Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Truth About the Farm Crisis

Finally the Liberal Ag Critic says what the Liberals would never say when they were the Government. That the WTO ruling on agribusiness benefits Cargill and the big agribusiness interests, not the producers or producing countries. Wayne Easter was talking with Craig Oliver today on CTV's Question Period. Strahl pledges Canada's farmers won't be forgotten

Easter finally admited the fact that the whole debate around subsidies to farmers is not about farmers at all but about global agribusiness as I have documented in my research on Cargill.

The industrialization of farming is the ongoing creation of capitalism, it has been since the industrial revolution and the origin of capitalism in England. And in terms of the world captialist agriculture, single crop production for export is leading to desertification.The destruction of the family farm is the agenda of agibusiness, it does not want food sovereignty nor sustainable agriculture the real basis of market agriculture. It wants to create large scale farms, run by managers using GPS technology for export crop production.
WTO Who Cares?

Thus the destruction across the prairies of the community grain elevator and its replacement with the one stop shopping agribusiness like Cargill. They offer fertilizers, seed, seed cleaning and processing, shipping and selling of grains. In fact the largest port operation on the B.C. coast is Cargills.

This destruction of the family farm in the prairies began over thirty years ago, before Cargill, Kraft created the conditions of buying up dairy farms and prairie dairy operations in order to drive milk prices down by controlling the market. Thus the National Farmers Union in the early seventies called for the first ever national agribusiness boycott of Kraft.

In Canada the Kraft boycott in the seventies was the equivalent of, and cooresponded too, the grape boycott in the U.S. It was all about saving the family farm.

After Kraftco. came the American giant Cargill in the late seventies and early
eighties buying up the grain elevator business. Green Cargill elevators dominated the prairies. Slowly at first and then becoming ever dominant. As the farm economy collapsed during the eighties more and more family farms in Canada and the U.S. were sold off to the agribusiness giants like Cargill and then ADM.

Farmers who survived did so because they bought up their neighbours farms, added mechanization, and cooresponding bank debt, and increased crop yeilds with fertilizers and seed from Cargill and then Monsanto. Crop production such as GMO Canola from Monsanto became a major export product. Farm production of grains was now part of the global agribusiness market, no longer did we have local food production for local use.

This was the changing and is the changing nature of food production in Canada.
First the Loaf: And it has been subsidized and supported by the government. Regardless of political stripe. Mulroney Conservatives opened up the market to ADM, they allowed the last independent mill to be sold to them, Robin Hood Mills, and for a reward Mulroney was give a post as a director of ADM.The Ethanol Scam: ADM and Brian Mulroney

The Liberals before them had allowed Cargill in with a wink and a nod. Trudeau's disdain for the west and farmers was well known. And its cost was the death of the family farm. The farm crisis and corporate power

The new Liberal regime, under Chretien and Martin added the stake to the heart of farmers by allowing Monsanto's expansion of GMO production of canola, they opened up the possibility of radioactive food sterlization, and the Supreme Court allowed for Monsanto's patent and control of it's GMO seeds at the expense of the soveriegnty of the family farm.

No one is innocent in the death of the Family Farm in Canada, no government federally or provincially.
The Farm Crisis & Corporate Profits A Report by Canada’s National Farmers Union November 30, 2005 View the report

It is inevitable the mechanization of farming, but it does not need to lead to agribusiness corporatization. Certainly in the 1930's we saw the greatest achievement of farm mechnization when thousands of combines cleared farmers crops across the North American prairies in just a few weeks. It was a colossal collective endeavour never achieved again, it was in response to the depression on North American prairie farmers.

Varty, John F. "On Protein, Prairie Wheat, and Good Bread: Rationalizing Technologies and the Canadian State, 1912-1935"
The Canadian Historical Review - Volume 85, Number 4, December 2004, pp. 721-753

Dependent Harvests Grain Production on the American and Canadian Plains and the Double Dependency with Mexico, 1880–1950
The Social Bases of Technical Change: Mechanization of the Wheatlands of Argentina and Canada, 1890 to 1914

From Farm to Factory: Structuring and Location of the US Farm Machinery Industry

Changing Machinery Technology and Agricultural Adjustment

Mechanization is not the enemy of the family farm, technology is not either. Nor is collectivism and cooperation. Marketing boards are the life blood of the family farm, but not the corporate farm which can market itself directly.

The Cooperative Commonwealth ideology of prairie populism reflected the needs of farmers/producers and of workers. Today that ideal is gone, as agribusiness truimphs with its capitalist market of food production. Gone is the real market of farm/producer cooperatives, which are essential for individual family farms.

The modern Canadian farmer instead of sharing or creating equipment cooperatives, has sold their soul to the banks to keep up on the latest in seed or mechanical technology. That along with single crop production has left them vulnerable to corporatization.

Instead of moving to organic farming, mixed crops, truck farming, herb farming, organic animal husbandry, hemp farming, or with creation of bioenergy fuels, etc. along with cooperative farming of large areas in order to maintain soil conservation, cooperative/community equipment buying, the family farm today must grow or die. It must become a mini-corporation, which means it becomes vulnerable to corporate take over, mergers and aquistions by Agribusiness.

The alternative is cooperative farming and the creation of indigenous markets, like farmers markets in cities, supplying Halal and Kosher butchering and dairy needs, the vegatarian market, whole foods, etc. creating producer controled marketing boards and of course producer controled banks/credit unions for low interest loans, gaining control of transportation and grainaries, feedlots and slaughterhouses under producer worker control.

Those on the right who attack the Wheat Board for instance are those whose farms have succeeded in becoming a single crop corporation, having taken over their neighbours farms when they were driven to bankruptcy in the economic crisis of the eighties. The marketing boards in Quebec and Ontario are also reflections of this corporatist model of farming. And that is why agribusiness wants them destroyed, to allow the remaining corporate farms to taken over by them.

Also See:


A History of Canadian Wealth, 1914.

Origins of the Captialist State In Canada

The Real Story of Alberta's BSE Crisis

Lost and Found

Kids Are Commodities

Development Versus Population Growth

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freeman said...

On top of all those obstacles that small farmers have to deal with, there's also the Percy Schmeiser story. Being sued into oblivion by beasts like Monsanto for no good reason sure does help the corporatist plan of reducing food sovereignty.

Joshua Kubinec said...

There is an excellent documentary out on this subject known as "The Future of Food" which I posted a link to on my blog a while back.

Anyone who has an hour and a half and is interested in this subject should check it out.

freeman said...

What a coincidence - I just finished spending about a week downloading that documentary in dvd format. I'll get around to watching it sometime this week before the NHL playoffs start.

Thanks for the link to the Google video version, Josh!

Keith said...

Hello all.

Found a parody of the Monsanto logo being used for protest tee shirts:

I got one (before they take em off)