Our Hungry Planet: Cargill looms as a silent giant

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sigh

posted by nicolas on Dec. 4, 08 at 12:54 AM | 
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I'm no big fan of Cargill per se, but this is nothing more than a hatchet job. Surely we can debate the influence and reach of Cargill without painting it as an evil bogeyman. After all, thousands of good local people work there. Do you really think they rub their hands with glee at the thought of impoverished Africans?? I agree that big agri-business has accumulated too much power and influence, but it's not Cargill's fault they've been successful. We can only change things through positive and forward-thinking actions, not by slinging blame.

posted by sronka on Dec. 4, 08 at 1:41 AM | 
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I agree to some extent with the statement made about the mass of cargill employees being everyday, good people. chances are the people who arent the execs would ceartainly not see pay raises or bonuses as a result of the rise in food costs. However, the rise in costs could be a simple result of supply and demand as well. everyone knows that a good or bad harvest will affect how much farmers make and how much food costs for consumers. So I agree that we should not jump the gun on this issue and start pointing fingers because although there could be a price gouging issue going on here, they could be running things on the level. Wrongly accusing them will have it's bad affects as well.

posted by mike_kuhn on Dec. 4, 08 at 3:14 AM | 
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Cargill has a great business plan. Buy low and sell high? What a concept! Deal in a product that every person on the planet uses or needs? Why didn't I think of that! Not have to report to the public when some puke from New York City or Chicago demands 15% ROI every week? Sell the stock in the aspirin company honey! You did let it slip that "What sets Cargill apart is not its profits -- which as far as large corporations go, are relatively modest as a percentage of its sales" If Chris Serres wants to write conspiracy theories, why doesn't he work on the latest output of the Illinois mafia who is currently our president elect.

posted by wingfoot on Dec. 4, 08 at 5:48 AM | 
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The rise and fall of commodities prices was pure speculation. Nothing more, nothing less. Demand is no more or less now than it was in July. The whole world needs food. Why such a fluctuation? Who controls these commodities markets, specifically? Star Tribune, do an in depth article about that please.

posted by jboseck1 on Dec. 4, 08 at 5:48 AM | 
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Could some of the higher food prices stem from the higher oil prices?

posted by penguinchit on Dec. 4, 08 at 6:44 AM | 
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So where were all these conspiracy theorists when United Health Group spent 15 years building gigantic profits while healthcare costs rose out of control? All the 'public company transparency', and still it took until Bill McGuire's greediness got caught, for the press and public to ask, "What's up with that?"

posted by tahitinui on Dec. 4, 08 at 6:49 AM | 
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Logistics is part of the real need to feed hungry in the world. Eliminate the large gain companies and we would see massive food shortages especially in the countries that do not grow enough grains. For the USA it's one of the very few areas where we as a country enjoy a balance of payment as a plus for USA. It's sure not oil or manufacturing. Yes not perfect, but we sure don't hear the grain or food companies and major mismanagement issues like GM, Ford, Fannie, Freddie, Countrywide, Citi Group, Lehman, the list just keeps going on.

posted by lwk123 on Dec. 4, 08 at 7:01 AM | 
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Isn't a company like Cargill the very model of what a free market, capitalistic system should produce? The fact that this company has been able to grow and succeed as a privately-owned entity should make Ayn Rand fans ecstatic. The real question we should be asking of Cargill and of all of the companies currently lined up for tax-payer bailouts is how much profit is enough. As much as we consumers may be unhappy with relatively higher food prices (in the US we still pay a much lower proportion of our incomes for food than most of the rest of the world), we ought to be working toward a distinction between a reasonable profit for the risks individuals and companies take, versus the unbridled greed that has driven companies in financial services and other industries to ruin, at our collective expense. On this score Cargill seems much more reasonable than many other companies, although since they are privately held, that is hard to know for sure.

posted by reader2008 on Dec. 4, 08 at 7:18 AM | 
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You say "The real question we should be asking of Cargill and of all of the companies currently lined up for tax-payer bailouts is how much profit is enough." Where are you getting that Cargill is currenly lined up for tax-payer bailouts? Did you read the same article I did? Before you post something so stupid, you should know what you're talking about.

posted by dando12 on Dec. 4, 08 at 7:32 AM | 
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