim's Pride into turkey production, where WLR is the fourth-largest producer in the U.S., a company announcement claimed. The chicken industry position is projected from Pilgrim's Pride's numbers, which a spokesperson said include expansion at the company since capacities were published earlier this year. He declined to disclose what the capacity would be.
WLR chief executive officer and president James L. Keeler told Feedstuffs staff editor Rod Smith that while the decision to sell was difficult the chicken industry needs to consolidate production decisions into fewer hands so there would be "more rational control of production volume."
He noted that there are 30 chicken companies that produce 1 million head =
of chicken or more per year and said that's too many companies "to have a
rational approach to production," as evidenced in the industry's present
supply dilemma. He said businesses have to demonstrate earnings stability, not the kind of cyclical swings common in livestock and poultry production, to attract capital and other resources, and he said stability comes with consolidated, rational decision-making, especially as it applies to production volumes.
"That's the reason that the majority of U.S. industries are controlled three or four companies," Keeler said, and that's the reason there will be more
consolidation in the future of the chicken industry.
EU Clears Unilever Purchase of Bestfoods
Unilever PLC, the multinational Anglo-Dutch food giant has been given
conditional antitrust clearance to purchase Bestfoods food products
company by the European Commission.
A commission statement said that the companies have agreed to selling
a "significant" number of brands such as Lesieur, Royco and Oxo, a total
divestment package valued at around 500 million euros ($441.81 million)
in annual sales.
In June, Unilever clinched the takeover of Bestfoods with a sweetened bid of $20.3 billion (22.97 billion euros), or $73 a share, plus the assumption of $4 billion in debt. The deal will make Unilever's food business the second-biggest in the world, behind Nestle SA.
After rebuffing the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate for more than a month, the Bestfoods board approved the deal. The board of the U.S. food maker also gave serious consideration to a proposal to acquire Campbell Soup
Co. for about $36 a share, or $16 billion, in a complicated stock-and-cash deal. The sale would have bypassed approval of Bestfoods shareholders and had the support of the Dorrance family, which controls Campbell.
"The two companies overlap in the production and distribution in a large number of national markets for food products both for retailing and for food services across the European Economic Area," said the commission, in reference to the area comprising the 15 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Unilever's purchase of Bestfoods would have led to overlaps "in nearly 150 separate national food-related markets," it added.
Dole Foods Sells Citrus Interests
Dole Food Co. Inc. has announced the sale of its citrus business while reporting a loss from continuing operations of about two cents to eight cents a share. A year earlier, the company posted a loss of $1.9 million, or three cents a share, excluding charges of $7.8 million for expenses related to Hurricane Mitch.
The world's largest grower of fruits and vegetables, Dole said its other businesses continue to perform well, particularly its North American vegetable division, which is generating significantly stronger earnings compared with a year earlier.
Meanwhile, the company sold the majority of its California and Arizona citrus assets to the Paramount Citrus Association, the nation’s second largest fresh orange producer behind Sunkist for about $55 million. Dole will retain its ownership interest in selected agricultural properties that Paramount will manage. Also, Dole will continue its domestic and international citrus-import and marketing programs. The sale of the citrus business follows Dole's previously announced plans to divest itself of noncore assets
Dole said in March that it is no longer looking to sell the whole company,
but would continue efforts toward the divestiture of noncore assets. The
company's stock lost almost half of its value in 1999, when earnings fell
because of a deep freeze affecting its North American citrus business and
devastation wreaked on its Honduran operations by Hurricane Mitch.
U.S SUPREME COURT:
UPHOLDS SMITHFIELD’S $12.6 MILLION FINE
FOR POLLUTING VIRGINIA'S PAGAN RIVER
Rejecting a company argument that it had been "blindsided" by federal authorities for exceeding pollution limits "that Virginia regulators had assured Smithfield Foods it need not meet,” the U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, let stand rulings that held Smithfield liable for numerous violations of the federal Clean Water Act between 1991 and 1996.
Fined $12.6 million for polluting Virginia’s Pagan River, a tributary of the James River, with wastewater discharges from two pork-processing plants, Smithfield had claimed that it was unfairly caught in a policy dispute between state and federal regulators.
A federal trial judge and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously
rejected that argument. The Supreme Court appeal had been filed by Smithfield and its two subsidiaries, Smithfield Packing Co. and Gwaltney of Smithfield Ltd.
U.S. Department of Justice lawyers urged the nation's highest court to reject
the appeal, saying the case "involves egregious conduct rather than
momentous legal issues." The fines were imposed for wastewater discharges from the company’s two Virginia plants that occurred before Smithfield connected the plants to the Hampton Roads Sanitation District system in 1996.
The 4th Circuit court, in a 1999 ruling, sent the case back to a federal trial judge for a recalculation of Smithfield's fines. Government lawyers told the justices that the recalculation would reduce the $12.6 million amount by less than $200,000
When imposed in 1997, the fines represented the largest civil penalty ever incurred for violations of the Clean Water Act.
INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORTS:
USDA HAS LOST TRACK OF $5 BILLION
EITHER FROM THEFT\SLOPPY BOOKKEEPING
USDA’s Inspector General Roger Viadero has testified before a Congressional Committee that the USDA has lost track of $5 billion in taxpayer funds resulting from either theft or sloppy bookkeeping.
"The bottom line is that we don't know" where the money is Viadero told the committee last Wednesday. USDA is currently seeking from Congress another $100 million to find the missing revenue.
