The 50 Year Fight To Save America’s Small Farms

Background To Betrayal: The Consequences of the Mega-Corp Destruction of Small Farms

Part 1

by Paulie Hart

The situation in 1968 was becoming very dire, indeed.  Mega corporations were scooping up agricultural land all over the country and putting small farmers out of business.  This was taking place 50 years ago, and the consequences of these monopoly farming cartels are now becoming evident.  Let’s take a look at the valiant citizens who led the fight on behalf of the small farmers, and  study the words they wrote and spoke back then, and understand how their warnings and predictions have rung true 5 decades later.

Gaylord NelsonFirst and foremost, was Senator Gaylord Nelson.  He was undoubtedly one of the greatest men to ever occupy the United States Senate.  Born in Clear Lake, Wisconsin in 1916, he actually graduated from San Jose State College in California.  Later, he became a lawyer, receiving his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.  He served in the U.S. Army in World War 2, slogging through the horrible campaign in Okinawa.  His rise in politics began in the Wisconsin State Senate, then Governor for two terms, and finally United States Senator.  He was a champion of small business and the small farmer and was very concerned about the damage being done to the environment, especially by the corporate farming cartels.  He was the principal founder of Earth Day, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his environmental work.

In May of 1968, Senator Nelson, as chairman of the subcommittee on Monopoly of the Select Committee on Small Business, opened hearings in courtroom No. 2, Federal Building in Omaha, Nebraska.  Here follows some excerpts of Senator Nelson.  His comments were right on the mark:  ringing an alarm bell of the approaching disaster.  (Note: bold and italic are added by to highlight important parts.)

     “Today the Monopoly Subcommittee of the Senate Select Committee on Small Business opens this investigation on the effects of corporation farming on small business and on the economic and social structure of rural America.

     “At the outset, the subcommittee wishes to make it clear that incorporation of family farms by their owner-operators is not at issue in these hearings.

     “Instead, the subcommittee is vitally interested in learning more about the implications of the rapid movement of large conglomerate corporations and other nonfarm absentee interests into agriculture.

     “We want to determine what the effect of corporation farming will be on small business in rural communities, what the consequences will be on the sociological and moral environment of rural America; what the implications will be on existing independent family farms and how we can expect our country’s natural resources to be used by giant farm operators.

    ” There is mounting evidence…that more and more corporations are turning to agriculture as a means to diversify their corporate activities.  Some have had no previous connection with agriculture while others are vertically integrating their operations to move a few steps closer to a final merger of the production, processing, and marketing of food.

     “…I suspect that if corporation farming becomes the wave of the future, it not only spells the doom of small rural business and family farms, but it raises other grave questions – questions whose answers hold as much importance for the citizens of our cities as for those in the countryside.

     “If corporation farming means fewer family farms and rural businesses, then our already overcrowded cities will be the target for even more out-migration from the countryside.  This further pileup of people in the cities will only compound the problems that have led to riots and civil disorder.

     “If corporation farming means placing the control of food production in the hands of a few giant food growing, processing, and marketing chains, then consumers, whether they shop in a city supermarket or a country store, will be faced with food prices established by cartels and not be competition.

     “The American family farm has proven itself year after year to be the most efficient and effective producer of food in the world….This advantage that American consumers enjoy today is bound to be eliminated if a few vertically integrated firms gain control of the country’s food production and dictate food prices.

     “If corporation farming means continued abuse of our tax laws by operators who farm at a loss to gain tax writeoffs, then responsible citizens everywhere will be forced to carry more than their fair share of the tax burden.

     “In 1965, there were 119 millionaires who were involved in some phase of farming.  Of these 119, 104 reported a net loss on their farm operations for tax purposes.

     “This is unfair to the ordinary taxpayer and to the family farmer who has to live on what he earns and cannot enjoy the luxury of investing his already scarce capital in outside business ventures.

     “If corporation farming means the future unplanned use of our land and water, then we can anticipate ill conceived industrial development with the attendant blight of landscape, and the creation of massive irrigation projects which imperil or totally deplete existing water tables and destroy the quality of the table by infusions of brackish water.  This is already occurring now in many parts of the country.

     “Since a large part of the future growth of America must be where the land is, we will soon see innumerable burgeoning new cities and revitalized old towns.  Control of the land will critically affect the direction and quality of that growth and hence the quality of American life.

     “The land and its resources determine the potential of any nation.  Its management and control are of vital concern to everyone.”

Coming soon, Part 2, The Five Points that show how mega corporations are destroying small farms and leading to food monopoly in America.  The stunning testimony of Mr. Tony DeChant, President of the National Farmers Union, Denver, Colorado.

Posted by Paulie

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