It was fitting that Resistance Books’ new publication, Sustainable Agriculture versus Corporate Greed: Small Farmers, Food Security & Big Business, was launched in the East Gippsland town of Bairnsdale on March 8.
Co-author Alan Broughton, a well-known figure in the local Organic Agriculture Association, gave a short but hard-hitting presentation at the local library.
He explained that agribusiness might be thriving but many smaller family farmers are doing it tough. Their financial situation is precarious.
The farmer share of the food dollar has sharply declined over past decades. The farm “terms of trade” are also in decline, that is, farm input prices are rising much faster than produce prices. Chemical inputs are rising but their effectiveness is declining.
Farmers’ health statistics are alarming, due to a combination of chemical exposures and stress.
Broughton explained that the official prescription is “get big or get out” and that free trade and deregulation will increase farm incomes. Cases of hardship are sheeted home to farmers’ personal failings.
Of course, this is simply rubbish designed to justify the process of capitalist concentration in agriculture which is proceeding apace.
In agribusiness sectors such as grain, seeds, fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides, and farm machinery a handful of giant corporations dominate the market. Coles and Woolworths have a near total grip on the market for fruit and vegetables.
What is to be done? Broughton calls for Australia to withdraw from the World Trade Organisation and the various free trade agreements; dismantling the big agribusiness corporations, a ban on patents on plants and animals, and a turn away from industrial agriculture to more benign ecological methods.
All these questions and many more are addressed in this important new book.
Launches will take place around the country over the next months. The next is in Melbourne on Thursday, March 30, 6:30pm at the Multicultural Hub, 506 Elisabeth Street, where Alan Broughton will be speaking. Co-author Elena Garcia will be peaking at the Sydney launch on Tuesday April 11, 7pm at the Parramatta Activist Centre, 3/29 Macquarie St Parramatta.
Copies of the book can be obtained from www.resistancebooks.com.