Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Spreading It On Thick for Agribusiness

I look forward to a day when Morning Edition has a ten minute "labor" section in addition to its jolly "business" section with its feel-good, toe-tapping music intro. Today NPR earned those corporate dollars it gets from the sleazy agribusiness giants ADM and Cargill. Adam Davidson offers a "gee whiz" infomercial for agribusiness "reporting" from the Big Iron farm show in Fargo, N.D. Here are a few of his breathless comments:
  • "...the new version doesn’t just steer it takes control of the whole tractor...."
  • "...we're just a few years away from the next big breakthough: fully automatic tractors that plant and fertilize and pick crops without a farmer anywhere in sight!"
  • "and that’s not all: there are new machines like smarter seed planters and bigger combines; there's the latest yield management software and new paint polymers to spray on storage containers; there are even animal breeders touting cows bred for better tasting meat or horses bred to be calmer."
  • "...overall technology has really paid off -- at least for the farmers who are still in business."
  • "Once your neighbors start using something new and become more productive, more efficient, you have to get it too, or else you won’t be competitive, and you’ll probably loose your farm."
There's no polite way to put it: this is crap. No mention of the predjudices against sustainable agriculture and manual labor inherent in this world view (see Wendell Berry's lovely piece). Nothing about the role of US Farm Policy in building up agri-monopolies and destroying sustainable family farms.

That NPR can pass off such sloppy pro-corporatist work and still be considered liberal/left by so many people is really quite an accomplishment.

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