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A quick response needed

By Staff | Jun 28, 2012

“They” killed the ethanol blender’s credit and the biodiesel tax credit and now they are going after preventing the U.S. military from using biofuel, blocking commercialization of E-15 and the deconstruction of the RFS.

“They” are ending direct payments in the farm bill and now they are going after federal crop insurance subsidies.

“They” are well down the road to eliminating caged chickens and crated sows and when they end those, they will go after something else.

“They” will narrow the definition of “sustainably produced” only to organic production and only non-GMO crops will qualify.

“They” can be the petroleum industry, large food processing companies, environmental groups, the Humane Society of the United States or Wal-mart.

“They” are all playing a role in going after traditional agriculture, driven by self-interest, misguided objectives or peer pressure after long having cheap corn as the result of susidies.

Agriculture is not even all on the same side. While “they” are coming after pork producers telling them what production practices that they must adopt in order to participate in the pork supply chain of major retailers, the National Pork Producers Council, along with the National Cattlemens Beef Associaton and National Cattle Congress came after ethanol and corn growers, angry over having to pay the cost of production plus a profit to corn growers for corn.

The bottom line here is that agriculture is under assault.

There are elements coming at agriculture from the left and the right, all directed at squeezing the middle. The Environmental Working Group appears socialist, while the petroleum industry is somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun.

There is a lot of cash being invested in the assault on agriculture by “them.” They have few ethics other than any means are acceptable to achieve their ends.

They are sophisticated with managing public relations, employing deceitful super-pac media campaigns, not unlike those seen in the political arena.

“They” are currently achieving unprecedented success moving public opinion in the direction they want it to go. Agriculture is in retreat, unprepared for the level of opposition coming from so many directions at once being mounted against it.

It will take an entirely new level of organization, financial commitment and sophistication to counter the public relations threat being undertaken to undermine the entire credibility of agriculture.

Commodity organizations were created to promote products or find exports, not to defend against an onslaught like this. If not countered, farmers will soon be told what seed they can plant, livestock producers what strict protocol they will have to follow to sell animals to retail supply chains, the supply chains will be told what is acceptable production practices by the HSUS, and the EWG will destroy federal crop insurance programs that have worked for farmers.

There is an anti-ethanol caucus of U.S. senators whose staffs are now collectively working on ways to take down the biofuel industry next year by blocking the commercialization of E-15, prohibiting the U.S. military from buying biofuels and dismantling the RFS.

I see no congressional caucus of pro-ethanol senators working together at the level of effort needed to counter their anti-ethanol colleagues.

Agriculture has never seen this degree of organization and amount of resources committed to subjugate it before. Few have even put together what is occurring so that awareness of so many enemies to traditional agriculture all converging on traditional producers is only now registering with industry leaders.

A decade ago, it looked as though corporate integrators were going to subjugate independent producers to control agriculture. What we are finding out is that there are bigger fish in the pond than corporate sharks and even the corporates can be eaten.

When Wal-Mart tells producers what kind of sow housing they must have in order to participate in their supply chain, Wal-Mart is the bigger fish making the pork integrators comply.

Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Denny’s, Safeway, Kroger and others have demanded the end of use of gestation crates in pork production because the HSUS told them to or, as a form of extortion, they would be taken to task with public ridicule as being animal unfriendly.

Smithfield Foods and Hormel quickly jumped to the other side leaving the rest of the industry to fend for itself. This was just the first such demand of producers, setting the precedent of many more to follow.

The HSUS has seen how to use public pressure to intimidate the retail segment of the food industry and they will exploit it much, much further.

Smithfield Foods is now like the gingerbread man getting on the fox’s back thinking they will not get eaten.

The gingerbread man always gets eaten. It is just a matter of when.

“We” need to quickly coordinate a response.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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