Axios: Bernie Sanders Wants To Trust Bust Big Ag

Axios:

2020 Democrat Bernie Sanders unveiled a multi-faceted, comprehensive plan to help revitalize rural farming communities and break up big agriculture corporations like Bayer-Monsanto and John Deere by enacting “Roosevelt style trust-busting laws.”

“Agriculture today is not working for the majority of Americans. It is not working economically for farmers, it is not working for rural communities, and it is not working for the environment. But it is working for big agribusiness corporations that are extracting our rural resources for profit.

For far too long, government farm policies have incentivized a “get big or get out” approach to agriculture. This approach has consolidated the entire food system, reducing farm net income, and driving farmers off the land in droves.  As farms disappear, so do the businesses, jobs, and communities they support. …”

This is a big deal.

There’s a lot of good stuff in Bernie’s Revitalizing Rural America plan that I agree with as a disaffected White populist like bringing high-speed broadband internet to rural areas, expanding and rebuilding rural health care infrastructure, enforcing country-of-origin labeling, leveling the playing field for domestic meat producers, expanding addiction recovery services in rural areas, etc.

At the same time, there is a lot of stuff in Bernie’s plan that I am skeptical of like trying to stop vertical integration of agriculture and breaking up large agribusiness corporations. I think it is natural for capitalism to evolve this way and trying to break up the large conglomerates in order to take us back to a bygone era is motivated by nostalgia and political opportunism.

As with everything about Bernie’s policies, the overarching theme is looking backwards to 20th century lefty solutions – trust busting, unions, solidarity with farmworkers, etc. – instead of looking ahead to how deep learning AI, robotics and automation will impact our agricultural system. 95% of farmers in America are White and only a tiny fraction of the population works in agriculture. The long term trend is likely more automation and consolidation and eliminating more people from the workforce in agriculture. The same thing will happen in manufacturing and services for the same reasons.

Personally, I believe it is a good thing that sharecropping ended here, and we now have the opportunity to live in a world of supermarkets and even organic supermarkets like Whole Foods. No one who is familiar with the old system of agriculture and how bad it got wants to go back to it. These are just my instincts though and I would like to study these issues more before taking a firm position on the merits of a lot of these policy proposals. I’m looking forward to seeing the exchanges in the debates.

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18 Comments

  1. Big Ag businesses like Tyson foods exploit rural areas and turn them into cheap labor dung heaps. Schools and hospitals are filled to overload with these people. I could go on and on.

    A vast majority of our immigration problems are connected to Big Ag companies. This will resonate with rural areas who are watching their towns disappear and turn into Mexico.

    I agree that automation is really the solution to Big AG but neither party’s neoliberal corporate candidates will force them to automate (as the upfront investment is high) as long as they can be bought off to bring in truck loads of cheap labor.

  2. “At the same time, there is a lot of stuff in Bernie’s plan that I am skeptical of like trying to stop vertical integration of agriculture and breaking up large agribusiness corporations. I think it is natural for capitalism to evolve this way and trying to break up the large conglomerates in order to take us back to a bygone era is motivated by nostalgia and political opportunism.”

    I totally disagree. Big Ag is really The Agricultural Industrial Complex and operates much the same way as The Military Industrial Complex. It has nothing to do with good food, good nutrition, good soil, animal husbandry, responsible farming practices or humane processing of animals. The absence of crop rotation and the use synthetic fertilizers is destroying the soil. It’s a monopoly. I say dismantle all the BIG ones like The Medical Industrial Complex, The Construction Industrial Complex, The Financial Industrial Complex, and The Federal Government Industrial Complex. They are all toxic. And, they will continue to grow and control our lives more and more (is it even possible?). They have all destroyed their competition make no mistake about it. The family farm cannot exist because of Big Ag. They even prevent farmers from saving their seeds. No one can compete with Big Anything!

    None of this is progress. It’s profits. It’s all about commerce helping the few at the expense of the many and getting the herd dependent. Burn them all to the ground and start wisely and honestly. What we need is a better class of people in the Board rooms. And, some of the blame needs to be applied to the stockholders where much of it belongs. How come the Left never protests these things en masse? You have little groups of people like raw milk farmers being hauled away with no public outcry. And, then the propaganda begins…

    • In addition to your points, big consolidated AG also equals big consolidated government control of food supply which can be used as a cudgel to suppress populist uprisings.

