FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

ADM and the New York Times

by AL KREBS

Readers of THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER are already quite familiar with the fact that in the past eight years when it comes to reporting the various price fixing and corporate crime stories involving the Archer Daniels Midland Corp. the New York Times aphorism “all the news that’s fit to print” rings hollow.

As David Hoech, ADM Shareholders Watch Committee co-founder, recalls when Kurt Eichenwald, the Times correspondent who authored the paper’s articles on the ADM lysine price fixing scandal and would later write The Informant, a book loosely based on the scandal, “told me that he controls what is printed in the Times concerning Archer Daniels Midland, I can now believe him.”

In a series of 36 documented letters — all of which went unanswered —- to the Times Managing Editor William Keller, Hoech accused Eichenwald of “unethical conduct” and the Times’ “actions and inaction’s” as just “another example of a `Corporate Predator’ that will do whatever it takes to make a buck.” (See Issue #111)

Two books have been written about the ADM case, the other being the authoritative and well-documented Rats in the Grain: The Dirty Tricks and Trials of Archer Daniels Midland The Supermarket to the World by James B. Lieber (Four Walls, Eight Windows Press, New York: 2000). Leiber’s book not only details the coverup that surrounded the ADM scandal and the company’s contempt for the public — “the competitor is our friend, the consumer is our enemy” being the popular ADM corporate mantra — but shows how the law was indeed prostituted by ADM.

In his Letter #4 Hoech wrote Keller: “I don’t know if you are aware that Lieber had a book deal with Simon & Schuster, and the book deal was canceled even after he was complimented on the material submitted. Eichenwald told me that he knew Lieber was going to lose his book deal after Eichenwald spoke with Lieber’s editor. I sure would like to know what that conversation was all about. He had said before there is only going to be one book on this story, and it looks like he tried. Rats In The Grain contains facts that should have been reported in the Times, and these same facts were also omitted from Eichenwald’s book.”

In his widely read October 1, 2000 “Farm and Food File” national syndicated column Alan Guebert also voices his skepticism regarding some of the “facts’ used in Eichenwald’s book. “The errors of fact are troublesome because the author is peddling this book as the `true story’ of the ADM scandal. . . . . “What else in `The Informant’ is not accurate? . . .

“Even more troublesome than Eichenwald’s literary license,” Guebert continues, “is his liberal flair for the dramatic. From the book’s opening scene to its last, the author writes as if he has one eye on the facts — when two certainly would have served readers more fully — and the other on Hollywood. . . . ”

The Times penchant for looking the other way when it comes to the questionable activities of ADM was also on exhibit recently in David Barboza’s September 16 article dealing with the fate of the bankrupt Farmland Industries. “(Facing Huge Debt, Big Farm Co-op Is Closing.” (See below)

In detailing the demise of Farmland Industries, in addition to an overview concerning the plight of small agricultural co-ops in the U.S., Barboza conveniently not only overlooks what has been happening to other large co-ops — Growmark and Minnesota Corn Processors at the hands of ADM, but also takes no note of the “unique” arrangement between Cenex Harvest States Cooperatives, the nation’s largest co-op, and Cargill, the world’s largest grain trader, and their 50-50 operation of the Tacoma Export Marketing Co. a 3,000,000 bushel grain elevator in Tacoma, Washington.

It was ADM which corralled the Illinois’ coop,Growmark, by placing its Chairman on the ADM board and then taking quiet control of key Farm Service outlets that Growmark and the Illinois Farm Bureau jointly operated as nonprofit services. Farmers were forced to put up their river elevators as collateral to secure ADM “loans” The same thing happened in Indiana with Countrymark. When Countrymark’s farmers learned that their CEO was about to benefit from ADM’s largess with a board seat they threw him out, but not before ADM’s deal for the elevators was clinched. Now across much of Ohio, Indiana and Southern Michigan one can see ADM/Countrymark on the elevators.

Relative to Farmland Industries, as Joy Powell reported in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the September 2002 sale of MCP to ADM “has heightened concerns among antitrust experts over market concentration in two key agricultural markets — ethanol and fructose.” Both law professors and economists contended that the Justice Department failed to disclose essential facts about the merger of the nation’s top ethanol producers.

“Even as good a reporter as Barboza is,” Nicholas E. Hollis of the Agribusiness Council observes, ” the all important joint venture between ADM and Farmland made back in 2001, as Farmland was foundering, goes completely unmentioned.

“Yet, as we have seen with the Supermarkup to the World before — when a predatory, profiteering outfit with criminal history targets non-profit, farmer-owned coops — and like the wolf in Granny’s clothes offers Little Red Riding Hood a sweet loan deal (usually with the co-ops grain elevators secured as collateral) — it isn’t long before the farmer coop is swallowed. In most instances, the devouring takes almost no time — a blink of an eye — since the predator has been on the inside, weakening the struggling partner as part of a larger, takeover strategy — and there is little, if any, national press.

“But the ADM assault on MCP earlier this year perhaps has changed all that, Hollis continues, ” and perhaps now, as the ADM-led attack on farmer owned cooperatives is gaining altitude — someone will call for an investigation by DOJ — and/or a congressional hearing into this particular form of non competitive behavior pioneered by ADM. I’ll bet you that when the smoke clears on Farmland’s bankruptcy — ADM will be in control of many new elevators, while everyone else watches the Cargill/Smithfield bidding war for Farmland Foods, the real `winner’ on the Farmland debacle will remain in the shadows.

“In the wake of the collapse of trade talks in Cancun,” he concludes, “perhaps we should start reflecting on the anti-farmer strategy we are countenancing here, illustrated by this latest ADM raid on a heretofore successful farmer coop.”

AL KREBS is the editor of the Agribusines Examiner, one of our favorite newsletters, where this commentary originally appeared. We encourage all of you to subscribe. He can be reached at: avkrebs@earthlink.net

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail