The world death rate from famine this year could reach 300,000 people a day, unless we mount a food mobilization to stop it. This threat far exceeds the 315,000 death toll so far from COVID-19. We face a hunger pandemic “of biblical proportions,” David Beasley, Director General of the UN World Food Program (WFP) warned the UN Security Council April 21.
At the same time, farmers in the U.S. are mass destroying their meat animals, milk and other food. By September, 10 million hogs may have been put down. Millions of eggs and chickens have been destroyed, and millions of gallons of milk dumped. It is known why farmers are forced to do this, and yet it continues. Farmers themselves are facing ruin. This must stop.
We have to have a crash program to save farmers and agriculture capacity, and to deliver the food to all who need it. With this emergency mobilization, we can launch the replacement of the globalist cartel system which caused the vulnerability to disease and scarcity in the first place. It is a policy failure. There is nothing “natural” about this disaster.
In Africa and South Asia, the desert locust plague is ravaging cropland in a second wave of devastation, when it was known ahead of time, and could have been stopped.
It is a crime against humanity to allow this destruction to continue. Farmers want to produce food. Millions of lives are at stake.
Save Farmers, Stop Food Destruction!
In the United States, butchering capacity, monopolized by a cartel of five multinational commodities firms, has been consolidated into fewer than 300 mega-processing facilities accounting for 80% of the meat, while another other 2,000 facilities provide only 20%, in contrast to 30 years ago, when over 9,000 facilities of all sizes were in operation. Workers at today’s mega-plants are underpaid, work in slave labor-like conditions, and are commonly undocumented and fearful.
The situation is the same in Germany, in Spain, Brazil, and many other producing regions. In Germany in May, large meat-processing facilities were shut in Schleswig Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia, with hundreds of workers down sick, and others quarantined in their squalid barracks. They are low-paid labor from Hungary, Bulgaria, and Poland. Their situation is the norm everywhere for the global meat cartel.
When COVID-19 swept through the giant U.S. packing plants, thousands of workers were stricken; dozens have died. Plants shut. A Federal order was issued April 27 for them to re-open—under safe protocols—but no Federal intervention was made. No adequate corporate measures have taken place. Dozens of the slaughtering houses remain closed, or are only partially open. The backlog of “stranded” animals—ready for market—numbers in the millions. Farmers have no means to warehouse livestock, and they have received no income support for their losses. Farm country suicides are the highest in the nation. The U.S. stands to lose a quarter or more of its farm and ranch producers in the coming months.
There are severe disruptions to milk and other perishables, the processing and retailing of which are also cartel controlled, and concentrated in the same vulnerable way.
Deploy emergency measures now. In the U.S., this means Federal financial aid immediately to the farmers, and Federal intervention by forces of the Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other agencies, to sanitize and reconfigure all food-processing facilities for safety and maximum throughput. Create proper working conditions and wage levels; organize additional work teams. Locate contingency processing capacity; provide credit and aid for expansion. Locate extra freezer and locker capacity at closed institutions such as schools for expanded storage.
The principle involved is to save all possible food from destruction, and to defend farmers and ranchers everywhere in the world. Get the food to everywhere it is needed. Milk capacity is in crisis. Expand every way to process milk for longer storage and distribution, including cheese, powder, ultrahigh-temperature pasteurized products, as well as to maximize fresh fluid milk. Pay the farmers properly; preserve the herds. There is no “glut” of milk, nor pork, nor grain, nor any other food, as the “markets” talk of supply-and-demand would have you believe.
Deliver Food Aid, Double Agricultural Capacity
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the world already had 821 million people who chronically have no reliable daily food, which is now labeled as “food insecurity.” The World Food Program had been providing food aid directly to 100 million people in acute need of food, who would have perished without it. But now, the WFP foresees this number of people in acute need of food, shooting up to 265 million people this year, and possibly many more. Their locations include: 194 million people in 37 nations in Africa; 62 million people in 10 nations in Asia; 33 million people in 6 nations in South America and the Caribbean.
Start a production mobilization. The tonnage of food aid for this number of people, considered just in terms of cereals grains, is 50 million metric tons this year. This is fully 20% of all the grains traded annually on the world market in recent years. The land area required to yield this much grain is the size of Belgium. More food must be produced. The WFP has put out a donations appeal for $12 billion for food aid this year, way above last year’s $8 billion appeal. But even if pledges miraculously come through, will the food be there?
Deploy for the goal to double world food production as soon as possible. Instead of the current annual grains harvest of 2.5-2.7 billion metric tons (bmt), a world harvest of 5 bmt will provide a quality diet for all, support population growth, and enable food reserves for security.
The Schiller Institute had called for this 12 years ago, and had it been achieved by now, there would be no threat of a hunger pandemic today. On May 3, 2008, Schiller Institute founding President Helga Zepp-LaRouche issued a call, that
“it will be fatal for the world as a whole, if we do not succeed immediately, in the coming days and weeks, to declare globalization a failure, and to set everything into motion to double agricultural production capacity in the shortest possible time!”
But the cartel monopoly system has only tightened its control since the 2007-08 financial crisis. The cartel’s lying narrative is that producing abundance means low prices and bankruptcy for farmers, and that cartel global food sourcing serves populations better than national food self-sufficiency. Today’s crisis exposes those lies.
Use every means now to support production of the needed volumes of food for the pandemic and hunger emergency, especially by making calculated use of the Southern Hemisphere harvest, and Northern Spring planting seasons now underway, and their alternating crop cycles ahead.
