Animal Agriculture Industry: Factory Farming- Part 4
American Patriot Farmers
Most independent small and medium sized family farms must resort to Contract Farming, where they sell their equipment, land, and services to larger factory mega farms that own and control their family operation. These small farms find it difficult to compete with larger farms as a result of the governments protection of corporate farms with political policies that encourage mergers, acquisitions, and buyouts; and, also, from the deregulation of the factory farming process and industry, which allows for consolidation of farms into monopolies that reduce quality and increase agricultural output with more efficient machine, which require less workers in order to maximize profits.
Factory mega farms are capable of reducing their workforce and replacing them with machines as a result of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, which allow fewer farmers to tend to crops by simply allowing them to drench the fields with dangerous poisons, like Monsanto’s weed and bug killer, Roundup, which contains DDT, a cancer causing insecticide.
Aside from weed killers like Roundup, corn farmers and others, use nitrogen-based fertilizers to increase crop yields and maximize profits. Nitrogen is a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to Ozone depletion; damages our water supply from runoff and groundwater contamination; contributes to ocean acidification and coral bleaching; leads to biodiversity loss and global warming. Corn crops leave soil barren for half the year, making is difficult for other crops to grow during the corn offseason.
American Farm Statistics
- Roughly two million farms are in operation today; a drop from the peak of 6.8 million in 1935.
- Small farms are those that bring in less than $350,000 in annual income, which make up 88 percent of farms currently in operation in America today.
- The U.S. Agricultural Department estimates that net farm income will fall by $9.8 billion, to $65.7 billion, a 13 percent drop from 2017.
- The number of American farmers dropped by 300,000 between 1979-1998.
- Over 160,000 farms closed down between 2007-2017.
- In the 1970s, the top five beef packers controlled 25 percent of the market; today, the top four beef packers control more than 80 percent of the market.
- Between 1987-2007, the median size pig farm increased by 2,000 percent, while the number of pig farmers fell by 69 percent.
- One million pig farms in the United States in 1967; 114,000 pig farms in 2002.
- Since 2013, farmers and ranchers have suffered a 50 percent drop in net income (taxpayers end up paying most of their wagers through subsidies and crop insurance programs).
- Million dollar farms now account for half of all U.S. farm production, over a 30 percent increase from 1991.
- Corn and soybean producers received 43 percent of U.S. agricultural profits in 2017.
- FROM WIKIPEDIA: Agricultural production across the world doubled four times between 1820 and 1975 (1820 to 1920; 1920 to 1950; 1950 to 1965; and 1965 to 1975) to feed a global population of one billion human beings in 1800 and 6.5 billion in 2002. During the same period, the number of people involved in farming dropped as the process became more automated. In the 1930s, 24 percent of the American population worked in agriculture compared to 1.5 percent in 2002; in 1940, each farm worker supplied 11 consumers, whereas in 2002, each worker supplied 90 consumers.
Trump’s Trade War on American Farmers and Consumers
As with all international trade wars waged by the United States government against foreign nations, regular American citizens, American taxpayers, consumers, and American businesses that import foreign goods- rather than the U.S. governments foreign trade enemy (China)- end up paying the majority of the cost with higher prices on imported, foreign goods, and lower quality on domestic goods, as there is less competition from international producers.
Agricultural Exports to China
Trump’s trade war with China and the rest of the world harms small family farms, who cannot afford to lower their prices domestically, and struggle to sell product internationally with high import tariffs (taxes) from other countries. In retaliation to Trump’s tariffs against Chinese goods brought into the United States, China hiked their import tariffs to 25 percent on American produce/agriculture. China is the biggest international importer of American soybeans (a $12 billion a year market), and purchaser of 60 percent of all American agricultural exports; but with Trump’s trade war, American soybean sales to China have dropped by 94 percent from last years harvest, before the trade war went into full effect. In total, profits from American agriculture exports to China dropped from $19.6 billion in 2017 to $9.2 billion in 2018.
A $10 billion drop in profit would threaten the stability of any industry; but through the Department of Agricultures Market Facilitation Program- a Great Depression era program that provides direct payments to American farmers with American taxpayer money- the U.S. government is capable of waging endless international trade wars, at the expense of American taxpayers, without fear of abandoning American farmers, 75 percent of whom voted for Trump in 2016.
