Author Topic: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation  (Read 1151 times)

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Offline Sue

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The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« on: December 01, 2008, 08:58:40 PM »

Colonial style empire-building is making a huge comeback


Link
by James Petras

Global Research,
Dec. 1, 2008


      "The deal South Korea`s Daewoo Logistics is negotiating with the Madagascar Government
      looks rapacious`¦The Madagascan case looks neo-colonial`¦The Madagascan people stand
      to lose half of their arable land." Financial Times Editorial, November 20, 2008

      "Cambodia is in talks with several Asian and Middle Eastern governments to receive as much
      as $3 billions US dollars in agricultural investments in return for millions of hectares of land
      concessions`¦" Financial Times, November 21, 2008

      "We are starving in the midst of bountiful harvests and booming exports!: Unemployed Rural
      Landless Workers, Para State, Brazil (2003)

Introduction

Colonial style empire-building is making a huge comeback, and most of the colonialists are late-comers, elbowing their way past the established European and US predators.

Backed by their governments and bankrolled with huge trade and investment profits and budget surpluses, the newly emerging neo-colonial economic powers (ENEP) are seizing control of vast tracts of fertile lands from poor countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, through the intermediation of local corrupt, free-market regimes. Millions of acres of land have been granted `“ in most cases free of charge `“ to the ENEP who, at most, promise to invest millions in infrastructure to facilitate the transfer of their plundered agricultural products to their own home markets and to pay the ongoing wage of less than $1 dollar a day to the destitute local peasants. Projects and agreements between the ENEP and pliant neo-colonial regimes are in the works to expand imperial land takeovers to cover additional tens of millions of hectares of farmland in the very near future. The great land sell-off/transfer takes place at a time and in places where landless peasants are growing in number, small farmers are being forcibly displaced by the neo-colonial state and bankrupted through debt and lack of affordable credit. Millions of organized landless peasants and rural workers struggling for cultivatable land are criminalized, repressed, assassinated or jailed and their families are driven into disease-ridden urban slums. The historic context, economic actors and methods of agro-business empire-building bears similarities and differences with the old-style empire building of the past centuries.

Old and New Style Agro-Imperial Exploitation

During the previous five centuries of imperial domination the exploitation and export of agricultural products and minerals played a central role in the enrichment of the Euro-North American empires. Up to the 19th century, large-scale plantations and latifundios, organized around staple crops, relied on forced labor `“ slaves, indentured servants, semi-serfs, tenant farmers, migrant seasonal workers and a host of other forms of labor (including prisoners) to accumulate wealth and profits for colonial settlers, home country investors and the imperial state treasuries.

The agricultural empires were secured through conquest of indigenous peoples, importation of slaves and indentured workers, the forcible seizure and dispossession of communal lands and the rule through colonial officials. In many cases, the colonial rulers incorporated local elites (`˜nobles`, monarchs, tribal chiefs and favored minorities) as administrators and recruited the impoverished, dispossesed natives to serve as colonial soldiers led by white Euro-American officers.

Colonial-style agro-imperialism came under attack by mass-based national liberation movements throughout the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, culminating in the establishment of independent national regimes throughout Africa, Asia (except Palestine) and Latin America. From the very beginning of their reign, the newly independent states pursued diverse policies toward colonial-era land ownership and exploitation. A few of the radical, socialist and nationalist regimes eventually expropriated, either partially or entirely, foreign landowners, as was the case in China, Cuba, Indochina, Zimbabwe, Guyana, Angola, India and others. Many of these `˜expropriations` led to land transfers to the new emerging post-colonial bourgeoisie, leaving the mass of the rural labor force without land or confined to communal land. In most cases the transition from colonial to post-colonial regimes was underwritten by a political pact ensuring the continuation of colonial patterns of land ownership, cultivation, marketing and labor relations (described as a `˜neo-colonial agro-export system). With few exceptions most independent governments failed to change their dependence on export crops, diversify export markets, develop food self-sufficiency or finance the settlement of rural poor onto fertile uncultivated public lands.

Where land distribution did take place, the regimes failed to invest sufficiently in the new forms of rural organization (family farms, co-ops or communal `˜ejidos`) or imposed centrally controlled large-scale state enterprises, which were inefficiently run, failed to provide adequate incentives for the direct producers, and were exploited to finance urban-industrial development. As a result, many state farms and cooperatives were eventually dismantled. In most countries great masses of the rural poor continued to be landless and subject to the demands of local tax collectors, military recruiters and usurious money lenders and were evicted by land speculators, real estate developers and national and local officials.

