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This Far-Removed-From-The-Farm Group

by Martha Stevens,
Hatfield, Missouri

Martha Stevens is livestock farmer who lives and farms near Hatfield, Missouri. This article is part of an ongoing series by Martha Stevens - Straight Talk - commenting on the life and politics of farming in Missouri and the U.S. as a whole.

What is wrong with this picture? Family farmers receive ten cents per pound (about $25 per head) for finished porkers; bacon is selling for $2.65-$3.65, pork chops "special" priced at $3-$4, and pit hasm\\ms at $4.99 per pound. A situation of their own making? Hardly. Let us begin at the beginning.

The year was 1993; location: Kansas City; subject: food production; meeting organizer: Mark Drabenstott, a Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City economist; Meeting sponsor: National Planning Association and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Not a true farmer in sight.

These self-appointed stuffed shirts, who saw themselves as the protectors of consumerism, would promote what they termed a "quiet revolution" in the food industry, urging a "biotechnology and information era" (another way of saying "manipulation") that would allow agribusiness to custom-design plants and animals. Even then, it was recognized that while some would profit by this change, others would get hurt if they didn’t follow the agenda. They conceded that those attempting to sell on the open market would have a hard time getting a decent price. How right they were.

Top researcher at the congressional Office of Technology Assessment Michael J. Phillips summed up the decisions made at that meeting in one sentence: "It will revolutionize how we think about agriculture."

How true! Thanks to the "revolution" initiated back in 1993 by this far-removed-from-the-farm group, we have the pollution infested greed known as corporate agriculture.

Published in In Motion Magazine - May 4, 1999

Also read other essays by Martha Stevens