World food output seen dominated by food 'clusters'
- To: "unlikely.suspects":;
- Subject: World food output seen dominated by food 'clusters'
- From: MichaelP <papadop@PEAK.ORG>
- Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 22:03:15 -0800 (PST)
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As I was saying ....
WASHINGTON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - A handful of food "clusters' --
alliances of producers and processors -- will dominate world food
production in the future, deciding who eats and reducing farmers to
day laborers, a U.S. farm group said on Thursday.
The agribusiness goliaths of today will grow ever-bigger and
intertwine to direct each step of the food chain from seed to the
grocery shelf, the activist National Farmers Union said.
Three clusters already were apparent, it said -- Conagra,
Cargill/Monsanto and Novartis AG/Archer Daniels Midland.
"The trend to a privately centralized food system puts our food
security in great jeopardy,'' NFU president Leland Swenson said, in
urging a moratorium on large-scale mergers in the agricultural sector.
NFU unveiled its study, written by a University of Missouri professor,
at a House Agriculture Committee hearing on concentration in farming.
There is concern in farm country that mergers give too much power to
big firms and make it harder for farmers to get a fair price for their
crops and livestock.
"They (farmers) are going to find themselves having to go out and be
contract growers,'' Swenson said, which would mean following orders on
what to grow and when.
At the same time, the report said, the food "clusters'' "are in a
position to decide which people in the world will eat'' by owning a
sizable part of the food supply and wanting to profit from it.
According to the report, four or five "clusters'' will develop with
numbers limited by access to biotechnology rights. The "clusters''
would form through joint ventures, partnerships, acquisitions,
contracts and side agreements.
It used the existence of such links, even if they involved
comparatively small operations, in sketching the clusters.
Cargill Inc, the world's largest grain exporter, and Monsanto Co, a
biotech leader, were grouped based on a joint venture set in 1998 on
"There are a host of major players in the food system which are not
included in our three food chain clusters,'' the report said. "Most
likely, some of them will join together to form new food chain
clusters, while others may join the clusters we have identified.''
For example, it said, seed companies Pioneer and Mycogen could anchor
new clusters, or Bunge, one of the world's leading grain traders, could
align itself with a meat processor like Tyson Foods.
Conagra was listed as a food cluster by itself because it is the No 2
food processor as well as a leader in meatpacking and grain milling.
ADM, a miller and processor that bills itself as "supermarket to the
world,'' and Novartis, a seed and pesticide giant, were cited as a
"cluster'' because of a joint venture to develop specialty corn
hybrids for food and feed uses.
A Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank economist, Mark Drabenstott, said
the nation was seeing the development of "supply chains'' that linked
farmers with processors to produce lower-cost, higher-value foods.
Unlike the NFU, he said farmers and consumers could benefit, farmers
by getting paid more for specializing their output and consumers by
getting desirable foods.
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