Neo-Liberalism and the Rise of New Agro-Imperialism

Emblematic of the new style agro-imperialism is the South Korean takeover of half (1.3 million hectares) of Madagascar`s total arable land under a 70-90 year lease in which the Daewoo Logistics Corporation of South Korea expects to pay nothing for a contract to cultivate maize and palm oil for export.1 In Cambodia, several emerging agro-imperial Asian and Middle Eastern countries are `˜negotiating` (with hefty bribes and offers of lucrative local `˜partnerships` to local politicians) the takeover of millions of hectares of fertile land.2 The scope and depth of the new emerging agro-imperial expansion into the impoverished countryside of Asian, African and Latin American countries far surpasses that of the earlier colonial empire before the 20th century. A detailed account of the new agro-imperialist countries and their neo-colonial colonies has recently been compiled on the website of GRAIN3.

The driving forces of contemporary agro-imperialist conquest and land grabbing can be divided into three blocs:

      1. The new rich Arab oil regimes, mostly among the Gulf States (in part, through their 'sovereign wealth funds').

      2. The newly emerging imperial countries of Asia (China, India, South Korea and Japan) and Israel.

      3. The earlier imperial countries (US and Europe), the World Bank, Wall Street investment banks and other
         assorted imperial speculator-financial companies.

Each of these agro-imperial blocs is organized around one to three `˜leading` countries: Among the Gulf imperial states, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; in Asia `“ China, Korea and Japan are the main land grabbers. Among the US-European-World Bank land predators there are a wide range of agro-imperialist monopoly firms buying up land ranging from Goldman Sachs, Blackstone in the US to Louis Dreyfuss in the Netherlands and Deutschbank in Germany. Upward of several hundred million acres of arable land have been or are in the process of being appropriated by the world`s biggest capitalist landowners in what is one of the greatest concentration of private landownership in the history of empire building.

The process of agro-imperial empire building operates largely through political and financial mechanisms, preceded, in some cases, by military coups, imperial interventions and destabilization campaigns to establish pliable neo-colonial `˜partners` or, more accurately, collaborators, disposed to cooperate in this huge imperial land grab. Once in place, the Afro-Asian-Latin American neo-colonial regimes impose a neo-liberal agenda which includes the break-up of communal-held lands, the promotion of agro-export strategies, the repression of any local land reform movements among subsistence farmers and landless rural workers demanding the redistribution of fallow public and private lands. The neo-colonial regimes` free market policies eliminate or lower tariff barriers on heavily subsidized food imports from the US and Europe. These policies bankrupt local market farmers and peasants increasing the amount of available land to `˜lease` or sell-off to the new agro-imperial countries and multinationals. The military and police play a key role in evicting impoverished, indebted and starving farmers and preventing squatters from occupying and producing food on fertile land for local consumption.

Once the neo-colonial collaborator regimes are in place and their `˜free market` agendas are implemented, the stage is set for the entry and takeover of vast tracts of cultivable land by the agro-imperial countries and investors.

Israel is the major exception to this pattern of agro-imperial conquest, as it relies on the massive sustained use of force against an entire nation to dispossess Palestinian farmers and seize territory via armed colonial settlers `“ in the style of earlier Euro-American colonial imperialism.4

The sellout usually follows one of two paths or a combination of both: Newly emerging imperial countries take the lead or are solicited by the neo-colonial regime to invest in `˜agricultural development`. One-sided `˜negotiations` follow in which substantial sums of cash flow from the imperial treasury into the overseas bank accounts of their neo-colonial `˜partners`. The agreements and the terms of the contracts are unequal: The food and agricultural commodities are almost totally exported back to the home markets of the agro-imperial country, even as the `˜host country`s` population starves and is dependent on emergency shipments of food from imperial `˜humanitarian` agencies. `˜Development`, including promise of large-scale investment, is largely directed at building roads, transport, ports and storage facilities to be used exclusively to facilitate the transfer of agricultural produce overseas by the large-scale agro-imperial firms. Most of the land is taken rent-free or subject to `˜nominal` fees, which go into the pockets of the political elite or are recycled into the urban real estate market and luxury imports for the local wealthy elite. Except for the collaborationist relatives or cronies of the neo-colonial rulers, almost all of the high paid directors, senior executives and technical staff come from the imperial countries in the tradition of the colonial past. An army of low salary, educated, `˜third country nationals` generally enter as middle level technical and administrative employees `“ completely subverting any possibility of vital technology or skills transfer to the local population. The major and much touted `˜benefit` to the neo-colonial country is the employment of local manual farm workers, who are rarely paid above the going rate of $1 to 2 US dollars a day and are harshly repressed and denied any independent trade union representation.

