Glad you're undertaking this. It's a huge problem. If you want subsidies for
ADM, then go to the Cato Institute's website. They did a piece on ADM in 1996
or 1997 that went into depth about ADM's involvement with sugar subsidies to
keep their market for HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), the ethanol subsidies
For information on the subsidies given to ConAgra via the Nebraska
legislature's adoption of special tax rules in the late 1980s, you can look for
anything written by Lourdes Gouveia, particularly her articles in From Columbus
to ConAgra edited by Busch et al, from University of Kansas press (1995?), and
also in Any Way You Cut It, edited by Don Stull (1994?) also by Univ. of Kansas
press. This later book also documents what communities did to lure meatpackers
to there towns, moves they are still paying for.
Also you might contact Craig Volland of the Kansas City Food Circle -- I'll
give you his email privately -- about some costs he put together on soil loss
etc. of corporate agriculture.
Now for my cautionary note: You have taken on a huge project to document the
subsidies of corporate agriculture. I doubt anyone will be able to make it
complete. Let me give you an example:
Kamyar Enshayan, University of Northern Iowa, started a local food in
institutions project. As part of this, he used a foodshed analysis (developed
by those folks at CIAS at Univ. of Wisconsin -- look for Steve Stevenson and
Jack Kloppenburg) to document "The Tale of Two Chickens" that ended up on the
menu at Rudy's Tacos in Cedar Falls, IA. The story went something like this:
Corporate chicken came from a distributor from Minneapoplis, which got it from
ConAgra Frozen Foods, which got it from their processing plant in Alabama,
which got it from one of 3 contract growers.
Let's look at subsidies and externalized costs in this example from which
ConAgra probably profits. #1) Contract growers are not paid a fair wage for
their work so what is the externalized costs of labor that are borne by
communities -- e.g. low incomes lead to lower income communities lead to....?
Not to mention the outright cheating of contract growers that ConAgra has been
charged and convicted of in the past. #2) Contract growers are responsible for
manure management for the wastes from the chicken houses. There are
externalized environmental costs here. #3) Chicken processing jobs are
notorious for the "wonderful" salaries they pay. There are large externalized
costs borne by the community because workers don't get great wages, there are
holes in the way health care is provided, migrant workers are sometimes
recruited for these jobs and can bring a burden (through no fault of their own)
on social services like education and community hospitals. #4) Chickens are
shipped from Alabama to Minnesota courtesy of the interstate system which
favors cheap diesel fuel with truckers normally not paying their fair share of
the highway maintenance. And I'm sure I've missed a few!
The list goes on and if you find a good way to document this, or if there are
any economists/business people out there who can help out, please contact me.
Kamyar and I are interested in doing some indepth analysis of the situation.
Oh by the way, the other chicken comes from Waterloo, Iowa is organic and the
money circulates in teh community...
-- Mary Hendrickson, Ph.D. Food Circles Networking Project University of Missouri Outreach and Extension 106 Sociology Columbia, MO 65211
Website: http://www.foodcircles.missouri.edu Tele: 573-882-7463 Fax: 573-882-1473
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