To the editor: In a recent guest editorial, “Are the Big Ag monopolies killing our family farms? April 16, 2010 Timothy Wise called on the U.S. Department of Justice to be a “new sheriff in town” and get tough with large agriculture companies. But he did not offer any legal basis for enforcement action.
His suggestion came by way of comment on a public hearing held by the DOJ and the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month in Ankeny, Iowa. It focused on crop-related issues, yet Mr. Wise singled out not just a large seed company but Smithfield Foods – a livestock producer and maker of pork products – for special criticism. Mr. Wise’s vague complaint against Smithfield reflects his assumptions about our power in the marketplace. It focused in particular on a thoroughly scrutinized and reported transaction with Premium Standard Farms in 2007. Yet Mr. Wise acknowledged that DOJ antitrust authorities scrutinized that transaction; he actually quoted the 2007 conclusion of DOJ’s career antitrust attorneys that the company “is not likely to harm competition, consumers or farmers.”
Our business model is shaped by the demands of our large customers, who naturally enjoy their own market power, and consumers, who want wholesome food at a low price produced in a responsible manner. A key indicator of the societal responsibility we feel is reflected in our commitment to the environment. In fact, 578 Smithfield Foods facilities worldwide have been ISO 14001 certified, long considered the gold standard of environmental management. We produce hogs, and buy hogs from independent producers who contract with us and are able to negotiate a fair price. Their contracts help them get credit and build long-term business plans. Mr. Wise’s assertion that producers in the southeast have only one buyer to deal with simply isn’t accurate. Producers who choose to sell on the open market typically have multiple potential customers with whom to negotiate for the best price – and prices reflect that reality. Through the hearings that began at Ankeny, the Obama administration is taking a look at the state of
the agriculture marketplace. We expect that it will look to the facts and the laws that govern our marketplace. We live up to those laws every day as we provide quality food at a fair price to American families.
Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer
Smithfield Foods, Inc.
To the editor: Have you ever heard a politician make this remark, “We will and must create jobs?”
Can you ever remember when any of these folks started any business or company that could hire American workers? Usually, new companies are started by wealthy people who have the fortitude to put their monies on the line in hopes of making more profits for themselves. Have you ever been hired by a poor man? We need these folks to bring America back to the days when, if you wanted to work, you could find a good job to give your families a fair chance of prosperity. In America today, we have lost so many companies, for example, Champion Spark Plug, Devillbiss Company, Interlake Iron, Casco Mills and others.
Our leaders pushed legislation to allow many companies to leave our country and set up new companies in foreign countries. They passed agreements such as NAFTA and let our jobs go to workers in far off lands. Now we have products that are not as good as those our American workers produced. We may get goods cheaper, but we have eliminated jobs for our workers. Is it possible that with this situation, we have people not working and therefore these people cannot be consumers?
Perhaps we have cut our own throats to satisfy the greed of big businesses to employ foreign workers at cheap labor cost. These workers don’t pay American taxes and they don’t spend their dollars here. Seems to me those politicians helped create jobs, but not American jobs, and have not kept their promises. But here in our country, we just keep voting these same deceivers back to Washington.
Send them a message. We are fed up! We all have the right to vote.
Levy support urged
To the editor: The Woodmore Local School levy on May 4 won’t cost homeowners additional money. The new 2.99-mill emergency levy will cost approximately $91.50 a year, while the 4.0-mill operating levy that expires at the end of 2010 was collecting around $120.
In response to an earlier letter, yes, it appears that teachers make decent money for the months that they work, however, please consider that teachers must get their master’s degrees in order to continue to teach. Where else does one who has a master’s degree make less than that? They must also take additional classes to keep their licenses up to date. Also, consider the “extras” that teachers and other staff pay out of their own pockets to provide for the classrooms and children of the district. The staff continues to give of their own to provide for food and other items during Christmas and Easter holidays to help those less fortunate. We are not a “take and give nothing” staff.
We urge you not to make assumptions, but to think of the future for our children.
Jean A Schultz
Woodmore Education Association