Farming in Eastern Europe " acutely at risk from an interlocking phalanx of multinational corporations and banks abetted by corrupt officials and EU bureaucrats.."
April 28 2009 ~ Guardian : Swine flu: is intensive pig farming to blame?
Caroline Lucas in the Guardian "Finger pointing towards intensive farming is spreading like the H1N1 virus itself; it's time for an urgent inquiry to find out the facts....More research is urgently needed to explore the potential link between industrialised animal farming, and the spread of disease. Some elements of the Mexican media are already pointing to the potential role of intensive pig farming in Mexico, which has grown substantially in recent years, with some giant operations raising tens of thousands of pigs at a time.http://www.daily-news.ro/index.php
Since news of the epidemic broke, reports in Mexico City daily La Jornada and Veracruz-based paper La Marcha have detailed how a number of community residents in the affected areas have expressed concerns over the operations of Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork packer and hog producer. According to these reports, in Veracruz - where the outbreak originated, a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas Carrol raises 950,000 hogs per year in intensive conditions..." Read in full
Smithfield expands in Romania
Bucharest Daily News
January 20, 2006
Smithfield Foods will invest 850 million dollars in Romania over the next five years with the intention of developing a farm chain for breeding pigs, said the executive vice-president of Smithfield Foods, Richard J. M. Poulson.
The investments will be made in farms located in three counties in western Romania; Arad, Timis and Bihor.
Poulson had a meeting on Wednesday with Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu and discussed about the American company's investments in Romania.
The company announced that it will invest all the profits obtained in its ten years of activity in Romania.
Smithfield, the largest company for pig husbandry and meat processing, entered the Romanian market in 2004 after it bought Agrotorvis and Comtim Group.
The American company paid 33 million dollars for Comtim.
The company is the owner of 50% of the shares belonging to the food company Agroalim Distribution and another 50% share in the Frigorifer deposit located in Tulcea.
Smithfield Foods has made 32 acquisitions since 1981. Its annual sales surpass 11 billion dollars.
".....while Poland remains an oasis, it is an oasis besieged. Poland has sheltered from the ecological havoc beyond its borders undamned rivers, virgin temperate forests, an intact aquatic ecosystem larger than Belgium, peasant based farming but is now acutely at risk from an interlocking phalanx of multinational corporations and banks abetted by corrupt officials and EU bureaucrats. ..
..I joined American conservationist Tom Garrett, in his fight to stop Smithfield foods, the world's largest pork production company, from entrenching itself in Poland. Drawing on his experience with Smithfield in the US, he explained that "Everywhere this company has operated, there has been gross environmental degradation from liquefied hog faeces stored in open sewage pits and sprayed on fields. Rivers, lakes and even aquifers are polluted. In North Carolina, where industrial hog farming is particularly intense, the rivers were so polluted that toxic algae called pfiesteria piscicida began to flourish, it killed countless millions of fish and left hundreds of swimmers and boaters with neurological damage and skin lesions that refused to heal. Tourism and coastal fishing were virtually destroyed. In the mean time, communities near hog factory development, wherever it occurs, are burdened with a nauseating stench whole counties are afflicted. You have to smell it to believe it"..." See article belowOrganic Food co.uk
Written by: Robert Kennedy Jr., from The Ecologist Magazine (Dec. 03/Jan 04).
