Last week I wrote about Walmart’s recently announced $1 billion initiative to begin sourcing more produce from local small- and medium-sized farms. (In the U.S. it aims to double the amount of local produce it sells, to 9 percent, by 2015.) I suggested that the company had not been entirely forthcoming about the details of its plan, and consequently posed a handful of questions for the world’s largest retailer.
I wanted to know some basic things: how Walmart defines “local”; whether it intends to pay small farmers full value for their produce; and if the new initiative might end up running any farmers out of business.
Last month Walmart announced a $1 billion initiative to source produce from 1 million small and medium farmers, which the behemoth says will increase their income by 10 to 15 percent. Walmart’s plan is to offer their customers more locally raised food as part of their corporate sustainability effort. This news has obviously created quite a buzz among supporters, skeptics, and the mainstream media. (You can tap some of it here, here, here, and here.)
As usual, Walmart has been silent in this discussion. Like every other major corporation, it totally controls the release of info and manages its spin; you see controlled quotes from anonymous spokespeople, or canned interviews, but candor is not happening. But now that we’re living in a de facto corporatocracy, maybe it’s time our rulers were held a bit more accountable, not only to their stockholders but to their customers, and to those affected by their decisions.