What’s your Role in our Small World?

The world is a big place, but it’s getting smaller every year. The “worldwide web” connects us at the touch of a button. Foreign investors are buying up farmland here in the Midwest, as well as across the globe. The current U.S. election cycle has added to the noise and confusion about food and farming.

While driving hundreds of miles this past week, I couldn’t help but think of the global picture. My mind has been on the Ukraine. I keep pondering an article printed July 30th in The Guardian entitled, “Ukraine agribusiness firms in ‘quiet land grab’ with development finance.”

The government – and politics – has a big influence in Ukraine. When I traveled there two years ago as part of the Iowa Farm Bureau’s Black Sea Study Trip, we saw how farmers were really starting to make farming work. The country and its farmers had struggled to develop infrastructure and the know-how to work independently after the Soviet Union and its collective state farms were dismantled in the 1990s. Tracts of land, in about 5-acre parcels, were distributed among the population.

Farmers found a way to put together tracts large enough to gain some efficiency of scale, and during our visit, many of them were optimistic about the future. Times change, however, and agriculture in that region seems to hit some proverbial bumps in the road due to an ongoing power struggle between Russia and the EU.

Small Ukrainian farmers have found financing very hard to come by, yet the wealthiest farmers have been able to expand their operations through loans from a branch of the World Bank known as the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Hundreds of millions of dollars have been loaned, according to that article in The Guardian, due to a mandate to help end global poverty:

“The IFC, which like all World Bank institutions has an explicit mandate to end global poverty, says its investments in MHP have created jobs and supported food security in Ukraine and beyond. Central to the IFC’s mission is a policy to ‘do no harm’ and achieve positive development outcomes by investing in the private sector.”

The article goes on to share how much of this money has been loaned to build the Ukraine’s largest chicken production and processing facility. Residents in the area are concerned about noise and water pollution, yet their concerns seem to be falling upon deaf ears.

I hope you’ll take some time to read the entire article. Then think about where we are in this country – and where we could be. Politics, and the officials in power, definitely impact lives. Whom we elect makes a difference. Do America a favor and be sure you know how each candidate stands on positions of interest to you!

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