      Has Bernie ever run his matzo hole about disciplining big social media about suppression of speech/thought?

    • Some videos of note.

      This video shows a Case Quadtrac planting wheat. Note that the computer is steering the tractor:

      https://youtu.be/lFaQkEvvFUs

      This video shows an airseeder. It’s controlled by the tractor’s onboard computer.

      https://youtu.be/QyLj97x7Gq8

      Gleaner Combine promotional video.

      Note the emphasis on systems management and computer control. Not on driving the combine, which is being steered by the computer, anyway. The operator spends more time looking at the monitor, than he does looking out the window.

      https://youtu.be/H2i2TN1QAjU

    • Agreed, Big Agriculture is one of the primary enemies of our people. The Kakistocracy fellow had an article about “chicken helots” — hordes of Africans imported to small American towns to staff the chicken plants, rather than the locals. They bear a good portion of the blame for the genocidal invasion of our countries.

      If anything, the technology should be being used to DECENTRALIZE and LOCALIZE production. Automation should be spreading out ownership, not (((centralizing))) it with the (((tyrants))). That’s it’s true potential — building a vehicle or farming or making things LOCALLY to break up the obscene power of the megacorporations that are ruling us with a rod of iron and utterly annihilating any chance of Hunter’s ostensibly cherished “liberty.”

      Throughout most of history, production was decentralized. The local smith made the tools people needed. The local wagonmaker made their wagons. The local horse breeder bred their horses.

      Industrialization ruined that made today’s alienating, destructive mass culture.

      However, with everything from 3D printing to robots to the internet, that COULD just be a passing phase. I think the REAL potential of automation is to localize and decentralize high quality production again, returning a lot of freedom to humanity that has been missing for around 150 years now.

      Why is this site advocating to stifle that? It could be again like it was of old — but better. The only reason to retain the current model is to retain the power of the (((fat cats))).

      • My position on farm issues is that I don’t know enough about the subject to have a firm position on lots of these proposals. I’m skeptical though of trust busting because of our experience after the demise of the plantation complex. The collapse of the antebellum plantations into small farms worked by peons led to overproduction and made everyone dirt poor. Life has gotten better in the South since the 1940s when sharecropping came to an end and farm size increased and mechanization eliminated those jobs.

      • I also just don’t see us going back to the era of the family farm.

        Something like 2% of the population works in agriculture. What’s that number going to look like after the big wave of robots, automation and AI hits rural America? Assuredly, there will be even fewer people working in agriculture, as there will be fewer people working in the economy in general because more tasks are going to be automated and it will create more economic growth and wealth as a result.

  3. As with everything about Bernie’s policies, the overarching theme is looking backwards to 20th century lefty solutions – trust busting, unions, solidarity with farmworkers, etc

    All the others are just the same. Catering to various Jewish Neurosis and Cold War Era sociopolitical and economic problems. Many of which were inherited from the late 19th Century steam era industrial revolution.

  4. If Bernie is elected, he will be just as impotent as Ron Paul would have been. And, I was a Ron Paul supporter for two election cycles.

    Until the majority of the American people go out into the streets and stop all means of production, the control mechanism will continue to grow. I’m all for the rioting. We know it’s been very successful for blacks outside the ghettos. But unions, completely controlled entities, would never suggest such a thing. And, because everyone is dependent upon others to feed them, nothing will change. It simply can’t without a significant loss of life.

    The tunnel has no light at the other end.

  5. i dont think having our food dependent on a small number of huge agribusiness is really healthy for the society. i live in a area of modest farms raising cattle on grass pasture, and raising orchard fruit, and things like blueberries.. People have been doing this for generations, and many people enjoy farming in one form or another. Turning all the farms in the Ozarks where I live into giant feedlots for for Mega Ag is not going to make for a happy rural, small town world. Small and medium farms are the source for a lot of the interesting things that we eat, like dairy, and local, organically grown fruit and vegetable. Automation may take over huge grain agriculture, but after seeing what big AG did with turkey, chicken, and pork, I shudder at whats next. I want my food raised by humane humans, not some robot. Wendell Berry the great populist of rural life and agriculture, along with others, wrote all about this. He was convinced if Big Ag could have a tube straight to your stomach, and bypass the mouth they would do it.