In contrast, the agro-imperial companies and regimes reap enormous profits, secure supplies of food at subsidized prices, exercise political influence or hegemonic control over collaborator elites and establish economic `˜beachheads` to expand their investments and facilitate foreign takeover of the local financial, trade and processing sectors.

Target Countries

While there is a great deal of competition and overlap among the agro-imperial countries in plundering the target countries, the tendency is for the Arab petroleum imperial regimes to focus on penetrating neo-colonies in South and Southeast Asia. The Asian `˜Economic Tiger` countries concentrate on Africa and Latin America. While the US-Europe Multinationals exploit the former communist countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union as well as Latin America and Africa.

Bahrain has grabbed land in Pakistan, the Philippines and Sudan to supply itself with rice. China, probably the most dynamic agro-imperial country today, has invested in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia to ensure low cost soybean supplies (especially from Brazil), rice production in Cuba (5,000 hectares), Burma, Cameroon (10,000 hectares), Laos (100,000 hectares), Mozambique (with 10,000 Chinese farm-worker settlers), the Philippines (1.24 million hectares) and Uganda.

The Gulf States are projecting a $1 billion dollar fund to finance land grabs in North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Japan has purchased 100,000 hectares of Brazilian farmland for soybean and maize. Its corporations own 12 million hectares in Southeast Asia and South America. Kuwait has grabbed land in Burma, Cambodia, Morocco, Yemen, Egypt, Laos, Sudan and Uganda. Qatar has taken over rice fields in Cambodia and Pakistan and wheat, maize and oil seed croplands in Sudan as well as land in Vietnam for cereals, fruit, vegetables and raising cattle. Saudi Arabia has been `˜offered` 500,000 hectares of rice fields in Indonesia and hundreds of thousands of hectares of fertile land in Ethiopia and Sudan.

The World Bank (WB) has played a major role in promoting agro-imperial land grabs, allocating $1.4 billion dollars to finance agro-business takeovers of `˜underutilized lands`. The WB conditions its loans to neo-colonies, like the Ukraine, on their opening up lands to be exploited by foreign investors.5 Taking advantage of neo-liberal `˜center-left` regimes in Argentina and Brazil, agro-imperial investors from the US and Europe have bought millions of acres of fertile farmlands and pastures to supply their imperial homelands, while millions of landless peasants and unemployed workers are left to watch the trains laden with beef, wheat and soy beans head for the foreign MNC-controlled port facilities and on to the imperial home markets in Europe, Asia and the US.

At least two emerging imperial countries, Brazil and China, are subject to imperial land grabs by more `˜advanced` imperial countries and have become `˜agents` of agricultural colonization. Japanese, European and North American multinationals exploit Brazil even as Brazilian colonial settlers and agro-industrialists have taken over wide swathes of borderlands in Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia. A similar pattern occurs in China where valuable farmlands are exploited by Japanese and overseas Chinese capitalists at the same time that China is seizing fertile land in poorer countries in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Present and Future Consequences of Agro-Imperialism

The re-colonization by emerging imperialist states of huge tracts of fertile farmland of the poorest countries and regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America is resulting in a deepening class polarization between, on the one hand, wealthy rentier Arab oil states, Asian billionaires, affluent state-funded Jewish settlers and Western speculators and, on the other hand, hundreds of millions of starving, landless, dispossessed peasants in Sudan, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Palestine, Burma, China, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Paraguay and elsewhere.

Agro-imperialism is still in its early stages `“ taking possession of huge tracts of land, expropriating peasants and exploiting the landless rural workers as day laborers. The next phase which is currently unfolding is to take control over the transport systems, infrastructure and credit systems, which accompany the growth of agro-export crops. Monopolizing infrastructure, credit and the profits from seeds, fertilizers, processing industries, tolls and interest payments on loans further concentrates de facto imperial control over the colonial economy and extends political influence over local politicians, rulers and collaborators within the bureaucracies.

