Chamber of Commerce Gets Its Wish: Big Ag Squeezes Iowa Small Farmers Out of Business
While owners of small farms are experiencing an economic crisis similar to that seen in the 1980s, the Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers network — two organizations largely responsible for the current state of affairs — are attempting to blame the sad state of affairs on President Trumps effort to fix bad trade deals with China.
Iowa’s farming industry is booming for massive conglomerates while the small farmers are taking a pounding like never before. A recent Axios report highlighted the many bankruptcies that have come as a result of the rising dominance of Big Agriculture.
“We are going down the same road as the Russians with the collective farm system,” said Chris Petersen, a third-generation pig farmer who was forced into bankruptcy, to Axios. “There, the government controlled it. Here, it’s the corporations.”
Hyper-concentration has taken over the agricultural industry, as Big Ag snuffs out all small competition standing in its way. According to the federal Department of Agriculture, four firms are responsible for 66 percent of hogs slaughtered, 85 percent of steer slaughtered, and half the chickens slaughtered as of 2015. Four monopoly firms also control 85 percent of corn seed sales, a 25 percent increase from 2000, and 75 percent of soy bean seed, up from 50 percent in 2000.
The result of corporate dominance is the destruction of communities, as out-of-work farmers slip into opiate addiction or are forced to move because of the corporate-fueled unemployment.
“A lot of towns are ghost towns because the farmers are gone. Schools are consolidating. My high school graduated 86 kids in 1974. It was 50 last year,” said Joe Peiffer, a Hiawatha bankruptcy lawyer, to Axios.
The US Chamber of Commerce, one of the most influential lobbying outfits in the entire country, has paid lip service to the free market for many years. The organization has become synonymous with Republican politics supposedly standing for conservative values. They like to honor farm families with trite ceremonies that are good for propaganda videos, but the agenda driving the group is far different than what they want to portray to the public.
The Chamber has a long-standing record of standing for corporate control over the economy. A great example of this is their relationship with Monsanto, one of the primary benefactors of current trends in the agricultural industry. The Chamber pushed to shield Monsanto from liability after a lawsuit accused them of causing environmental damage with their genetically modified crops and pesticides. The Chamber regularly gives awards to Monsanto to help their corporate public relations efforts as they fend off a battery of scandals.
“The AACC applauds Monsanto’s inclusion of the Asian community as one of its nine business resource groups while also being one of the major importers of Asian talent to the St. Louis area for decades,” said Al Li, President of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis, in honoring Monsanto for its commitment to diversity and globalism.
Other awards and honors given to Monsanto by the Chamber include the ‘Champion of Enterprise’ award from the Missouri Chamber, a keynote speaking slot awarded by the Hispanic Chamber, the Best of the Best Corporation for Inclusion award from the National LGBT Chamber, and even the Ceiba Award from the Southern Puerto Rico Chamber.
“Agriculture is a complex and highly competitive industry, and there are hundreds of companies driving innovation and competing for farmers’ business. After a robust global regulatory review process, we brought together two talented teams and a robust portfolio to offer more choices for farmers. Working with our customers and partners around the world, we are focused on developing smarter ways to grow healthy crops that are more environmentally and economically sustainable,” Monsanto said to Axios.
The Chamber and other corporate lobbying outfits will continue to be in Monsanto’s corner as they march toward absolute domination of the US marketplace.