This article appears in the March 6, 2020 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Farm Tractors in the Streets! Signal for a Great Power Summit for New Economic Era
March 3—Huge tractorcades and other farm protest actions have been taking place for many months, from Spain to Holland, from Ireland to Germany, against low prices and crazed, so-called “green” restrictions on agriculture production. These dramatic scenes have been nearly totally blacked out by media in the United States.
Were the full story known, this European farm rebellion would resonate with increased farmer activation especially in the American farm-belt cattle states. There, ranchers and farmers have taken to lawsuits, twitter storms to Washington, D.C., and other protests, and large meetings to confer on what to do next. These manifestations, occurring in the trans-Atlantic region, home to some of the world’s most high-tech agriculture, are breaking out against today’s intolerable conditions for independent family farmers: prices way below their costs of production, new regulations that are hysterically unscientific, and most destructive—a psychological environment against productive people and their morality of wanting to contribute to a future of more people and more good food. The common protest banner in Europe is: “No Farmer, No Food, No Future!”
These farmer demonstrations have the potential to add impetus for breaking with the dying monetarist system of the past fifty years, and to make way for a new era of actual economic development and advancement for people in all nations. To further this, on January 3, 2020, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, President of the Schiller Institute, issued an urgent call for an emergency summit of the world’s great-power leaders—Presidents Trump, Putin and Xi Jinping, and others as are willing—to start the process of deliberation for a new, just economic and security system. President Putin has similarly issued a call for a summit of the five founding members of the United Nations—the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom.
European farmers have taken to the streets because they can’t survive. They and their American cousins have “adjusted” for decades, but now they are up against the wall. Part of this same picture are other immediate crises—Covid-19, African swine fever and other human and animal diseases; the multi-nation desert locust scourge in Africa, Southwest Asia, Pakistan, and India; the ongoing drought famine in Southern Africa; and the untenable, destructive financial bubbles of Wall Street/City of London. Taken together, they call the question on making an urgent change to radically upgrade the economic system.
To address this situation, the LaRouche Political Action Committee sponsored an event in New York City on Feb. 22, 2020, focusing on the farm/food crisis. As part of the “Manhattan Dialogue” Town Hall series, Robert “Bob” Baker and Marcia Merry Baker addressed a metropolitan area audience, with live stream internet broadcast and discussion. The title: “Defend Our Food from the Greenie Oligarchs: World Farm/Food Sector Overdue for New Financial System.” This article summarizes their presentations, given in eight parts. The end result of the day’s discussion, was a consensus to spread the mobilization, especially among farmers together across the Atlantic.
I. Farmers Take to the Streets
Bob Baker opened by showing many scenes of the tractorcades in Europe—sometimes miles long, and six lanes wide. In Paris, France last fall, farmers loosed pigs into supermarkets, and drove sheep down streets. Video greetings to the Manhattan gathering were received from several farm leaders, including James Benham, President of the Indiana Farmers Union and a member of the national board of the National Farmers Union. In early February, Benham was a signer of a support message from American farm states to the protesting European farmers: “The Tractors Are Rolling; We Are With You.” A co-signer was Tyler Dupy, Executive Director of the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association. Another voice in support of cattlemen was Montana rancher Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America), whose remarks at a recent Western conference were shown in Manhattan.
Bernhard Perschl, a hog farmer in Bavaria, Germany, had received and welcomed the Americans’ support message in early February.
The European farmers’ response has been one of appreciation for the support. This expression of trans-Atlantic friendship is directly opposite to that of the globalizers’ current push for a new U.S.-European Union trade deal which seeks to pit U.S. and European farmers against each other. The proposed trade deal would authorize, for example, more U.S. chickens and beef to be exported to Europe, which they don’t need or want. At the same time, U.S. farmers would receive no better price for their poultry or cattle. The trans-national companies that dominate trade make sure of that. It’s called the “free” (rigged) trade system, where the controlling Wall Street/London interests loot the producing and consuming nations alike.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s visit to Brussels in January, to push for more U.S.-EU “free” trade, came at the very same time that European farmers were shutting down whole cities against it. Free trade has become a particular target of the European farm protests, and in Brussels many of the signs on farmers’ tractors opposed the pending EU-Mercosur deal—the attempt to give new looting opportunities to the trans-national firms, from increased food trade between Europe and the South American bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Tractor protests signs state: “Mercosur—Death of Agriculture.”
