An apology in advance to people with handlebar mustaches

The UN summit on the global hunger crisis took place in Rome this week.  As usual the small farmers were not represented.  Peaceful protests took place outside of the summit meeting to bring attention to this fact.  As usual the protestors were forced to leave. 

It is very disappointing that effective change in the current state of the global food system is still out of the question.  Sure, they discussed the effect biofuels are having on the food system and the need fo further emergency aid, but until farmers are given some control of agricultural policy no real change will occur.

One of the worst parts about the global food crisis is that much like the big oil companies, the large agribusiness corporations have also experienced record profits.  I’ll never understand how the people at the top of these companies can do what they do.  They’re not stupid.  They know that their control of ag policy is making themselves rich while denying the poorest countries their basic right to eat.  I can only imagine the ceo’s of Cargill or ADM or Monsanto sitting in their offices like a bunch of supervillains, twirling their handlebar mustaches, and laughing fiendishly.

Others that can be found doing the rich man’s laugh are the speculators who are buying up food which drives up prices for developing countries even more while the speculators reap the rewards.  At what point will this kind of activity be illegal?  Maybe if some senator’s kid dies of malnutrition, then something will finally be done about it.  I don’t exactly foresee that happening any time in the near future though.

Feeding the hungry will not be accomplished through a heartless money-driven corporate infrastructure.  Only through an established system of small farmers working the land and providing for themselves and others can this happen.

I’m proud to say that no large agribusiness corporation is going to make money off my family farm.  Almost all of our inputs are from small businesses or come from our own food, and our crops and livestock are sold in alternative markets.  At this point I imagine the mustachioed ceo’s slamming their fists on their desks and yelling, “Curses!  Foiled again!”, causing large stacks of coins to fall over, while thunder cracks and menacing music plays in the background. 

Let’s see, did I miss any stereotypes?

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About danielrosmann

I am a farmer from southwest Iowa. I raise organic cattle and hogs as well as various organic crops. I type with two fingers and average about 4 words per minute. I start many sentences with I. Also, I'm less funny in person probably.

7 thoughts on “An apology in advance to people with handlebar mustaches

  1. Oh my goodness, I am definitely confused about how someone like the ceo’s you mentioned could know what they are doing wrong and still do it! My first instinct is to say that there is something wrong with them mentally and emotionally if they can’t connect with a sense of fairness within them. I think they must be disconnected from their feelings. I just can’t imagine someone doing this knowingly.

    I was just talking with a friend about this who has a lot of training in domestic violence issues. I said that those who abuse their family must be mentally ill. She got a bit upset and said she was sick of people saying that, and that the abusers know what they are doing. My arguement was to say that they must have some sort of mental illness to knowingly do what they do to their spouse and/or children. I know what she was saying though, that we can’t let the abuser off the hook by saying he or she is just mentally ill. Sometimes things are an explanation, not an excuse.

    We need an Erin Brokavich for agriculture! I can’t imagine how hard it would be to make decisions or even be a part of an organization that makes decisions to cover up and not warn families about something like water contamination as they highlighted in the movie. We tend to have such a hands off approach sometimes, saying, “I didn’t do it. Wasn’t me”. But that doesnt keep my conscience clear. And yet, I’m sure I make moral compromises all of the time out of ignorance, lack of clarity and even a feeling of powerlessness to do anything about it.

  2. Daniel- I can’t quite get your posts out of my head. It is probably because my huge extended family were once all farmers in rural North Dakota, and in just one generation, not one of us still is. My Mom, second youngest of nine, was the last to pull out in 1970, and now none of my 41 first cousins are making a living from the land like all of our ancestors have-probably since they stopped hunting and gathering or following the flocks. A couple of my Mom’s cousins stayed and tried to make a go of it, but just a few years ago, they had to sell their dairy farm and their land. One of their sons had always wanted to take over the family farm, but they virtually insisted that he get out of farming (he’s now a commercial pilot). Obviously the farm bill that you talked about in your last post and the Agri-villains of this post are definitely to blame, but do you think that we can ever again get back to having many family farms, the bulk of our food grown in our own country so that we could actually sustain ourselves again rather than the specializing that has cropped up (pardon the pun!) in recent decades. As one of the very few family farmers left, do you believe that we could actually see, as you say, “the established system of small farmers working the land and providing for themselves and others”? I’m all for it and am forever hopeful, but my practical side is really curious about the feasibility from your standpoint.

  3. I’ve always felt that the problem — not just with agribusiness but with other, similarly large corporate entities — is that there is ultimately no accountability. The CEO answers primarily to the stockholders; the stockholders are a collective so none of them are individually responsible for anything the company does. The corporation exists first and foremost to make money. So as long as they see profits, the moral issues can be “somebody else’s problem”.

  4. I also came from a long line of farmers; many of my cousins are still attempting to farm, but they and their spouses must also have second and third jobs to support their farming. I, too, yearn for a time when families can sustain themselves and others through farming; like you, I have trouble picturing these villains who could deny the world something as basic as food. We have enough food so that no one should ever go hungry, and yet people have been starving for years. How can you be in a position of power and not be troubled by that picture?

  5. omigosh, Daniel, you always are so right on. you made me laugh so hard i had tears in my eyes, but yet you alerted me, once again, to the realities of agriculture. i am so proud of you for being a just farmer within a crazy system. (in fact i brag about you a lot…)
    today i have been wondering, even before reading your post, how i can be advocate for food justice without being a snob? any tips?
    oh! have you ever studied st. elizbeth of hungary? one of the coolest things i learned about her this year at novitiate is that she insisted on only eating food that was produced fairly, all the way back in the 1200’s. so inspiring, but i think it would be so much harder to be that bold today with all the globalization and mass markets…. but yeah, st. elizabeth rocks, and so do you daniel.

  6. I agree that returning to more of an individual ownership type of agriculture would be very difficult since we’re so rooted in the current agricultural infrastructure, but major changes in agricultural policy could make the transition a lot easier. And frankly I think the only policy that would drive change is one that penalizes or restricts corporate agribusiness. Small farmers can be rewarded for their sustainable production methods by the government through programs such as the Conservation Security Program, but that will not help to relinquish corporate control.

    Also, thanks for the kind words Sister J. I think the best way to be an advocate for food justice is to buy locally as much as you can. If you do this you’ll know that you’re not supporting some middleman that generally receives the majority of the price of that food item.

  7. After reading Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” over the winter, my fiancee and I determined to make more of an effort to eat more locally — something we both were inclined to do anyway, but the book gave us that extra kick in the pants.

    Too bad the kick came in mid-winter, when northern New England doesn’t have much in the way of active farmers’ markets!

    Our biggest challenge has been finding a source for good meats. My DF is hypoglycemic and needs more protein in her diet than we can usually get from a veggie-centric diet. But all the local grocers say that local meats are too expensive and don’t sell well enough to be worth the bother. And the local meat farms we’ve been able to find only sell at the outdoor farmers’ markets. So we have to wait for farmers’ market season to buy local meats.

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