Rep. Kristi Noem showed up to cheer Big Ag in Davison County Friday. The new "Jackrabbit Family Farm" has no rabbits, and it's not a family farm: it's a corporate factory farm that will house 5,000 sows pumping out 125,000 piglets and $200,000 worth of manure each year.
Rep. Noem thinks that's just great:
Congresswoman Kristi Noem, R-S.D., told farm families gathered Friday at a new swine facility south of Mount Vernon that such production units are a shot in the arm for family farming in South Dakota.
Such production facilities, Noem told her audience, will keep families on the state’s farms and will continue providing for the nation’s food supply [Ross Dolan, "5000-Sow Operation Set to Open Soon near Mount Vernon," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2013.05.04].
Help me out, farm economists. How does a factory farm make it easier for smaller independent farms to stay in business? Perhaps piglets are costly to raise, and having one CAFO handle birthing the little squealers makes the whole process more efficient. But if some smaller farm in Davison County is making money raising pigs from birth to bacon, doesn't the economy of scale the Jackrabbit CAFO will introduce force those farmers to either do business with Jackrabbit to stay competitive or go under? How does this concentration of wealth and power in the local market support the independence and viability of small local producers?
Rep. Noem can't answer that; she's too busy saving America with Big Ag:
“For me food has always been a national security issue,” Noem said. “There is a reason we have a farm bill and a reason we have farm policy, and that’s because we decide that it’s important in America that we grow our own food.
“The instant that another country supplies us with our food is the day that they control us” [Dolan, 2013.05.04].
Once again, Rep. Noem invokes national security to make her favored capitalists unassailable. She also speaks from somewhere south of honesty. China, Japan, Mexico, the European Union, and everybody else bought $145 billion in food and agricultural exports from us last year, and I don't think we control any of them.
Plus, we're already well past the instant where another country supplies us with our food. In 2012, the United States imported over 62 million metric tons of food worth a record $105 billion, including $16 billion in seafood, $13 billion in fruit, $11 billion in assorted edibles, and $11 billion in beverages. Noem's assertion that we grow our own food and to avoid international control is economically and geopolitically naïve.
Conceptually it also contradicts her assertion about the good the Jackrabbit CAFO will do for family farms. If getting supplies from another economic entity gives that entity control, then won't the local farms who buy piglets from Jackrabbit be submitting to Jackrabbit's control? Which is it, Kristi?
Dolan concludes his story of Noem's bumbling Big-Ag mouthpiecery with this burst of absurdity:
[Pipestone System CEO Luke] Minion presented Noem with a peace pipe as a memento of her visit. American Indians have traditionally mined pipe materials in the Pipestone area.
Asked if she will take the pipe to Washington, she said, “We’ll see what we can do. We can sure use some peace” [Dolan, 2013.05.04].
Rep. Noem gets a present, and she has to "see what we can do" about bringing it back to her Washington office? What, are peace pipes on the TSA terrorist-weapon list? (No, they're not—just don't try to light the pipe in flight!) Can Rep. Noem not give a straight answer to anything? Or was she just discombobulated by the strangeness of a very white dude co-opting a sacred Indian ceremonial object as a cheap political gift? White industrialists handing out Indian peace pipes makes about as much sense as claiming pig poop doesn't stink.