II. Imperial Food Control
A second focus of the Feb. 22 LaRouche PAC event, was the food insecurity that has now been imposed on nations by the parasites of the trans-Atlantic financial institutions. The degree of import-dependence for daily American food consumption shows how drastically global sourcing of food has come to displace domestic production. For example, today, 50 percent of the fresh fruit we consume is now imported. Apart from bananas and other tropical fruit, the import profile includes most all of the fruit that could easily be home grown within U.S. latitudes, such as citrus, grapes, berries, melons, avocadoes. Over 30 percent of the fresh vegetables consumed in the U.S. are now imported. These are mainly not exotic, but staples—onions, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers. Source countries include Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, South Africa and many more.
For some categories of processed fruits and vegetables (frozen, canned, dried) the percentage of imports is far higher. For example, 95 percent of frozen broccoli consumed in the U.S. is imported, mainly from Mexico and Guatemala. These examples are indicative of other food groups.
These increasingly out-of-whack import-to-consumption ratios came about over the past three decades, through the actions of a small number of mega-multinational companies. The familiar brand names, which still appear on the labels, indicate that the origin of many go far back in U.S. domestic production, but in the free trade years since the 1990s huge conglomerates opted for global food sourcing, paralleling the outsourcing by long-standing U.S. manufacturing companies. Wall Street/London conditions of financing, and outright ownership, dictated that the corporations re-locate to cheap production areas elsewhere in the world.
Therefore, with rare exceptions, any announced new foreign trade deal usually means a profiteering opportunity for the Wall Street connection to the commodity involved, and harm to the physical economies and people in the nations doing the exporting and importing. Corporate histories of the food processing firms show extreme patterns of Wall Street intervention.
A prime example: Del Monte Foods. One of today’s mega food importers, the firm had its beginnings in California, associated with the then-famous Del Monte Hotel. It prospered over the decades from California fruit and vegetable productivity. Then the financial wing-dings started in the 1970s.
After R.J. Reynolds bought into Del Monte in 1979, KKR (Kolhlberg Kravitz Roberts, the Wall Street vulture firm), bought the firm and started carving it up for quick gains. In 1989 Del Monte Foods’ core company was bought up by Merrill Lynch, Citicorp Venture Capital, and Kikkoman. Many splits later, Del Monte Foods again became a publicly traded company in 2002. It bought up a big chunk of H.J. Heinz, and moved its headquarters to Pittsburgh, Heinz’s historic home. In March 2011, Del Monte was yet again acquired, this time by an investor group led by KKR, and including Vestar Capital Partners, and others. Its stock was de-listed, and Del Monte is now again headquartered back in California. Such dizzying financializing of food operations is now the rule, not the exception.
Meat and dairy food categories are more complex, involving significant capital- and labor-intensive livestock operations and perishables production, but the same process is evident of re-location to cheaper production areas in the United States, and destructuring of domestic production. In the last six months, two of the largest U.S. dairy processors—Dean Foods and Borden Dairy—have declared bankruptcy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts that this trend of outsourcing U.S. food production will soon go to even more extremes. How did this happen?
The fateful break came in August 1971, when President Richard Nixon ended the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates among currencies, and the dollar began to float in value.
Following this, on the level of law and treaty, new arrangements were pushed through domestically and internationally. In the 1980s a series of multi-national talks began under the aegis of the United Nations General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) for the purpose of ending national sovereignty over not only currencies, but banking—called “financial services,” and agriculture—farming and food. The Uruguay Round of GATT talks kicked off in Punta del Este, Uruguay in 1986, with follow-on sessions in Seattle, Montreal and other locations, culminated in 1995 when the World Trade Organization was founded. Its premise for food trade is that no nation has the right to support its own farmers in any way that might deprive farmers in other countries of the opportunity to sell their products in that nation’s domestic market.
