Two Chief Economic Classes in America, 1906-2018

Must Collectively Own the Machines

We quote from a statement made by J. G. Stokes, the young millionaire, who for several years has been devoting his talent and means to advance the interest of the industrial and producing class. In his statement he said: “It has required a vast amount of accumulated evidence to convince me that it is, and for long has been impossible for the average worker to secure such material things as are necessary for his welfare and advancement, and this in consequence of the exploitation of his labor by privileged persons, who take for their own enjoyment a large portion of the product of his toil.

“I have been long in perceiving clearly that there are two chief economic classes in America, as elsewhere: Those whose poverty compels them to produce more than they require for their own maintenance, and those whose wealth enables them to control and consume more than they produce and more than they render proportionate service in exchange for; that the reward of the former class is invariably less than the value of its product, whereas the reward or income of the latter class is greatly in excess of the value of its product and bears no proportionate relation to the value of the service it renders.

“I have learned but gradually the injustice of the situation which confronts the average worker. Honest and earnest men and women by hundreds of thousands suffer privation and want although surrounded by prosperity and plenty, and owe their sufferings chiefly to the monopolization of the land and of the machinery of production by the few exclusively for the purpose of private gain: access to the land and machinery being denied, unless the workers will produce enough, not merely for their own support, but for the maintenance of the idle and luxurious as well. This is to my mind a great injustice, and one that demands early remedy.”

–courtesy of Tom Giessel

And now today, March, 2018, the dairy coop Agri-Mark provides their farmers with a suicide hotline instead of a better milk price. Consumers have never paid more for food, while farmers have never received so little of what consumers spend. We must reduce this abusive and destructive power of the Big Food monopoly, beginning with Walmart. Break them up!

Note: St. Paul’s Husbandman message is cut in stone above the main entrance of the USDA building in Washington DC, along with two other messages about the importance of agriculture.

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Tariff Uproar

Cattle grazing near St. Francis, Kansas

When did it become so wrong to protect something of value?

Now that everyone is talking about the tariffs President Trump ordered on imported steel and aluminum earlier this month, we must also question why the United States continues to allow the importation of cheap meat that is produced below the cost of production. Allowing these imports works to the detriment of our rural communities, the environment, consumer health, and the livelihoods of thousands of U.S. family farmers and ranchers.

Multinational meatpackers, operating under today’s misguided “free trade” and globalization ideology and aided by non-enforcement of antitrust laws, have been able to search the world, leveraging farmer against farmer, country against country, for the cheapest of everything, to sell into the highest consuming markets. It’s not just U.S. national security that’s at stake. This approach is harmful to all countries that are allowing this plundering to occur.

In January of 1999, I called Ag Secretary Dan Glickman to ask why he wasn’t enforcing the Packers and Stockyards Act, an antitrust law legislated in 1921 to protect producers of livestock from the monopoly power of the big meat packers (The Jungle circa 1906). He responded,

“You know Mike, in this modern day of globalization, we need big companies that can do business globally.”

I made the decision that day to close my cattle feeding operation. Secretary Glickman called ConAgra in Greeley, Colorado, and forced them to buy all of the cattle the packers had refused to buy as punishment for my speaking and acting out against their abusive market power.

The idea that we can go from a domestic market with rules to a global market without rules is contrary to people’s interests everywhere while highly profitable to only a handful of global corporations that have grown more powerful than most governments.

If we’re now finally trying to protect our domestic producers in the case of steel and aluminum, why are we allowing this cheap meat to be dumped into U.S. markets? The question I pose here is not just why, but also what should we be doing about it?

This past week, the Board of Directors of R-CALF USA voted unanimously to call upon President Trump to impose new tariffs on imported cattle, beef, sheep and lamb. This is a call to action that I, as an independent cattle producer and meat processor, fully support.

“Since the implementation of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), the largest segment of American agriculture, the U.S. cattle industry, has shrunk at an alarming rate: 20 percent of all U.S. cattle operations have exited the industry, the nation’s cow herd shriveled to the smallest size in over 70 years, and in 2014 and 2015 U.S. beef production fell to the lowest level in over two decades,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard in a press release.