Snouts in the TroughIn the early days of Smithfield Foods, the company signed a few contracts with large North Carolinan producers to provide tens of thousands of pigs for its slaughterhouse. It then took over those producers, who had to take Smithfield's price for their farms because they had nowhere else to slaughter their pigs. Once Smithfield owned these large farms it began overproducing pigs so that the price of pork dropped from 60 cents per pound to eight cents per pound. Since it costs 36 cents per pound for a farmer to raise a pig, most other US pig farmers went to the wall. Only pig farmers who sign contracts with Smithfield survive. These contracts are never negotiated. The desperate farmers will sign the contract the way Smithfield writes it.Typically, Smithfield contracts require farmers to use their property for security and borrow approximately $200,000 to build warehouses according to the firm's specifications. In return, Smithfield promises the farmer approximately $20,000 per year. The farmer owns the warehouse and pays the insurance and interest to the bank. Smithfield owns the feed and the pigs. The farmer also owns the manure, but Smithfield does not pay the farmer enough for him to be able to legally dispose of it. That's his problem and the problem of his community as he pollutes the air and water with the excess manure.Often Smithfield's contracts last only one year, even though it will take farmers 20 years to pay off their warehouse mortgage. When it is in Smithfield's interest to buy more land, the company has the power to make future contracts so burdensome that farmers go bankrupt. Smithfield can then buy their property from the bank for pennies on the dollar. Since these farms are valueless without a Smithfield contract, there are no other bidders. In this way Smithfield came to control pork production in North Carolina.Even with the wholesale price of pork as low as eight cents per pound Smithfield continues to make money, because the price the consumer pays for Smithfield's processed pig-meat products stays the same. And with Smithfield owning the sole slaughterhouse, it squeezes the farmer until it has a monopoly on farm production. This is one of the reasons why the US Senate, along with many national legislatures, is considering legislation that will ban the ownership of farms by slaughterhouses. Smithfield's 'integration' system, through which it is farmer, slaughterhouse and meat packer, puts small farmers at a catastrophic disadvantage.There are many studies that show that factory farms have a devastating impact on rural economies and quality of life. There is not a single empirical study showing net benefits to rural communities. Studies show that property values in areas hosting pork factories fall, on average by 30 per cent. If you drive through the US's rural communities, you will see bankrupted hardware and feed stores (factory farms don't buy locally), boarded up high streets and closed banks, churches and schools. The US's heartland and historic landscapes are being emptied of rural Americans and occupied by large corporations.Political corruptionTraditional farms are exempt from laws regulating the disposal of manure, because for them manure is not waste but a valuable fertiliser. However, pig factories produce far more manure than is needed to fertilise the fields around them. The costs of properly treating and disposing of this waste make factory farming uncompetitive for traditional farms - unless they violate numerous environmental laws. Because factory meat producers must break the law in order to survive, the industry's business plan relies on the assumption that pork factories will be able to evade prosecution by improperly influencing government officials.Smithfield uses its wealth to buy politicians, paralyse regulatory agencies and break health and environmental laws with impunity. In North Carolina Smithfield made business partnerships with then state and US senators Wendell Murphy and Launch Faircloth, who protected the company's interests in local and federal legislatures. Using these alliances and adept campaign contributions, the pig industry has been able to corrupt and control the North Carolina state senate. The state's largest newspaper, The News and Observer, won the Pulitzer Prize for its five-part investigative report disclosing how the factory pig industry had captured and corrupted the state senate. And in 2000 Murphy was made a director of Smithfield. He now owns 15 per cent of the company's shares.Politicians who oppose the pig barons are punished. When North Carolina's Duplin County state assembly-woman Cynthia Watson began speaking out against Smithfield's impact on her farm community, the pig industry launched a savage multi-million dollar attack, spending as much as $510,000 a week for two years to destroy her reputation. Watson was subsequently unseated, and the pig barons succeeded in sending a powerful warning to all North Carolina's senators not to oppose their industry.Citizens who protest get the same treatment. When communities have opposed the siting of pig factory farms within their localities they have had their democratic rights removed. In Iowa, North Carolina, Michigan and many other US states and Canadian provinces, public officials have stripped local governments of their decision-making powers over these facilities. Similarly, Polish local officials who opposed Smithfield developments have been overruled by national authorities. The industry routinely uses bullying lawyers and illegal intimidation, threats, harassment and violence to terrorise and silence its critics - including those among its own workers. A group of Nebraska citizens who made comments during a public hearing on a pig factory planning proposal were sued by Nebraska's largest livestock producer. Neighbouring farmers are routinely sued for participating in public hearings or speaking out against the pig industry.Taking over Europe via PolandJust as Smithfield used North Carolina to launch its takeover of US pork production in the 1980s, so Poland is now being used as Smithfield's platform for launching its bid for monopoly control of pork production in Europe.In 1999 Smithfield purchased Animex, the state-owned conglomerate of slaughterhouses and giant communist-era farms responsible for exporting Polish