Put in “GATT-speak,” the WTO principle is that citizens of any nation have the right to access food from anywhere in the world, not just home grown. Stripped of the phony human rights mask, however, what was actually proposed was the complete cartelization and financialization of food production and trade.
This was historically an alien principle in the United States. Under the traditional American System, national productivity is to be built up, with foreign relations based on that principle, while respecting the sovereign right of other nations to do likewise.
U.S. institutions, however, caved in to the shift, which was pushed hard by London. In 1988, at the Montreal GATT Round—whose title was “One World—One Market,” an official U.S. policy memorandum, obtained on the scene by EIR, stated that the U.S. would henceforth re-define national food security to mean “access” to world markets, and not national food production self-sufficiency. The U.S. statement said:
Food security and self-sufficiency are not one and the same objective or goal. Food security is the ability to acquire the food you need, when you need it. Food self-sufficiency means producing some portion of one’s own food supply from domestic resources, regardless of market forces, with deliberate intent of displacing imports or reducing import dependence. . . . In some cases, in fact, self-sufficiency can actually work against food security goals. . . .
Throughout human history, up until the technical advances of the Green Revolution, a global food shortage due to crop failures was a conceivable and often real threat. Today . . . it is highly improbable.
Within days of this GATT Montreal Round, in December, 1988, the Schiller Institute consolidated its newly-formed Food for Peace organization, with an international conference in Chicago, attended by people from around the U.S. and many countries, including especially farmers and diplomats, against this new trans-national “one world” shift, not only in food, but in all economic and strategic respects. Lyndon LaRouche gave the keynote address, “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread,” presenting the fighting principles for stopping this threat. Within weeks, he was wrongfully imprisoned, in an enemy operation attempting to stop his international leadership.
III. The Fallout
Marcia Baker summarized the law and treaty changes that have taken place over the following 25 years, leading to today’s crisis.
In the “Pre-Free Trade” decade, at the time of the GATT Rounds, certain key U.S. laws were changed, epitomized by the shift to “legalize” patenting of life forms, beginning with food plant life.
Whereas historically, developers of superior seeds, through selection, cross-breeding, hybridizing and so on, made profits from offering higher-yield, clean product, when the scientific breakthrough of bio-engineering plant traits came along in the 1970s, the financial empire networks, centered in London/Wall Street, pushed for food control through instituting private patent rights over seed traits and bio-tech methods. This was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1984 and led even to private patent rights over human genes, e.g., alterations relevant to Parkinson’s disease, breast cancer and others. Sweeping control over agriculture was concentrated in the few agro-chemical multi-national firms—Monsanto (now owned by Bayer), Cargill, BASF and others. At the same time, anti-trust laws that had been on the books for decades ceased to be enforced—a situation true up to the present day.
Beginning with the 1988 United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement and followed by the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), borderless trade in North America was implemented on behalf of the cartels, with cross-patterns of outsourcing soon becoming extreme. Mexico, where corn originated, became a big corn importer, while at the same time, it became a source region for the cartels to export fruits and vegetables. This worked to the detriment of farm regions across Mexico, the United States and Canada alike. Then came the same process internationally, with the 1995 start-up of the World Trade Organization.
In accordance with the WTO principle against fostering domestic production, the U.S. enacted radical free trade farm laws, e.g., the infamous 1996 “Freedom to Farm” Act. In 1999 came the radical deregulation of banking—the repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act. In 2001 came the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, which allowed free-for-all speculation on commodities, as well as on currencies and other values, on the Chicago and other exchanges.
IV. The Case of Africa—Back to Colonialism
The extreme case of food import dependence and trans-national food control is Africa. Today, that continent is 40 percent import-dependent for basic food staples, from outside the continent. Although African nations became politically independent after World War II, economic independence was thwarted through decades of IMF and related debt burdens and conditionalities, preventing development of modern agriculture, infrastructure and economic advancement. Then, after 1971, came the neo-colonialist operations, demanding that African nations accept the role of providing specialty exports—not just tropical crops to supply more northerly and southern latitudes, but cheap production crops such as green beans, squash and flowers to Europe, citrus to the United States and so on—all of this controlled by the mega-cartels.
