By , Amazon had bricks and mortar — mostly distribution centers — in 17 sales-tax states. Yet it collected in only four: Washington, Kansas, Kentucky, and North Dakota. Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas, all states where it had warehouses. State tax administrators declined to lift a finger against the company. Indiana went even further.
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Tax experts view the situation differently. The failure of Streamlined made it the bureaucratic equivalent of those notorious World War I battles in which massive, entrenched armies shed blood for months just to gain a few feet of territory. Ironically, though, it was a single state tax official whose actions eventually turned the entire conflict in a decisive new direction. Robert Plattner, 62, never had any faith in Streamlined. As an influential private tax lawyer in Albany, N. Amazon, of course, was the biggest target.
Amazon immediately sued to overturn it. The site was hardly a secret. The agency dispatched an audit team to investigate. As New York and Texas began bearing down, Amazon was engaging in contortions to avoid giving any opening to recession-ravaged states. The memo included a set of color-coded U. Green and yellow states had the fewest restrictions. They were even barred from blogging while out of state. A well-regarded longtime contractor named Betsy Danheim was dropped, an Amazon supervisor named Paul Hart explained in a March e-mail to his work team.
By it had become clear to brick-and-mortar stalwarts like Sears, Walgreen, and Wal-Mart that no solution was coming from Streamlined. Amazon was continuing to grab market share, across more and more product lines. As a purveyor of big-ticket goods, Best Buy was among those being hurt the worst.
Best Buy started approaching other chains and retail trade associations to build urgency. They began girding for state-by-state combat. Fresh ammunition was available from a study by three University of Tennessee professors; it projected how much each individual state was losing to the tax-free Internet.
But interviews with focus groups revealed no particular sympathy for strapped state governments. It was far better to cast the issue as a matter of fairness between traditional stores and online retail. The retailers established an advocacy group called the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, with affiliates in different states. In , Main Street Fairness began pressing states to crack down. This erased the legal basis for forcing it to collect. Amazon blamed the states, telling the former affiliates to complain to their lawmakers. That prompted Michael Mazerov, senior fellow with the Washington, D.
About the same time, Amazon had begun to rethink its distribution strategy. The company had always served big states like New York with warehouses located elsewhere. But its customer base was soaring, and Bezos was moving to develop the capacity for next-day — or even same-day — delivery. This required many more distribution centers, much closer to customers. As its political position grew less tenable, Amazon started maneuvering to combine its needs more warehouses with its wants preserving tax-free shopping for as long as possible.
This strategy played out first in South Carolina. In late the company struck a deal with outgoing governor Mark Sanford, who promised Amazon an exemption from gathering sales tax along with tens of millions of dollars in traditional inducements in return for a new distribution center with 1, jobs. But that agreement required approval from the state legislature. The Alliance for Main Street Fairness rushed in to raise a stink, holding press conferences, issuing statements, and running newspaper and TV ads.
Business lobbyists buttonholed legislators, demanding that Amazon start collecting sales tax immediately. Amazon finally offered a compromise: It would start capturing sales tax in January — almost five years later. When the South Carolina House overwhelmingly rejected that, Amazon announced that it was taking its jobs elsewhere and abandoning its half-built warehouse. The announcement had the desired effect. Three weeks later, the legislature flip-flopped — and the retailer announced it was returning to South Carolina after all, with its exemption until Score one for Amazon.
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Suddenly Free Installment 3 really liked it 4. Hower Illustrations really liked it 4. Recession-Proof Approach to Gathering Harvests 0. Yvette Davis wants to read Suddenly Free: By the early s, farmers bred beef cattle separately from dairy cows. For Texas ranchers, cattle were a source of capital, not food. Animals wandered across an unfenced range. After the Civil War, the cattle range spread across the Great Plains and new cattle trails developed, although railroads connected these to more distant industrial locations.
Thus, railroads expanded American foodsheds as tastes and practices began to change. By the s, Americans purchased mass-produced flour instead of growing their own corn or wheat. Trains lowered delivery times and, as a result for example, citydwellers received better milk produced by grass-fed cows in the countryside.
In the past, cows in local swill dairies ate the fermented mash residue from whiskey production and produced a foul-tasting milk. After the Civil War, the South joined eastern urban foodsheds, converting some cotton plantations to truck farms and supplying winter vegetables and fruits. By cutting prices, Swift lured customers to his product. Urbanites discovered that they preferred the cheaper corn-fattened, Chicago-dressed beef over range-fed cattle that previously traveled the rails for local butchering.
By , few cattle were slaughtered in eastern cities, as most were imported from the Midwest. Some historians have argued that corporate and government corruption underwrote the construction of the transcontinental railroads and the transformations wrought by railroads. The Pacific Railroad Act and land laws were among many actions that gave government greater and permanent roles in promoting commercial agriculture.
The Patent Office, which previously oversaw agriculture, issued free seeds and cuttings in the s and s, which unintentionally increased susceptibility to destructive pests and plant diseases. Grasshoppers plagued Kansas wheat fields in the late 19th century, for example.