sausage and ham to the US. The deal was a bargain, Smithfield paid only $55m just after Animex had made, at state expense, extensive renovations to its facilities. The estimated value of the company following these improvements was $500m, causing Smithfield CEO Joe Luter to boast that he paid 'only 10 cents on the dollar' for Animex.But gaining monopoly control of national slaughterhouse capacity is difficult in Poland, because there are over 4,000 slaughterhouses in the country. Smithfield's strategy? Get the government to close down the competition for them.Following a three-hour meeting between Luter and Poland's then prime minister Jerzy Buzek, the Polish government began closing hundreds of small slaughterhouses. Buzek's minister of agriculture promulgated regulations that would put up to 50 per cent of Poland's slaughterhouses out of business.The government justified these new rules under the fraudulent pretence that small slaughterhouses must be shut down to comply with the EU regulations. EU regulations clearly state, however, that small slaughterhouses may be kept open to serve regional markets. Germany, France and Sweden have all fought to keep their small slaughterhouses and milk plants open, and even subsidise them in the knowledge that local markets and food distribution depend on them. Once small slaughterhouses disappear, local markets quickly follow.Furthermore, large high-tech slaughterhouses do not make for a safer food supply. In the US and the UK the closure of small slaughterhouses coincided with huge increases in meat-borne disease (by 300 per cent and 500 per cent, respectively). This is because large centralised slaughterhouses encourage the consolidation of pork production on factory-farm lines; disease is rampant in factory farms, and the long transport distances resulting from centralisation stress the animals and spread disease further. In addition, technologies that increase line speed inside the slaughterhouse multiply worker errors and make proper inspections impossible. Now the big slaughterhouses are insisting on the controversial technology of irradiation in order to solve the problems of disease.The Polish government took a number of other steps to facilitate Smithfield's takeover of Polish agriculture. First, it legalised the uncontrolled use of liquid manure and tried to dismantle the country's Animal Welfare Act. Then it allowed Smithfield to use front companies to buy and lease farms in Poland, despite official policies forbidding foreigners to purchase Polish agricultural land. Finally, it gave large pork-export subsidies to Smithfield amounting to 55 cents per kilogramme. The subsidies were supposed to aid Polish farmers, but as Smithfield imports both its pigs and the feed it is difficult to see how. With this help, Smithfield has converted as many as 35 Polish state farms into pig factories. One in Nielep, West Pomerania, already houses 30,000 pigs. To circumvent Polish laws, some of these factories are listed as the property of front companies wholly owned by Smithfield. Prima Farms, for example, is officially owned by two Poles, but every important decision must be signed by Mr Griffith of Smithfield. In this way, Smithfield can capture subsidies from the EU intended for Polish farmers.The pattern is almost identical to the route Smithfield took in Carolina. Soon Smithfield will own all the landscapes of Poland, and the farmers who are so critical to the country's culture and democracy will be wiped off the land.The biggest and the worstSmithfield Foods is the world's largest pork producer and packer. It markets approximately 12 million pigs a year in the US. In the last fiscal year, Smithfield's profits were approximately $224m on $5.9 billion in sales. The company has pig production facilities in 10 US states, Brazil and Mexico, as well as slaughtering and processing facilities in 11 US states, Canada, France, Mexico and Poland. Its operations have consistently been found guilty of gross environmental violations.
The US Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency have alleged almost 7,000 violations of the Clean Water Act by Smithfield dating back to 1991, and accused the firm of falsifying and destroying records to conceal its actions. Smithfield's waste-water treatment plant manager was sentenced to 30 months in prison for crimes that he alleged Smithfield officials had ordered him to commit. In 1997 a federal judge ordered Smithfield to pay $12m - one of the biggest Clean Water Act penalties in history. The court determined that a single Smithfield plant had violated the act on more than 6,000 occasions, and that Smithfield officials had intentionally lied to federal regulators to cover up these violations.In April 1998 a Smithfield meat processing plant in Kinston, North Carolina, recalled approximately 490,877 pounds of processed ham products that were potentially contaminated with gear lubricant grease.In 1999 and 2000 Smithfield received approximately 178 'Notices of Violation' for offences that included: reported and unreported spills and discharges into streams or wetlands; over-application and run-off of wastes; failure to notify state officials of discharges; spraying wastes into streams or woods or onto unlicensed disposal fields; leaking waste pipelines and malfunctioning equipment; over-full, leaking, unstable, breached or abandoned lagoons; and improper or inadequate record keeping.In a 23-month period between June 1999 and May 2001 Smithfield companies and partners were fined at least 55 times. A lagoon rupture at the Murphy's Vestal facility spilled 1.5 million gallons of liquefied faeces and urine into nearby wetlands.In 2000 the US federal agency the National Labor Relations Board found Smithfield guilty of serious labour law violations. The board found that Smithfield managers conspired with local police to physically intimidate and assault union supporters. It also found that the firm's attorneys suborned perjury and that company witnesses lied under oath.In July 2002 Smithfield recalled almost 20,000 pounds of fresh pork bones due to possible contamination with plastic. The same year Smithfield was found guilty of significant labour law violations - this time by a federal court, which ordered the company to pay $755,000 in damages to workers who it had wrongfully imprisoned.