In reality, the agriculture production potential of Africa is vast. This was made vivid in a mapping project by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in the 1970s, which surveyed the agro-climatic potential for different crops, under rain-fed conditions. There is no limitation of physical conditions for the continent that would compel it to import corn and other staple cereals, only the political-economic looting practices of the world “free” trade system.
The new era of China-initiated projects in Africa, especially under the Belt and Road Initiative framework—railroads, dams, new rice varieties and other basics—goes against this colonialist legacy; but what is required is to replace the globalist trade system itself. The urgency of this is shown by the needless vulnerability to diseases and famine in Africa. In recent years, the Fall Armyworm has devastated crops in Southern Africa. There is also the impact of the hog disease, called African swine fever, which is very destructive, and reduced world pork output by 25 percent last year.
The current locust outbreak in Africa is a world emergency. The map (Figure 1) shows the extent of the swarms as of February, affecting East Africa, and eastward all the way to India. On February 24, the FAO upped its appeal for funding to combat the locusts to $138 million, from its prior estimate of $76 million, and even then, has pledges for less than $35 million. Without timely action, the regional locust swarms could transform themselves into a continental-scale plague by late spring. Already, contingency food supplies need to be lined up for 40 million people.
V. U.S. Farmbelt Destructured
Complementing Mrs. Baker’s presentation, her husband Bob Baker presented an illustrated account of the destructuring of the U.S. farm belt, which has taken place as a result of not stopping the “free” trade onslaught. He pointed out that if you drive through many rural areas, you see farmsteads—silos, outbuildings, pens, homes. But look closer. They are empty. People may still live in the houses, and the fields may be cultivated, but the other parts of the operation stand idle. Nearby towns are boarded up.
What you’re looking at is the result of the process of top-down phase-out of the historically successful mode of diversified farming—local feedlots, services and food processing—and its replacement with an increase of larger cropping and livestock operations, with highly consolidated ownership of processing and inputs. With cartelization has come depopulation. Counties throughout the farm belt have been losing significant population, in which the High Plains stand out, along with other areas, such as the dairy and industrial counties of Western Pennsylvania. See the map below showing that approximately one-third of U.S. counties lost population between 1980 and 2010.
Driving this process are low prices, the lack of anti-trust prosecutions against the cartel companies, commodity speculation, and the mega-transnational companies’ fostering “sourcing” areas for their desired commodities to trade. For example, the soybean cartel—Cargill, Louis Dreyfus, Bunge, and a few others—handle soybean exports produced in the U.S. and South America—Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina—which together account for over 90 percent of all soybeans traded, and 80 percent of total world production. So, when a new trade deal is announced—for example, Phase One between China and the U.S.—and soybeans are a major component, it is never specified what level of price the cartel trade firms will deign to pay to U.S. farmers.
Bob Baker went on to point out that the policy of parity-pricing for farmers for farm commodities has been eliminated. The parity concept is that farmers should receive a price for their output that covers their costs of production and a fair profit level to cover upgrades to their technology and skills, to enable them to continue producing in the future—a benefit to them and as food security for the nation. Parity pricing was enacted into law in the 1930s under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and continued until its phase-out in the 1970s advent of deregulation throughout the economy. Farm parity pricing laws are still on the books, however.
Farmers have continued to stay in operation—until now—through widespread resort to off-farm income, by extra part-time work, and/or family members taking side jobs for income, health insurance and Social Security, as shown in Figure 2.
The result of all these factors is that the bulk of what is now produced by American agriculture comes from very few farms. Of the two million farms in the United States, just 4.2 percent account for over 50 percent of all the agriculture production (in dollar terms). Ten percent of the farms account for 75 percent of production, in dollar valuation.