The neo-colonized class structure, especially in largely agricultural economies are evolving into a four tier class system in which the foreign capitalists and their entourage are at the pinnacle of elite status representing less than 1% of the population. In the second tier, representing 10% of the population are the local political elite and their cronies and relatives as well as well placed bureaucrats and military officers, who enrich themselves, through partnerships (`˜joint ventures`) with the neo-colonials and via bribes and land grabs. The local middle class represents almost 20% and is in constant danger of falling into poverty in the face of the world economic crises. The dispossessed peasants, rural workers, rural refugees, urban squatters and indebted subsistence peasants and farmers make up the fourth tier of the class structure with close to 70% of the population.

Within the emerging neo-colonial agro-export model, the `˜middle class` is shrinking and changing in composition. The number of family farmers producing for the domestic market is declining in the face of state-supported foreign-owned farms producing for their own `˜home markets`. As a result market vendors and small retailers in the local markets are falling behind, squeezed out by the large foreign-owned supermarkets. The loss of employment for domestic producers of farm goods and services and the elimination of a host of `˜commercial` intermediaries between town and country is sharpening the class polarization between top and bottom tiers of the class structure. The new colonial middle class is reconfigured to include a small stratum of lawyers, professionals, publicists and low-level functionaries of the foreign firms and public and private security forces. The auxiliary role of the `˜new middle class` in servicing the axis of colonial economic and political power will make them less nation-oriented and more colonial in their allegiances and political outlook, more `˜free market` consumerist in their life style and more prone to approve of repressive (including fascistic) domestic solutions to rural and urban unrest and popular struggles for justice.

At the present moment, the biggest constraint on the advance of agro-imperialism is the economic collapse of world capitalism, which is undermining the `˜export of capital`. The sudden collapse of commodity prices is making it less profitable to invest in overseas farmland. The drying up of credit is undermining the financing of grandiose overseas land grabs. The 70% decline in oil revenues is limiting the Middle East Sovereign Funds and other investment vehicles of Gulf oil foreign reserves. On the other hand, the collapse of agricultural prices is bankrupting African, Asian and Latin American elite agro-producers, forcing down land prices and presenting opportunities for imperial agro-investors to buy up even more fertile land at rock-bottom prices.

The current world capitalist recession is adding millions of unemployed rural workers to the hundreds of millions of peasants dispossessed during the expansion period of the agricultural commodity boom during the first half of the current decade. Labor costs and land are cheap, at the same time that effective consumer demand is falling. Agro-imperialists can employ all the Third World rural labor they want at $1 dollar a day or less, but how can they market their products and realize returns that cover the costs of loans, bribes, transport, marketing, elite salaries, perks, CEO bonuses and investor dividends when demand is in decline?

Some agro-imperialists may take advantage of the recession to buy cheaply now and look forward to long-term profits when the multi-trillion dollar state-funded recovery takes effect. Others may cut back on their land grabs or more likely hold vast expanses of valuable land out of production until the `˜market` improves `“ while dispossessed peasants starve on the margins of fallow fields.

The new agro-imperials are banking on the new imperialist states committing resources (money and troops) to bolster the neo-colonial gendarmes in repressing the inevitable uprisings of the billions of dispossessed, hungry and marginalized people in Sudan, Ethiopia, Burma, Cambodia, Brazil, Paraguay, the Philippines, China and elsewhere. Time is running out for the easy deals, transfers of ownership and long-term leases consummated by local neo-colonial collaborators and overseas colonial investors and states. Currently imperial wars and domestic economic recessions in the old and emerging imperial countries are systematically draining their economies and testing the willingness of their populations to sacrifice for new style colonial empire building. Without international military and economic backing, the thin stratum of local neo-colonial rulers can hardly withstand sustained, mass uprisings of the destitute peasantry allied with the downwardly mobile lower middle class and growing legions of unemployed university-educated young people.

The promise of a new era of agro-imperial empire building and a new wave of emerging imperial states may be short-lived. In its place we may see a new wave of rural-based national liberation movements and ferocious competition between new and old imperial states fighting over increasingly scarce financial and economic resources. While downwardly mobile workers and employees in the Western imperial centers gyrate between one and another imperial party (Democrat/Republican, Conservative/Labor) they will play no role for the foreseeable future. When and if they break loose`¦they may turn toward a demagogic nationalist right or toward a currently invisible (at least in the US and Europe) `˜patriotic nationalist` socialist left. In either case, current imperial pillage and the subsequent mass rebellion will start elsewhere with or without a change in the US or Europe.

