Capitalist collectivization. (fwd)

Ryan at Ryan at
Thu Apr 25 20:08:16 MDT 1996

>	My mother's family comes from a small farming community in southern
>Ontario where they have done dairy/mixed farming for 5 generations.  They
>have essentially sold out for real estate value, although one cousin still
>raises a dairy herd.  I know that the Canadian subsidy system was unable to
>target family farmers effectively over agri-business interests.

I am just fascinated by people's ability to retrieve ancestral memories and
the implications this has for recapturing everybody's tribal roots, which I
am convinced is essential to refinding our way on the path of
balance and spirituality.  I also am interested in mask-making as a
transformative process.

Well, okay maybe not, but I am interested in what has happened to Canadian
farmers. Ken Hanley could probably shed some light on this,
 but it is a familiar story. For example, the H.J. Heinz Co. has made record
profits with the CEO boasting about the company's "new trading partnerships"
in a North American common market. Their financial success has come at the
expense of Canadian workers and farmers as they struggle to become more "cost
competitive".  (National Farmers Union, Canada).

As for state subsidies trying to balance the small farmers competitive
disadvantage, this is actually how it works. At least in the U.S., nearly 50%
of subsidies  go to individuals who are not farmers, but rather urban
professionals investing in farmland. Most agriculture subsidies go to farmers
with an average net worth and incomes well over the national average. In
other words, they actually help squeeze out small farmers. I have a lengthy
report from the Farm Service Agency that is evidence of how discriminated
small producers are in the administration of farm commodities, crop insurance
and conservation programs, and eligibility for farm loans.

And is it commonly believed in New Jersey that large corporate farms are more
efficient than small ones? Several studies dispute this, see Young and
Newton, "Capitalism and Human Obsolescence". It is very difficult to make
such an assertion without taking into account many factors, such as soil
fertility, topography and field size. Small and large farms operate in
different physical environments, and agribusiness farming is just not
feasible for many places and circumstances.

Jon did a good job of outlining that corporate farms such as the hog industry
are a potential trough, if you will, of environmental problems. If you live
downwind or downstream from one you have real problems. Premium Standard
Farms (an empire built with Wall Street Banking corporate cash) has had at
least eight major manure spills since last summer and has made people sick
and killed streams.

True that farmers and farm workers can have different class interests, but
neither are strongly allied to their class. Petty bourgeois farmers conflict
with other petty bourgeoisie with whom they have to deal with. Marx's
analysis of the French peasantry might help show that misunderstandings of
their own class situations are why there is not more class consciousness by
farmers and farm workers.

Farmers movements, like the labor movement, has developed in fits and starts
throughout U.S. history. Each attempt at farmer economic cooperation has been
derailed by elites who have an interest in maintaining inequalities. The Farm
Alliance, the Farmers Union and the Farm Bureau are such examples.

Farm workers have some allies in organized labor, but have a long way to go.
Opposition by large growers, agribusiness, and the weak support by working
class generally are all responsible for low wages and lack of labor law
protection. I disagree very strongly with not supporting farmers or
dismissing them by labeling them "reactionary". This shows a profound
misunderstanding of the working class, in my opinion.

I can't keep up with you all, but I've enjoyed the diverse contributions to
this thread.


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