Episode 262 S7-24
Corporate Collectivization of Farming
Hope on the Horizon Ch 24
Before Russians ever tried to collectivize farmlands, the pilgrims did. These dedicated worshipers had no intention of malice in their hearts. They thought joining together would produce more results. They were wrong. The next year the community leader gave them all individual plots of land to care for, and food supplies were in plenty.
The Russians tried forced collectivism through the enforcement of a five-year plan. Within these years, they removed farms from individuals and placed the land into a system of large farms owned by the state. Their purpose in doing so was to increase productivity. They needed to funnel more food from local farming communities. Most of all, they wanted to gain control of agricultural production and control food rations for masses so they could ensure compliance.
The Kulaks were large landowners with the most to lose to the state. Communists confiscated the property of defiant Kulacs and subjected them to local resettlement, deportation, incarceration in labor camps, or execution.
The Russian government offered incentives. The farmers who remained were allowed access to government machinery in exchange for cooperation.
The incentives were not enough. The people fought back. They sabotaged equipment, slaughtered livestock, and worked as slowly as possible. With the harsh quotas, they had very little to eat and were becoming malnourished.
Could collectivism have worked? For it to work, the incentives for increased production could have been more rewarding. To that effect, they could have just incentivized the community. Then the farming knowledge would have remained. If the farmers would have been allowed to earn the equipment, then production would have increased. The problem with forced collectivization is the people are opposed. All they needed was to get more food to the city, but the attraction to the power of controlling the food supply was too high, and that greed destroyed it.
Today, in our global trade system, a scary monopolizing of the food supply is at work. A government is not creating the problem, well maybe China. Large corporations are monopolizing worldwide food production. One by one, family farms fall to the corporatization of our food supplies. For example, just a couple of decades ago, small to large farmers dominated the pork industry. Some of these farmers produced well, and some not so much. The university benchmarked that production so farmers could have a point of reference as to their farm’s performance.
Agricultural specialists performed research to test a corporate model’s productivity in the pork industry. The numbers showed that they would be more productive than the bottom third but less productive than the top third. It would be difficult to push the top farmers out of business. However, the corporations had the capital to purchase the processing and distribution centers. If they could control the price point from genetics to final sale, they could keep costs extremely low in comparison to the average farmer.
That’s what they did. Corporations drove the prices down to an amount that would crush all of the private farms. Outlasting the independent farmer, the corporate-owned packers continued to lower pork prices. To add insult to injury, the circumstances forced farmers that went out of business to sell at huge losses or join with the corporations for survival.
During the price gouging, even some of the smaller corporations fell, and eventually, only the big corporations remained. Once the corporations took over, they returned prices to normal and had full control of the market.
The corporations are not limited to the United States. They prey on much more vulnerable countries as well. In the Philippines, food crises continue. The locals insist that the shortages are the result of the continuing push for corporate-driven neoliberal policies. These policies that allow large corporations and foreign investors to dominate local food-producing industries and capture natural resources. Foreign investors are not concerned about the locals. Their concern is for more wealth and power.
The demands of the Philllipino people sound strangely familiar to those who experienced communist rule. They want recognition and respect for a person’s right to health and culturally appropriate food produced with their methodology. They want recognition of rights for land that belongs to the communities, not a private investor who comes along to destroy the space in an effort for more money.
The Philippino people want respect for women’s rights in their food production roles and decision-making positions. They are asking for a repeal of corporate laws and an end to land rights acquisition and distribution. Their ancestral domains are to be recognized, and there should be a stop to corporate resource grabs and intrusions. Last but certainly not least, they want an end to the assault and killings of peasants, farmers, fisher fold, indigenous people, and they demand that they have defenders of human rights and the environment. The Philipino people want safeguards from their government to ensure the atrocities can’t happen again.
Is this all about money and power? The corporate farms must yield better results, right? Wrong! Industrial farming depends heavily on public intervention and subsidies. That’s right; the corporations are taking money from taxpayers to wipe out the smaller farmers and turn around and sell to the taxpayers. Corporations focus on short term macroeconomics so they can offer their products at lower prices to harvest a more significant short term profit. Showing this profit is the only way to get investors to give you more money.
Large scale industrialization of farming did indeed yield increased productivity over the last fifty years. We have overproduced for the number of people on our planet, but at what cost. Global production has moved to a large amount of production of only a few food varieties. Farming this way uses large amounts of pesticides, mineral fertilizers, energy, and freshwater. All this produces a lot of greenhouse gasses. Industrialized farming strips the soil of nutrients, contaminate waterways and encourages the loss of biodiversity.
When farming on a smaller scale, farmers can profit by producing exotic varieties and increasing diversity. Independent farmers provide a more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable habitat. Their food supply is more reliable because they develop resilient cultivation and distribution systems. Their livelihood is on the line if they don’t get the product to market.
However, industrialization has already had some adverse side effects. Pesticide use replaced the small farmer’s techniques. Traditional farming methods aren’t passed down generationally. These struggling farmers need access to more information on improved cultivation methods, technologies to improve efficiency, basic knowledge of the task, access to more seeds, and a more significant number of agricultural strategies.
These smaller farms require fewer resources to maintain and operate. They are more adaptable to changing conditions. Smaller farms often hire more labor. These laborers develop a community and increase commerce. They need access to schools for their kids and stores to fulfill their needs. Investors must keep supporting these small farmers. It is a high-risk market that, without funding, will be gone forever to the corporate collectivization.
There are so many benefits to eating locally grown food. Supporting a local food supply in your area means when times get tough, you still have access to food. You can see where and how your food is grown. Eating seasonally is good for the body and the environment. Your body craves variety to capture nutrients, and eating locally means those nutrients don’t have to travel as far. The proximity of farm to fork reduces transportation costs and impact on the environment.
Eating locally provides you with a wide array of vitamins. Expanding your pallet is fun and very good for you. When you eat local, you know you are helping your community thrive. Relationships with the farmers themselves can be priceless. In times of disaster, knowing the person producing the food is a good thing. All of this network building establishes valuable community relations.
The corporate collectivization of our farms has to stop. Greed and power do not feed people. Once a corporation owns the seeds, the chemicals, the farmers, and the distribution chains, you have no choice but to grow your own or eat their food. Then when the chemicals and lack of nutrients cause sicknesses in the body, guess who owns the medications to make you better? Are you seeing the bigger picture now?
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