Costco to Begin Helping Farmers Buy Land to Keep up With Demand for Organic Food

Looks like someone didn’t get the memo. Despite the number of “progressive” and “fringe” candidates lining the ballots of this year’s Presidential Primaries, and the decades-old, general global trend against neoliberalism leaving some experts to begin writing neoliberalism’s obituary, Costco is actually moving forward with a new plan to tighten its grip on production and distribution.

As the expression goes, “The customer is always right,” and, on the surface this is exactly what seems to be motivating Costco’s recent move to begin assisting farmers in the purchasing of land and equipment. According to Costco, consumers are becoming increasingly interested in “organic” goods. So interested, in fact, the bulk retail giant is having trouble keeping up with demand. Enter the go-to strategy for neoliberal economic thinking: capital accumulation through dispossession.

Perhaps the above adage should be re-written as: “The customer legitimizes our accumulation.” With “organic” foods flying off of Costco’s shelves, the justification for the company to begin rethinking their supply-chain is obvious. Customers, by their nature, will shop elsewhere if a company cannot provide the service they’re looking for. Given Costco’s inability to keep up with demand, a clear and effective method of securing supply is to purchase that supply and convince the people you’re “partnering” with that it is in their benefit. Before consumers started purchasing their bulk “organics” from Costco, there was no excuse.

Of course, this all looks fantastic. The harsh reality is that small-scale American farmers are struggling in the face of larger, more industrial ventures — and Costco offering to assist organic farmers with land and equipment purchases looks like a case of the big guy doing good. It might even help to stimulate a new layer of growth in the small-scale or organic farming market.


When you re-examined the recent move of Costco, you realize that there is some risk associated with it.

Obviously, the motivation for this move came from the customer trends who started purchasing organics more than ever. Given that, it is completely valid to question its sustainability. Customer trend can shift back to conventional food or maybe something new in coming years, then there will be a lot of farmers associated with a particular commodity whose only customers are evaporating. This is something that should be kept in mind by both the farmers and Costco managers because it will leave a great impact on both of them. They should find a way through they can adjust the farmers in case the customer trend changes in the coming years.

Even with the end of neoliberalism being prematurely heralded, it is more than a little surprising that Costco’s venture is receiving positive press. More surprising, in fact, is that there is interest in tying a group of producers to a single retailer, who will obviously have the upper hand given any financial or trend instability.

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