Dollars & Sense - Farms Today

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Farm Aid has partnered with "Dollars & Sense" to create an issue looking at the system of agriculture today.

Text of Dollars & Sense - Farms Today

  • Seeds and Struggle P A G E 7

    Land Grabs, Here and ThereP A G E 1 4

    Farmers and Climate Change P A G E 3 2

    Keystone XL and Eminent Domain P A G E 4 3


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    ril 2



    Plus: The Assault on Retirement

    Social Security Absurdity The Pension-Busters Playbook Class-Based Pension Math

    U.S. &


    N: $4.50R E A L W O R L D E C O N O M I C S



  • < From the Editors

    Dollars & Sense magazine explains the workings of the U.S. and international economies and provides left perspectives on current economic affairs. It is edited and produced by a collective of economists, journalists, and activists who are committed to social justice and economic democracy.

    the d&s collectiveBetsy Aron, Nancy Banks, Nina Eichacker, Peter Kolozi, Lyden Marcellot, John Miller,

    Jawied Nawabi, Kevin OConnell, Linda Pinkow, Alejandro Reuss,

    Dan Schneider, Zoe Sherman, Bryan Snyder, Chris Sturr, Jeanne Winner

    editorial committee for this issueKevin OConnell, Jennifer Fahey (Farm Aid), Alejandro Reuss, Chris Sturr, Jeanne Winner

    staffmagazine editors Alejandro Reuss, Chris Sturr

    business manager Nancy Banksdevelopment director Linda Pinkow

    intern Christopher J. Cooper

    work study Autumn Beaudoin

    the d&s boardJim Campen, Gerald Friedman, John Miller,

    Linda Pinkow, Steven Pressman, Alejandro Reuss, Abby Scher, Chris Sturr

    associatesAziza Agia, Randy Albelda, Teresa Amott,

    Sam Baker, Marc Baldwin, Rose Batt, Rebecca Bauen, Phineas Baxandall,

    Marc Breslow, Chuck Collins, James Cypher, Laurie Dougherty, Laura Dresser, Janice Fine,

    Ellen Frank, Tami J. Friedman, Sue Helper, Thea Lee, David Levy, Arthur MacEwan, Mieke

    Meurs, Marc Miller, Ellen Mutari, Amy Offner, Laura Orlando, Robert Pollin,

    Smriti Rao, Adria Scharf, Susan Schacht, Chris Tilly, Ramaa Vasudevan,

    Thad Williamson

    designlayout David Gerratt, Alejandro Reuss, and

    Chris Sturrfront cover Chris Sturr

    front cover photo Tascosa Feedyard, Texas, 2013. Miska Henner (

    printing Boyertown Publishing

    Dollars & Sense (USPS 120-730) is pub lished bimonthly b y t h e E c o n o m i c A f f a i r s B u r e a u , I n c . , One Milk Street, Boston, MA 02109, a non-profit corporation. ISSN: 0012-5245. 617-447-2177. Fax: 617-447-2179. E-mail: Periodical postage paid at Boston, MA, and additional mailing offices.

    For subscription information, contact Dollars & Sense, PO Box 3000, Denville, NJ 07834 (1-877-869-5762). To subscribe online, go to Please allow 46 weeks for delivery.

    POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Dollars & Sense, PO Box 3000, Denville, NJ 07834-9811. All articles copyrighted. Dollars & Sense is indexed in Sociological Abstracts, PAIS Bulletin, Alternative Press Index, and The Left Index. Subscriptions: 1 year, $24.95; 2 years, $39.95; institutions, $45/year; Canada, $33/year; other foreign, $49/year (airmail), plus $20 for institutions. Back issues available for $5.00 prepaid, or on microfilm from UMI, 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106.

    Farms Today

    In his comment for this special issue, a collaboration between Dollars & Sense and Farm Aid, Willie Nelson argues that we need a new and broader definition of wealthfrom what can be extracted from producers and nature to what sustains producers, their fami-lies, their communities, and the natural world. As caretakers of our soil and water, he writes, this has been and always should be the essential role of the family farmer.

    The economic future of family farmers in the United States is at the core of Farm Aids work. But this fundamental oppositionbetween extraction and sustenance, between depletion and renewalspans a much broader spectrum of issues, in the United States and around the globe.

    Lukas Ross and Timothy A. Wise tell two parallel stories of land grabs today. Wise de-scribes an abortive land grabfinanced by Brazilian and Japanese investorsin Mozambique. As he points out, the land grab failed not because the land was not suit-able for agriculture, but because it wasand the people that were already farming it mobilized to fight off the land grabbers. Ross, meanwhile, focuses on the United States, and big financial institutions acquiring large swaths of land.