Smithfield in PolandLast year Smithfield used a Polish-registered front company called Prima Farms to begin operating pig factories stocked with imported sows in the the northwestern Polish region of Western Pomerania. Currently, Prima has at least 11,000 sows, reportedly Pig Improvement Company (PIC) stock imported from Britain, housed in former state farms at Byszkowo and Zensko. Prima intends to confine up to 15,000 more sows on its farms, and plans to produce 500,000 pigs for Smithfield's AGRYF slaughterhouse in the town of Szczecin. It expects to be transporting 11,000 pigs a week to AGRYF by 2006.In the meantime, Prima is moving aggressively to acquire and renovate state farms to confine feeder pigs. It already has one nursery for piglets and at least three other occupied farms in Western Pomerania. Smithfield is in the process of setting up operations at Kielpino and at Liskowo, where it has encountered fierce opposition from the public. It is also reportedly in the process of establishing pig factories at Wierzchowo, Ognica and Suliscewice.All this represents, in all probability, only a partial list of ongoing developments in Western Pomerania.Some of the Prima pigs are being shipped to properties of the Smithfield-owned company Animex at Wieskowice and Trzcielin. Last spring Animex was forced by local authorities to move approximately 7,000 pigs illegally housed at Rekoniewice, southwest of the city of Poznan. The company still controls the Rekoniewice farm, however, and there are reports that is either confining or preparing to confine feeder pigs at nearby Stara Dobrowa and Goscieszyn.In the northeastern province of Warminsko-Mazurskie, Animex is renovating a number of former state farms as pig factories. In Warminsko-Mazurskie there are already pigs present at Wronki Wielkie, Kozaki near the border with the Russian federation of Kaliningrad, and Wyrandy. It has been reported that there are 10,000 feeder pigs at Radkiejmy, while a reported death loss of 1,760 pigs in six months suggests an even larger number of animals at Bykowo. Farms at Rozynsk and Koliszki are in the early stages of renovation. All in all, there are plans to transport 250,000 pigs a year to the Warminsko-Mazurskie slaughterhouse at Elk, which exports meat products to the UK under the brand name PEK.Smithfield has been quoted in Pig International magazine to the effect that a complex of pig factories in the southeast of Poland will be delivering another 250,000 animals a year to the Constar plant in Starachowice by 2006. An investigation uncovered a probable Smithfield front company confining PIC sows at Nowy Machnow in the southeast of the eastern Polish province Lubelskie. There are also reports of activity in three other sites in the area.Smithfield predicts that its own Polish pig factories will produce around 20,000 pigs per week by 2006, and that an additional 10,000 animals will come from farmers raising Smithfield-owned stock under contract. There is no reason to believe (judging by the firm's record in the US, or its continued acquisition of land and the excess capacity being developed at its existing facilities) that Smithfield's expansion in Poland will stabilise in 2006. There is every reason to believe that the firm will - as in the US - strive for complete vertical integration and that it will deny farmers that do not accept its yoke a market in its plants.
Written by: Robert Kennedy Jr., from The Ecologist Magazine (Dec. 03/Jan 04). Robert Kennedy, Jr. is the president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international grassroots coalition dedicated to protecting water systems from pollution.
Poland's New Invasionby Tracy Worcester
Poland is the last bastion of traditional farming in Europe; tens of millions of acres of productive land are still tilled without chemicals. Canadian ecologists Bacher and Spenser call Poland a "wildflower speckled oasis in the biologically sterile desert of Europe's farmlands."
But while Poland remains an oasis, it is an oasis besieged. Poland has sheltered from the ecological havoc beyond its borders undamned rivers, virgin temperate forests, an intact aquatic ecosystem larger than Belgium, peasant based farming but is now acutely at risk from an interlocking phalanx of multinational corporations and banks abetted by corrupt officials and EU bureaucrats.
The foreign take-over of Poland's industry by a corporate-bureaucratic assault is aimed at the 25% of Poles living on farms and in rural villages. The aim of multinational agribusiness is clear. It is to "modernise" Polish agriculture by driving 1.2 million of the nation's two million farming families off the land and to replace traditional farming with foreign owned agribusiness. With farm prices repressed by subsidised EU and US imports, rural Poland thousands of tiny farming communities scattered in deep forests and across undulating farmlands is in profound depression.
