There’s an incredible report in the Redwood Falls (MN) Gazette about a meeting there last week of over 100 farmers and cattle raisers who met to “take action for fair market prices against corporate concentration that has been using its muscle to take over the markets and dictate what farmers should get for their livestock.” The reporting comes from the Gazette’s publisher, Pat Schmidt. The photo above is from the meeting.
The meeting was one of dozens being held across rural America before a hearing on possible antitrust violations in the livestock industry this Friday in Fort Collins, Colorado. (The Yonder will have live reports on that meeting Friday.) Good story. Read it and look at the photos.
• The Washington Post this morning makes the connection between consolidation in the egg industry and the recall of half a billion potentially tainted eggs. In 1987, 2,500 egg companies produced 95 percent of the nation’s eggs. Now just 192 egg companies control that percentage, according to reporter Lyndsey Layton. That increasing concentration also increases the size of any food problem.
“I don’t think people have any idea when they see all these brand names in the stores that so many are coming from the same place,” said Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch, a food safety organization. “It raises the stakes — if one company is doing something wrong, it affects a lot of food.”
• Coming to a state near you: Republican Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate has planned a two-month trip through more than 25 states between now and the mid-term elections. Just the thing to do for a guy who would like the 2012 Republican nomination.
• DTN’s Todd Neeley reports that biodiesel firms were hurting even before the end of the $1 a gallon credit expired at the end of ’09. “The majority of biodiesel producers have shut down and few were still actually producing,” Neeley wrote. Now things are worse for the few remaining producers and many express doubt about the future of the industry.
• The Rutland (VT) Herald editorializes that the “egg scare is a reminder that we need to pull back from industrial food and toward real food grown on real farms.” The paper writes:
The economic model characterized by major industrial producers of pork, beef, poultry, eggs, dairy and commodity fruits and vegetables provides lower-cost, lower-quality foodstuffs while impoverishing rural America. Travelers across rural America bring back tales of hollowed out towns that have been all but abandoned except for a few large-scale growers who hire a few workers as they need them. It is a new kind of feudalism where the countryside is colonized by corporate agriculture that can produce commodities cheaply because of economies of scale.
It would be one thing if that cheap food was doing us any good. But we pay in the poor quality of mass-produced food and in the economic devastation of rural America. It is the same cycle that occurs when business trades well-paying jobs at locally owned stores for poorly paying jobs at chain stores. Products at the chain stores may be cheaper, but at the cost of diminished income for more and more people.