All aspects of the food chain are monopolized by a handful of companies. The scope of this destructuring of U.S. agriculture was driven home to the Manhattan audience by a video clip of recent comments by rancher Bill Bullard, R-CALF USA leader from Montana. An interview with Bullard was conducted by Bob Baker for EIR on July 18, 2019. Bullard is a leader of the drive to re-instate COOL (Country of Origin Labelling) legislation for meat, which was in effect only briefly, from 2013 to 2015, then eliminated by Congress, under pressure from the packers’ cartel of Wall Street/City of London. As of now, beef imports coming into the U.S., if processed here at all—usually just re-packaged—carry a “Product of the U.S.A.” label. Close to 10 percent of all U.S. beef consumption is imported.
None of this destruction of food security was inevitable. None of it needed to happen.
VI. Directed Production—Different Systems’ Precedents
Marcia Baker next presented three model cases of what can be called “directed production” to serve the national interest—two historical examples under the American System, and the recent example of agriculture growth under what the Chinese call “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
Under President Abraham Lincoln, there were major initiatives that directly built up agriculture. First, the land area under cultivation, pasture and other farm improvements was vastly increased by the 1862 Homestead Act. A farmer could get 160 acres—for free—in the new western territories, if he or she lived on, and developed the gifted property. During the Manhattan discussion, a Staten Island man recounted that his family to this day lives on Montana land they acquired generations back under Lincoln’s Homestead Act. He concurred that the question before us today is, “Where is the continuity? Who will continue to farm under today’s crisis conditions?”
Also under Lincoln, came the transcontinental railroad, which connected the rural regions to the cities, carrying agriculture output and inputs, and socially binding the nation together. Lincoln’s Greenback currency policy demonstrated the power of government once again to generate credit for national development. The 1862 Morrill Act furthered science and technology extension work by setting up the land-grant agriculture colleges and the USDA. Marcia Baker noted that she and her husband had graduated from two of these colleges—herself from Pennsylvania State, a traditional dairy center, and Bob from Iowa State, the traditional corn and hogs center.
Under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, many policies were initiated to uplift agriculture and protect the food supply. Besides parity pricing, the Soil Conservation Service was established (1935) along with rural electrification and the great watershed development programs on the Columbia and Colorado Rivers, and the revolutionary Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). During World War II, farm output was deliberately increased, despite young men being deployed abroad.
Both Bob and Marcia recounted personal examples:
Bob Baker’s father in Iowa was denied military service, on grounds that, as an only son, he had to run the farm to produce for the war effort.
Marcia Baker then spoke of her father, Walter Merry, who tried to enlist, but was instead deployed to dairy output for wartime. His family, which had owned Merry Dairy decades earlier, co-owned the McKeesport-based Menzie Dairy, which was assigned to supply military bases. In February 1943, he and others helped establish the first dairy farmer cooperative in Pennsylvania, through which 600 farmers came to sell milk to Menzie’s, which, in turn, was run by workmen in three unions—Teamsters (delivery trucks), Steamfitters, and Operating Engineers. There were thousands of these local and regional dairies cross country. By 2000 the vast majority of these were all shut down, driven out of business by the free-trade era trans-national companies—Nestle, Unilever, Kraft, Danone and others. The latest in this saga is that Wal-Mart opened, under its direct ownership, a mega-milk processing plant in Indiana in 2018.
China’s record of agriculture development is a model of deliberate action. After that nation became reliably food self-sufficient, even accumulating a grain surplus in 1984, central policy over the next 35 years worked to upgrade the diet and farm productivity.
One reading of this process was to not only produce more grains, but use a greater share of it for livestock feed, so that the average diet would have more meat. In 1980, eight percent of grain usage went to meat animals. This rose to 38 percent as of 2010, with a goal of 50 percent by 2030. There have been problems along the way, such as the African swine fever that reduced China’s swineherd by half in 2019, and the disruptions from Covid-19, but annual meat consumption per capita has continued to rise, from 29 kg in 1995, to 35 kg by 2020, while eggs, dairy, and seafood consumption has also increased. China’s calculated use of imported soybeans for livestock feed is a big factor in this process.