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Wheat stem rust later destroyed crops. With the food demands of World War I, the USDA initiated a program to remove barberry bushes near wheat fields because they were an alternate host for stem rust. All such problems, however, were not attributable to the seed program. In northern California, phylloxera, an aphid indigenous to the Mississippi River watershed, disrupted vineyards, requiring expensive replantings of European vines on resistant American rootstocks.
By the early 20th century, blight undermined their crops until they accepted USDA promotions of the resistant Russet developed by botanist Luther Burbank. Filled with data gathered across the nation, these enhanced its authority in scientific agriculture. The USDA promoted mechanization, monocultural production, and chemical inputs.
For providing such schools, each state received 90, acres of federal land to allocate or sell. The law opened American higher education to a wider range of social classes, while these institutions, through teaching, research, experiment stations, and cooperative extension, affected almost every form of food production while increasingly aligning with large agribusiness as it ascended during the 20th century. With such actions, the federal government moved farther from the Jeffersonian vision and helped to foster instead marketing and production systems over which farmers exercised limited control and which provided them with limited financial rewards.
Founded in , the Patrons of Husbandry the Grange promoted family farmers through education, cooperation, and mutual protection. The organization initially avoided politics but soon engaged in debates over railroad regulation. Some states, particularly in the Midwest, passed laws limiting freight rates. Similar associations emerged in most regions.
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By the s, growing frustrations fueled the rise of the Populist Party. Among other policies, Populists sought government ownership of railroads and warehouses where farmers might store crops until prices improved. Despite some electoral successes in , the Populist Party dissolved by the end of the century. Progressive reformers later embraced some Populist initiatives such as greater railroad regulation and crop warehousing, but other objectives designed to even the playing field for the farmers failed to take hold. In the first half of the 20th century, the trends of increasing scale and alienation of U.
For producers, these meant greater use of inputs machinery, artificial fertilizers, chemical pesticides, and feed additives in pursuit of higher outputs. In the late 19th and early 20th century, wheat ranked foremost among the crops farmers coaxed from the often-unforgiving plains. The mechanical reaper reduced labor needs for harvest. Later the binder mechanically gathered and bound the crop into shocks, bringing greater efficiency to farms on the American and Canadian plains. In the midth century, the combine harvester replaced the binder.
New wheat strains contributed to production increases. Moving into drier environments with greater temperature extremes, farmers found that plants suited to the more hospitable Midwest performed poorly. Bonanza farms, or very large farms performing industrial-scale operations, proliferated in the Dakotas and other parts of the Great Plains where the flat terrain combined with mechanization and widely available rail transport to encourage massive wheat operations; the monocultural practices associated with these farms, however, also invited rust and pests.
Under these conditions, simply maintaining yields required innovation. Wheat plants introduced from Russia, the Mediterranean, and elsewhere proved more effective. Agricultural researchers developed n ew varieties that encouraged resistance to drought and predation.
Hybrid sorghum played a key role in the development of the Southern Plains after , and hybrid corn made impacts worldwide beginning in the s. The harder wheat that predominated in the northern Great Plains by the beginning of the 20th century proved ill suited to the stone mills that ground the softer wheat of the eastern United States.
Roller milling, a process introduced from Hungary during the s, broke the hard husks and separated the bran. Millers compensated for lost nutrients through enrichment, but dietary deficiencies led to more cases of pellagra wherever patent flour was consumed. Farm Security Administration, Nonetheless, heavily processed white flours found their way into cake mixes and other packaged foods.
Intended to save time in the kitchen, these convenience foods reduced the gratification that many housewives received from their cooking and threatened to obviate their hard-earned foodways knowledge. During the s, wheat expansion reached its limits in the environmental catastrophe of the Dust Bowl. When prices declined during the s, they tried to compensate by expanding their acreages and producing larger harvests. When the devastating droughts of — struck, crops withered, and the land, deprived of its native cover by the sodbusters, blew away in massive dust storms.
Despite government relief efforts, prosperity did not return to the region until the rains, and the demands of another world war arrived in the s. Post—World War II agriculture saw increasing uses of petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides to bring greater productivity. Artificial fertilizer was developed in Germany when World War I cut the nation off from natural phosphate sources, such as Peruvian guano.
Artificial fertilizers produced using the Haber—Bosch process gained worldwide ascendency. They enhanced yields and kept worn-out lands in production, but also altered soil chemistry and polluted waterways. Fossil fuel-reliant machines replaced human and animal laborers, freeing more land for crops. Luther Burbank arrived in California in with a sack of his potatoes, which quickly supplanted varieties found locally. Burbank turned his attention to other crops, selecting profitable traits from plums, peas, walnuts, and peaches, and cross-breeding them to produce new varieties with greater commercial value.
Many possessed stronger resistance to frost and pests. They grew in regular sizes and shapes, lending themselves to mechanized harvesting. Although Burbank never received patents during his lifetime, his efforts helped subsequent breeders gain the same protections as authors and inventors. The Citrus Experiment Station in Riverside, established by the California legislature in , sought improved and standardized varieties of oranges, an endeavor that largely benefitted the California Fruit Growers Exchange Sunkist.
