Corporate greed takes over in rural Minnesota
I applaud the efforts of Wabasso, Minn., to push back against Dollar General and the corporate assault of yet another small rural town. The long, enduring fight to force corporate restructuring of rural America started years ago — one corporate factory farm at a time.
I should know — our family farm in rural Dodge County is surrounded by 11 swine factory farms in a 3-mile radius. The act of forcing factory farms into rural areas is part of the coordinated, deliberate and intentional corporate effort to force the corporatization of rural areas and secure a new corporate order.
In the process, farm families have been pushed off the land, hollowing out neighboring small towns desperate to survive.
This devastating hollowing-out is nowhere more evident than rural Minnesota. During my youth, my hometown, Blooming Prairie, was a bustling community, sharing an attitude of abundance and kinship. When bread was broken, there was enough for everyone. The town boasted two grocery stores, local banks, two drugstores, a dime store, several restaurants and implement dealers, a furniture store, two clothing stores, local barbershops, a doctor's office, a dental office, a liquor store, a pool hall, local accounting firms and other businesses on the lively Main Street as local dollars circulated in the small community.
A healthy interdependence permeated the community as residents bought local products and supported local businesses — long before corporate giants aided by Republican-aligned Farm Bureau operatives constructed factory farms and extracted wealth from the rural area, divided the farming community and created a sick dependency upon industry giants.
Succumbing to the corporate takeover that shuttered Main Street in a single generation, local businesses eventually closed their doors. One by one, they closed — schools, churches, restaurants and stores. In this void, corporate chains such as Hog Slat, Inc., the largest construction contractor and manufacturer of hog production equipment in the United States, opened a retail store on the south end of town to support neighboring swine factory farms. My hometown — like many other hometowns — is relegated to a corporate outpost to support multinational corporate giants.
I watch, in angst, as my hometown withers and dies. Thanks to corporate greed, dollars that once circulated in Blooming Prairie and other small towns have been stripped, the profit landing on the corporate balance sheet.
Dollars have been funneled to multinational corporations such as Hormel, with corporate headquarters just 15 miles to the south and that enjoy billions in corporate profits. Never content with corporate performance, "man is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied."
Tragically, the latest business to open in many rural towns is a funeral home. When small towns are done burying the dead, who will bury the towns?
Sonja Trom Eayrs
(Formerly of Blooming Prairie)