Are Corporations Too Big to Control?

The Farmers Advocate
May 25, 1905

We think the farmer is altogether too slow to recognize his interests, and especially attacks on his interests by other classes; that he is too slow to fight for his rights; that he is too slow to organize; and that he is too much disposed to be content with pay for his labor that is altogether too small, and with condition that are altogether unjust to him and his interests, says the Farmers’ Call.

Nevertheless, we must say that we consider farming the best occupation for all. If we thought otherwise we would sell our farm land and engage in something else. Furthermore, we believe that on the average the agricultural classes of this country have more intelligence, ability and stamina and staying qualities than any other class, and we will not except bankers or preachers or anybody else. The great fault of the farmer is that he works too hard and thinks too little of the farm and of what others are scheming and doing.

But when the farmer once does get aroused and gets into action, he certainly does make things move. It has long been known that the best man to avoid in a fight is the man that is slow to get mad. When he does get mad, it means something. That can be depended upon. As we pointed out a short time ago, nothing was done to curb the power of corporations; in fact, it was accepted as a truth that the state could not control them, until the ‘70s the Grangers showed the corporations a thing or two, and wrote it into the fundamental corporation law of the world that the government, state or national, which creates a corporation, can control it.

Some of these days the farmers, notwithstanding their quiet and lack of talk, will be aroused, and then there will be a quiet, but none the less effective, revolution in conditions, and the big combinations, directed by unscrupulous and dishonest men, will, when they have picked themselves up and got their scattered senses together, realize that it was the farmers that hit them. –The Northwest Review

From the Archives of Tom Giessel, Larned, Kansas

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Farming as a Fine Art


Farming is one of the fine arts. “The material out of which art is made is everywhere; but the artist appears only at intervals.” The idea is prevalent among farmers that life must be a grind, a dull monotonous routine, devoid of beauty or enjoyment to all but the fortunate few. As soon as we realize that what we call life is opposite of this idea, the sooner will our farmers become artists. The farmer’s work and life was not intended to be devoid of beauty. One’s surroundings may be the humblest sort, but we can look beyond these to the beauty of nature and the children’s faces. Is the morning gray and chill in your home? Do the children feel this and act accordingly? Then search for some beautiful objects near you with which to divert your minds.

Why not have in front of your dining room windows a beautiful vine or a clump of bushes. In winter why not fill the windows with blooming plants? By looking out you may see the brown leafless sunflower stalks, that seem to have nothing to recommend them; but watch a minute and there will come a flock of chattering sparrows eager for their breakfast, and it is a cheerful sight to see the stalks bend and sway, while our feathered friends satisfy their hunger by eating the brown seeds just ready to fall to the earth. Call the children to see the birds and observe how quickly the clouds will pass their faces. The farmer’s vocation is rapidly changing its tone, more and more does the farmer feel the sacredness of his calling and more abundantly does he love his life and work.

There is a difference between farming in its sordid sense and farming in its higher sense. First of all we need farming as a fine art as a direct contribution to life; the haphazard business man, the quack doctor and the go-lucky farmer are not good citizens. Thoughtful, earnest men have taken up the task of entering into the struggles of the farmer and the neglect of the farm to see if the incompleteness can not be, measurably at least, done away with. These problems of interest to farmers that are being so ably discussed by the students of these questions with the purpose of accomplishing results, are meeting with a cheering response from farmers; and those who have toiled for many years tell us that immense results have been accomplished in uplifting the general tone of farming, although the pessimistic farmers can see nothing but drudgery.

The Farmers Advocate is doing great work toward making one of the fine arts, and the readers can greatly assist by standing for the highest and best in farming, and all can testify to your faith by your good work.

The Plowman from Dance of Death credit: Web Gallery of Art

The Plowman from Dance of Death credit: Web Gallery of Art

In connection with prevailing ideas concerning the curse of drudgery, two pictures come vividly to mind—one is “Holbein’s Plowman,” with its barren fields, its poor cabin, worn out horses, and the son ragged cheerless and sad faced. This legend appears under the picture:

“By thy sweat of thy face, Thou shall maintain thy wretched life.”

The very common notion of farm work, its misery and horror is here present. The other picture is that of a bright October morning, when for the first time, a youth went to strike a furrow and to do a man’s work. With the first rod the plow struck a rock and the boy tumbled headlong. By nightfall every muscle and bone ached, and the work did not merit much praise, but the youth’s face was bright with hope and he was happy with the wholesome satisfaction that comes from achieving. There is an essential difference between the plowman and the happy boy; it was not in the kind of work, nor in the reward; the Plowman had his board and clothes; so had the boy; the surroundings of both were the same country life, country skies and country associations; but there is a marked difference. The two workers had been differently educated; the boy had been born and trained to Virgil’s philosophy “Happy the man of the fields if he only knew it.” While the plowman could gain no inspiration, no hope, no love for the work; the boy loved his work and the results of it were pleasures in themselves; it was a beautiful, sensible and satisfactory idea of life.

