Skip to main content

As in India, US farmers caught in crushing agribusiness debt trap turn to suicide in spiking numbers

With Bayer-Monsanto now the largest seed and agrochemical company in the world, its near monopoly on prices and its disregard for farmers and environmental health mean that the despair that has consumed India’s farmers will soon be planted in the United States.

by Whitney Webb

Over a decade ago, a disturbing trend among farmers in India captured headlines, as suicides among Indian farmers began to spiral out of control. Many of those farmers were indebted to giant agribusiness corporations like Monsanto, which – after gaining access to India’s seed sector in 1998 – enticed poor farmers to buy new “bioengineered” seeds every planting season along with the associated agro-chemicals required to grow them, promising bigger yields that would offset the costs.

When such benefits failed to materialize, many farmers – confronted with an ever-growing debt snowball – were faced with losing their land, leading many to take their lives by drinking the very same agro-chemicals that had helped trap them in debt. Though it has faded from the headlines, the crisis has continued unabated, with over 12,000 farmers in India still committing suicide every year.

While the crisis in India may seem a distant problem to many Americans, new reports have indicated that the U.S. is developing a farmer-suicide epidemic of its own.

A new report in CBS News notes that farmers in America now die at a rate higher than that of any other occupation and five times higher than that of the general population, even as the national suicide rate as a whole has jumped over the last few decades. As CBS notes, the increase in suicides mirrors a similar phenomenon in the 1980s, when U.S. farmers faced economic hardship related to debt, and suicides spiked.

Jennifer Fahy, communications director with Farm Aid, told CBS at the time that “the farm crisis was so bad, there was a terrible outbreak of suicide and depression.” Fahy now warns that the current situation is “actually worse.

The newly reported increase in U.S. farmer suicides — much like the crisis for India’s farmers – is related to debt, specifically to global seed and agribusiness corporations that continue to raise prices as farmers’ incomes fall. Farm income has been dropping steadily since 2013, with the average this year set to be 35 percent less than it was five years ago. Meanwhile, farmers have seen a 300 percent price increase in recent years on products like seeds, fertilizer and agro-chemicals produced by giant agribusiness corporations like Monsanto, Cargill, Syngenta and others.

Many farmers in the U.S. are dependent on “bioengineered” seeds and their requisite chemicals, molded by decades of U.S. policy that pushed for farm consolidation and favored the adoption of these products. As a result, most American farmers have become dependent on these commodities and, because they must be purchased again every planting season, have been taking out loans just to be able to plant.

As Todd Eney, a fourth-generation farmer in central Montana, told Business Insider last month: “Our farm has been out here since 1935, and I’m 40 years old and I’ve watched a lot of small family farms in our area go under. They can’t compete because they can’t pay the price of input because of what these companies are wanting to charge for input now.

The growing debt burden has been known for some time, with reports warning five years ago that U.S. farmers would be the next group to “be slammed by debt.” Yet now — in addition to the massive debt accumulated by many farmers — President Trump’s trade and tariff war, as well as the Federal Reserve’s raising of interest rates, have compounded to put even more financial pressure on the nation’s farmers.

Bayer-Monsanto merger leaves American farmers fearing worst is yet to come

Unfortunately, the situation for American farmers is soon likely to get much worse, thanks to the merger of agribusiness giants Monsanto and Bayer, which concluded earlier this month. The resulting mega-company now controls around a third of the U.S. seed and pesticide market and has inspired the other largest agribusinesses in the world to plan mergers, including Dow Chemical and DuPont. After the merger was announced, many farmers voiced their concerns that it would allow Bayer-Monsanto to consolidate even more of the seed market and use its privileged position to further increase prices.

Beyond an imminent jump in prices for farmers, the merger affects farmers in yet another way, as their products, time and again, have been shown to cause mass die-offs of farmers’ most important pollinator: bees. Many Bayer and Monsanto products have been found to harm bee populations, even in studies they themselves funded. As a result, over 340 native bee populations are facing extinction and over half of all bees in the U.S. are actively declining. With the bee population facing unprecedented die-offs, any worsening of their precarious situation will have a major impact on U.S. farms and, by extension, farmers.

With Bayer-Monsanto now the largest seed and agrochemical company in the world, its near monopoly on prices and its disregard for farmers and environmental health mean that the despair that has consumed India’s farmers will soon be planted in the United States.

Source, links:


Related:


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Κυβέρνηση Σαμαρά: Πιο νεοφιλελεύθερη και από την Τρόικα!