NOTES: see picture link.
"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is "not done".
...Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with.


Offline Sue

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Re: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2008, 01:17:14 PM »
Thanks for the two links Jewbacca,

The article I posted here is truly a must read, especially for people who are under the illusion that wherever  democracy reigns, politicians will work for the peoples benefit. In almost all cases it is the politicians who enrich themselves.

I heard a quote once, it said: ''When you hear about 'them' wanting to bring 'democracy' to you, or any other country, it's time to run.''

Iraq would be a shining example.

I just got back from my walk. Looking forward to read your links, right after lunch.



"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is "not done".
...Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with.

Offline Sue

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Re: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2008, 03:25:02 PM »

I will add this article from Jewbacca's link:
 

If farmers are unable to produce -- ur Agro-Imperialists have no shortage of money to
acquire more land for the price they want to pay. This is not the first time, but never
before have our global preditors been this well equipped to manipulate!

 
The Famine Of 2009 (updated 4x)



Link
by Stranded Wind
Thu Nov 27, 2008
at 08:18:15 AM PST

  Last week I received a very concerned call from South Dakota farmer and agronomist Bryan Lutter.  "Neal, we're out of propane!"  I figured this was personal distress `“ he and his family farm over three square miles of land and I know this has been a tough year for many people. He promptly corrected my misconception when I tried to console him. "No, everybody is out, all three grain elevators, we can't get fuel for the bins, and we're coming in real wet this year."

  There are equally dramatic issues due to the bankruptcy of Verasun and the apparent insolvency of the nation's largest private crop insurance program. Payments that would have come in June or July of a normal year are still not dispersed at the end of November and this has grim implications for next year's crop.

  I started digging into the details and unless I'm badly mistaken people are going to be starving in 2009 over causes and conditions being set down right now. It's a complex, interlocking issue, and I hope I've done a good job explaining it below the fold ...

(I just submitted my personal story and a vision for the nation at change.gov - you can see my vision for this problem here.)

Stranded Wind's diary :: ::

  The Dakotas have faced fuel restrictions for at least the last two years. They're at the far end of the pipeline network and after complete outages in 2007 everyone orders their diesel well in advance. Vehicle tanks are kept fuller and the on farm tanks are not allowed to run low. Gasoline supply dynamics have changed as well; British Petroleum shuttered three hundred stations in the area, citing the high cost of trucking fuel to the locations from the pipeline terminals.

   This year propane is in short supply. Rural homes in that part of the world are heated with propane and the grain elevator and on farm drying require it to bring corn moisture down for storage. There is no sense that homes will go cold this year, at least not due to supply issues; the grain drying season is a short period of intense usage that will draw to an end within the next week. Pray to whatever higher power you recognize that the unheard of figure of 18% of the crop still in the field is brought in before the snow flies.

   The Dakotas were very wet this year and the corn is coming in at 22% moisture. A more usual number would be 18% and for long term storage it must be dried to 14% to avoid spoilage. That doubling in the moisture reduction needed, an 8% drop instead of 4%, pretty much doubles the amount of propane used. Right now the harvest is at a dead stop. What can be dried has been and what is left can't even be combined without the fuel to make it ready for storage; it would all just spoil in the bin if put up wet.

  I wondered if this was a spot problem in that particular part of South Dakota, but Bryan said it was widespread `“ he'd talked to farmers as far away as St. Louis and they were reporting similar issues.  I made a few calls to try to figure out how broad the problem was. I ended up talking to Rollin Tiefenthaler at fuel dealer Al's Corner in Carroll, Iowa about the issue.

  The Iowa crop comes matures earlier and is brought in earlier, so that is done, but he confirms that propane is being trucked long distances because local terminals have outages. They did have one farmer's cooperative run out of propane and they scrambled to get them enough, but in general it wasn't a problem. These are plains cooperatives, operations with thirty employees, dozens of vehicles, and tens of millions of dollars in inventory and commodities under management, so one running out of fuel is a problem that would affect a whole county.

Diesel has been a bigger concern for them `“ instead of the thirty mile drive to the Magellan pipeline terminal in Milford they're running as far as Des Moines or Omaha, each about two hours away, and the added time and cost for running more trucks is eating them alive.

