LETTER: Farm consolidation helps consolidators, not consumers
One Wednesday back in May 1998, we were checking in our load of feeder pigs in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Our consignor asked us if we had bred back our sows. I said yes. He said, "Maybe not a good idea." Why?
Because, he said, it might get really ugly that fall, meaning that the price of hogs likely was going to crash.
Our consignor knew there'd be a huge oversupply coming to market that fall, mainly because of a lot of big confinement barns coming on line.
Well, I watched the market, and hogs began to slide. By November, some of the hog people in our area were killing their baby pigs before they were weaned.
In short, hog prices collapsed. Most of the confinement farms survived, but the price collapse took all the "free market" hog farms out.
To this day, I know of maybe two guys who raise hogs in Barnes County.
In a recent Viewpoint, the writer says the anti-corporate people are looking for a "boogeyman" ("North Dakota agriculture needs Measure 1," Viewpoint, Page A4, May 20).
Well, maybe there is a boogeyman. Question: Who owns Smithfield Foods? Answer: China. China is shopping, and its shopping is getting more aggressive. Shanghai Penguin Group of China has tried to buy the Kidman Ranch, Australia's largest privately held piece of ground. ChemChina is buying Syngenta.
German pharmaceutical and crop chemicals group, Bayer, has offered to buy Monsanto for $62 billion. The largest beef packer is JBS, a Brazilian firm.
Saudi Arabia has bought 15,000 acres of Arizona desert. The country grows alfalfa with irrigation there; the alfalfa is shipped to Saudi Arabia to feed that country's dairy cattle. So we are now exporting our water. California is still in a drought.
This consolidation is good only for the one doing the consolidating, never for the consumer or for the family farms producing Herald readers' food.
Consolidation eliminates competition. It eliminates a competitive price discovery.
I'm voting no on Measure 1.
Barry Eugene Borg
Valley City, N.D.