The buzz and hum of Bank-Aids and Bailouts are captivating America and many other nations; however to me I am more in tune with Farm Aid. Farm Aid is a more preferential route for the country to take, nevertheless the power brokers would rathere follow the desires of the Bankers and Wall Street over the proverbial Main Street or Farmer John.
Just about a week ago I posted my thoughts on the emerging financial crisis, and I concluded the “bailout” orchestration is a result that the crisis affects the wealth and privilege. The average American has been struggling for years, and all the average American has gotten is minor tax refunds. Nonetheless, America’s family farmers have been struggling for the last century. There has been no bailout, no fancy aid packages; just an industry favored Farm Bills favoring the commodity markets and factory farms. American farm policy has been following the “Get Big or Get out” mantra of Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz, a mere parallel to the rest of the American economy.
After years of family farm struggles, I see a pattern emerge in the wreckage of the US economy with that of the failures of the Soviet Union. Similarly, the Soviet Union’s forced “collectivism” policy exterminated peasant farmers. By the barrel of the gun, the government forced peasants off their lands. Conversely, in America it was the stroke of the banker’s pen, instead of the barrel of the gun. A Wall Street dominated system bamboozled American farmers into poverty, and lobbied for preferential treatment benefiting the giant agro-business like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Monsanto. As it was with the Soviet Union, the hens have come home to roost and the seeds of their greed have trapped them in a crumbling system and no longer can the mantra of “ it’s to big to fail” can survive.
Appropriately, during the “rich-mans” crisis, I went to the annual Farm Aid concert in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp(now includes Dave Mathews) organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. However, obviously since it is still going on twenty-two years later there is still more work to done. While amongst the financial “chaos” I relate the plight to a 60’s slogan, and update it for today. “It will be the day that all our farms have all the money they need, and Wall Street holds a concert to bail them out.
For the last twenty-two years Farm Aid has educated Americans about the plight of family farms and the horrors of the factory farm. The factory system is a determent to the American countryside. Factory farms weaken the rural economy, by removing control of the food supply and production to an office in Chicago. It is the ultimate irony in agriculture intensives regions that there are people suffering of starvation. Corn rich Iowa has shortages of fresh vegetables, while America is flooded with high fructose corn syrup which rots Americans teeth. Furthermore, in order to keep up farmers must produce greater quantities in order to stay afloat in the commodity foods pool. Why shouldn’t farmers get paid for what they work, rather what Wall St tells them it is worth?
Environmentally, factory farming has deleterious environmental effects. In order to feed higher demands industrial farms use excessive amounts of petroleum based fertilizers and toxic pesticides. Farm runoffs, pesticide residues, and oil usage exasperates environmental calamities whether it be with pollution or climate change. Small diversified family farmers reduce those impacts dramatically.
Moreover, the food delivery mechanisms are highly wasteful. Food on average travels in excess to 1,500 miles to reach your plate. Centralized food production cultivates the need to transport food longer distances. So instead eating local grown produce and raised meats from your neighborhood family farmer not only reduces the impact on climate change, but even better supports your local economy.
Supporting the local economy is the best thing one can do in these chaotic economic times, for who is more important to you, the farmer or Morgan Stanley. Food is essential and in reality the dollar is just pieces of paper. All the money in the word will not buy you bread when there is none, so instead of bailing out Wall Street, let us aid the farmers and feed the people. I’m sure if farmers are taken care off, then the firm of Nelson, Young, Mellencamp and Matthews can play for Wall Street. Wouldn’t it be great? I can hear the classics now…“Keep on rocking on the Free Market”,
“Can’t wait to get on the free market again, making money with my friends,”
“Ain't that America, home of the free market,” and
“I buy too much I trade too much I want too much, too much.”
“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it's liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.” Thomas Jefferson
Ps. I wanted to write about Farm Aid a few weeks ago, but the not so sudden downturn in the economy had kind of changed things.
I leave you with this question:
Do you need an economists to tell you which way the economy is going?