   The die has already been cast in the Dakotas, they'll either get the crop in or they won't. If they don't and it winters in the field they not only lose 40% of the yield on that ground they lose 20% of next year's yield in soy beans. The corn makes an excellent snow fence, trapping drifts six feet high, and they're slow to clear in the spring. The farmers have to wait until it's dry enough to plant before they can finish bringing in the corn crop, then they plant their soy, and that delay cuts into the growing degree days available for the soy beans and thusly we see the yield drop.

  A few of you might not be from farm state and thusly won't know the normal work flow. The corn crop is still partially in the field, but the soy beans are already done. Soy matures and dries earlier, so it gets tended first. There would never been an instance of soy being left to overwinter just based on crop timing and I don't think the small, thin stocks with relatively fragile pods would prove to be terribly durable under snow banks.

  I wrote earlier about the famine potential we face due to the underfertilization of the wheat crop. Wheat that gets enough ammonia is 14% protein, if it is unfertilized closer to 8%, and that 43% reduction in total plant protein is going to cause unimaginable suffering in places like Egypt, where half of the population gets subsidized bread. Global end of season per capita wheat stocks have been about seventy pounds my entire life, except the last three years where they've dropped to only forty pounds. One mistake in this area and one of the four horsemen gets loose, certainly dragging his brothers along behind. That mistake may already have been made in the lack of wheat fertilization this fall.

   The fall nitrogen fertilizer application has been 10% of the norm. A typical year would see 50% put on in the fall and 50% in the spring. During fertilizer application season the 3,100 mile national ammonia pipeline network runs flat out and the far points on the network experience low flow both fall and spring. If they try to jam 90% of the fertilization into a period of time when the system can only flow a little more than half of the need much of our cropland will go without in the spring of 2009.

   Finances as much as weather are the issue with regards to fertilization this fall. Crop prices have fallen to half of what they were, ammonia prices have dropped but ammonia suppliers here, receiving 75% of their supply from overseas, still have product in their storage tanks purchase at the historical highs last spring and summer.

   When farmers plant they record the acreage and they purchase crop insurance - $20 to $40 an acre depending on the crop. If they have a failure they file a claim, an adjustor contacts them, and they get a check to cover the deficit. Some of this runs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and some of it is through private insurers.

  My conversations with farmers earlier this week lead me to believe that the largest private insurer, Des Moines Iowa's Rain and Hail Agricultural Insurance may be insolvent. Flooding claims from this spring were filed and payments would have typically been received by the end of June or beginning of July. It's now the end of November and payments are not being dispersed. Individual farmers are told there was something wrong with their paperwork, but this is nonsense `“ some of these guys have been farming thirty years and they all didn't forget how to fill out a simple form all at the same time. Iowa did have its second five hundred year flood in a decade and a half this spring which certainly has something to do with the situation, but I suspect Wall Street's sticky fingers got hold of Rain & Hail's assets, just as they've done to every pension fund and state run municipal investment pool.

 So, we're already facing what Bryan Lutter calls "the mother of all fertilizer shortages" next spring and on top of that local banks won't lend to farmers.

  The local bank was quite willing to lend to a farmer on a crop despite the weather related risks just like they'd lend on a car despite the driving risks. So long as the asset was insured the risk was deemed manageable. There were sure to be losses here and there, but they'd be administrative hassles associated with well known risks. If the auto insurance companies were viewed as untrustworthy no one would be getting a car without 100% down at the dealership and the same rule is now in effect for farmers.

  Farmers without financing can't afford nitrogen fertilizer at $1,000 a ton, which translates to $100 an acre at current application rates. They won't be paying $300 for a bag of 80,000 hybrid corn kernels, again a $100 per acre expense. The average farm size in Iowa is four hundred acres and planting to harvesting would run about $120,000.

  This looks incredibly bad. Bryan and I are both puzzled as to why the mainstream media isn't covering this. Perhaps the need to sell Christmas season advertising trumps the need for the public to know about the troubles that are brewing.

   This is already 1,600 words and I haven't even touched Verasun. Executive summary? The nation's second largest ethanol maker took corn from farmers, went bankrupt without paying many of them, and a whole lot of family farms are going to be foreclosed upon in short order if something isn't done.

Take Action

    The instant the Obama administration and the 111th Congress take their seats, before anything is done about Detroit, before anything is done about pension funds caught up in Wall Street's massive fraud, yes, even before they touch universal health care SOMETHING has to be done to protect our agriculture system from the volatility flowing from Wall Street's death contortions. This won't be a giveaway `“ it'll be a genuine investment with known risks and known returns for products that will experience ongoing demand. We, as a nation must provide our farmers with a fair, stable financing and insurance system or we're all going to pay a terrible price.