The loss of these competitive markets, along with nearly 75 percent of U.S. cattle feedlots since NAFTA’s implementation, has stripped America’s rural communities of the wealth and vitality they once experienced.

It is time that we look upon our broken food system, too, as a matter of national security. American farmers have been poised and ready to play by the rules for decades – if only they could have access to fair, open and competitive markets. The president needs to stand strong with both metal workers, and farmers, and tax the flood of cheap imported products that are ruining our economy.

Can a nation call itself free if it can’t even feed itself?

Mike Callicrate
St. Francis, Kansas

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“We have more reason to fear USDA than any foreign power.”

Who Is Allan Savory

Allan Savory has been many things in his life: an environmentalist, an academic, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist and a political refugee, just to name a few. He graduated from the University of Natal in South Africa in 1955 with a degree in Biology and Botany. He believed, as many still do today, that too many animals, especially livestock were the cause of the degradation of our planet. His passions led him to work as an ecologist, working with wildlife populations. In the 1960s he began to see how the grasslands, the wildlife, and people were interconnected and in the 1980s he made a huge breakthrough.

Listen to Alan Savory’s keynote address at the No-Till On the Plains Conference in Wichita, Kansas:

“We have more reason to fear USDA than any foreign power.”

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COOL – “What you don’t know can hurt you.”

A 2007 video on Country of Origin Labeling is relevant today – “In this case, what you don’t know can hurt you.”

  • The U.S. Congress repealed country of origin labeling (COOL) for beef and pork in late 2015, just ahead of Ag Secretary Vilsack opening the border for Brazilian fresh beef imports in August of 2016.
  • Why was COOL repealed for only beef and pork? The Brazilian company, JBS, the world’s biggest meat packer and criminal actor, is advantaged if Americans don’t know that what they’re eating is the cheapest source of beef in the world. The Chinese company, Smithfield, the largest pork producer in the world, also benefits if consumers don’t know.
  • After successfully repealing COOL, a law that 95% of Americans supported, House Majority Speaker, John Boehner, left Congress to join the JBS board of directors. The price U.S. ranchers received for calves was cut in half.
  • Why did Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Administrator, Al Almanza, allow rotten meat from Brazil into our country for 90 days after it was made public? Following the rotten meat news in Brazil, cattle producers there were offered twenty to thirty percent of the former value for their cattle. Who is really paying JBS’s $3.1 billion fine for corruption?
  • Upon resigning as head of our nation’s food safety agency, Almanza went to work for JBS.
  • Shortly after Almanza joined JBS, a rat infestation forced the temporary shutdown of the JBS Souderton, Pennsylvania beef plant. Why wasn’t the plant officially suspended by FSIS, instead of the far more lenient temporary shutdown?
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St. Paul’s quote, “The husbandman that laboreth must be the first partaker of the fruits,” is cut in stone above the main entrance to the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington DC. Only one person I have talked to over the years in the USDA has known about the quote or where it was located on the building. Yesterday, my friend Greg Gunthorp and I met that person. She was a young security officer at the main entrance. She said the quote was right outside above the entrance, but she didn’t know what it meant. “What is a Husbandman,” she asked?

Greg and I informed her that a Husbandman was a farmer, and the fruits are what the farmer provides to us in the way of food, care of our animals, and stewardship of our land. We explained that today, the farmer and rancher were not being paid their cost of production, let alone being the first partaker of the fruit, like St. Paul said should happen. We explained that people who build houses, auto mechanics, and others who labor, are protected by laws that give them a first lien on the fruits of their labor, but farmers no longer have such protection and are being forced out of business by big corporations that are running our government. These corporations have repealed, rewritten and redefined our laws so they can cheat the farmer. We explained that more and more we are depending on foreign food from global food companies instead of food from our own farmers.

The young security officer was moved nearly to tears, and had to take a moment. Perhaps she was thinking about farmers and their families, or where she would get food in the future. Maybe she will wonder how different our country could be if farmers were paid a living income.

Hopefully, she will direct the many people who pass through her entrance, and a few of the over 100,000 people who work for us at USDA, what once was known as “The People’s Department”, to read and reflect on St. Paul’s message.

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