Ο πρόεδρος της επιτροπής για θέματα ανταγωνισμού του Επαγγελματικού Επιμελητηρίου Αθηνών, Γιώργος Φλωράς, αποκάλυψε στην εκπομπή του δημοσιογράφου, Νίκου Χατζηνικολάου, ότι η έκθεση του ΟΟΣΑ, με βάση την οποία συντάχθηκε το τελευταίο πολυνομοσχέδιο, είναι ουσιαστικά δημιούργημα του ΙΟΒΕ!
Ανέφερε χαρακτηριστικά ότι:
Οι προτάσεις αυτές δεν είναι του ΟΟΣΑ, αλλά του ΙΟΒΕ και της Επιτροπής Ανταγωνισμού, δηλαδή κυρίως των Χατζηδάκη και Στουρνάρα και ότι η κυβέρνηση στην ουσία χρησιμοποιεί την Τρόικα για να περνάει τις θέσεις των πολυεθνικών, μεγάλων αλυσίδων σούπερ μάρκετ, κ.λ.π.
Ο κ. Χατζηδάκης, τονίζει συνεχώς σε ότι έλεγε ότι 'εμείς χρησιμοποιήσαμε τον ΟΟΣΑ γιατί είναι αντικειμενικός, έχει την αξιοπιστία, έχει τη διεθνή εμπειρία κ.τ.λ.' και γι'αυτό βγήκε και ένα κονδύλι 936.000 ευρώ για να γίνει αυτή η έκθεση. Η έκθεση ξεκινάει αναφέροντας στη σελ. 2 ότι οι θέσεις μέσα σ'αυτή δεν εκφράζουν απαραίτητα τον οργανισμό.
Η έκθεση αυτή δεν είναι του ΟΟΣΑ, είναι μια οργανωμένη απάτ…

Panicked neoliberal tools attempt to trigger a war of generations against AOC's progressive counterattack

globinfo freexchange
We were slightly surprised to see such an article title in one of the primary info tools of the global neoliberal regime and financial capital. But the subtitle immediately clarified everything.
When we read the title “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Revenge of the Millennials” of the article in Bloomberg, we thought that we might be in front of a small miracle. We thought that the time has come for some people inside the core of the establishment apparatus to admit that the younger generations have lost dramatically from this brutal system. And so, the time has come to overthrow it, take their 'revenge'.
But no, it was too good to be true.
The subtitle immediately revealed the trick: “The Democrats’ major economic initiatives tend to favor the young at the expense of the old.”
Then, inside the article we read: “Almost every major new economic initiative proposed by Democrats — the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, debt-free college — has a common feature: Un…

It seems that Bernie Sanders got it all wrong again, this time regarding the situation in Venezuela - very disappointing

globinfo freexchange
In an unfortunate series of tweets regarding the situation in Venezuela, Bernie Sanders exposed his weak spot again on foreign policy matters.
Sanders tweeted:
The Maduro government has waged a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election many observers said was fraudulent. The economy is a disaster and millions are migrating. 1/3 — Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 24, 2019
The United States should support the rule of law, fair elections and self-determination for the Venezuelan people. We must condemn the use of violence against unarmed protesters and the suppression of dissent. 2/3 — Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 24, 2019
But we must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups—as we have in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil & the DR. The US has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin Amer…

Canada has been trying to destabilize Venezuela at least since 2004

globinfo freexchange
Paul Jay, editor in chief at The Real News, gave some very interesting information - some based on personal experience - about Canada's total alignment with the US on its imperialist missions against Venezuela and other countries:
Mexico was part of the Lima Group, but now with the new leadership - with AMLO now taking office in Mexico - Mexico is not going along with this plan to recognize Juan Guaido. And Mexico is not the only country of the region. Many, many countries of CARICOM have come forward and have said they do not support this plan. So, the corporate media is trying to make this sound like the whole region is on board with this scheme.
For months, Canada has been playing a leading role in preparing for - according to the Canadian newspapers - for exactly what happened, the recognition of Juan Guaido.
And Canada has been into this scheme for months. And the rationale is supposedly that the election of 2017 was not a legitimate election because people w…

Former Pentagon official confirms: Trump prepares for war with Iran

globinfo freexchange
Right after Trump's sudden announcement that he will withdraw the US forces from Syria, we had some mixed reactions. Some liberals reacted angrily, but most of the reactions from the liberal machine were rather moderate, or at least not as intensive as someone would normally expect.
On the other hand, Trump's supporters and all those who had enough of the pro-war neoliberal establishment, felt a kind of vindication, as it appeared that Trump would eventually keep its promise for an 'anti-interventionist' policy.
But the blog wrote immediately a 'not so fast' article to explain that most of the Americans and all those who are tired of the US endless wars, should not rush to celebrate. We estimated that Trump's move is probably a sign that he is going to re-organize troops and go after the big target called Iran.
Indeed, shortly after the move, Trump, suddenly again, announced that he will also pullout troops from Afghanistan.
And then, about…

