Industrial Providers:
Understanding the Oligopoly

Dateline: 24 January 2008

The following essay was first published to this blog in the summer of 2005. It was removed later that year and published in my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. I have decided to bring it back here on the third anniversary of this blog because the information is pertinent to understanding the current food crisis the world now finds itself in.


Few people realize that a small group of huge, wealthy, and powerful global corporations control the overwhelming majority of food production and distribution in the world today. Con-Agra, Cargill, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) are among the biggest. These corporations are continually entering into partnerships and joint ventures with other huge global corporations, like Monsanto, DuPont, Philip Morris, Nestle, and numerous others, to create profitable economic alliances.

The net result of these alliances has been the creation of an incredibly complex and ever-changing global food oligopoly. An oligopoly is exclusive control and power by a few, as opposed to a monopoly, which is control by one. There is, in the final analysis, not a whole lot of difference between the two.

The industrial food oligopoly is supranational; it transcends national boundaries, interests and, to a large degree national authority. Furthermore, it has a single overriding purpose for existing; to make money in order to make its stockholders wealthy.

These mega-corporations have the financial resources to buy anything they want. Their money talks. It says, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." Politicians are cheap. Grants to supposedly unbiased college research programs are more costly. But it is all just another business expense that serves to add more money to the bottom line.

With that bottom line always in mind, the oligopoly endeavors to own and/or control every aspect of food production, from the genetically-modified and patented seed that must be purchased from them, on through the food system to packaged food on your grocery store shelf. To an astounding and alarming degree these Industrial Providers have been very successful in their endeavors.

Within this modern system of food production, farmers are not the independent producers they once were. Instead, they are pressured to integrate into the industrial system, to join alliances where they become “growers." They provide labor
and sometimes a bit of capital, but they are, for all practical purposes, servants to the global corporations. They must play by the industrial provider’s rules or they are out of the game. Those rules are notmade by people who understand and appreciate farmers; they are made by white-shirted corporate strategists with soft hands and clean fingernails who are always, always looking at the bottom line.

The Leviathan corporations own research labs, mills, grain storage facilities, broiler factories, hatcheries, feedlots, stockyards, meat packing facilities, food-processing factories, fertilizer factories, pesticide factories, railroad cars, barges, trucks, and so on. They have close control over the “vertically integrated” food system that serves their best interests.

Global industrial control and manipulation of food and agriculture by the oligopoly has destroyed and continues to destroy the vitality of rural farming communities. Such areas are nothing more than mining outposts to the globalist masters.

Proportionately little of the monetary wealth that is derived from the land stays and circulates in the communities where it is produced, as was once the case. Now the wealth flows out of the mines and into the coffers of the ologopoly. It reinvests profits wherever it best suits the bottom line... Africa, Asia, South America... wherever there is cheap natural wealth and labor to exploit.

When an agricultural mining operation is no longer profitable, it is shut down and abandoned. The biblical concept of sustainable farming is anathema to the corporate profiteers. The idea of being good stewards of God's creation is a joke to them.

In the wake of its irresponsibilities, the oligopoly will "make it all better" with the slickest public relations campaigns that money can buy. Television commercials, glossy magazine placements, whatever it takes. When it is done with its marketing magic, gullible Moderns will believe that the industrial providers are the best friend a farmer and the environment ever had!

But they are liars. Industrialism has done more to destroy healthy farming communities, the productive power of the soil, and natural resources than any other destructive force on earth. Farm families, rural communities, and the environment take a back seat to the almighty dollar that the oligopoly worships. That, my friend, is the real bottom line.

God has never looked upon concentrations of human power and control favorably. Manifestations of greed and pride invite judgement. God alone is sovereign over His creation. He will not suffer the oligopoly to stand indefinitely. It will run its course and, in His time, fall apart because it is neither physically nor spiritually sustainable.

For those who have the mind to see, the vulnerabilities of the Industrial Food System are clearly evident. Primary among these is the following reality:

The free flow of cheap food is entirely connected to, and
dependent on, the free flow of cheap oil

Cheap oil is history. Continued easy availability of oil at any price is threatened by four tenuous factors: terrorism, war, natural disasters, and economic breakdown. Each of these things has the potential to disrupt the free flow of oil. Each of these variables can and will, to some degree, negatively affect the hyper-refined division of labor and the just-in-time delivery system that the free flow of industrial food depends on.

The price of food will go much higher. You can count on it. Oil shortages and high energy costs must trickle down to the food consumers. Perhaps the trickle will turn to a flow. God only knows how things will play out.

One thing is certain; when the global food system fails to any significant degree, millions of people will go hungry. Those who are unable to provide for themselves and their families could starve. I am not talking about this happening in some third world country (though it will). The industrial providers do not cater to and depend on third world countries. Their primary customers are those who live in developed nations of the world. People like you

As I said when I began this story, few people understand how the global food system works. They do not realize how dependent they are on the oligopoly. And they really do not care. But they should. Someday they will. Unfortunately, by then, it might be too late to do them any good.

By the way, it was not all that long ago that America had a decentralized system of agriculture and food production. It worked very well. Decentralized agrarianism always does.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Food, like clean drinking water is taken for granted in the US. After air and water we need food most, yet, how much do any of us grow for ourselves? So what are we most dependant upon someone else for? Totally dependant for a fundimental need...hmmm doesn't sound like a good place to be in. You don't think the mega-corporations would put the screws to "We the consumers" just to make a bigger profit, do you?