Today, from meat to beer to seeds, the food industry is highly consolidated. The removal of a long-standing ownership structure, one that distributed profit and opportunity across America’s landscape, means that now, most land and most animals are now cared for by corporations, not by individuals.
Claire Kelloway reports that the USDA thwarted a decade of efforts to help farmers seek justice for discrimination, retaliation, and unfair treatment by meatpackers. Trump’s USDA introduced new criteria to determine whether a meatpacker violated the Packers and Stockyards Act. This latest proposal omits several critical farmer protections from the previous rule and introduces new language that could codify abusive industry practices.
The Farm System Reform Act would halt construction of new concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and phase out all large CAFOs by 2040, while also holding corporate meatpackers more accountable for environmental degradation and farmer exploitation.
Baldwin, Florida, a town of roughly 1,600 residents west of Jacksonville, lost its last grocery store in 2018, writes Claire Kelloway. Baldwin’s store resembles other collective and community-driven efforts to combat rural food deserts, which were partly created by predatory big-box stores. It also revives a forgotten notion that government should provide open and accessible food markets, which were a central part of municipal planning and responsibility through the 19th century.
Open Markets Food & Power researcher and reporter Claire Kelloway published an op-ed on the Washington Monthly on November 21, 2019 on how America’s biggest dairy co-op is trying to become even bigger. Kelloway writes that one critical reason dairy farms feel pressure to consolidate is because milk retailers, buyers, and, processors have spent years consolidating around them. Now, a merger between major milk monopolists threatens to deal another blow to ailing dairy farmers, and its not clear if federal enforcers will do anything to stop it.
Ahead of Thanksgiving, Open Markets’ Food & Power reporter Claire Kelloway speaks with Bloomberg law about consolidation among poultry producers and how price fixing is only made easier for them. “Turkey, an $18 billion industry, is one of the lone proteins not subject to any publicly known federal investigation or private suit” reports Bloomberg Law “Even though many top U.S. turkey producers, such as Cargill Inc. and Tyson Foods, allegedly sought to fix prices of other foods.”
Open Markets’ Sandeep Vaheesan and Claire Kelloway published a piece on The American Prospect on November 21, 2019 calling for a fair labor market for food chain workers. An overwhelmingly disenfranchised immigrant workforce and corporate collusion and concentration define work in food and agriculture today, they assert. Reforming these labor markets is essential.
Open Markets Food & Power reporter Claire Kelloway covers how after U.S. and Chinese trade officials reached a deal to lift China’s five-year ban on U.S. poultry imports, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) submitted a final rule permitting China to export chicken to the U.S. from birds raised and slaughtered in China for the first time in the agency’s history. She argues that the only clear winners in this grand bargain are multinational meatpackers that can profit from selling the lowest cost poultry, no matter where it came from.