Remember the “too big to fail” mantra that heralded tax-payer bailouts of big banks and big automobile companies not too long ago? For America’s large agribusinesses, the unspoken mantra recently being hinted at by government agencies and many mainstream media outlets seems to be “too big to succeed!”
Specifically, I’m referring to the Department of Justice  (DOJ) and USDA  “first-ever workshop on competition issues  in agriculture,” held in Ankeny, IA, on March 12 and led by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. To learn more about this “first of five workshops on competition issues in agriculture,” click here: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2010/03/0126.xml .
If you ask me, it’s Vilsack and Holder who are the very ones (and not U.S. farmers) who are stoking suspicions that large American agribusinesses are too successful. As Vilsack says, “In my travels across the county, I hear a consistent theme: Producers are worried whether there is a future for them or their children in agriculture, and a viable market is an important factor in what that future looks like.” And, as Holder says, “We …are committed to enforcing the antitrust laws effectively to ensure fair and open competition that protects both consumers and farmers.”
Hmm … well, if having a viable future for agriculture is such a big concern, then why did the USDA just issue a report stating that “net farm income is forecast to be $63 billion in 2010, up $6.7 billion (11.8%) from 2009?” (If anyone remembers, the last few years preceding 2009 weren’t too bad for net farm income either.) To learn more information on net farm income from USDA, click here: http://www.ers.usda.gov/features/farmincome/ .
And why talk about a viable market for commodities like soybeans when U.S. soybean exports are approaching near record levels for a third consecutive year? And why talk about having one of five workshops on competition issues in agriculture to show your commitment to enforce antitrust laws when you could just enforce the laws without having the five workshops to begin with?
Maybe my suspicious reaction to all this talk about competition in agriculture is just a result of asking too many questions that I don’t answer. Or, maybe it’s because Vilsack and Holder have failed in their attempts to gather adequate information to prove antitrust activity, and they want to go on a fishing expedition to get it! Or, maybe they want to intimidate big agribusinesses into cowering before Big Government so that Big Government can find a way to punish the big, successful companies and redistribute their wealth to the little, unsuccessful companies that Big Government thinks are better for America?
See, I can spread unfounded suspicions just as well as any top U.S. official!
What about you? Do you have valid reasons to suspect that Vilsack and Holder are conspiring to destroy large U.S. agribusinesses and that you would be willing to share with other Soybean E-Digest readers? Or, do you have suspicions about Big Agribusiness that you’d like to disclose, to help Big Government in their campaign to bring down successful American companies that couldn’t possibly have gotten that big by being honest, could they have?
Either way, I welcome your input, both on this or any other topics related to soybean production. When writing, please let me know your name, where you farm or work, what your comment is and whether or not I have permission to use your comment in a future Soybean E-Digest newsletter.
You can contact me (John Pocock) at: [email protected] .