Family Farms Are Being Fed to Corporate Sharks

by JOHN HANSEN


President, Nebraska Farmers Union

As a recent New York Times article on ag subsidies clearly shows, family farm agriculture is now reaping the public perception and political backlash that the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, National Soybean Growers, National Association of Wheat Growers, and the U.S. based grain traders set us up for and created in 1996.

They transformed traditional farm programs from price supporting programs that forced the grain traders to pay up for grain commodities, which caused the cost of farm programs to be relatively low, and the majority of farm income to be realized through the cash market into income transfer programs that look, feel, and taste like welfare programs to most observers.

The fact that the actual structure is a "make up allowance" of sorts for lost market place value lost is seldom if ever recognized. The common perception becomes the reality, which is the current structure of farm programs is politically indefensible and fiscally vulnerable, just as Farmers Union said it was in the 1996 Farm Bill battle.

When we compare the 1996 value of the national production of six crops: Corn, Wheat, Soybeans, Grain Sorghum, Rice, and Cotton for the years 1997 through 2003, farmers were paid an average of $14.6 billion less for their crops. That amounts to $102.45 billion less money the raw material processors paid farmers for their crops during the 1997-2003 period.

So, who are the primary beneficiaries of the "farm subsidies"? Not the family farmers who lost more market place value than they got in income transfers — and produced most of their crops most years at below the USDA’s Economic Research Service estimated cost of production. Not the consumers who did not pay proportionally less for the processed food products they bought. The food processors and food retailers.

They continue to steal raw material food production from farmers and ranchers for below full cost of production, with the help of our national farm and trade policy, which continues to be driven and supported by the food industry conglomerates with the political support of the very organizations that are supposed to be representing America’s family farmers and ranchers.

What is worse, the very same set of big agribusiness players and their political supporters are now positioned to use the growing federal deficit and the direction of WTO negotiations to further carry out their self serving economic agenda to reduce and eliminate domestic income supports which are now called "subsidies". The new Congress leadership and the White House both support this agenda.

American farmers and ranchers are being fed to the U.S. based international corporate sharks by their own public officials, commodity organizations, and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Our traditional system of independent, farmer and rancher owned food and fiber production is being destroyed and dismantled in favor of the industrialized, top down corporate owned and controlled version of the failed former Soviet model.

In the last election, rural voters, just as the low self esteem victims of prolonged domestic abuse often do, once again helped their own abusers further beat and humiliate them.

JOHN HANSEN is president of the Nebraska Farmers Union.

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz