Post dereg of the Dairy biz in Australia - Part 2

jay gee jgj23 at
Sun Apr 7 10:29:36 EDT 2002

Part 2 of 2

Phil from Iowa also wrote:

 We used to raise a lot of hogs until we lost all of our markets to this 
 process, today there is only one market to sell to and they are basically by 
 contract only.  I know a few people that still are rasing a few hogs without 
 contract and they can only take them to a sale barn to sell and take 10 to 15 
 dollars less than the market to sell them, but still no one in the goverment 
 really cares.

Why should farmers think that anyone in the government cares about them?
People in the government care about themselves, by and large.  No different
than elsewhere.  The fellow who runs a muffler shop on Main Street doesn't
have to worry about the government, unless he is breaking the law.

If you have first-class, high quality, organic (or not organic if the quality is
high) hogs, advertise them yourself and find a butcher shop or restaurant
that wants them.  To survive against the onslaught of "big guys" you must
advertise your presence to your local community so that they can "opt-in"
to what you offer.  This is what the muffler shop operator on Main Street
must do when Midas comes to town, if he wants to survive and prosper.

Contrary to what many have been raised to believe about advertising,
there is nothing unseemly about it when it is well done.  And it is great for
your bottom line when practiced regularly.

 The main purpose of the 95 Farm Bill was to reorganize agriculture so that 
 they could shut down about hslf of their ASCS offices around the country by 
 the year 2005 and save the goverment a ton of money., howerver their long 
 range plans have changed a bit the main plan is still intact.  Some where 
 around 2.8 mil farmers have been put out of business and this trend will 
 continue as long as the money flows to the right pockets.

Well, your turn has arrived to work for and support elected officials to
stop the consolidation of agriculture -- but don't expect a handout or
subsidy.  Newly elected officials can probably be counted on to stop
the corporate welfare if we small fries stick together.

 This is no phenomenon, is is and was a very carefully planned plan to remove 
 the family farmer off the land and the change over to Corporate Agriculture 
 so the government and the Banks have less people to deal with.  Our lenders 
 in our area doesn't even feel there is a business to deal with unless you set 
 up a Corporation so getting a loan is out of the question.

I think many independent family farms do a perfectly good job of putting
themselves out of business, for all kinds of reasons totally unrelated to
government actions.  If there is a conspiracy here, I don't see who

 The Dairy issue sounds a lot like the dairy buy out we had in this country, 
 where the government bought out cows to lower production rather than help 
 some operator with some Value added project, DIDN' T  WORK.  Was a real mess 
 and forced down cattle prices to 40 year low, many cattle producer went out 
 of business with this government buyout.

I'm sure large numbers of farmers took advantage of the buyout because
they were tired of being in the business.  The hand out is always easier
than thinking about the consequences of collective action and the longer
term implication of those collective actions.  All businesses face uncertainty.
It is the nature of being in business, farm business included.

 I started farming in 1964 and have seen a lot of changes in this business 
 some good and some bad, but the worst of all has been the government 
 programs, they have killed the family farm and the good methods of 
 substainable agriculture so the over production of Corporate Agriculture will 
 win out, is a shame that we all stood by and let it happen, now I feel it is 
 to late to try to reverse.

Agreed.  Government farm programs have done much to hasten the
departure of the generational, inherited family farm.  Many of those
farmers who are now gone helped deepen the crisis in agriculture
because they shun responsibility for their farm's demise.  It is easier to
lay the problem at the government's feet.

In 1981 I visited an associate at his parent's soybean farm near
St. Joseph, MO.  Farms were being foreclosed left and right and the
major problem was oversupply and low prices.  Support prices were
below the cost of production.   When I asked his Dad about why
bean prices were so low, he responded, "too many bean farmers."
(I knew less then about farming - though I'm not too sure I know a
lot more about it now, but I have learned much from this list.)

I asked him why didn't he grow something else which produced a
higher price.  His reply was that if he gave up "growin beans" his
neighbors would accuse him of not being a good enough farmer
to make it on beans.  I learned that "independent farmers" weren't
really all that independent after all, especially when it came to
thinking independently.

I have arrived at the conclusion that no baseball team could win
with a roster of only power hitting left fielders, any more than a
basketball team playing five point guards instead of one with a
center, two forwards and a shooting guard.

Maybe the lesson of history is to promote competition rather than
"the family farm."  Those family farmers who aggressively compete
and survive deserve to continue, those who don't go out of
business.  Ditto for agribusiness.  Kill the subsidies and enforce
antitrust laws.  The market will take care of itself just as it did
in the auto industry.  It just takes some time.  And diligence on
the part of the voters.

At least that's how I see it from where I sit.

Jay Gee
not a farmer -- but interested in farming

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