Although fruits attained greater regularity in size and appearance, some specimens failed to meet the standards of growers and consumers. Another manifestation of the associative state, the Fruit Products Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, offered a solution: Combining diced peaches, pears, and pineapples with grapes and cherries, the new product disguised the ill-shapen fruit.
Like other canned products, fruit cocktail resisted spoilage over long journeys or sits on pantry shelves. Canned meats, beans, and other goods fed the miners who flocked to the Klondike gold fields of Alaska in Cans obscured the natural origins of their meals but connected prospectors to the wider world by expanding their foodsheds. The conglomerate advertised widely, making its shield one of the most recognizable U. It could afford the mounting costs of canning operations. Del Monte and other large canners influenced federal legislation, which standardized regulations for canning and raised entry costs for smaller competitors.
Del Monte told consumers that its products were safe and convenient, while emphasizing dangers and difficulties in home canning. Botulism contamination, a growing problem in the canning industry in the early 20th century, undermined these efforts. Industry-sponsored research, enforced by state regulations, instituted strict standards for heating canned foods to ensure safety.
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Increased fruit production encouraged by profitable canneries drew vast quantities of ground water, depleting aquifers and leading to subsidence. Although canneries sought profitable outlets for their byproducts, they often required encouragement from local, state, or federal legislation to improve waste disposal systems that threatened wildlife and urban health. Early efforts to unionize cannery workers failed due to the seasonal nature of the work; not until the pro-labor New Deal legislation of the s did these workers successfully organize.
Mechanization also facilitated unionization. The teamwork necessitated by mechanized lines helped workers organize, and the speed demanded by machines eliminated the piece-work pay system in favor of hourly wages. Raising these wages constituted one of the chief demands of the cannery unions. This made California an attractive location for agricultural workers displaced by mechanization elsewhere. Race and gender often determined labor arrangements.
Chinese immigrants, many of whom brought citrus-picking skills with them from tropical Guangdong Province, initially predominated in the orchards. The Chinese Exclusion Act made room for Japanese workers, although they lacked experience handling delicate fruit. Slight damage to the skin opened up fruit to destructive mold. Men in the orchards and women in the packing houses were encouraged to handle the fruit with care.
Paying workers based on the price their boxes brought on the market rather than the quantity packed helped achieve this end. World War II brought labor shortages to California. Germ and genetic theories of health obscured environmental threats, and workers often received blame for creating their own insalubrious surroundings.
Only in the s when it appeared to threaten consumers and neighboring property owners did California take action to regulate pesticide use. Infectious diseases affected other food industries over the 20th century. Efforts by agricultural reformers in both government and industry to increase milk consumption necessitated changing perceptions of milk, a food source long held in suspicion. Convincing mothers to turn from breastfeeding to bottles meant greater reliance on experts, including physicians, manufacturers, and public health officials.
Dairy manufacturers demanded that farmers meet sanitation standards; state inspectors enforced these standards. Farmers who wanted access to milk markets invested in expensive storage tanks and other equipment, raising the cost of entry and favoring larger producers. Butter producers, who placed less exacting standards on suppliers and attracted smaller farmers farther from major markets, faced pressure to standardize and improve their product.
Highways that encouraged suburbanization permitted faster transportation of milk. Like wheat and fruit, dairy cattle underwent improvement. Thus, as consumers grew more distant from the sources of their food, dairy cattle were alienated from their own means of reproduction. Disease factored heavily into the development of the beef cattle industry. Although widespread in the southern United States by the end of the 18th century, Texas fever gained notoriety after the Civil War when cattle driven north from Texas brought the infection to Midwestern herds, prompting quarantines that helped end the brief heyday of the long cattle drive.
In addition to denying northern markets to the southern herds, Texas fever stunted the growth of southern cattle and discouraged herd improvement. In the early s, scientists linked Texas fever to the ticks cattle carried.
A quarantine line cordoned southern cattle, with raisers required to submit their herds to dipping vats that rid them of ticks and the disease. The process favored large cattle raisers. Texas fever hindered the growth of southern cattle, although given their resistance, it rarely proved fatal. Eradication, therefore, benefitted those who intended to improve their herds by importing cattle from abroad and then selling them in markets outside the South.
Those with large herds could afford to move them to the dipping vats and keep them in quarantine, smallholders could not. Resistance to the dipping process grew fierce. Some small cattle raisers dynamited dipping vats; others harassed and killed federal officials. Nonetheless, the process succeeded in ridding the South of Texas fever by the s, allowing its cattle industry to flourish.
Brucellosis and blackleg came under control during the midth century, which aided cattle raisers in the West. Federal efforts also reduced numbers of wild horses who spread disease and consumed forage. Improved cattle herds led to more and higher quality cuts of beef. In the early s, Southern Plains landowners began exploiting the vast Ogallala Aquifer under their land. This water source offered relief from drought, and allowed them to grow hybrid sorghum and corn, which had previously been impossible.
Seeking a market for abundant new grains, landowners began feeding them to cattle. Vast feedlots housing tens of thousands of head proliferated during the s.