Willie Nelson Voices Concerns About Corporate Giants in the Food System
The Occupy Wall Street Movement has opened doors for people in all arenas to vent their frustrations about what they see as financial greed and the inequitable distribution of power. When it comes to the food sector, country star and Farm Aid president Willie Nelson has some apprehensions of his own about the dwindling opportunities for the family farmer, and he went public with these concerns today in a Huffington Post article titled 'Occupy the Food System.'
"Thanks to the Occupy Wall Street movement, there's a deeper understanding about the power that corporations wield over the great majority of us," Nelson writes, later adding, "The disparity between the top 1 percent and everyone else has been laid bare -- there's no more denying that those at the top get their share at the expense of the 99 percent ... how can ordinary folks expect a fair shake?" Pointing to the struggling family farmer, Nelson reminds the reader that corporations have dominated the food system, making it difficult for everyone else to live off the land, especially since farmers can now only obtain their seeds and inputs from a handful of companies.
Nelson draws parallels to the economic realm, pointing out that any sector with the top four firms controlling more than 40 percent of the market is considered "highly concentrated," while, in his words, "Ninety-three percent of soybeans and 80 percent of corn grown in the United States are under the control of just one company."
Delving deeper into this idea, he describes several steps that have been taken on a governmental level to push for change -- the USDA's proposed GIPSA rule and new school lunch rules -- that were thwarted by multi-million dollar lobbying strategies from the already dominating corporations. Even with all they're facing, however, the family farmers are heroes in Nelson's eyes, and he admonishes them for their continued perseverance, reiterating that there is no more important issue that the food we eat.
"Corporate control of our food system has led to the loss of millions of family farmers, destruction of our soil, pollution of our water and health epidemics of obesity and diabetes," he concludes. "We simply can't afford it. Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations."
Nelson is the founder and president of Farm Aid and was inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame this year for his work with and through the organization.