Green groves feed the townspeople crafting their wares for the benefit of an enlightened populace, the amber fields of grain are milled for bread for the troops to keep our sovereign democracy intact. The greatest of civilizations are measured by the strength of their army, the complexity of the structures that they construct, yet history tends to gloss over the fuel that stokes the fires of the greatest civilizations, the tended lands that feed them.
Our sovereign democracy is under attack. The walls of Jericho need not be breached if the grain stores behind the walls are not properly stocked, or if foreign powers control the fields from which the grain is grown.
China is a cautionary tale of what competitive super powers do in order to compete when military competition is unsavory. China has used communistic socialism to pad industries and made it hard for free market capitalistic economics to function properly. This linear leverage has been applied most forcefully against U.S. industries to underwrite the growth of the Southeast Asian powerhouse. China supplies base materials to Mexican drug cartels to make fentanyl and methamphetamine to sell to the United States. It is a billion dollar industry that should be seen more of cold war entanglements and less of an epidemic of Midwestern poverty. The Chinese socialized their manufacturing industry to take market share, leaving the Midwest in a barren, desperate state. They haven’t stopped there. This communistic wealth has also bled over into the food supply, with Chinese buyouts of the largest US pork processor, Smithfield. China also has a vested interest in Tyson Foods; if you want to do business in China, the CCP will always have a seat at the table. By using our legal system to shield corporations from liability and hide money, ownership, etc. China has been investing heavily into United States farmland. Gray Media Investigative Team used the USDA AFIDA data to map the gains in foreign land investment over the past decade starting in 2009.
Between 2009 and 2019, the AFIDA data shows 48 states had increased foreign-ownership. In total, InvestigateTV’s (Gray Media) analysis found an increase of more than 13 million acres of foreign-owned land in the United States over those ten years.
Unfortunately, getting an accurate measure is difficult. Through shell corps and LLCs, the controlling interest in our vast farmland network is veiled. The USDA does track the staggering 2.2 million acres purchased each year by foreign entities between 2015 and 2020, yet the above Gray Investigative team analysis concluded that there are major holes and that foreign ownership of land most likely is much higher than the USDA reports. Once land is locked and grazed for an agriculture exemption, the land becomes unproductive both from a production standpoint, but also an economic and tax base perspective.
Land use is dictated by the owner, unless restrictions are applied, which can be challenged legally and are expensive to fight. The intended restrictions usually further lock land to become x or y, but never a to z. The Chinese, or any foreign sovereign owning millions of acres of our land is dangerous. Co-opting out where our food is grown, and also allowing foreign entities to buy the how we process the food is equally dangerous.
A concerted effort could choke off millions of productive acres and also threaten supply. It would take years to correct as the American food supply gets squeezed from international foes that might see a toppling of the US a proper reformation of global economics.
Mexico supplies a vast majority of produce to US grocers. Costa Rica, Honduras, Argentina, and Chile are also vital to restaurant supply chains, that are trucked from South and Central America, or loaded onto ships, leaving the chance for interference from governmental and non-governmental entities alike at a very high probability. The 3 million farms in Mexico are under constant strain to keep up with their growing population amidst cartel violence that is fueled by American dollars and Chinese chemistry. The Mexican state of Michoacan is an avocado and citrus producer that supplies American cities and restaurants. The cartels have for some years referred to the avocado groves as the “green gold” that can be profitable demanding crop ransom, in addition to taking control of the farms altogether. It has now spilled over into the lime groves as well.
The Mexican state currently has a population of 34% that farm, be it livestock, or berries, corn, wheat, sorghum, and other cash crops. The US imports Mexican beef, in addition to a good majority of our fresh fruit. As these violent cartels, now awash in cash, become less restricted, entire towns have been taken over, with some fighting back in ever escalating battles. Journalists are being murdered, politicians in opposition as well. As the violence tears through villages and cartels seize profitable farm operations, entire towns, such as the tomato farms don’t have labor to pick the fruits, the cities are dying.
The high levels of corruption in the government coupled with the cartels’ intense efforts to control vast swathes of territory bring Mexico to the brink of a failed state, al la Syria; it is no surprise that there have been calls for the US to essentially go to war, even the Trump Administration was for sending troops to tamp down the cartels. Where we source a large portion of our food supply has not been stable in decades, yet we continue to turn a blind eye to supply chains that could be shut down almost immediately and American farmers could do nothing to offset the loss.
America and Americans have always held lofty values. We abolished slavery, we learned to coexist. The founding principles of our democracy are dependent upon open and honest free speech, religion, choice, and protection. We hold these truths self-evident. As such, we have the FDA, USDA, CDC, EPA, ATF, FBI, DEA, and now White House looking over our food, water, and resource supplies directly or indirectly. Each governmental entity handles certain aspects of our food supply, but as the light gets shown on certain unsavory practices in the agriculture industry that we do not control, the knee jerk reaction is to shut it down, much in the way that the Biden Administration has now barred the import of tomato crops due to the farmworker conditions at those farms. We should never condone slavery practices in any form, and as a public should be outraged.
The average American cannot and will not farm. Only 1% of the US population is actively engaged in farming, and an overwhelming majority of those farmers supply corn for ethanol, plastics, and silage (corn, soybeans ,milo, hay) for meat and dairy production, soy for vegetable oil, meat and dairy alternatives, rice and barley for beer, or other milled grains such as rice, wheat. Only a small subsection in a handful of states grows directly consumable produce, and even fewer of those grow vegetables, and those who do can’t compete with the low wage “efficiencies” coming out if Mexico, South and Central America. We have grown accustomed to bottom barrel dollar, and years and years of advocacy have done little to change consumer or corporate behavior. We need to focus on domestic production to stave off a potentially dire situation that may bear nasty fruit in the future. Food sovereignty is the savior of empires.