From the Left



A 'Locally Grown' Thanksgiving

Jim Hightower on

Harry Truman said: "No man should be president who doesn't understand hogs." The problem with our recent presidents, however, is that, while they certainly don't know pig stuff about the four-legged varieties, they are expert on the care and feeding of those two-legged oinkers who are the CEOs and lobbyists of global agribusiness corporations.

With an oink-oink here and a ton of campaign cash there, agribusiness giants are able to dictate America's food and farm policies in both Republican and Democratic administrations. This is why our present policies are so bass-ackwards, discombobulated ... and stupid.

Ag policy is not written for farmers and consumers -- the two groups whose well-being logically would be the rationale for having any policy at all -- nor is it written in the interests of workers, sustainability, small business, rural communities, good health or even good food. Instead, it's written for the profit and global expansion of names like JBS, Cargill, McDonald's, Nestle, Phillip Morris, Tyson, Unilever and Walmart.

These powers have none of the dirt and grease of honest farm toil under their fingernails. They're well-manicured, soft-handed people who work in faraway executive suites, genetic-engineering labs, banks and the backrooms of governments. With the complicity of our presidents and Congress critters, they've industrialized, conglomeratized and globalized food -- a substance that, by its very nature, is agrarian, small-scale and local.

Here are some products of this perverse policy:

--Out of each dollar you spend on groceries, only 16 cents go to the farmer, with corporate middlemen grabbing the rest.


--Thousands of efficient family farmers are driven out of business each year by rising costs and falling commodity prices.

--As farm prices continue to fall, consumer prices keep going up, creating windfall profits for conglomerate shippers, processors and retailers.

--Agribusiness dumps billions of pounds of pesticides on farmlands each year, as a result, America's groundwater is dangerously polluted, while farm families, farm workers and people living next to the fields suffer poisonings, cancers, birth defects and death.

--A handful of corporations monopolize each and every aspect of the food economy --from seeds to chemicals, grain shipping to cotton trading, processing to retailing.


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