Iowa Public Television


Celebrating 40 Years of Market to Market

posted on August 22, 2014

Last week we looked back at the Farm Crisis during the early years of the program. And this week, the Market to Market producers scoured the archives again to examine another critical period in rural America: the 1990s.

1990 - (text) Rural America struggles to recover from the Farm Crisis of the 80s. But there is growing concern over concentration in the agricultural sector. A move to large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs results in fewer operators and increased environmental problems.

1992 - (text) North Carolina's hog population swells to 4 million, up 200% from 1984. Increasingly, the operations are controlled by corporate investors

 Chuck Hassebrook, Center for Rural Affairs 1977-2013: "“You bring in more corporate capitol it's going to mean a very changed nature of rural communities. It's going to start meaning the primary returns to agriculture which have traditionally been land ownership start flowing away from the people that work on the farm."

1994 - (text) U. S. farmers harvest record crops of corn, rice and soybeans. The number of farms declines to 1.9 million, the lowest number since 1850

Mark Pearson, Host 1990 - 2012: "Not only a bin busting year may be an understatement this year. Government numbers are showing that this season's harvest to be one of the best of all time."

1995 - (text) Forecasts that world stocks of wheat would fall to their lowest levels in 20 years push prices over $5 mark. 

(text)  A lagoon break at Oceanview Farms in North Carolina sends more than 25 million gallons of hog waste into tributaries of the New River.

(text) This and other spills kill thousands of fish and temporarily close waterways to recreational activities.

Tom Mattison, New River Foundation " If they quit wasting their money trying to convince you and me that hog poopy don't stink and would use their money for new technology it would go a whole lot farther than the campaign than the campaign their runnin' now."

Don Webb, North Carolina Rural Activist " We are the feces and urine state. Home of the cell from hell pfisteria. And we have the feces and urine governor, Governor Jim Hunt."

Gov. Jim Hunt, D-North Carolina 1977-1985, 1993-2001" We can have hog farming, chicken farming and also a good environment." 

1996 - Pat Roberts, Chair, House Ag. Comm. 1995-97 "And I deign anybody to declare any farm program being considered as welfare.  My God, 90 percent of the people in this town think it's welfare now. We are perjuring farm programs when we do that."

(text) The Freedom to Farm Act is enacted, phasing out government subsidy programs and controls on what crops farmers plant.

During the fourth quarter, America's dairy farmers lose nearly 30 percent of their income, or $360 million per month nationally.

Patricia Swetter, Pennsylvania Dairy Farmer "We have to think 'What are you going to do with us?' In one month, the government cut the price $4.  Why can't in 2 weeks or a month put the price back up $4, like that?"

Dan Glickman:  Our basic formulated price is by statute to reflect the market. I did not snap my fingers and say ' I don't like a $16 price, I want it $12 tomorrow' and push it down.  I didn't do that. What, do you think I'm crazy? Would I want to do that to you? Of course not.

1997 -  (text) Problems in North Carolina continue as a plan to double the number of hogs in one county to 35,000 head results in a grassroots backlash.

George Buck, Vanceboro, North Carolina "We are going to defeat these people one way or the other.  We're 'gonna make 'em sorry for the day they ever wheeled and dealed to come down here."

Protestor "I want my checkoff money dollars back!"

1998 - (text) Amidst bulging supplies, pork prices fall to a record low of seven cents per pound.

The break-even point for most hog producers is around 30 cents per pound.

Paul Willis, Iowa Pork Producer "I guess I can't understand why these confinement buildings are still going up at an unprecedented rate. And basically, we are producing too much pork."

1999 - (text) The year will be remembered for a series of large scale mergers and acquisitions.

Consolidation and concentration provoke Congressional contempt as fewer hands control more of U.S. agricultural industry.

Paul Wellstone, D-Minnesota 1991-2002 "I think we really aughta have a moratorium on these acquisitions and mergers because it's taking place at such a breath-taking pace and I think that what's happening is that we're moving to monopoly and our family farmers can't get a break. We need to do something."

2000 (text) Consolidation in the livestock industry is the most visible example of concentration in agribusiness. Four companies control 70 percent of the cattle slaughter in the U.S. Four packers handle 60 percent of the hog kill. Five food retailers control 42 percent of national sales and is expected to hit 60 percent within the next three years.



Tags: 40th Season dairy hog confinement hogs Market to Market North Carolina pork checkoff The Freedom to Farm Act USDA