In February, I joined American conservationist Tom Garrett, in his fight to stop Smithfield foods, the world's largest pork production company, from entrenching itself in Poland. Drawing on his experience with Smithfield in the US, he explained that "Everywhere this company has operated, there has been gross environmental degradation from liquefied hog faeces stored in open sewage pits and sprayed on fields. Rivers, lakes and even aquifers are polluted. In North Carolina, where industrial hog farming is particularly intense, the rivers were so polluted that toxic algae called pfiesteria piscicida began to flourish, it killed countless millions of fish and left hundreds of swimmers and boaters with neurological damage and skin lesions that refused to heal. Tourism and coastal fishing were virtually destroyed. In the mean time, communities near hog factory development, wherever it occurs, are burdened with a nauseating stench whole counties are afflicted. You have to smell it to believe it".
In Warsaw I accompanied a group of journalists and NGO's to deliver a letter Tom had drafted to the European bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), signed among others by Robert F Kennedy jr., the Sierra Club, America's largest charity, and Poland's surging populist politician Andrzej Lepper. Why, the letter asked, had the EBRD, which purports to be "environmentally sensitive" organised a one hundred million dollar loan to Smithfield's wholly owned Polish subsidiary Animex S.A. to help finance it's invasion of Poland. The office manager, Irena Grzbowska, an attractive woman with a strong American accent, explained that "EBRD doesn't have any experts on the project in Poland and it is too expensive to send experts over from head office in London." She went on to say that if her memory served her correctly, Smithfield had asked to use the money for vertical integration, to raise the pigs they then slaughtered in their abattoirs. She said that the EBRD had insisted its contribution be applied to modernise Animex packing houses and pay off high interest debts. She had no answer to the charge that the EBRD had, in effect, provided "cover" for the two other lenders and helped "legitimise" Smithfield's operations in Poland.
Our next stop was West Pomerania in Northwest Poland, a region of lakes and forests famous for its parks and animal sanctuaries. Here, the proximity to the German border (and to potential EU markets) has attracted another wholly owned Smithfield subsidiary calling itself, "Prima Farms". Smithfield Prima has opened a massive drive to buy and convert dozens of large former state farms into intensive pig factories. Marek Kryder, of the Animal Welfare Institute, explained that Smithfield operates behind Polish registered front companies to bypass laws making it illegal for foreigners to purchase former state farms. "The State Farm Property Agency, set up to 'privatise' state farms knows exactly what's going on". Tom added, " they're obviously in on the fraud. So is the governor of the voivodship (province). Smithfield is one of America's most corruptive and politically virulent corporations. There are former ministers of agriculture and even some currently serving officials on Animex's board".
We ignored the "No Entry" sign at a recently opened hog factory, near Szczecinek, West Pomerania, clambered over wire barriers and wrenched open the ventilation shaft of one of three vast concrete and corrugated iron sheds. Inside, five thousand squealing pigs were crammed into small compartments. Outside, effluent from concrete cesspits, though now frozen, had over-flowed to send a small stream into the lake below. In a large plastic bin (empty the previous night) we found 20 dead pigs. Astonishingly, it seems that the entire operation is illegal. Local officials told us that Prima had only been given a permit to renovate a derelict state farm that had housed cattle and sheep on condition it guaranteed 15 jobs. However, no locals were employed. Then fifteen thousand pigs arrived in the dead of night. Villagers only grasped what had happened when the company began dumping liquid faeces on the snow covered fields.
Local people were angry and frightened. But village and township officials told us that the voivodship had taken Prima's side and they were powerless to defend their community. If we had informed them six months earlier, they told us, they would have refused all permits and prevented Prima from gaining a foothold. Now, they could only ask for help in contesting the company on environmental grounds.
A few miles to the north we visited Prima's factory farm at Nielep where 30,000 pigs are confined in two storey buildings. A tall man identifying himself as the manager met us at the gate of the compound, removed his surgical mask and demanded that we keep away. He claimed that although there was no bedding for the pigs they were well looked after, and the factory had all the appropriate permits and the required number of employees. However, he refused to say how many pigs were impounded, how many died each day or what mix of chemicals were pumped into them. Admitting that he had been taken to Smithfield installations in North Carolina for training, he even mouthed the standard company line; "Our local and national opponents are selfishly concerned with animal welfare instead of feeding the world."
Smithfield had no doubt convinced him that they were doing the world a favour by bankrupting millions of Polish farmers and that animal welfare had nothing to do with consumer health and welfare. And of course it was flippant of Kryder to remind him that " rare species like Lynx and European Bison and 25% of world's population of white stork's survival depended on traditional small family farm symbiosis with the natural world."
