India, under the Modi regime, is aggressively moving towards corporatization day by day. The regulated sector is shrinking as the government systematically moves away, allowing the private sector to take over.
Corporate farming is engendering the food security and livelihood of local producers around the world.
Corporate farming in America
In 2014, The US Department of Agriculture reported the end of 18,000 farms ( 1 million acres of farmland).
Before the arrival of big corporate money, Farming was strictly a family oriented business all across the united states, from wide‐open prairie grain hub to Maine’s lush potato fields and California’s sprayed grapefruit groves Agribusiness swopped down and forced local farmers to leave the trade.
Large farms are corporate farms. Most consist of acres of the finest land to be obtained. Their owners also have manufacturing capital reserves and receive various tax benefits.
The average farming man in America owns about 400 acres of land, even some of that is infertile, and more than often these standalone family farmers are deep in debt.
He will inevitably have to sell out, retreat to an otherwise crowded city, yield to those with the money to compete in an industry where $6,000 contracts have substituted $60 mules.
Corporate farming grew from ‘field to table’ to take charge of the whole supply chain, from breeding genetics to wholesalers in the US or the far east. When factory farms expanded, the activities of slaughterhouses were determined by their demands. Smaller slaughterhouses that gave family farmers options and suitable prices vanished, replaced by big operations that were farther away and forced lower prices on small-scale breeders.
A significant proportion of the lettuce consumed in America is manufactured by Purex, United Brands, and Bud Antic, a monopoly that has led to an unusual Federal Trade Commission agricultural antitrust investigation. Many government officials claim that a corporation will not grow lettuce cheaper than a family farmer, not just about lettuce but even about many other crop yields, agricultural academics have often stated.
Under the promise of improved yields and income, it is notorious for pushing farmers into contracts. These commitments frequently fall apart, forcing farmers to incur debt and even break contracts that aim to compensate for missed profits.
Monsanto would not allow its genetically engineered seeds to be saved, prompting farmers to buy new seeds year after year.
And if “unregistered” seeds end up pollinating without paying the corporation the necessary commissions, it has also been known to sue farmers. Upwards of 100 farmers have been sued, earning about $24 million in rulings in the company’s favor, half of which came from farmers who did not grow the seeds at all but are actually victims of grain drift from nearby fields.
According to the Santé Publique France survey, one farmer commits suicide every two days there. Income from agriculture is the lowest in the country, and farmers are neck-deep in loans.
The number of corporate farm associations in France has grown from 1 per cent to 30 per cent of the overall number of farms over the past forty years.
Competitive corporate farming brings down the prices while production booms. Overhead costs, price volatility, and severe climate changes have pushed farmers into harsh economic conditions.
The global trend of corporate farming
Henk Hobbelink of Grain said: ” If small farmers continue to lose the very basis of their existence, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself. We need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems.”
A UN study suggests that small farmers are now only limited to 25 per cent of the entire world’s available farmland.
The rising demand for food and energy is shifting the control of agricultural commodities production from local sources to corporate mega houses.
With the numbers of small and medium-sized farmers going out of business in the last 20 years, large farms have become larger almost everywhere, say the writers. In Western Europe, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, and Norway each have lost over 70 per cent of rural farms since the 1970s, 2003 and 2010, Bulgaria, Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia each lost over 40 per cent of their farms. Between 2005 and 2010, Poland on its own lost nearly a million farmers.
The study also showed that local producers are often twice as productive and more economically friendly as big farms. While large farms usually consume more resources, control the best land, receive most of the water and infrastructure for irrigation, they have reduced efficiency levels and thus lesser productivity. It still has to do with low employment levels used on large farms to maximize capital growth.
With the new farmers’ act, India is choosing to ignore the data that clearly highlights the shortcomings of corporate monopoly in the agriculture sector.
Modi government is deliberately opting for failed models to favour corporate powerhouses, at the cost of the future of sustainable farming.
Farmers are protesting at the borders of the country’s capital, they fear the new farm laws would open gates for big corporate farming, and local farmers would face a threat to their livelihood.