> I see this merger mania as the last gasp of the dinosaurs
I hope you're right. Probably big companies will implode -- just as centralized
planning in Eastern Europe and the USSR imploded. But along the way there is a
heck of a lot of social, economic and emotional pain that is totally
unnecessary. That's why we should sit up and take notice of what's going on and
try to stop these mergers before they destory farmers, citizens, communities and
the environment around the world.
> While manufacturing is a huge part of the economy and of the "One Big
> Company" it is marketing that allows it to grow and gobble up its brothers.
> The onset of the Internet is the beginning of the end of those days. The
> ability of a vendor to offer his services or wares in direct competition to
> the big boys regardless of his size or location lets the best man win. No
> more mega advantage.
I beg to differ. The Internet is a wonderful thing I will agree. It's
particuarly wonderful for me since I don't have to pay anything for this nice
account the university provides for me. But the fact remains, LOTS of people do
not have access to the internet because a) they don't have computers, or b) they
don't have the money to pay an internet service provider, or c) they don't live
close enough to a public library that allows internet access or d) they live in
a rural area that everybody else has written off so why would AOL or some such
ISP want to be there or e) fill in the blank......
One of the analyses that I heard suggested the real reason AOL merged with
Time-Warner was for access to the incredible "hardware" network -- the cable
connection to homes and new kinds of phone lines -- that Time-Warner could
provide and that AOL is behind on. Again, the Internet is wonderful,
information is key, but we have to remember that each of us individually do not
possess the "hardware" to connect to the wonderful information provider and
without that hardware or access to it, we have no future on the Internet.
That's why I embrace the Internet for groups like SANET, but I also remain
skeptical of its wonderful equalizing powers.
> ....Tyson Foods .... They do not raise birds. If the grower had a market for
> his birds to an independent packing house who could sell his goods on the open
> market in competition with the big guys, they would find that they are as big
> as Tyson only in pieces.
Agreed. Tyson just owns the genetics, the feed, the processing and the
branding. If we had independents we would be in much better shape. And
actually MARKETS are the key to making sustainable agriculture work. But
again, I have to point out that one reason there are no independent chicken
processors left (and we have seen the exact same thing happen in hogs in an
astoundingly short period of time that left me breathless) is Tyson's and others
get to structure the rules. Internet marketing won't help if we have to have
federal inspection plants for processing in order to ship chickens across state
lines, because the federal rules have been written by Tyson and their like to
make sure smaller processors can't compete. We have lost a number of small
processors in Missouri who felt they could not comply with HACCP and have just
given up by retiring or retreating into complete custom work. We are RAPIDLY
losing the physical, economic, legislative and social infrastructure to make
local systems work and the Internet is not replacing it in any expedient
Please understand, I'm not bashing Internet marketing here because I think it is
going to be one of our alternatives as we create new food systems. But we have
some real challenges in terms of the globalized, industrialized, impersonalized
system that is the dominant system. We HAVE to understand that system in order
to challenge it on its weaknesses -- personalized, low-capital,
management-intensive sustainable food systems.
-- Mary Hendrickson, Ph.D. Network Coordinator Food Circles Networking Project University of Missouri Outreach and Extension Department of Rural Sociology Columbia, MO 65211
Tele: 573-882-7463 Fax: 573-882-1473
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