On July 7, 2017, Mei Fangquan, Professor at the Agriculture Information Institute, and Chief Expert of the United Nations Global Food Security Committee, China, addressed a Schiller Institute-sponsored “Food for Peace & Thought” forum in New York City, outlining the measures China has taken. That speech and full coverage of the conference, was published in the July 14, 2017 issue of EIR.
Marcia Baker summed up her presentation by stressing again that the governing principle for agriculture policy is national sovereignty—the right and responsibility of national governments to care for their people and their future, and a world system of mutual benefit to all nations. That is also the starting point for what constitutes a good trade deal. Is it complementary to both trading partners? U.S. pork going to China is complementary for both nations right now, because China lost half its swineherd to African swine fever last year, and needs the meat while it rebuilds its hog inventory. There are many other examples. She said, President Trump says that “reciprocal” is his favorite word for trade. “I want to hear him say, ‘complementary’ trade is best,” she said.
VII. High-Tech Farmer vs. the Green Onslaught
What does a good farmer do when he or she gets a fair price for his or her production? That farmer ploughs the profit back into the operation, into soil improvement, machinery upgrades, better water systems, livestock buildings, better seeds and other inputs.
Bob Baker noted that most New Yorkers can pretty well imagine what it’s like inside the cab of a farmer’s modern tractor, planter or harvester, given that everyone these days uses GPS and various electronic devices. Today’s American farmer has all that and much more. He tracks data, real time, on yield, fertility, soil moisture, etc. He may have three computer monitors going at once. In addition to all of this, however, Baker challenged the audience, “Let’s look what goes on underground.” He took his home state as an example.
Iowa has the largest share of surface area under cultivation of any state in the Union—over 85 percent. The soil is some of the world’s best black earth—chernozem. But as Iowa’s name suggests—“land between rivers”—drainage is a problem. The land lies between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and its natural condition is swampy. However, for more than 125 years, Iowa farmers have been installing underground pipe to carry off excess water, and minimize erosion. Baker went through how the entire state is underlain with either old wooden or pottery tiles—laid to form pipe—or in recent decades, PVC pipe. (See illustration, page 28.) It is typical for fields to have pipe every 60 feet or even 40 feet, conveying water to nearby streams. Typical soybean and corn yields in Iowa are some of the highest in the world.
The Iowa example of the kind of improvements to nature that farmers make all the time, expanding food production in the process, is exactly what the Green Movement is mobilized to stop. They use the false claim of saving the planet from overheating, but their real purpose is to cut human population numbers—Genocide. Marcia Baker reviewed some of the new “green” restrictions coming down on farming in Europe—laws to restrict chemical use, restrict and ban meat animals, and even induce or coerce farmers to convert their land into solar or wind turbine farms.
Besides infamous figures at the front of this genocidal campaign, such as Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England and now U.N. Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, and his cohort Sir Michael Bloomberg, the anti-coal oligarch, there are others in lockstep against agriculture. Investor guru Warren Buffett, for example, bought a leading farm state electric utility, Mid-America Energy, and is pledging to be totally into “renewables” by 2030, pushing wind turbines everywhere. He has cancelled previous plans for a new nuclear power plant in Iowa. In 2019 in Minnesota, blackouts occurred in farm counties thanks to wind turbines having to be shut down during storms.
Meat producers are the special target of the green assault. One dirty operation is the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. On its board are outfits such as the World Wildlife Fund, McDonalds, mega-supermarket chains and others, pushing a plan to electronically tag every beef animal from crib to table, and dictate what ranchers can do, and whether they will stay in operation or not. When the electronic tagging proposal (RFID—radio frequency identification tags) came out of the USDA in early 2019, it came under fierce attack from cattlemen, and the White House suspended it in October. Similar suspensions have been done by the Trump Administration for water restrictions in California and other threats.
Meantime, the meatpacker cartel is moving into fake meat—plant-based, or ultimately, a petri-dish derivative. On February 24, Cargill, one of the top four beef packers in the U.S., announced it will introduce its new soy and pea artificial burger in April. Its cohort packer Marfrig, headquartered in Brazil and owner of National Beef in the U.S., floated the first “Green Transition” bond in 2019 among mega food processors. The $500 million bond issue has terms that can be used against cattlemen in the name of saving the environment, protecting animals, or anything at all.
