Farmers: The Modern Serfs of Agribusiness

The downfall of the American Farmer is quite a unique example of modern corporatism manifested through what is the equivalency of serfdom for those across the nation who try to survive as independent farmers. As the large and powerful forces of Agri-Business consolidate their stranglehold on the American Farmer (as well as global consolidation of agricultural production), we the people continue to subsidize a system which is: eliminating the diversity of food sources; perpetuating devastation to the environment; poisoning our food with harmful pesticides that have been proven to be linked to numerous diseases; and furthering the profit-driven motives of corporations who view the American Farmer as merely a commodity to be exploited, duped, used and manipulated for their continuing attempt at controlling the world’s food supply.

This issue is quite personal as I come from a very long line of farmers. Going back hundreds of years in Ireland, parts of my family have existed through toiling in the fields to provide sustenance for their own survival and the survival of those who are nourished by the fruits of their labor. I still have family in Ireland that sustains a living from farming and those in my family that came to the United States over a hundred years ago, migrated to the midwest and continue to farm to this day, though they are most assuredly the last of four generations to sustain a living through farming as the collusion of Agribusiness and Banking have put them and all farmers in massive debt and left them with only one option: grow what they tell them to grow with only the genetically limited seeds they allow them to grow with and make sure that those crops are saturated with the dangerous chemicals that they require them to use.

The Corporate takeover of farming:

Agribusiness, or Corporate Farming, is essentially a catch-all term to describe the limited number of Corporations who have successfully integrated all aspects of food production under one large umbrella of corporatism that has engineered a system — through political corruption and market monopolization — that ensures that the vast majority of the food that arrives at the grocery store and on our table is supplied and controlled by this corporate cartel at the expense of the environment, our health and the labor of those who enable agricultural production to exist.

The major players of agribusiness include: Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill and ConAgra. Beginning with the Carter administration and perpetuated exponentially through the policies of the pro-corporate Reagan administration, agribusiness has been able to dictate every aspect of the production and supply of our food. Agribusiness interests have also existed long before the takeover of American Farming through using our tax-funded military to overthrow democratically elected governments who have stood in the way of their global domination of agriculture.

The most glaring example of this takeover is the fact that corn and corn byproducts are found in practically every single processed food item we purchase. Our soda is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. The cows, pigs and chicken that we eat are fed with corn — they are now even trying to genetically modify a type of corn that can be fed to fish. Through the extensive use of corn in not only our food, but other industries that produce anything that can potentially use a corn byproduct, the future of not only our evolution as a species, but the future of all species on earth is potentially threatened as our unique bio-chemistry must adapt and respond to the sudden changes of a corn-based diet.

Something of notable interest is the continued genetic modification of corn, leading to less diversity and therefore a greater likelihood of of future famines as having less diversity in the seeds used to grow crops ultimately leads to a greater likelihood of crop failure if a disease takes over a crop and there is not enough diversity in seeds to fight off the massive spread of crop failure world wide. This lack of genetic diversity is what allowed the famous Irish Potato Famine to continue unabated throughout the mid to late 19th century. As agribusiness continues to limit genetic diversity, the results could be devastating for a world food supply that is increasingly dependent on the corn and soybeans that are grown solely with the seeds that farmers are forced to use to grow these crops. The Future of Food is an excellent documentary which explains this lack of crop diversity in far greater detail than what I can present in this article.

During the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, farming was becoming a less and less viable means of providing for one’s family as the price of corn and other commodities dropped sharply. This, coupled with an ever-increasing cost of machinery and the fuel to power that machinery, led to more and more bank foreclosures of family farms. Getting loans to operate a business that had no potential for profit was impossible. This climate was ripe for agribusiness to swoop in and offer salvation for the struggling independent farmers of America.

Through their cozy relationship with the Reagan administration, subsidization of American farming on a grand scale could now be implemented. Contrary to the propaganda spread by the corporate media, these taxpayer subsidies have devastated independent farmers as the corporate food interests have profited from these subsidies, not the farmers. The subsidization of farming was built wholly upon giving money to grow corn — cheap and typically unnecessary corn. This was entirely by design as the use of this cheap corn pervades every aspect of food production and has built an empire for those corporations involved in manipulating the genetics of corn to be used in various modes of production for, not only the food industry, but many other industries as well.

As desperate farmers switched to corn as their primary crop to be able to get the necessary subsidies to survive, the forces of agribusiness have made sure that the only corn they grow comes from them. The most perverse form of this dictatorial system is Monsanto and their roundup-ready corn and soy beans. Monsanto spent millions and millions of dollars manipulating the genetics of corn to create strains that are tolerant to Roundup; Monsanto’s highly profitable weed killer. Many farmers willing to stand up to Monsanto and use their own seeds have been threatened, sued and essentially brow-beaten into submission for not succumbing to Monsanto’s market domination of seed supply.

Furthermore, the symbiotic relationship between agribusiness and government, especially the FDA, has ensured that all farmers remain subservient to the demands of these corporations if they are to continue to be given subsidies to grow the corn that enables them to simply subsist on the crumbs that these subsidy payments provide. In essence, our own “democratically elected” government is making sure that farming will exist solely for the benefit of these food monopolies to the detriment of our health and environment.

This system of serfdom goes far beyond just corn production. As previously stated, the goal of agribusiness is to control every aspect food production. Not only does this control manifest itself in the historical context of human and labor exploitation, it threatens the global food supply for every one of us and also perpetuates peripheral conflict and military intervention for third-world states that attempt to control their agricultural infrastructure themselves. A very perverse historical example of this is the corporate dictatorship of Guatemala by the United Fruit Company thanks to the U.S. Government providing CIA and military force to assassinate democratically elected officials who stood in the way of United Fruit. United fruit is now called Chiquita Brands International; gives new meaning to the term: Banana Republic.

The domination of global agribusiness continues to spread throughout the world as agriculture is being taken over by American Agricultural Corporations who have the full backing and support of our taxpayer-funded military which continues to train armies in the peripheral world to overthrow any leaders who are not willing to have their natural resources plundered through our system of Corporate Imperialism. This is a twisted and complex system that not only perpetuates instability throughout the world for continued American Corporate domination and control, but also has turned the modern American Farmer into little more than a serf, toiling in the fields for their agribusiness overlords.


Image created from the following: combine; ADM Logo; Monsanto Logo; ConAgra Logo; Money


Copyright:  Curl Publishing Incorporated. Cannot be reproduced or republished without the written or implied consent of Curl Publishing Incorporated.


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One Response to “Farmers: The Modern Serfs of Agribusiness”

  • BigTimE says:

    “the future of not only our evolution as a species, but the future of all species on earth is potentially threatened as our unique bio-chemistry must adapt and respond to the sudden changes of a corn-based diet”

    Well…you, at least, hyped up all the science fiction readers : )

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