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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Daugaard on Agriculture: I Smell Butz

South Dakota GOP candidate for governor Dennis Daugaard released his economic recovery plan last week. Recovery from eight years of Republican mismanagement? Not really. Daugaard's plan embraces much of his boss's big business status quo.

This big-business focus is acutely apparent in Daugaard's plans for agriculture. Note first off that he pairs agriculture with biotechnology. To Daugaard and the GOP, ag/biotech is a big scientific machine, all inputs and outputs, expansion ├╝ber alles.

Daugaard stumbles a bit in his opening plank on convening an annual ag forum: he mentions that one of our state values is cooperation—hey, that's socialism!

But then he gets back to business, talking about the following needs:
  1. more value-added agriculture (i.e., more beef and turkey plants making profit on poverty-wage immigrant labor)
  2. more international trade and exports (so we can buy back the food we eat from domestic corporations)
  3. more business development in biotechnology (so more of our university presidents can work for Monsanto and other Big Ag interests)
Earlier in his plan, Daugaard does mention creating a corps of "small-town specialists." He apparently fails to make any connection, though, between the ideas of small-town development and local self-sufficiency. There's no talk of growing our own food or promoting farmers markets and community-supported agriculture. Daugaard nods toward agritourism and bringing outsiders to come look at our wineries and gardens (how about some tours of Rick Millner's law-breaking mega-feedlot in Veblen?), but there's no talk of repopulating rural South Dakota by helping new farmers start smaller, locally sustainable operations.

Daugaard gives lip service to the South Dakota value of "self-reliance," but Daugaard's ag plan makes clear Republicans still think like Nixon ag secretary Earl Butz: Agriculture is big business. Get big, get corporate, or get out.


  1. If the citizens of this state would be brave enough to think, Heidepriem could get traction by sponsoring free showings of Food, Inc. outdoors this summer. Or better yet, ads showing the environmentally destructive corporate agriculture the Republicans have brought to South Dakota.

    But of course this would be played as attacking Ag, and they would buy it like they bought the meme that Thune was all about "South Dakota values" when he was really about was more corporate welfare on the high plains.

  2. Good eye, Cory.

    Mr. Price, it's hardly surprising that a Sandford/Syngenta-manufactured AG would rather distract an underachieving constituency from chemical terracide with some genetically-modified "states rights" lawsuit.


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