Feb 16, 2017

The continuing crisis in the dairy industry

The dairy industry is in crisis and dairy sustainability is under attack.

In Victoria — where most dairy farms are — Australia’s largest processor, farmer-owned co-operative Murray Goulburn, allowed outside investors to become members, to get the funds to build more infrastructure to take advantage of export opportunities. Murray Goulburn prioritised paying returns to those investors out of their 2016 $44 million annual profit, rather than to the farmers who supply the product.

An overestimation of the global market price meant that when milk prices dropped, Murray Goulburn slashed its farm gate milk price without warning last April to $4.31 a kilo of milk solids or 33c a litre and told farmers they had to repay the higher price they had been receiving. Fonterra, the other major processor, matched the farm gate price drop.

As former chief executive Gary Helou left Murray Goulburn in May with a $10 million payout, farmers were left owing an average $120,000 “overpayment” debt, based on payments set at his promised and “achievable” $6 a kilogram milk price. A 38% rise in the board directors’ fees added insult to injury.

Feb 15, 2017

Sustainable Agriculture versus Corporate Greed

Due out soon:

From the Introduction:
There is money to be made in farming, but not by the farmers. This pamphlet examines the reasons why farmers around the world are poor and there are a billion hungry people. The terms of trade for farmers continually declines and farmers are forced off the land. Governments and international bodies advocate further deregulation and trade liberalisation and greater use of technology, yet these policies have undoubtedly failed in their stated aims of increasing food security and rural prosperity. The beneficiaries have only been the agribusiness corporations which have been instrumental in the design of the new order of agricultural production.

...But farmers around the world are resisting...

Feb 1, 2017

Monsanto strategies for agricultural domination

By Alan Broughton 
Monsanto is one of the world’s biggest pesticide and seed corporations and the leading developer and seller of genetically modified crop varieties. The stock market value in 2014 was US$66 billion. It has gained this position by a combination of deceit, threat, litigation, destruction of evidence, falsified data, bribery, takeover and cultivation of regulatory organisations.

The rise and its torrid controversy covers a long period starting with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, chemicals used as insulators for electrical transformers) in the 1940s and moving on to dioxin (a contaminant of Agent Orange used to defoliate Vietnam), glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide), recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH, a hormone injected in dairy cows to increase their milk production), and genetic modification. Its key aim in dealing with health and environmental issues of concern is to protect sales and profits and the company image. The latter though has been a monumental failure, making Monsanto the most hated corporation in the world. 

In order to better sell its GM technology Monsanto began acquiring seed companies in 1996 and within 10 years became the largest seed supplier in the world. If the planned merger with Bayer takes place they will have a third of the world’s seed market and a quarter of the pesticide market.