Sunday, November 27, 2011

Agribusiness Is The Problem, Not The Solution

Winterbotham Parham Teeple, one of SoCal's main BK houses, recently noted on its blog that rising grocery bills are playing havoc with family budgets.  I commented that the real culprit is the decades-long romance of government and the banks with industrial agriculture at the expense of small farms.  Winterbotham is trying to soft-pedal the price increases as business as usual.  I'm having none of it, and you can call me a conspiracy nut-case all you want, but U.S. ag policy for over 60 years has had the uniform effect of continuously shrinking the percentage of the population that can feed itself.  What does that mean?  Control.  As Mark Twain put it, "Show me where a man gets his corn pone, and I'll show you where he gets his opinions."

Anyway, I posted my comment a week ago, and it has yet to be let out of moderation, even though I know more about ag commodities and policies than everyone at Winterbotham combined (Not a brag.  Fact.).  So here it is:

"Yes, we would all like to maximize profits, but Agribusiness has had singular forms of assistance. Since WWII it has had a federal agricultural policy designed to drive people off the land, and since 1970 it has had a matching financial industry policy. We now have 90% of the population divorced from the land and wholly dependent on industrial food delivery (We have also become a net food importer, perhaps the greatest absurdity produced by our economic system.). When people tried to become less dependent, Agribusiness acquired new allies. A pliant USPTO granted patents on every strain of seed presented to it, allowing Agribusiness to send cease and desist letters to anyone with the temerity to save seeds for planting. And all producers have to comply with all regulations (regulations that Agribusiness loves to wail about but that it in fact uses to drive small “competitors” out of business), and if they don’t, the USDA, FDA, and state agricultural agencies will sweep in, destroy their operations, and even jail them, as if they were cooking meth.

In other words, Agribusiness has used government and bank assistance to create a captive market and continues to do so. So yes, there is plenty of reason to object to unrestricted price increases." 

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