    Sasha Breger Bush turns our attention to the unequal relationship between farmers and the companies that dominate the food industry. Again, we have a dual focus on the United States and developing countries. Breger Bush describes how, in the United States, poultry farmers find themselves under the thumb of giant integrators like Perdue, Tyson, and Pilgrims Pride. In developing countries where coffee is widely grown, farmers face a similar relationship with coffee processors. In both cases, there is a fundamental relationship of unequal exchange.

    Writer and photographer David Bacon provides a vivid picturein words and imagesof the conditions and struggles of migrant farm workers in the United States today. Bacon gives an overview of this migrant work forcemost of them indigenous people from Mexico, shuttling between the farms of California and Washington Stateas a prelude to the poignant first-hand testimony of migrant farmworker and organizer Rosario Ventura. Bacons powerful black-and-white photos provide an apt accompaniment.

    University of Maine researchers Stephanie Welcomer, Mark Haggerty, and John Jemison take us inside Maine farming, and farmers varied reactions to the climate change. Almost all farmers, they note, are making adaptations to deal with new and in-creasingly volatile weather conditions. Few, however, speak directly about global climate change, much less the need for climate policy to avert more severe change in the future. Welcomer, Haggerty, and Jemison suggest that, sooner rather than later, farmers must confront this reality more directly.

    This is an unflinching look at the difficult realities confronting farmers and farm work-ers today. However, the picture is far from hopeless.

    Wise points to Mozambique farmers successful fight-back against the land grabbers. Bacon and Ventura describe migrant farm workers organizing. Mark Paul and Emily Stephens describe the growing phenomenon of community supported agriculture, re-establishing a direct relationship between farmers and eaters. Elizabeth Fraser and Anuradha Mittal explain how the world seed market is dominated by a handful of corpo-rations, but also how national governments are pushing back and the global movement against the seed giants is growing. Finally, John Ikerd explains how todays practices of industrial agriculture have failed. Ikerd ends on a hopeful notehow a new kind of agriculture is emerging to meet the ecological, social, and economic challenges we face today. Photographer Mishka Henners beautiful yet disturbing satellite images of indus-trial feedlots, accompanying this article and on the issues cover, capture a contaminated landscape barely recognizable as agriculture.

    To be sure, the necessary transformations will not be easy. When we think about agricul-tureas when we think about any aspect of societywe need to understand that power is real, and that the few are, indeed, very powerful. But the many are not powerless. D&S

    R E A L W O R L D E C O N O M I C S



    T H E R E G U L A R S 4 the short run

    6 comment Willie Nelson on the Wealth of the Land

    and the Power of the People

    7 making sense Seeds of Change | Community

    Supported Agriculture

    40 in review Christopher Leonard,

    The Meat Racket

    41 economy in numbers Food Insecurity in Affluent America

    43 ask dr. dollar Keystone XL and Eminent Domain

    C O N T E N T SNUMBER 317 | MARCH/APRIL 2015

    F E A T U R E S

    11 The Failure of Modern Industrial Agriculture J O H N I K E R D photos by M I S H K A H E N N E R

    14 Land Grabbing Around the World Wall Streets U.S. Land Grab L U K A S R O S S

    The Great Land Giveaway in Mozambique T I M O T H Y A . W I S E

    19 These Things Can Change Migrant farmworkers stand up in Washington State. text by D A V I D B A C O N and R O S A R I O V E N T U R A photos by D A V I D B A C O N

    24 No Friendship in Trade Farmers face modern-day robber barons, in the United States

    and worldwide. S A S H A B R E G E R B U S H

    32 Maine Farmers and Climate Change Reactive, or Proactive? S T E P H A N I E W E L C O M E R , M A R K H A G G E R T Y ,

    and J O H N J E M I S O N

    page 14 page 24

    R E A L W O R L D E C O N O M I C S



    Staples in the Job MarketAccording to Business Insider, man-agers at office-supplies giant Staples have threatened to fire employees who work more than 25 hours per week. Staples workers recently start-ed a petition on, asking the company not to cut part-time hours because of Obamacare. (The Affordable Care Act imposes a $3,000 penalty on employers who do not provide health insurance for em-ployees working at least 30 hours per week.) The petition also described General Managers telling part-time employees to leave now or be fired in

    < The Short RunBy Christopher J. Cooper and Alejandro Reuss

    Business Insider, stated: Staples policy regarding part-time asso- ciates weekly hours pre-dates the Affordable Care Act by many years. Some managers may have reiterated the existing policy