   If you're not in an agricultural state and you see something come up about a plan to address these issues please take the time to call or write your delegation members and let them know that you realize how important this is, even though it doesn't directly affect your state.

My Personal Action

   Perhaps this is the first time you've ever noticed my work. I'm the executive director for the Stranded Wind Initiative, an organization founded to develop local uses for renewable energy in places that don't have transmission lines available. A few months back a small group of the volunteers from SWI formed Third Mode Energy, a commercial venture aimed at building renewable ammonia fertilizer plants. We're working on projects in New York, Iowa, South Dakota, Indiana, and I think one is going to start in Ohio. We're looking for about fifteen more sites nationally and we need local leaders to take these projects in hand. We're going to be producing a package of information on this for legislators and media figures active in environmental and economic issues which will be ready in the first few days of January, with the intent of getting some of that stimulus money directed at local, renewable ammonia production.

  If your town is down and hurting we might just have a partial solution to the need for jobs and energy. We've got a group for more detailed discussion on Kossacks Networking.

  If you look here you will see an article from last spring - our first attempt at plant development for renewable ammonia. That one didn't go but we learned a lot and the story should give you a sense of the renewable fertilizer, greenhouse produce, and other good things that come from such development.

 If you look here you will see an article I did on wheat fertilization on The Cutting Edge News.

(UPDATE:)

   I've received the usual class of complaints about my dairy: You're trying to start a panic! You're totally not right about the facts! Etc, etc, etc. My only answer to this would be to point out the diary I did regarding Iceland's crash ... which called that one five months ahead of the real thing. Or all of the other stuff I've picked up from The Oil Drum or The Automatic Earth and written about well in advance of the Meat Stick Media(tm) picking up the story. I have a nice quick reference page with my first 192 diaries on it so you can flip through the titles on one screen if you'd care to go looking ...

   I've received the usual suggestions about how our large scale grain production should be done organically. I have no ideological opposition to this and in fact I'm generally vegetarian and eat organic as much as I can lay my hands on it. The problem is that none of the proponents can describe to me what it would look like to cultivate an entire square mile in that fashion, let alone defining a plan that would allow a neat conversion of all of the forty to fifty thousand square miles of the state of Iowa to such methods. It's an admirable concept, but it doesn't seem executable. I do not at all accept that it's "big agriculture" keeping the farmers down. If there was a way to get similar yields without paying $100/acre for fertilizer and another $100/acre for seed the typical Iowa farmer with his 400 acres would be busy stuff an extra $80,000 a year into the bank. This is not the case today.

  Kossack cordgrass is going to be disappeared to Guantanamo or worse for speaking the truth. Let's wish he or she a fond farewell:

      Real news, useful news that could predict the future is no longer in the MSM, precisely because
      hedge fund managers and people like that make money on the future.  Knowing what is going to
      happen in the future is money in the bank.  The more people who know the future, the less
      money the investor will make.


  Here is an article from The Grand Forks Herald about the propane shortage.

And here is a direct quote regarding the wheat fertilization. The set of numbers indicate a fertilizer with 18% nitrogen, 46% phosphorus, and in this case no potassium. The source was Bryan Lutter, my agronomist friend in South Dakota. I redacted the farmer's name because I don't have permission to publish it.

      Neal,

      It's very frustrating there is not enough news on the lack of news surrounding the under-fertilization of
      USA wheat. Example, NAME REDACTED is a large farmer in New Underwood, SD. He normally uses 5 semi
      loads of MAP (18-46-0) in the fall for his wheat. He used just 1 this year. The wheat is in the ground,
      and the die cast.

      He explained his reasoning for reduced use very well. The extra yield boost costs too much. It's actually
      cheaper to simply buy the extra bushels which the fertilizer would provide.

      Bryan
« Last Edit: December 02, 2008, 07:51:52 PM by sushigirl »
"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is "not done".
...Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with.

Offline Sue

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Re: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2008, 03:28:30 PM »

(UPDATED UPDATE:)

   Giving credit where credit is due, none of the work we've done this year to set our fertilizer industry on a renewable footing would have happened without the assistance of Jerome a Paris, who provided advice on the path we're taking.

