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Pogo was right! We have seen the enemy and it us

by A.V. Krebs
Editor of the Agribusiness Examiner (ttp://www.ea1.com/CARP/)

(Monday, Nov. 11, 2002 -- CropChoice guest commentary) --Throughout the world there is hardly a nation where family farmers have not come to recognize their common enemy --- corporate agribusiness!!! EXCEPT in the United States of America!!!

Examining a county-by-county red n' blue political map of the U.S. after last Tuesday's election one cannot help but recall once again American economist Thorstein Veblen who in his 1923 essay, "The Independent Farmer" contended that "farmers are surrounded by bankers, railroad magnates and food processors who profit from their effective collusive control of the market while the foolish farmer does little more than identify with the very people who are most adept at exploiting him.

Red being Republican and blue being Democrat, the northeast U.S. was a mixed bag of colors while the south was also mixed, but more red than blue. But once one reached the Mississippi River from that point on west it was almost solid red, except for Texas's southwestern border and a strip of land west of the Cascade mountains stretching from the Canadian border to San Francisco, California.

This is not the first time in recent elections we have seen such a pattern and yet with each election we see family farm agriculture in these United States continue to suffer and struggle for mere survival. As has been said the best approach, when one finds oneself deep in a hole, is to stop further digging.

Throughout the 20th century we have witnessed a wholesale exploitation of our agricultural system by corporate agribusiness and its economic and political "communities of economic interests" determined not only to drive farmers, workers and consumers apart, but also to divert the taxpayers' attention away from the root causes of agriculture's chronic crisis. It has done this by preaching about "efficient" farming practices, "excessive" government regulations, by pitting one region of the country against another, one commodity against another, and by replacing a fair price in the marketplace with an unfair and ever-escalating burden of debt.

Unfortunately, most farmers and consumers, until very recently, have failed to fully recognize or understand the self-serving, contorted explanations of agriculture's reality by these corporate policy planners and their many political prostitutes, all of whom have come to represent ever-narrowing "communities of economic interests." Farmers and consumers have also generally failed to comprehend the success of all this corporate/government/land-grant-college planning in destroying farmers' economic and political power through forced liquidation's caused, in turn, by low commodity prices that have been forced on farmers by the corporations and the banks.

Thus, as agriculture has shifted more and more from a labor-intensive to a highly technological capital-intensive system, corporate agribusiness has continued to accumulate more and more concentrated economic and political power. At the same time corporate managers have left to the general public and Mother Earth the privilege of paying the high social and environmental costs of their economic marauding.

Clearly it is time family farmers put aside such petty differences such as regionalism and commodityism, such phony issues as the estate tax question, such myths that the USDA actually represents the interests of family farmers, and such beliefs that the pseudo-populist politicians they routinely vote for year after year actually care for their future.

The hour is late, maybe too late, but family farm agriculture needs not only individual leadership in this dark night of its soul, but more importantly it needs to adopt as its battle cry in the immediate years ahead the mantra of its last true political friend Paul Wellstone --- "organize! Organize !! ORGANIZE !!!" . . . . . . . . . . . and "We Will Win !!! . . . We Will Win !!!"