The first taxpayer funded payments to American farmers through the Market Facilitation Program began on September 4, 2018, and continue to roll out as the trade war continues. American taxpayers have already provided $12 billion in aid to farmers in direct payments in 2018 in order to counteract Trump’s trade war with China. An additional $15 billion in American taxpayer funding is expected after the newest round of tariffs against China (Trump hiked tariffs up to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports). This $27 billion in taxpayer funding comes from Americans that actually pay taxes on their income, unlike Trump and other members of his administration that escape paying income tax by storing their money overseas.
Therefore, not only do American consumers pay higher prices on imported Chinese goods as a result of the United States governments trade war, they must also bailout American farmers with $27 billion taxpayer funded subsidies that continue to increase as China purchases less agriculture from American farmers. Trump inflicting government intervention in the free market at the expense of American taxpayers is the definition of Socialism; and the longer that the trade war continues, the higher the cost to both American taxpayers and farmers.
Trade War Statistics
- U.S. agricultural exports expected to drop by $2 billion in 2019.
- Farm bankruptcies are up 30 percent in 2018 (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis).
- Trade Partnership Worldwide estimated that an average family of four will end up paying $767 more a year because of the tariffs.
- Price of soybeans dropped to a 10 year low since beginning of trade war/tariffs.
- Brazil poised to overtake the U.S. as the number one soybean grower and exporter (China’s new favorite), which means cutting down more of the Amazon rainforest for soybean plants.
Legalized Bribery: How Corporations and the U.S. Government Build American Monopolies
Lobbying Money Spent by the Food and Agricultural Industry
- 2013: $153,986,026
- 2014: $128,020,398
- 2015: $133,424,076
- 2016: $127,574,810
- 2017: $131,882,200
- 2018: $134,547,131
Campaign Contributions by the Food Industry to Politicians
- 2012: $95,054,499
- 2014: $78,120,659
- 2016: $119,036,815
- 2018: $97,161,582.
- $41 million in campaign contributions to politicians from the food industry between 1987-1996.
- $751 million: Amount in lobbying expenditures by the agribusiness lobby from 2008-2013.
- $480.5 million: Amount the agribusiness sector has contributed to federal candidates during the past two decades, with two-thirds going to Republicans.
- $33 million: Approximate amount spent by Monsanto- who has patents on 95 percent of the genetically modified seed market- on lobbying since 2008.
- $7.2 million: Amount just 14 members of Congress and their spouses (net worth of up to $124.5 million)—each of them Republican—have received in farm subsidies since 1995. These Congress members all voted to continue farm subsidies from which they personally benefit, while allowing authorization for nutrition programs for low income individuals and families, including food stamps, to expire this year.
- Since 1995, taxpayers have provided $292.5 billion in direct agricultural subsidies, another $96 billion in crop insurance subsidies, and over $100 billion in subsidies to promote the growth of genetically engineered corn and soy. (Chart)
- 10: Percentage of farms in the U.S. that collected 75 percent of farm subsidies from 1995-2012.
- 62: Percentage of farms in the U.S. that did not collect any subsidy payments.
- In 2018, Republican politicians received 69 percent of the campaign bribes from the food/agriculture industry.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Founded in 1862, the USDA:
- Provides farmer safety net through subsidies and bailouts from taxpayers.
- Promotes crop insurance programs funded by taxpayers.
- Encourages access to farming through land and capital.
- Promotes conservation and environmentally sustainable farm practices.
- Ensures U.S. farmer competitiveness on global markets.
- Supports nutrition assistance to Americans in need (poor, elderly, children).
- Conducts marketing and research into agricultural practices and food related issues.
- Promotes rural development in farm country.
- Provides dietary recommendations.
- Inspects food to ensure safety for citizens.
- Promotes agricultural trade and production.
- Aids global population of farmers and provides food to countries in need during times of war and famine.
- Intervenes when the free market fails or cost fluctuate dramatically.
- Ensures markets remain competitive (by today’s standards of competitiveness, this only applies to large factory mega farms that can afford to pay the government high lobbying fees and campaign donation in order to have their preferred legislation pass, which protects the biggest factory farms from smaller competition, allows for lax environmental, pollution and waste disposal standards.
Factory Farming and the Climate
Factory farming: An inefficient, wasteful, polluting and sickening method of raising agriculture and livestock for human consumption- continues to gobble up economic and political resources in order to purchase influence and bribe politicians in the federal government to pass laws and lesson regulations that require stricter safety standards, healthier nutrition standards and cleaner pollution standards to protect the environment from harmful greenhouse gases emitted from industrialized farms.
