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By Lynn M. Pearce

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Extra info for Encyclopedia of American Industries, Non Manufacturing

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Retailers, too, must contend with unfavorable economics versus virtual storefronts—the infrastructure of a retail chain is costly and inefficient compared to a high-tech inventory and outsourced logistics system. It’s precisely with such a sys- tem that some electronic challengers hope to wrest market share from traditional retailers. Still, retailers have several things going for them. In some cases, such as with food purchases, many observers believe that consumers will be reluctant to give up the tactile and visual experiences of shopping in a store, and they’ll hesitate to give up the spontaneity of deciding what to buy just minutes before they consume it.

Although the majority of farms are nonintegrated, and the need for farmer cooperatives has diminished with the steady support of the government, such joint venture groups still make up a substantial portion of American wheat farming. In this type of commonownership organization, farmer members pool their crops and store them in their own cooperative-owned elevators. Farmer-cooperative commission agents then sell the wheat, in many cases, to farmer-cooperative terminal elevators. The attempts by farmer cooperatives’ to control the marketing and processing channels have also brought about a few farmer-cooperative exporters and flour millers.

Farmers were unable to repay their loans; in order to maintain their income, they bought and planted more acreage and went deeper into debt. Droughts in 1986 and 1988 decreased production, and farmers needed federal aid. The mid-1980s saw thousands of family-owned farms fail. However, in the 1990s corn became a precious commodity domestically and internationally with its multifarious food and industrial applications. S. corn industry increased access to the Mexican market. Corn exports to Mexico have risen, because the trade accord has reduced support for Mexican corn growers, forcing the country to rely on imported corn.

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