How did things get this far? Who allowed this?
Marcia Baker stressed that farmers have been sidelined on policy, by coming under pressure to go along—against their better judgment—with anything offering the hope of maybe getting a better price. It’s been one false prospect after another.
In 1980, the Risk Management Act ushered in expanded crop and income insurance (first enacted in 1938, but amidst parity-based pricing for farmers). In 1990, the Organic Food Act dangled the glimmer of better prices from non-use of chemicals, which in any case provided the trans-national companies a new opportunity for profiteering. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act pushed bio-fuels in a big way under President George W. Bush, continuing under the Obama and Trump Administrations. Corn and soybean farmers are supposed to gain from ethanol and biodiesel. But even with over 30 percent of the U.S. corn harvest going into faux gasoline, corn growers still have a low price. Now that none of these things prop up price, hemp and cannabidiol, a chemical found in the marijuana plant—legitimized in the 2019 farm law—are supposed to be the salvation. Do you believe it?
Bad as this is, the general public is even worse off when it comes to lack of the big picture on production and policy, and are being played as suckers for food fads. Marcia Baker used the example of something that pre-dates the current “Beyond Beef” campaign: the promotion of plant-based “milk.” Beginning years ago, soy, oat and other plant “milk” beverages were packaged in ultra-high-pasteurized containers suitable for non-refrigerated grocery shelves. Today they are instead placed next to cow’s milk in the refrigerator case, to play upon the gullible consumer. Of course these pseudo-milks cost you more than cow’s milk.
VIII. LaRouche’s Four Laws and the 21st Century Homestead Act
Bob Baker concluded the briefing by addressing directly the economic measures proposed in June 2014 as the “Four New Laws to Save the U.S.A. Now,” by Lyndon LaRouche, to deal with the worsening crisis. Baker summarized them, adding mention of farm and food supply emergency measures that he and Marcia had identified earlier in their briefing.
First, re-regulate banking by re-instating the Glass-Steagall Act. Along with this, it is necessary to implement the anti-trust laws—already on the books—to break up the food and farm input monopolies operating domestically, which also can be used to initiate the busting up of the trans-national corporations now dominating trade internationally. This opens the gates to win-win food and other kinds of trade, by cutting out the cartel rigging of trade patterns for their own profiteering and food control.
LaRouche’s second and third points concern creating a national bank to direct credit where needed, and also making it plentifully available for infrastructure building and other priorities—agro-industrial activity, public health, medical, educational systems and the like.
Baker raised in this context the need to multiply the number of independent, family-scale farmers through what he called the “21st Century Homestead Act”—re-establish a parity-based system of commodity pricing that can use laws already on the books; and provide new measures of tax and other incentives for retiring farmers to work with younger farmers, to get them started in a 50/50 farming arrangement, so that the younger farmer will have access to low interest credit, and both will get a parity-based price for their crops and livestock. Baker called it a new direction for “a million new farmers.” See here a full discussion of that proposal in the February 1, 2019 issue of EIR.
LaRouche’s Fourth Law calls for crash efforts to back advanced science work in space exploration and development, and to harness fusion power. This will open up fabulous areas of advancement in food production, from controlled-environment farming on Earth, to bio-engineering to prevent plant and animal diseases, to other scientific breakthroughs.
Lastly, Marcia Baker reiterated some of the points of action implied in the dialogue, including taking action that is urgently required to combat the locust outbreaks in Africa and Asia, and to muster the interim emergency food supplies in full for the stricken regions. In addition, the disruption to long distance supply chains from the impact of Covid-19, makes it imperative to mobilize for the kind of summit of great power leaders as called for by Helga Zepp-LaRouche in January, and reiterated in her February 27 statement, “Urgent Appeal to President Trump, President Xi, President Putin, Prime Minister Modi, and Leaders of Other Countries for the Emergency Implementation of the Four Laws of Lyndon LaRouche.”