children in America. For more articles on where your din din went see: http://www.oligopolywatch.com/2004/08/19.html
We've argued on this site for a long time that the political clout of oligopolies bends the laws and regulations to favor the industries, to make them even bigger and more dominant oligopolies (a seat at the table). One instance is the food industry, where first the US and now the world are being rolled up as government regulation becomes more and more an extension of agribusiness companies' wish lists.
That sentiment is well expressed on the Agribusiness Accountability Initiative web site, which explores the impacts of corporate power in the food system.
It is no accident that American domestic policy has facilitated the consolidation and concentration of the food industry over the past quarter of a century. Thanks to the United States' dominant role in multilateral bodies, international trade and investment agreements have also served to accelerate the trend toward oligopoly power. Agribusiness firms enjoy privileged access to decision-makers, and their vast financial and political resources ensure that the legal framework will continue to favor their interests over those of more dispersed interest groups. Food companies and industry associations employ several mechanisms to shape relevant policies:
The site then goes on to show how donations to political campaigns, lobbying, and the infiltration of advisory committees tip everything in agribusiness's way. Under the guise of "protecting the family farmer," the US passes legislation that encourages corporate consolidation and gives proportional welfare to the largest landholders as to the smaller mom-and-pop operation. The site conations some good thinking and links to a number of articles on the subject.
One of the links on the site Is to an article called "USDA inc." by researcher Philip Mattera froman organization called Good Jobs First. It was delivered at a very recent conference on Agricultural Competition. It is about the pernicious effect of the "revolving door" employment policies in the US Department of agriculture and how it affects policy. One of the areas discussed is that of Concentrated Animal feeding operations (CAFOs):
These overgrown livestock facilities, which house and feed 1,000 or more animals in a confined area, are among the biggest contributors to agricultural pollution. Also known as factory farms, CAFOs produce enormous quantities of manure that contaminate water supplies and cause other environmental problems. USDA has promoted the growth of CAFOs with little or no regard to their public health consequences....
The official who oversees the day-to-day activities of USDA, Deputy Secretary James R. Moseley, has been described by the Chicago Tribune as "a champion of industrial-style hog production." Before taking office, he was a partner in Infinity Pork LLC, an Indiana CAFO that raised 50,000 hogs annually.
By "owning" the guardian of the public interest, the big agribusiness concerns make the regulators into their messenger-boys. Mattera gives a number of other examples of the same phenomenon in his paper.