Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

October 1995


Published in Great Plains Research 5:2 (Fall 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Despite differing definitions, most scholars agree that the late twentieth century is an age of globalization in agriculture and the food industry. For some, globalization means the elimination of trade barriers; for others it involves the development of international relationships in production and distribution. Globalization, however, is exemplified for all by transnational corporations (TNCs), such as ConAgra, that own and control a variety of world-wide production and distribution systems, thereby controlling millions of workers, manipulating governments, and changing consumption patterns. In contrast to corporations of the past, TNCs essentially exist independently of nation states. Although national and international laws provide basic rules of behavior, TNCs have used capital to transcend the authority of the nation state. Simply put, if a nation imposes too many tax, wage, hour, and environmental restrictions, TNCs move all or part of their operations to another country where such rules do not apply, and their nations of origin can do little about it. Controllers of global capital, rather than nation states, are making new rules for the agribusiness industry.