Sunday, January 12, 2014

Monsanto and Cargill, are not farmers

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Having control of the two political parties while working people have no independent political voice is very useful for the 1%; their guys get to write and introduce pretty much all the laws. The class war, the one that doesn’t exist according to the big business media except when we fight back, takes different forms.  Strikes, protests and insurrections are some ways workers fight back, but at times, acts of desperation and despair like sabotage and terrorism occur in the absence of any serious social movement or political party that can represent our interests. US working class history has been so violent in part because having no political party of our own, everything we have has been won in the streets, the workplace, the factory floor.

I pointed out in a commentary a while back about the legislative assault on a woman’s right to choose when it comes to having children or not.  Laws are being passed that make it very difficult for abortion or family planning clinics to operate and in many cases stay open at all. This is one weapon in the 1% ‘s war on workers and our rights. There is never a break in the class war as far as the capitalist class is concerned and the 1% is using the legislature to protect the giant agribusinesses from concerned citizens and environmental groups in the same way it assaults women’s rights.

With the likes of Cargill, Monsanto and, of course, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) behind them, the agricultural corporations are in the process of changing state constitutions to protect the right to farm-------forever.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek points out that Indiana voters for example will likely be voting in November on a constitutional amendment that guarantees the right “to engage in the agricultural or commercial production of meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products.”
This all sounds harmless enough, farmers are hard working, dedicated people.  Most farmers have a special relationship to the land, but Monsanto, Cargill and other huge industrial food producers are owned by the same coupon clippers that own the banks; they are not farmers.

North Dakota has already “enshrined” the right to “modern farming practices” and Oklahoma is considering the same phrase in efforts to amend that state’s constitution.  The legislators and government figures, members of one or the other of the two Wall Street parties, are in the pockets of the agricultural concerns as were the regulators that were responsible for deep water drilling with regard to the energy companies. In that case, regulators even allowed the energy companies to write the regulations themselves.

 “We’ve seen an increase in efforts by what we would call activist organizations throughout the country and in Missouri to try to impose unreasonable and unnecessary restrictions on agriculture, says one Farm Bureau representative.  What concerns the industrial agricultural corporations is opposition from the remaining small farmers that them and the banks haven’t driven from the land and from environmental and animal rights groups.  The activities of these industrial giants can have an extremely negative affect on the small farmer that actually lives on and works the land.

One example is CAFO’s an acronym for concentrated animal feeding operations that the EPA defines as businesses that “congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area.

“We’re farmer’s too. We’re not unaccustomed to manure odors…” one Indiana farmer in Wayne County who raises grass fed beef told BW.  But the open manure pit near his farm was too much and the workers at the dairy sometimes dumped waste on his frozen fields polluting the water in the stream that ran through their farm. Their well water smelled of manure and they suffered health problems from exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas that is a by-product of the waste pits.

This family eventually sued the dairy and while small individual victories may be possible this way the agribusinesses cannot be beaten back by the courts, they have too much money.  The movie Food Inc. reveals how futile court battles are against these global behemoths. 

What the agricultural corporations are doing is taking legal steps to undermine efforts by local   Human food consumption is also harmed with the production of what we eat being structured the way it is, in the hands of a few corporations owned by a few thousand people.  Those that make the corporate decisions about these operations do not live near them.
communities and environmental activists to curb their socially harmful activities. They not only destroy communities and especially the small farmer; they are environmental catastrophes.

The lawyer that represented the above mentioned farmer against the dairy operation put it right when he told BusinessWeek that, “We’re treating these facilities as if they’re farms, when really they’re factories.”

The horrific consequences that industrial farming bring, the pollution, the animal cruelty, the poor working conditions, the rape of the land and the poisoning of the water, these cannot be halted as long as the production of our food is a private, profit making venture. The owners of these factories will never act in the interests of the environment, human health or the millions of people that society feeds every day.

The huge agricultural concerns and the land must be taken in to public ownership and the production of food made a collective enterprise, a sustainable and environmentally friendly operation.  This can only be done if the profit motive is removed and workers, consumers, agronomists and scientists determine what we produce and how in a rational, planned way.  Existing small private farmers like the one above can be integrated in to this collective process bringing their knowledge with them and receive in return the assistance of the collective in farming their own land free from the clutches of the banks and the factory farms.

We have no choice but to take what is rightfully ours.  Neither Monsanto, nor capitalism, can be made eco-friendly. The econoomy needs new managers.

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