SPECULATORS AND OUR FOOD: EIEIO!

Thursday, June 26, 2008   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Oh, this is just dandy! Hedge fund schemers and Wall Street manipulators – the very characters who brought us the Great American Housing Collapse – have a new target for their fast-buck profiteering: farming. EIEIO!

Speculators have long messed with farmers by artificially manipulating prices on everything from corn to soybeans. But now they’re pooling up billions of dollars from global investors to go after the farms themselves, as well as fertilizer plants, grain elevators, ships and barges, and other basic tools for producing, shipping, and storing our food supply. As one hedge-fund operator says; “It’s going on big time. There is considerable interest in what we call ‘owning structure.’”

By "owning structure," they mean centralizing control of food in the hands of financial manipulators who have only one crop in mind: fat profits. These multibillion-dollar funds are buying thousands of farms in the U.S., Brazil, Africa, Britain and elsewhere, turning farmers into corporate laborers and viewing farmland and water as disposable inputs for the huge short-term profits investors demand. Rural communities? Move to the city. Quality of food? Advertising will cover that.

Price? Aha! That’s what consolidation of farms and storage facilities is all about. If you can lock down production and stockpile the supply – you can control price. If corn prices are lower than what investors want them to be, simply store the corn and force prices up. Or, if corn prices are down in the U.S., ship it to Japan or wherever else might be more profitable. And if these distortments cause a food crash? Hey, the speculators will already have sucked out billions in profits, and they will just move to the next hot investment.

Hedge funds bring nothing but greed and grief to the farm economy and our food supply, and they should be banned from “owning structure.”

“Food Is Gold, and Investors Pour Billions Into Farming,” The New York Times, June 5, 2008.

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