Jeremy Corbyn + Brexit = UK's liberation from the EU neoliberal barbarism

With Tories in power Brexit would be meaningless
globinfo freexchange
As has been mentioned in previous article, Brexit could play a much more critical role in the future course of Europe, apart from being treated just as a result of national pride - wounded Britons alarmed by the sirens of patriotism.
While the Brussels-Berlin axis will seek to implement all the conditions of the Greek experiment inside the EU, the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn could become an example against this dark future. While the Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras, suffered a heavy defeat as went unprepared in the battle with the ruthless neoliberal priesthood, Corbyn should go to the battle with the neoliberal regime after a good preparation and a well-constructed plan.
Costas Lapavitsas explains why only outside the EU, the UK will have a chance to turn left - with a Labour government under the Corbyn leadership - in order to implement progressive policies for the benefit of the vast majority:
The European Union has bec…

Pompeo's special tweet potentially indirect threat against those who won't follow the orders on Venezuela

globinfo freexchange
After John Bolton indirectly threatened Venezuela with that 'accidental' revelation of about 5,000 US troops to be sent to Colombia, it was Mike Pompeo's turn.
In a peculiar tweet, the other major Trump warhawk essentially sent a clear message to those countries (mostly under the US influence) that refused to recognize Washington's puppet, Juan Guaidó, as the legitimate president of Venezuela.
Pompeo named one by one the countries that obeyed to Washington's orders: “We applaud Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden & UK for supporting Venezuelan people by recognizing @jguaido today as Interim President.
And then he placed a map, colouring the obeyed countries and the US with the same intense color.
We applaud Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Latvi…

When Venezuela's state-owned Citgo was aiding poor Americans with a 'fuel for heating systems' program

globinfo freexchange
A report from 2011 proves that the Venezuelan government designed a special program to aid the poorest US citizens overcome funding difficulties to heat their homes, through Citgo Petroleum Corporation, subsidiary of the state-run company PDVSA.
Citgo's heating fuel program began in 2005 after the passing of the hurricanes Rita and Katrina, but it didn't stop there. It continued uninterrupted for several years under Hugo Chávez' administration:
For seventh year in a row, the CITGO Petroleum Corporation (or CITGO), subsidiary of the state-run company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), will aid poor communities of the United States (US) with a program of fuel for heating systems.
CITGO president Alejandro Granado, through a press released in the website of Venezuela's embassy to the United States, said the increasing costs of energy continue affecting the quality of life of millions of US citizens and community organizations in that …

#HandsOffVenezuela: Brave Italians show us the path of resistance against the European branch of the neoliberal beast

globinfo freexchange
According to RT, Italy vetoed EU recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido. As RT reported:
Rome has effectively derailed an EU statement meant to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader if President Nicolas Maduro fails to set up snap elections, a Five Star Movement source confirmed to RT.
Italy announced the veto at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers that started on January 31 in Romania, the source said. The statement, which was supposed to be delivered by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini recognized Guaido as interim president if snap elections were not held.
The European Parliament is the first European body to recognize Guaido “as the only legitimate interim president of the country until new free, transparent and credible presidential elections can be called in order to restore democracy.
The parliament urged the EU to follow suit but the effort stalled due to internal discord.…

Government shutdown, Venezuela: Donald Trump evolves into the best propagator of neoliberal fascism that tends to become a norm

by system failure
Even before the 2016 US presidential election, this blog supported that Donald Trump is a pure sample of neoliberal barbarism. Many almost laughed at this perception because Trump was being already promoted, more or less, as the 'terminator' of the neoliberal establishment. And many people, especially in the US, tired from the economic disasters, the growing inequality and the endless wars, were anxious to believe that this was indeed his special mission.
Right after the elections, we supported that the US establishment gave a brilliant performance by putting its reserve, Donald Trump, in power, against the only candidate that the same establishment identified as a real threat: Bernie Sanders.
Then, Trump sent the first shock wave to his supporters by literally hiring the Goldman Sachs banksters to run the economy. And right after that, he signed for more deregulation in favor of the Wall Street mafia that ruined the economy in 2008.
In 2017, Trump bombed Syria f…