Originally published January 1 2009
Corporate and Government Policies Spark Food Crisis in America
by Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) Americans are losing the ability to feed themselves. Nothing signifies this loss of the golden age in America more than our growing reliance on foreign countries for our food. Yet American's happily buy their produce from Mexico and their fish from China without giving it a thought. These are the same Americans who bemoan the loss of our manufacturing base saying that we should have done something about it before it was too late. Why can't they see the similarity to us losing our agricultural base? Buying food from the Chinese is no different than buying a Toyota from the Japanese. Both actions portray an American turning his back on his country.
When you buy food from a foreign country, you enrich the same corporations that have dumped their long time, faithful employees here in America. These are the food conglomerates that have shut down factories in the U.S. and created ghost towns where there were once thriving communities. They are the same corporations that show their contempt for Americans by using toxic chemicals and pesticides in their food production that are not allowed in the U.S. Maybe you say, "I only buy organic so I don't have to worry." What does 'organic' mean in Mexico or China? Who enforces those standards?
If this scenario isn't enough, add in government policy to ignore the fuel inefficiency of vehicles in the U.S. and instead to turn its attention and rhetoric to the encouragement of using our food for fuel. You would almost think there was a plot against the American people.
You don't have to be a dedicated fanatic to see what is going on. Just pick up some newspapers and you will find stories that paint a glaring picture of our fall from grace. Like the one in the New York Times about the death of the catfish industry in the U.S.
Last year, Dillard & Company raised 11 million fish. Next year they will raise none, and 55 more Americans will be unemployed while the rest of us will be getting our catfish from Asia.
With the rising costs of corn and soybeans, feed is now more than half the total cost of raising catfish. The president of Dillard says that for every dollar the company spends raising catfish it gets back only 75 cents when the fish go to market. Along with other producers Dillard's takes its fish to Consolidated Catfish Producers where they are cut into fillets. With fewer fish coming in, Consolidated is laying off half its workers. Dillard also blames governmental policy resulting in ethanol mandates.
Producer's Feed Company, across the highway from Dillard's has already shut down. The ripple effect continues at Peter Bo's Restaurant, locally known for its catfish dinners but now out of business.
Catfish has always been a delicacy that symbolized the South. The founder of Dillard's came to the Mississippi delta 50 years ago and put in a catfish pond. The idea caught on and soon the industry was booming, employing more than 10,000 people at its peak. But producers from Vietnam and China flooded the American market, resulting in the loss of pricing power.
Then there's the Associated Press article about a Mexican named Martinez who used to pay smugglers to sneak him into the U.S. to manage farm crews. Now he is back at home working for U.S. owned VegPacker de Mexico, one of many companies that have turned their backs on their American customers and moved their fields to Mexico to take advantage of hands willing to work for half of the prevailing rate in the U.S.
American companies now farm more than 45,000 acres of Mexican land with about 11,000 employees according to a survey quoted in the AP article. U.S. direct investment in Mexican agriculture, including American companies moving operations to Mexico and establishing Mexican partnerships, has grown seven fold to $60 million since the year 2000.
U.S. agribusinesses are now in the position of overrunning the local growers in Mexico and putting them out of business, much as they have been doing in the U.S. for decades.
A story in Tulsa World tells us that cattle in feedlots is at its lowest level since last August due to record high feed and fuel costs coupled with massive flooding in the Midwest that took out 5 million acres of farmland earlier in the summer. It looks bleak for the fall when cattle ranchers can no longer rely on the grass in their pastures to cushion high feed prices.
High prices for feed affects every part of the food chain from crop to consumer with higher prices all along the way. Placements of cattle into feedlots to gain weight for slaughter are down over the long term with May's placements totaling only 40,000 head, the second lowest monthly figure in more than a decade. Cattle inventories are at some of their lowest levels since the early 1960's as the result of the squeeze between higher feed costs and the ceiling of what feedlot operators will pay.
Again, the government policy to encourage the use of ethanol for fuel is sited as a determining factor. Cattle ranchers see their future as resting in the hands of what consumers are willing to pay, and it doesn't look good.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street crowd has turned its attention to farming in order to harvest a crop of fat profits. Crop price manipulation has long been a mainstay of speculators but now we've got hedge funds and venture capital amassing billions of dollars from global investors wanting to own farmland, and all the commodities involved in food production, transport and storage. They call it 'owning structure'.
Americans who have left any footprints in foreign countries are being contacted to act as go-betweens as foreign investors need intermediaries to contact real estate brokers of farmland not just in the U.S. but worldwide. Their goal is price control. With big size and deep pockets, these investment groups can almost corner the markets in corn or any targeted commodity, and store it long enough to force prices into huge advances. In the process, any small time operator can be brought to his knees. And since these funds own the mechanisms of transport and fuel, they are also in a position to move the commodity to whatever market is paying the most for it.
What can you do about all this? You can start by increasing your awareness of where your food comes from. This is fairly easy to do since most produce and packaged meat carries identification of the country of origin. Then you can tell your grocer that you are unwilling to spend your hard earned money on advancing the standard of living in another country while it's declining in your own country. You can go to weekend Farmers Market events and support your local growers. Buying only what is grown in the U.S. can be a cumbersome task but one that leaves you feeling good. You can start a victory garden in your own backyard and encourage your family members and neighbors to take part in it.
On a political level, you can support candidates that are at least willing to acknowledge and debate the issue of food crisis. Unfortunately there appear to be no such candidates in this year's election at the national level. Both the republicans and the democrats are on the bandwagon in support of the globalist's agenda and it doesn't seem to matter to them if Americans lose the ability to produce their own food supply.
David Streitfield, "As Price of Grain Rises, Catfish Farms Dry Up" New York Times.
Jessica Bernstein-Wax., "Some U.S. Farms Outsourced to Mexico" Associated Press.
Rod Walton, "Feed Costs Keep Cattle Off Lots" Tulsa World.
About the authorBarbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
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