There had been and still is something wrong with educating our young people to feel and think the lot of the farmer a curse, and thus the young man or woman who remains on the farm must be cuddled and pitied.

The man who molds a beautiful statue of clay is an artist; so is the man who tills the soil in the right spirit. Taking care of cattle is as noble as climbing trees of knowledge, sowing seed if properly understood is on par with preaching a sermon; both have to be done in the right manner and in the right spirit to be among the fine arts.

From the archives of Tom Giessel

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Is the Harvest Moon Setting on Family Farming?

A new kind of merchant, far more powerful, pillages and plunders in today’s world. As harvest progresses across farm and ranch country, the markets have never been more unfair or abusive. What the farmer and rancher receives for their toil has never been so little compared to what the consumer pays.

This fall many more farmers and ranchers, the stewards of our precious lands, will go out of business due to the lack of fair markets for what they produce.

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Today I’m thinking about hungry people, farmers, ranchers, exploited contract growers and abused food workers

Today I’m thinking about hungry people, farmers, ranchers, exploited contract growers, and abused food workers. I’m also reflecting on the corporate takeover of our government and nearly all major industries, including, perhaps most importantly, our food supply. Agricultural commodity prices are at disastrously low levels, a farm crisis worse than the 1980s is very likely ahead, and all the while we grow more and more dependent on foreign countries and foreign corporations for food.

How do we break this abusive monopoly power before all our family farmers and independent businesses are gone? How do we build a political force powerful enough to replace corporate puppets like Kansas Senator and Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts?

Today, serious food shortages and hunger are sparking violent protests in many places around the world, including Venezuela and Syria.

A few items follow relative to the importance of food and a nation’s ability to feed itself. It’s a national security issue!

You will learn about the fight against corporate power in Oklahoma (State Question 777) that has already inspired new awareness of the need for local self-reliance.

And you’ll meet my friend Barry Lynn, a scholar and journalist, who reminds us of the dangers of monopoly power and how to protect what is left of our food system while also rebuilding anew.

A sad memory

Three years ago, the Organization for Competitive Markets held a funeral service for competitive markets in agriculture. Today, with calf prices half of what they were just one year ago, our pronouncement has proven true. Meanwhile, retail food prices remain the same. For a look back at what we were saying in 2013 read this:

Obituary: The Market Is Dead 1921-2013
Posted on July 8, 2013 by Mike Callicrate

Funeral services will be held August 9th, 2013, in Kansas City, MO.

We’re not alone

The following news clip reveals a preventable human tragedy happening in Venezuela, where for too long the country has been "ordering takeout" and paying for imported food with oil money. Food giant Cargill was a major force in the industrialization of agriculture and loss of family farms, making the country vulnerable to starvation. Chavez kicked Cargill out but was unable to rebuild the lost family farm infrastructure.

The U.S. is now subject to a handful of multinational corporations controlling agriculture and food. Rather than selling oil, we run up the national debt to pay for imported food commoditized and redistributed by foreign-owned, state-sponsored food companies like JBS and Smithfield.

A growing, catastrophic food crisis sows unrest in Venezuela

Syria, too, has lost its farms and farmers: Researchers Link Syrian Conflict to a Drought Made Worse by Climate Change

The U.S. is now a net food importer on a value basis and continues to lose some of our best food producing land, water and infrastructure to foreign interests.

What can we do?

Here’s where the battle against concentrated power could turn in our favor: Oklahoma’s so-called "Right to Farm" Constitutional Amendment SQ777, places the interests of foreign corporations like JBS and Smithfield, and other multinationals like Cargill and Tyson, over Oklahoma citizens. After the corporations won a similar measure in Missouri, it’s now imperative that Oklahoma reverse course. I hope all Oklahomans will join the campaign against abusive corporate power and vote NO on SQ777.

Support leaders who offer solutions

Meet The Man Who Is Changing Washington’s Ideas About Corporate Power

Former business journalist Barry Lynn is reviving a forgotten tradition.

When we lose our markets, we lose our freedom … and, we lose our democracy!

Mike Callicrate

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Mega Mergers Focus for Organization for Competitive Markets

The Organization for Competitive Markets recently wrapped up their annual convention. One of their primary concerns is the increasing consolidation in U.S. agriculture. OCM President Mike Callicrate says they’re closely watching proposed mega-mergers between ChemChina and Syngenta, Dow and DuPont and Bayer and Monsanto.

He says while its good Senator Chuck Grassley is calling for a hearing next month to examine those mergers, he doubts if it will result in any action.

Callicrate says wealthy corporations are driving these mergers and trying to stop them is becoming almost impossible.

Callicrate says Dianna Moss of the American Anti-Trust Institute spoke at their convention outlining the various concerns with the mega agricultural mergers.

To listen, click here.

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