Viadero said the department's accounting procedures are so sloppy that he will not give it a clean bill of health for properly spending its $60 billion budget this year.
As Scripps Howard’s Lance Gay reports, aside from the $5 billion, there are other irregularities, including:
* More than $20 million was diverted from soil conservation funds to paint buildings and garages in Southern California, including buildings privately owned.
* A vehicle listed on the department's inventory as being worth $97 million, and a microscope with a price tag of $11 million.
* U.S. Forest Service highway construction contracts listed under
expenditures as "stream enhancements."
Linda Calbom, director of the accounting division at the General Accounting Office (GAO), adds that questions about the accuracy of the department's books are not new. For the past decade, she told Gay, USDA has refused to fully adopt reforms Congress ordered for all federal agencies to detect improper diversion of funds.
"This is a big issue, and it needs lots of attention," she said.
Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, Rep.-Illinois, chairman of the Senate Agriculture
nutrition subcommittee, called USDA’s accounting procedures "disgraceful." He warned the department of a backlash in Congress.
"While our farmers struggle during these lean times of record-low prices,
bureaucrats in Washington can't seem to keep track of billions of dollars of
taxpayers' money," he said.
Sally Thompson, the department's chief financial officer, said new accounting procedures have been able to reconcile 80 percent of the agency's books, but asked Congress for another $100 million over the next five years to track down the missing cash.
"It used to be $7.1 billion" in previously unaccounted-for funds, she said. "We're working on it."
Viadero testified that the lax bookkeeping leads to questionable spending. He cited more than $20 million taken from soil conservation for the
urban-beautification projects, which he said was never justified under a
program supposed to control the loss of farmland to erosion.
James Lyons, the department's undersecretary of natural resources, insisted the inner-city garage-painting projects were proper, but Viadero said he has been unable to find any justification in the law.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
"In some respects the deal highlights how many of today's global financial giants are U.S. companies that have leap-frogged over their European counterparts. In effect, the globalization of finance has become the Americanization of finance."
--- From the September 13, 2000 issue of the WALL STREET JOURNAL on the buying of J.P. Morgan by Chase Manhattan Corp.
* * *
1980-1992 (Reagan\Bush Years): 85,064 corporate mergers valued at $3.5 trillion
1992-1999 (Clinton Years): 166,310 corporate mergers valued at $9.8 trillion
--- Data from the Securities Data Company
* * *
The United States now has more prisoners than farmers. According to the Washington, DC-based Justice Policy Institute the United States prison population recently topped 2 million. The statistics are shocking, especially given that the U.S. accounts for a quarter of the world's prisoners, but only 5% of the world's population.
The statistics reflect social systems in profound crisis:
* Number of US farms 1,911,859
* 2.5% of U.S. farms are operated by blacks and other races.
* Direct federal payments to farmers in 1999: $23 billion
* U.S. prison population 2,000,000
* Roughly half of the state and federal prisoners incarcerated in the US are African Americans, although they make up only 13% of the US population.
*The cost of incarceration: approximately $40 billion per year.
--- RAFI Genotypes, August 2000
* * *
“In February, ABC New's "20/20" aired a segment by correspondent John Stossel titled, "How Good is Organic Food?" Stossel contended that organic produce fertilized with manure might pose a greater risk than conventional produce because of the higher potential for E. coli contamination. The report also countered claims by organic industry advocates that organic produce is pesticide-free and more nutritious than conventional produce.
“Since the story aired, the organic industry has waged an aggressive campaign against Stossel, specifically related to the pesticide residue issue. Stossel reported that "20/20" had conducted residue tests on conventional and organic produce and that pesticides could not be found on either. It turns out that ABC News did not conduct any pesticide residue tests. Environmental groups, especially the Environmental Working Group (EWG), demanded an on-air apology, then asked ABC News to fire Stossel. The result has been an on-air apology from Stossel regarding portions of his original story.
“This is an interesting story for several reasons. While Stossel clearly erred in reporting that pesticide residue tests had been conducted, the best science and data demonstrate that the claims in his report are essentially correct. . . .”
--- Scott Rawlins, American Farm Bureau Federation senior environmental
CORPORATE AGRIBUSINESS RESEARCH PROJECT
WEBSITE SEARCH ENGINE NOW AVAILABLE
The Corporate Agribusiness Research Project (CARP) web site now contains a streamlined search engine which will not only allow viewers to find needed
information by simply using key words, but they will be able to also access
Issues #1 through #77 of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER.
The CARP web site, which is now posted on the World Wide Web, features:
THE AGBIZ TILLER, THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER and "Between the
THE AGBIZ TILLER, the progeny of the one-time printed newsletter, now
becomes an on-line news feature of the Project. Its initial essay concerns one
Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate for a U.S. Senate seat
in New York State.
In "HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON'S $99,537 MIRACLE: IT'S THE PITS!!!" now
available through THE AGBIZ TILLER you'll learn some of the messy details
behind her cattle futures "miracle." You will also find in this section the archives
for past editions of the THE AGBIZ TILLER.
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 Sheet" on
agriculture and corporate agribusiness; a "Fact Miners" page which is an effort to assist the reader in the necessary art of researching corporations; a page of "Quoteable Quotes" periaing 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.
The CARP web site was design and produced by ElectricArrow of Seattle,
Simply by clicking on either of the addresses below all the aforementioned
features and information are yours to enjoy, study, absorb and sow.