Contact: John E. Peck, Executive Director, Family Farm Defenders, (608) 260-0900
Chicago, Illinois – In conjunction with a series of actions around the world against unfair trade (https://
The evening before the CME speak out – Thurs. April 16th at 6:00 pm at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum (800 S. Halsted in Chicago) – family farmers from across the Midwest will be joining indigenous activists, consumer advocates, and other key allies for a Community Forum on Food Sovereignty. Panelists include: John Ikerd, agricultural economist and sustainable agriculture advocate (MO); Ben Burkett, farmer with the Southern Federation of Cooperatives (MS); Joel Greeno, farmer with Family Farm Defenders (WI); Lisa Griffith of the National Family Farm Coalition (MO); Nikos Pastos, activist with the Alaska Big Village Network (AK); John E. Peck with Family Farm Defenders (WI); Jessica Fujan with Food and Water Watch (IL), Seva Gandhi of the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network (IL), Orrin Williams of the Center for Urban Transformation (IL); as well as representatives from the Friends of the MST, the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil.
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From its humble beginning in 1898 as the non-profit Chicago Butter and Egg Board, the CME has since grown into the world’s largest private trading clearinghouse. Each day an elite group of commodity traders gathers at the CME to swap such products as natural gas, carbon credits, soybeans, cheddar cheese, fertilizer, and feather meal (ground up dead chickens and chicken manure used to feed livestock). Within seconds this “thin” market reverberates around the globe, affecting farm gate prices and grocery bills for billions of people. In 2002 the CME began issuing its own stock, and in 2007 acquired the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) for $8 billion as one of its designated contract markets (DCMs). In 2008 the CME Group bought out another rival, the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) for $8.9 billion, and in 2009 also acquired the Dow Jones Indexes. At the close of 2014 the CME reported handling over 15 million contracts per day and had paid out over $1.3 billion in dividends to its shareholders.
While some human shouting still occurs in the “pit,” over 70% of CME trading now happens quietly behind the scenes through its Globex electronic platform. The majority of this trading is now also done by speculators, who have no tangible interest in the commodities they buy and sell. CME remains the most profitable business in Chicago, yet it insists upon millions in tax breaks each year from the State of Illinois in order to keep it from relocating. The revolving door cadre of CME executives are also among the wealthiest people in the country. The U.S. Dept. of Justice (DoJ) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) supposedly watchdog the CME but seldom take action against criminal activity. Among these bad actors are many of the world’s largest food giants and even corrupt farmer co-ops. For instance, in 2008 the CFTC found Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) guilty of rigging milk prices through dairy trading at the CME and levied an unprecedented $12 million fine. In late March 2015 the CFTC also charged Kraft Foods with rigging global wheat prices at the CME.
“The real solution to feeding the world, cooling the planet, and sharing prosperity is found in fair trade, sustainable agriculture, and democratic sovereignty – that is the message behind La Via Campesina’s International Peasants Day,” noted John E. Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders. “We are calling upon our elected officials in Washington DC to reject Fast Track and other forced trade deals that are now being railroaded through Congress. We also insist that speculators obey the law and that the Dept. of Justice bring an end to the illegal racketeering now underway at the CME so that consumers, workers, and farmers benefit from agriculture – not just agribusiness executives and corporate shareholders.”
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