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As Food Prices Spiral, Farmers, Others Profit

WILLMAR, Minn. (AP) — The steepest run-ups in food prices since 1990 are hurting grocery shoppers, restaurants and school cafeterias but they're making others rich.

The winners in the new food economy include crop farmers selling corn and wheat for near-record highs after years of crushingly low prices. Ingredient makers like Cargill and ADM (ADM) are rife with profits. Fertilizer and tractor companies are cashing in.

Profits at seed and pesticide maker Monsanto Inc. (MON) reached nearly $1 billion last year — a 14-fold increase since 2003. They've tripled to $1.1 billion at agrichemical maker Syngenta (SYT) and agriculture divisions of DuPont Co. (DD) and Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) have also seen their earnings balloon. Cargill, which makes ingredients, boosted its profits to $2.3 billion, up nearly six-fold since 2001. Meanwhile, profits at agricultural processor Archer Daniels Midland Co. have more than quadrupled to $2.16 billion during the same period.

Question: Why don't the "obscene, windfall profits" of Big Food get the same attention as the profits of "Big Oil?" Where are the Congressional hearings and proposals for windfall profits taxes on Big Food? After all, the increase in profits for major food companies from 2005 to 2007 are ridiculously and obscenely higher than the paltry 12% increase in profits for Exxon Mobil (XOM) (see chart above).

Source: Windfall Profits for Big Food: Where's The Outrage?