Capitalist collectivization. (fwd)

Ryan at Ryan at
Wed Apr 24 16:24:57 MDT 1996

>There is nothing except the fact that they produce pork and milk
>with less labor.  There is nothing except that they bring agricultural
>capital in the real world of industrial production from the fantasy of the
>"family farm."  There is nothing except that now government subsidies for
>over-capitalized natural-resource industries no longer have the coveralled
>hay-seed for a poster-boy.

I think this line of thought rests on neo-con transaction cost economics
theory. it essentially defends the authority relations of corporations as
more efficient than contractual ones. It also translates into Third World

Agribusiness produces pork and milk with cheap labor, often times the very
rural community people who were driven out of business by their engineered
low commodity prices. And we shouldn't forget that the "poster boy" kept up
to half the jobs in rural communities afloat.  But these dispossessed people
at least have the benefit of living in a First World country. The people of
the Third World who have been driven to bankruptcy and starvation by
agribusiness have no such luck.

And total U.S. milk production is actually down, while small dairy farmers
continue to exit because of restructuring in the midwest and south. The
number of milk cows is down slightly and milk production per cow continues to
perform poorly. (From Extension Service figures). Government subsidies have
long favored agribusiness to the detriment of small producers, and the new
"freedom to farm" rhetoric is more of the same.

Farmers who have survived are attempting some creative alternatives to combat
the capitalists.  Circumventing markets by bartering has made a comeback in
what is left of rural communities.

Another trend is to get back at, for example, the obscene margins in the
packing industry by starting select membership or closed cooperatives. Equity
shares are tied are tied to the delivery of a raw product by the members.
They can operate at 100% capacity regardless of the fluctuating commodity
numbers. It is not a solution, of course, since they typically operate under
Total Quality Management rather than organized labor. But it is working
successfully in a corn sweetner plant, and a pasta plant that I know of. One
for beef is in the works.  It shows us that cowboys, farmers and ranchers are
in a class struggle looking for alternatives to traditional capitalist
markets. We should support these efforts.

Sally Ryan

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