Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ball State University Studies

Since I've been so rushed for time these past several weeks, I'm writing about two topics in one today.

Ball State University Studies

First, the Ball State studies, which Seth Godin wrote about in The Star Press the other day. Not sure how long it will be up on their site, but here's the link.

I've skimmed a bit in both studies.

1. Randolph County study.
2. Jay County study.

Interesting reading for everyone on both sides of the CAFO issue. The studies were conducted by Ball State University and reflect a poor ecomonic return on Indiana's hog industry - the very industry that Mitch and his buddies have been pushing to double here in Indiana.

Seth has presented both sides of the issue, with comments from GRACE Factory Farm Project (anti-cafo), the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (pro-cafo) and the Indiana Pork Producers Association (pro-cafo).

But, surprisingly, the side of the issue understated (in my humble opinion - least represented) is the farmers' side of the issue, which includes people from both sides of the fence.

Yes, there are farmers that are anti-cafo, just as there are farmers on the pro-cafo side.

But one commenter on the above referenced article brought forth some excellent points on the farmers' side -- the comment regarding integrated corporations.

Integration and Market Power

This is an area I've also been researching lately.

Integrated marketing approach to farming is a touchy subject for most farmers. For most, to speak up could quickly result in losing important contracts. For several, doing nothing means continued farming for little to no profits.

In a way, it kind of reminds me of the illegal sweatshops you sometimes hear about. Only, in this case, it isn't the fear of immigration laws (or worse) keeping "farmers" silent. It's the very real fear of losing the farm. And it's also one of the biggest reasons some farms are forced to make the choice to "go big or get out."

We've all heard the expression, "The truth shall set you free."

Sadly, not in this case.

You see, there are very powerful corporations, and yes, government entities/key officials, that would much rather this story not be investigated to deeply. There's a bit too much money at stake.

Hint: As they say in journalism schools, follow the money.

For example, let's take this cute little corn check-off thing. Ummm, best not to go there -- right now. (I'll explain more at a later date.)

I tip my hat to the brave person who posted the integrated marketing comment. Good job. I'm wondering when mainstream press will expose the full story. Personally, I feel Big Ag has a lot to answer to. They've managed to gobble the profits at the farmers', the consumers' and the taxpayers' expense for a very long time... in my humble opinion.

Oh, by the way... coming next week - the NEW farm subsidy experiment that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES - but might make one farmer very, very happy.

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