- It takes 2,400 pounds of water to produce one pound of meat (includes the water required to irrigate corn, wheat and soybean crops, which make up the majority of livestock feed and are protected with taxpayer funding under the Title 1 Commodity Program from the Farm Bill).
- The World Bank estimates that, between 1970 and 2004, 91 percent of cleared land in the Amazon Rainforest was converted for cattle ranching.
- Globally, livestock production contributes 14.5 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Methane emissions- typically from the digestive processes of cattle- contribute 39 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production, while manure storage and processing contributes 10 percent.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that between 1990-2005, methane emissions rose 37 percent from pig and 50 percent from cow factory farm operations, due, in particular, to the consolidation of factory farms into monopolies where few farms control most cow and pig production.
- Meat production is responsible for more greenhouse gas production than all of the cars, trains and planes in the world combined, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
- EPA estimates that agriculture is responsible for 9 percent of overall greenhouse gas/carbon emissions in the United States.
- Factory farming will consume half of the worlds carbon budget within the next 30 years if agricultural policy and food production remains the same.
A beautiful process in one stage of our interconnected ecosystem can be found in the world’s forests, rainforests, jungles, and other tree and plant bearing regions. As human beings breath in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide, trees and other forms of vegetation breath in carbon dioxide and breath out oxygen. This symbiotic relationship between plants and people allows human beings to survive as complex organisms on the Earth; if not for the trees and the forests of the world- the lungs of the Earth- human beings and other forms of animal life would not exist in their current biological state. These forests cover 31 percent of the Earth’s surface and are vital for our survival, and for the survival of the planet as we know it; yet, each year, 30 million acres of forest are clear cut by humans in order to graze for cattle and other forms of agriculture; for urban housing development; for logging in order to sell wood, soybeans, rubber, and palm oil. These and other forms of deforestation contribute to 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emission, which amounts to more carbon emission than the sum total of all of the world’s cars and trucks combined. Half of the world’s forests have already been clear cut, and if we continue at our current rate of deforestation, 100 percent of forests will be gone by 2100.
Not only do trees and forests provide the oxygen that we require to survive and shelter for over 80 percent of the Earth’s plant and animal species, they also act as carbon sinks by absorbing and storing over 300 billion tons of carbon, double the amount of CO2 found in the atmosphere. The forests are vital to balance CO2 levels and prevent ecological damage and climate collapse. As humans chop down forests for palm oil and cattle grazing, this CO2 is released into the atmosphere. Each year, 1.5 billion tons of the stored CO2 is released into the air, where it contributes to the increase in global temperatures by trapping sunlight in the atmosphere. By clear cutting the world’s forests, human beings are directly removing the oxygen we require to survive.
The world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon Rainforest, spans over 670 million hectares across several countries in South America (a hectare is a metric unit of square measurement. 100 hectares is equivalent to 1 square kilometer; 258.999 hectares is equivalent to 1 square mile; 1 hectare is equivalent to 107,639 square feet). 20 percent of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon Rainforest, where trees and vegetation store over 48 billion tons of carbon. To this day, 20 percent of the Amazon Rainforest has been lost to deforestation, and if humans continue at their current pace of deforestation, 55 percent could be destroyed by 2030, leading to a massive loss of biodiversity species loss, with estimates of 4,000 to 6,000 rainforest species going extinct each year.
The United Nations recognizes the threat of deforestation and the impact that it is having on the human population, the damage that it is causing to our climate, to the atmosphere, and on plant and animal species. In 2005, the United Nations Framework on Climate Change established the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Program (REDD). This program works to establish incentives for corporations and countries who benefit financially from forests, to manage them sustainably, while still being able to benefit economically, by allowing them to sell carbon credits to other countries and corporations once they prove that they have lowered their own CO2 emissions from deforestation practices. Because of this program, Brazil, who had already lost 20 percent of their rainforest, reduced 40 percent of their CO2 emissions from deforestation practices by 2008 and is on track to achieve 80 percent carbon emission reduction by 2020.
Though individuals have only a small impact on the climate, it remains extremely important for each person to do their part in protecting the forests and the environment. If every person joins together and takes more responsibility for their actions in their treatment of the environment, then progress can be made before it is too late: Purchasing organic and locally sourced produce and products; minimizing your carbon footprint by driving less; avoiding products that use palm oil; recycling as many items as possible; going paperless; planting more trees; and cutting down on meat consumption are all ways that humans can protect the environment. Taken individually, these are small acts with a powerful message and purpose; taken together, these actions become a global movement by a higher species capable of altering their behavior to protect their environment and prolonging the survival of their species.