In nearby Nielep village, a meeting had been convened for local farmers and authorities to hear Garret describe Smithfield's record in America. You could hear a pin drop as the audience tried to grasp the impending destruction of their livelihoods and community. With the presentation over, the audience erupted into a fierce and desperate tirade of complaints already suffered. During the communist era, the state farm had employed 44 locals, Smithfield had promised 15 jobs. But Smithfield's automated plant employed only three and no locals. One old lady explained, "the company had been spreading effluent over snow-covered fields despite the law. People have developed rashes and stomach upsets", she said. The stench from the effluent caused vomiting, threatening the closure of the local school and the destruction of local businesses like honey making and tourism. To raucous applause, Nielep's local authority announced, "Smithfield must be kicked out." Other local authorities are compiling environmental impact assessments, locals are signing petitions and farmers all over Poland are forming blockades, not least to get Smithfield out of Poland.
With Arthur Tyminski, a Polish organic campaigner, I visited one such farmers' blockade outside Lublin, south of Warsaw, where we heard the same story. Despite the establishment of numerous state farms during communism, 80% of Polish farm land remained in private hands and a quarter of all Poles own and till land. However, since embracing capitalism, giant foreign agribusiness's have set up in Poland and are destroying farmers' livelihoods like never before. The leader of the blockade said, "We don't need more pigs in this country. Overproduction of pork has caused prices to crash and cost the government millions to dispose of excess pigs. Even though we work hard for 16 hours a day, we have no profit. With 19% unemployment, there's nowhere for farmers to go. With farm profits going to foreign multinationals, there's nothing left for Poles".
I compare their plight with that of UK farmers, 200, 000 of whom have left the land since the 1950s and another 50,000 are predicted to leave in the next five years. When Poland joins the EU, unscrupulous supermarkets will fill their shelves with unhealthy Smithfield meat thus continuing to undermine Britain's farmers and our higher animal welfare standards.
Tyminisk explained how in the mid 1990's, Foreign (including 60 Tesco stores) owned supermarkets started to dominate food retailing. Together we scoured the shelves of one such massive (6,000 square feet) supermarket in the centre of Lublin to see how many of the products were Polish. Although 90% is from Poland, shelf after self displayed Nestle and Coca-Cola. The few surviving Polish brands are increasingly bought by the same multinationals. Poland is the latest victim, in a global economy where all powerful food giants in their relentless search for ever-cheaper food, pit farmer against farmer across the world.
I met with the director of ICPPC (International Coalition for the Protection of Polish Countryside), Jadwiga Lopata, who runs the small Polish group trying to support small farmers by encouraging local production. To increase farmers' profits, they are also promoting holidays on Polish organic farms. She explained how throughout communist times every town in Poland had a market where farmers sold a range of chemical free local produce. However, it seems that recently the government has taken steps to repress local farmers markets, in order to clear any competition to supermarkets. A few years ago, Andrzej Lepper, a leading politician, spent the day defending one such market from closure. However, on his return to Warsaw that evening, the police moved in to demolish every stall.
In spite of central government opposition and freezing weather, local farmers still attend one of Lublin's three markets. "When it isn't so cold," one vegetable seller explained, "there are three rows of local food stalls at the market." She went on to tell us how all of her food was sold fresh from the ground: "If people want it scrubbed and packaged, they must pay more expensive prices in the supermarket". A man selling grain in small sacks said, "The supermarket is no threat to me as my customers can taste the freshness of my produce." The manageress of my hotel told me her mother often bought "pig from a local farmer as it was tastier and was less likely to be pumped full of chemicals."
When banks like the EBRD use EU taxpayers' money to subsidise companies like Smithfield, small farmers will disappear, food quality will deteriorate, animals will suffer. And Poland, like the rest of the brave new globe, can bury an ancient life based on community living, family and land stewardship for the benefit of future generations. Garret lamented, "There is no salvation to be found in industrial agriculture owned and controlled by foreign multinational corporations. There is only damage." Never in all it's blood soaked history has Poland faced an invasion more dangerous than that descending on it today.
Guardian April 18 2000 Polish farmers declare war over EU membership
"....Polish agriculture is already ruined," said one farmer, Stanislaw Bojkowski, 67, who tills 50 acres near Augustow. "Farming was worthwhile under communism, but Warsaw's European Union madness is driving us out of business." He is not alone. According to estimates from the Polish Peasants' party, only 600,000 of the country's 2m farms will survive the process of joining the EU.
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