Stop Africa’s Locust Plague
Deploy all resources to stop the second wave of desert locusts that now extends from East Africa across to India. The crop losses are terrible. In one day, a small swarm can consume the food in a square kilometer of crops—the food 35,000 people would eat in day. At harvest time in June and July is just when the hopper stage of the second swarms of the locust will mature to young adults, capable of vast destruction; 42 million people in ten nations are in the affected zone from Yemen south to Tanzania. The Food and Agriculture Organization has succeeded in helping save 720,000 tons of food in the region, pre-positioned for 5 million people for a year.
Expedite the provision of needed aircraft, chemicals and personnel for aerial spraying, the mainstay for killing the insects. The FAO has appealed for $150 million, but pledges remain under that amount. If not stopped, the locusts will spread westward into the Sahel this summer. Between commercial crop sprayers, drones and military expertise, this scourge can be ended. Allowing it to proceed is genocide.
Declare debt moratoria and cancellation for the whole continent of Africa. No scarce national resources can go to debt payments at this time of need for anti-pandemic and anti-hunger operations.
The next step is credit for launching the development projects to realize the vast agriculture potential of the continent. Africa has half the world’s arable land still remaining to be brought into cultivation and pasture. It will be the farm belt of the whole world.
But the African agro-industrial economy has been deliberately kept down by the City of London/Wall Street monetarist system. The continent went from being 25% dependent on outside imports of staple grains, 30 years ago, to now 40% dependent. The cartels dominate that trade, while profiteering off cheaply produced African food sent to Europe—fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish. The same cartel trade pattern in the Americas ships food to the United States from economies kept poor, and desperately needing food aid, such as Guatemala and Haiti. As of 2019, the first beef from Africa went to Europe, and this year, into the United States. Namibia, 60% import dependent for its basic consumption, is now exporting beef, which capacity belongs for Africa.
Start the great projects. The Transaqua project, a continental priority, will resupply water to the Lake Chad Basin, benefiting the entire Sub-Saharan region, by diverting flow from the Congo River Basin, which will benefit from new transportation, power, agriculture and water management systems. Nuclear power and desalination on the Mediterranean and other littorals will create vast new water supplies. These programs will end the grounds for national conflict over how to use scarce resources.
Sovereign Government Action
Food is a human right. If governments assert sovereignty over food and farming, we will defeat the hunger catastrophe, and open a new era of food sufficiency for all.
Three areas of action: Anti-Trust: First, break up the food and agro-monopolies (chemicals, fertilizer, seeds) and cartels. Invoke national security in the short term, to override cartel practices blocking emergency food measures. Then use full-scale anti-trust laws and executive orders. Every nation has this authority, and most have precedent. Some governments may nationalize food enterprises. Restore nation-serving policies of food reserves, and regionally dispersed food processing, advanced food preservation—including irradiation—and diversified farming. Abandon the World Trade Organization, whose premises are designed to oppose national sovereignty over food.
The world grain trade has come to be dominated by ABCD, the cartel accounting for 90% of all grain traded: ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Louis Dreyfus. In the course of their consolidation of control, sovereign national grain boards were eliminated; nationally controlled food reserves eliminated; single-crop monoculture became widespread. A world meat cartel of mega-multinationals also dominates in most nations. In the U.S. the five main firms controlling meat processing and marketing are JBS (Brazil-headquartered); Cargill (U.S.A.); Tyson Foods (U.S.A.); National Beef (Marring, based in Brazil); Smithfield (WH Holdings, China). Their standard operating procedures created a disaster.
Take measures to end all other kinds of financialization of food and farming. Stop food commodity speculation on the world’s major exchanges. Stop lenders and trading cartels demanding that poverty-stricken nations export food to earn foreign exchange.
Support family farmers: Secondly, supply emergency income support to farmers. No foreclosures. Declare debt moratoria, and reorganization during this emergency. Indemnify farmers and ranchers for livestock and related losses. Establish a parity-based farm commodity pricing system. Utilize laws already on the books, but ignored under the cartel dominance: in Europe, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); in the U.S., the Commodity Credit Corp. (the CCC from the 1930s), and other models and initiatives.
End the anti-farming “green” rules and harassment, done wrongfully in the name of protecting the environment from climate change. Launch the overdue infrastructure projects on every continent, to provide vast new amounts of water, power and transport, essential to productive agriculture.
Create the required credit through either scaling up one or more of the existing development-oriented multilateral banks with multi-nation membership—e.g., the New Development Bank, or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), or create a new vehicle in FDR’s tradition of agencies mandated by the 1944 Bretton Woods conference. Today’s epochal crisis makes such a strategy realistic.
A million new farmers on every continent. Organize special means to widely expand the family farm system, especially young farmers and ranchers starting out, through direct grants, tax benefits, ample credit and land availability. Use the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln’s initiatives, e.g. the three-page Homestead Act, which settled farm families throughout the vast Midwest. The ingenuity and mission of family farm members, with the living standard, education and science to go along, are the best guarantees of food security for every nation and worldwide.
Spread the model of the “astronaut farmer,” equipped with global positioning, data keeping, mechanization, and scientific practices. Farmers-as-ambassadors are ready and willing to go and spread space-age agriculture and space-age brotherhood.
International collaboration: Launch the international collaboration to make all this work, to provide the needed food relief in the coming weeks and save millions of lives; and to start the shift to a new paradigm of economic functioning and great power relations. China is already active in Africa with water, power and rail projects in the Belt and Road Initiative, aligned with the African Union’s Agenda-2063 program. Russia is active with Egypt’s nuclear power and desalination plans, and other projects. Add what the United States can do, being the largest food donor in the world, and a new era of strategic cooperation opens.
We call on the leaders of the great powers to initiate collaboration against the hunger pandemic. Include this on the agenda of their earliest possible summit: Presidents Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and others who are willing.
“Give Us This Day, Our Daily Bread” is a universal plea. Let us answer this prayer.