Rural America has become a place of hunger, hopelessness, and despair, with precious resources extracted and stolen by global agribusinesses and Wall Street-based companies, enabled by our own government and primarily by the United States Department of Agriculture. While homesteads decay and soils degrade, the bustling main streets of fifty years ago are left abandoned, strip-mined by Walmart, with dollar stores on the edge of town hawking the waste of our nation’s no-rules economy to the few who remain.
Will Biden return the captured USDA to its original mission as the ‘Peoples’ department? Will the new administration restore our food security and sovereignty? Will Biden and the new Congress enforce antitrust laws, break up the monopolies, and rebuild a free and fair marketplace that serves all of us instead of the interests and profits of concentrated power?
‘Pigs Can Fly’ According to USDA Study – And global corporations will feed us.
Since the following 1999 article was published, the welfare of our nation’s independent livestock producers has continued to decline with the increase in concentrated money and political power of meatpacking and food retail. We are a net food importer on a value basis and unable to feed ourselves.
May 7, 1999
‘Pigs Can Fly’ According to USDA Study
Saying “Pigs can fly” is the same as saying, “U.S. meatpackers didn’t depress prices,” which is what the USDA wants us to believe. And for those of you who have continued to wrongfully perceive that packer’s practices aren’t the reasons for low livestock prices, you must believe that trees don’t grow in the forest and there is no water in the ocean.
Even Hitler would have been proud of the land-grant university economists who conducted the 1996 Concentration in Agriculture study and the in-house USDA economists who this week released their preposterous peer review of the 1996 study and agreed that “the big meatpackers didn’t depress prices. “
“The bigger the lie, the easier it
is for the public to swallow.”
It was he who said, “The bigger the lie, the easier it is for the public to swallow.” The USDA study has given us the big lie.
With this announcement and virtual “green light” from USDA to continue their exploitation of cattlemen, the packers quickly bid lower money for live cattle this week, at the same time as beef cutouts justified higher cattle prices. Compared to one year ago, USDA data shows the packer is making $83.73 more per head on a finished 1200-pound steer while cattle feeders continue to go broke.
Ironically, all this after last week’s successful class-action ruling against IBP in a case claiming anti-competitive practices, and IBP’s announcement of record quadruple first-quarter earnings. In an interview, IBP stated, “It makes no sense for us to do anything to hurt cattle producers when we depend on them to supply our plants.” The IBP spokesman went on to say, “It is discouraging to be portrayed as a villain when study after study has found that depressed market prices are due to basic supply and demand, not meatpacking concentration or captive supply.” This is another big lie. The pigs are flying at IBP.
One leading economist stated the following, “This USDA study is negligently misleading. No relevant conclusions regarding the illegal exercise of market power can be reached, given the annual data used in this study. The illegal exercise of market power is not only a question of law (not economics) but also a question of the daily behavior of market participants, which in no way is analyzed by this study based on annual data (one observation per year).”
Unbelievably, IBP’s friends at USDA verified the “study after study” argument this week despite their full knowledge of IBP’s 122% captive supplies during the devastating, nearly $200 per head market drop of 1994. Despite their full and complete access to court records showing that during the sixty-four week period studied, the cash market fell two out of three times when IBP was forced to buy cash cattle.
“Doesn’t the next investigation
need to be of the USDA?”
FACT: USDA has continued to ignore the day that ConAgra sold 7,250 head of cattle to their partner in crime, IBP, exploding the floodgates on the weeks cattle trade and breaking the cash market sixty dollars per head from cattle feeder asking prices.
FACT: USDA has in their hands, since January 1999 clear evidence of price discrimination, undue preference and feedyard blackballing and still they say, “U.S. meatpackers didn’t depress prices.”
FACT: USDA overlooked their own recent indictment of Cargill for cheating pork producers. How about seven cent hogs and the corresponding record meatpacker profits?
What makes USDA and their land-grant university touts so blind to the obvious? Could it be the money and the power of the multinational corporate predators IBP, ConAgra and Cargill have captured this government agency?
Doesn’t the next investigation need to be of the USDA?
# # #
Last week, Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer called the Capital building in DC, the “Temple of Democracy.” Its desecration was a very dark day in American history. We cannot forget that nearly half of the American electorate, divided by their prejudices, but united in their despair, rejected President-Elect Biden and his nearly fifty years in the city that forgot America’s citizens. If we are to survive as a Republic and move forward, we must recognize the endless lies and deceptions, the decades of divisive tactics, and the corporate lobbying and control of policy that paved the way for this tragic day.
Many, especially those of us in rural America, see our nation’s capital, not as a temple of democracy, but as a castle protecting the cruel lords of concentrated power. We now have the opportunity, working together with new policies, including agriculture and food policy, to build back a new grass-roots community-based economy that works for all – a new economy that supports a clean and healthy environment based on healthy soils, strong rural communities, and good food.
So, who will the Biden administration serve, the lords of big business, or the people?