‘Fairness for Farmers’ campaign targets market power of large corporations

Building on the Biden administration’s commitment to vigorously controlling farm mergers, the National Farmers Union on Wednesday launched the nationwide “Fairness for Farmers” campaign to restore competition to the market. “This company has clear goals: to reduce the consolidation of agriculture and to break down monopolies, which negatively impact farmers, ranchers and consumers,” said NFU President Rod Larew.

“I believe we are ready to fight. The giants that dominate our food and agricultural industry will not be overthrown without a struggle. ”

Although the names vary by industry, a relative handful of companies dominate the slaughter of cattle, pigs and poultry; sales of hybrid seeds; manufacture of agricultural equipment; production of pesticides; and processing of corn and soybeans.

Critics say big companies can control the market, citing, as an example, the early months of the pandemic, when farmers were paid less for livestock but consumers paid more for meat at the grocery store. Meat packers say that rather than manipulation, the disparity was the result of COVID-19 outbreaks that have slowed or temporarily interrupted work at large processing plants.

The NFU called for strict enforcement of antitrust laws, a more resilient food chain that includes smaller, local meat factories, stricter fair play rules in livestock markets, greater transparency in livestock prices and return to the country of origin. original labels on beef packages. “Put that tag over there. Give the consumer a choice “between American meat and imported meat,” said Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union.

President Biden signed an executive order in July ordering the USDA to rejuvenate the retail livestock, seed, fertilizer and food markets. “Big Ag is putting pressure on farmers,” Biden said as he signed the whole-of-government order. He called on the FTC to pass repair law rules so that farmers can repair their own tractors if there is a software problem.

“We are working with the USDA and other agencies to combat excessive concentration in other agricultural markets, including the seed, fertilizer, feed, pesticide and equipment markets,” said the Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta after quoting proposed livestock regulations during a speech. at the NFU Tuesday. “These industries have a significant impact on the ability of small independent farmers to earn a living. We will therefore vigorously monitor mergers that could reduce competition in these and other markets, such as our successful challenge to the proposed acquisition of National Beef by JBS.

Montana Senator Jon Tester, a member of the Farmers Union, said the greatest threat to rural America was “the ongoing consolidation that … has affected every element of the farm economy, grains and crops. inputs to meat packaging “. Tester is a sponsor of the Bills for Mandatory Meat Labeling and for the appointment of a powerful Special Investigator within the USDA agency that oversees livestock markets. Keith Ellison, Attorney General of Minnesota, said his office is prioritizing farm consolidation. “We have to recognize that our family farmers are really being reduced by the consolidation of businesses in agricultural sectors which suck all the profits from agriculture,” he said.

With “Fairness for Farmers,” the NFU, America’s second-largest farm group, aims to build coalitions for tougher pro-competition laws, Larew said. “It’s not just the Farmers Union. We will work with those who feel the same and want to see change. ”

To access the NFU’s “Fairness for Farmers” web page, click here.

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