From GM Corn to Gestation Crate Pork, Big Government is Big Ag’s Best Sales Rep

Our Federal Government: The Sales Representative for Industrial Agriculture

Looking at the actions of our federal government today, it’s clearly a far cry from a government “by the people and for the people.” Congress and our federal agencies have become satellite offices for the world’s largest industrial agriculture corporations, working on their behalf at the expense of citizens across the country.

Case in point: The federal government is pushing Roundup-ready genetically modified (GM) corn and gestation crate pork on behalf of the world’s largest seed, chemical, and pork corporations.

Government Overreach on Behalf of Big Ag

For three years, our government has been aware that Mexico plans to phase out all corn grown with GM seeds and glyphosate (Roundup). This means U.S. corn producers exporting to Mexico could earn a premium for growing higher-value non-GM corn with a clear market in sight. However, a move away from GM seeds and glyphosate would be a lost opportunity for the world’s dominant seed and chemical corporations: BASF, Bayer (Monsanto), Corteva, and Syngenta. So these global giants enlisted the U.S. government to go to bat for them.

And bat they did. USDA escalated the trade dispute with Mexico, doing everything in its power to force Mexico into purchasing GM corn even though the people of Mexico don’t want it — all the while robbing U.S. farmers of a market opportunity for higher value non-GM corn.

And then there’s the contentious battle over pork production. In 2018, more than 7.5 million California voters supported Proposition 12, rejecting the sale of gestation crate pork in their state. But the National Pork Producers Council — representing multinational pork corporations like Smithfield Foods — wasn’t too happy about this state law.

Rather than meeting this new consumer demand, Big Ag has once again gone to our government for assistance in overturning the will of the people by pushing the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act in Congress, which would dismantle Prop. 12 and countless other state and local laws. The EATS Act would strip states’ rights to make policies that create market opportunity for farmers and rural communities while handing over control of U.S. markets to global corporations — a slam dunk for Big Ag.

Corporate-owned sows living in gestation crates

Big Business Comes First

Our food system is so consolidated — and our government is so deep in Big Ag’s pocket — that just a handful of multinational corporations have the power to overturn the will of millions of people.

These big businesses only care about one thing: extracting maximum profits. They don’t care what the consumer wants — and they don’t have to care when they have the government on their side. They get to dictate what the world eats and how it’s produced, knowing that the U.S. government will ensure they get their way. No matter what we want, the government is hell-bent on protecting Big Ag.

Lost Market Opportunities for Farmers

From corn growers to hog producers, farmers across the country are getting cheated out of premium market opportunities thanks to our government’s enmeshment with global agribusinesses.

If USDA wasn’t kowtowing to Big Ag, it would allow our farmers to make a transition to higher value non-GM corn production. This production shift could also help balance our trade deficit — right now we risk increasing our deficit if Mexico rejects our corn exports.

If the EATS Act passes — reversing Prop. 12 — family farmers would lose a premium market in California, to the benefit of the world’s largest pork processors like Smithfield Foods which doesn’t want any standards blocking the path to global market dominance. 38 farmer and rancher organizations have sent a letter to Congressional Agriculture Committee leadership urging opposition to the EATS Act, warning of its catastrophic impact. America’s family farmers should have the right to take advantage of these market opportunities, but big government’s partnership with big business keeps getting in the way.

Farm Action Local Leader Kevin Fulton earns a premium on his non-GM, organic corn.

A Nation Under Big Ag’s Thumb

Our government is supposed to represent its citizens and look out for our best interests. Instead, it bows to the monied interests of big business lobbyists, taking opportunities away from our family farmers and denying the voice of voters across the country. Our government is overriding the will of the people and dictating who farms, how they farm, and what we eat.

Written and edited by: Jessica Cusworth, Angela Huffman, Dee Laninga, and Joe Maxwell; concept developed by Joe Maxwell and Angela Huffman