  6. Industrial agriculture began in the late 19th Century in California. And with the cattle companies after 1865, in the Transmississipi.

    The farms here in North Texas are still owned by individual families. This is the case with most of them in other parts of the country, too. A great many, however, have contracts with various food processing companies. Here in Lamar County, for instance, a lot of the corn and sorghum goes directly to the local feed mills.

    Farmers that grow potatoes, for example, have contracts with Frito-Lay or with various grocery chains.

    But farming is now an economy of scale.
    The trend is towards larger machines, double cropping and higher yields. Machinery itself has become more computerised and automatic, too.

    You can’t make any money on small acerage plots anymore. Farmers with 8-900 acres can barely scrape by.

    There are also a lot of contract farming companies around now. All they provide are machinery and skilled labour. Custom combining, or tillage operations, for example.

    Then you have the actual corporate farms, which mostly produce fruit and vegetables, and are concentrated from California to South Carolina.

    Because of machinery, the bulk of the work isn’t done by hand anymore. That’s been the trend since the invention of the reaper, the sickle bar mower, and the box drill, all horse drawn, of course.

    Bernie Sanders doesn’t understand any of this, of course, because he thinks like it’s still 1910, or 1893.
    None of the problems, or his solutions for them, matter anymore.

    • Agriculture is becoming bigger and larger scale over time and seeing as how we now live in a world of abundance and the problem is obesity and diabetes rather than famine that might not be such a bad thing

  7. My family used to be commercial chicken farmers. Vertical integration pretty-much amounts to modern-day sharecropping. Getting rid of the contracts and going back to the era of independent growers buying their products from independent feed mills and hatcheries would be nothing but a good thing. It would, funnily enough, be a lot closer to what people claim real capitalism is than the system we have now.

  8. Add to the evils of Agribiz, the specter of the Irish Potato Famine, and you have poential (or planned!) WORLDWIDE FAMINE.

    Most of the seeds for sale (even in your local Fleet Farm) are hybrid seeds, that cannot procreate from their own fruits! Heirloom seeds (contrariwise) are both out there; (and there are beautiful catalogues of these- plant some heirlooms, this summer!) and these seeds have been SAVED by individuals, who understand and know that the ‘Frankenfoods’ of the Agribiz Monsanto clones, are both susceptible to disease (without the use of the carcinogenic Monsanto “Round-up”/glyphosate residue, and the almost ubiquitous ‘PATENTED SEEDS’ – Arrrrgh! Patenting God’s creation!) and could be a TOOL OF DOMINATION, should they seek to do so. Free yourselves by growing and saving/giving away, seeds of the vast majority of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, lettuces, berries, etc. that are featured in these catalogues.

    This control of our food supply by Giant Agribiz, MUST END. In addition, raw milk, grass-fed meats, organic produce need not, and must not be ‘expensive’ – screw “Whole Foods” and those hippy/faggot ‘Co-ops’ across the nation! Our children had NO allergies to raw milk, whereas ‘ultra-boiled’ milk made them sick- because cow feces, insects, and microorganisms are rendered ‘safe’ in ‘pasteurized’ milk- but who wants to ingest that!?

    Humane slaughter (as opposed to CAFO farms), growing fruits and veg yourself, instead of useless astroturf in the vast majority of the nation’s back yards, and allowing small game (chickens, rabbits, etc.) in cities, like they USED TO, would end our dependence on the Satanic Agribiz, ensure genetic diversity (the only good kind of diversity) in plants and edible crops, as well as help to minimize/possibly eliminate allergies, toxicities of Frankenfoods, and scarcities in our own neighborhoods.

    Start by reading ‘Animal, Vegetable, MIracle’ by Kingsolver. Very enlightening book about how it CAN be done. because a real cow does not come in a pick package, wrapped in plastic.

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