    The guy behind our plant designs, Kossack nb41 is a member of Energize America 2020 and Kossack A. Siegel introduced us.

     I'd have died last spring without the timely assistance of Alan from Big Easy over at The Oil Drum. Seriously, dead and buried.

      Dr. John Holbrook and Dr. Norm Olson invited us to appear at the fifth annual ammonia fuel network conference and they've otherwise been a tremendous resource for us as we've tried to set our nitrogen fertilizer business on a renewable footing. I should also point at that ammonia powered truck that was driven from Detroit to San Francisco last year - the first bank deposit I ever made for work in this area came from NH3car.com.

"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is "not done".
...Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with.

Offline laconas

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Re: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2008, 09:07:56 PM »
Quote
A few of the radical, socialist and nationalist regimes eventually expropriated, either partially or entirely, foreign landowners, as was the case in China, Cuba, Indochina, Zimbabwe, Guyana, Angola, India and others.

A few years ago Russia led by Putin passed a law that said all Russia resources have to be 51% owned by a Russian national(s).

Russia must be radical, socialist or nationalist?
Nobody censors what they agree with

Offline Sue

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Re: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2008, 09:38:04 PM »
A few years ago Russia led by Putin passed a law that said all Russia resources have to be 51% owned by a Russian national(s).

Russia must be radical, socialist or nationalist?

For the moment, Putin has lost his sense of humor because of economic crisis.

Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister and the leader of United Russia Party, clarified his views on the socio-economic situation in the country during his televised communication with the people of Russia. Many of his answers did not seem to be inspiring to common people and representatives of the business community. A man made a call from the city of Penza and asked Putin point blank: `Is it true that you wanted to hang Saakashvili by something?` `Why by something?` Putin responded ...
"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is "not done".
...Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with.

Offline laconas

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Re: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2008, 09:51:40 PM »
I've considered the possibility that the created economic crisis was a samson option to slow-down Russia cause there were no options left. The alternative would have been to allow Russia to flourish thereby becoming an ecomomic superpower along with already being a military superpower.

The Georgia fiasco to get Russia to occupy Georgia failed miserably and also showed Europe is not as yet united to be led into a major conflict against Russia.
Nobody censors what they agree with

Offline Sue

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Re: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2008, 10:06:50 PM »
I've considered the possibility that the created economic crisis was a samson option to slow-down Russia cause there were no options left. The alternative would have been to allow Russia to flourish thereby becoming an ecomomic superpower along with already being a military superpower.

The Georgia fiasco to get Russia to occupy Georgia failed miserably and also showed Europe is not as yet united to be led into a major conflict against Russia.

Same here, as I said somewhere, this is quite likely an attempt to weaken Russia. Energy is their major income.
"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is "not done".
...Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with.

Offline FrontierJustice

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Re: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2008, 04:46:55 PM »

The title of this thread should be the title & subject of an entire book!


That James Petras is on fire! A serious leftie badass, if you can even call him leftie anymore. http://petras.lahaine.org/
His writing hits so on the mark so very often.

Or what about this - A Historic Moment: The Election of the Greatest Con-Man in Recent History - the title of his latest article on Obama, and what a title it is.
Damn good article too.



Offline Sue

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Re: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2008, 09:39:59 AM »
Quote
I've considered the possibility that the created economic crisis was a samson option to slow-down Russia cause there were no options left. The alternative would have been to allow Russia to flourish thereby becoming an ecomomic superpower along with already being a military superpower.

Yes, that was my feeling the moment I first read about the conflict.

Quote
The Georgia fiasco to get Russia to occupy Georgia failed miserably and also showed Europe is not as yet united to be led into a major conflict against Russia.

I am not surprised that Europe is not united, at least not for now - look who is running it - but things may change, as things get worse. 

"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is "not done".
...Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with.

Offline Sue

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Re: The Great Land Giveaway: Neo-Colonialism by Invitation
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2008, 10:09:12 AM »
The title of this thread should be the title & subject of an entire book!


That James Petras is on fire! A serious leftie badass, if you can even call him leftie anymore. http://petras.lahaine.org/
His writing hits so on the mark so very often.

Or what about this - A Historic Moment: The Election of the Greatest Con-Man in Recent History - the title of his latest article on Obama, and what a title it is.
Damn good article too.




Thank you, I so agree. I have looked at the article as well - then I got side-tracked...
I am glad you reminded me.
"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is "not done".
...Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with.