Government hurt farms
If I was running for governor, I would ask “Why is Iowa having budget problems when Iowa farmers produced over 2 billion bushels of corn and over 1 billion bushels of soybeans?” With that much production, Iowa should be awash with cash.
It is obvious Gov. Reynolds and legislators seem ignorant of Iowa’s history and how they helped to undermine the diversified independent family farm system in favor of giant agribusiness monopolization and their capture of farm gate profits.
The transfer of economic power from family farmers in the 1940s and 50s to big agribusiness conglomerates began in 1953 when the feds dismantled government oversight replacing it with the ravages of dog-eat-dog capitalism. Since then corruption in government has intensified the exploitation of rural America.
A step-by-step analysis is needed now to show how state and federal governments trashed the family farmer.
First, they dismantled the price support system.
Second, big banks forced Structural Adjustment Programs onto debtor nations in what is called the Global South. One aspect of the program forced those nations to switch from traditional food production to cash grains for export which resulted in the downward pressure on worldwide grain prices. Those same nations had food shortages and had to import staple foods.
Third, the feds failed to enforce anti-trust laws which then allowed packer ownership of livestock and later, seed patenting.
Fourth, Iowa allowed the interstate commerce clause to override and undermine the state’s local economies. An example is the influx of giant agribusiness vertical hog production that undermined the relationship between independent family farm livestock producers and their Main Street agriculture suppliers.
Fifth, neo-liberal free-trade agreements allowed the dumping of cheap grains onto the world market, resulting in the whipsaw trading of grains and livestock between nations — totally upsetting markets worldwide.
Sixth, Citizens United has allowed more corporate money to flow toward government officials further corrupting the economics of farming and democracy.
Finally, the battleground has always been between the Blue Jeans — voices from the land standing on their historical knowledge and economic experiences, and the Suits — voices reflecting Milton Friedman’s theories from the elite schools of economic thought.
So far, the Suits are winning the battle, and farmers and workers are losing. It’s time for a farmer and worker alliance, perhaps even a Farmer-Worker political party. But commerce cannot turn a wheel until the farmer tills the soil and the worker enters the shop. It’s time the farmer and the worker raised a little hell.