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.
In a recent letter to government regulators, the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) argues that the proposed $66 billion takeover of SunTrust by BB&T will harm “rural and economically disadvantaged areas.” In the letter, the NBFA said the takeover will result in fewer rural branches, less competition in the regions where many of their members farm, and cuts in staff and services, particularly those dedicated to anti-discrimination compliance oversight.
Open Markets Food & Power reporter Claire Kelloway covers the story of a class-action lawsuit by the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) alleging that dominant meatpackers conspired to depress cattle prices starting in 2015. The case argues that JBS, Tyson, Cargill, and National Beef strategically cut back on open market cattle bids, closed plants, and imported costly foreign cattle in order to force farmers to accept lower prices and manipulate spot market cattle values.
Open Markets’ Food & Power reporter Claire Kelloway published a feature on Talk Poverty about how the meat processing industry is about to get a lot worse thanks to a new pork inspection rule the Trump administration is seeking to pass. The new rule would have inspection lines run even faster and plant employees will have to take responsibility for visual inspection of meat, putting workers and eaters at risk.
Open Markets’ reporter Claire Kelloway writes about the nation’s fourth-largest beef packer National Beef’s plans to take over Sysco-owned Iowa Premium, a regional packer focused on processing black angus steers for the Upper Midwest and how this merger threatens America’s last competitive cash cattle market.
Open Markets published a major policy brief, ‘Food and Power: Addressing Monopolization in America’s Food System’, framing the national conversation surrounding the problems facing rural America and the discussion by Democratic leaders at the Heartland Forum regarding proposed solutions including reining in major corporate monopolies.
Last Saturday, five Democratic Party presidential hopefuls gathered at an event in Storm Lake, Iowa to present their platforms for revitalizing America’s farms and rural communities. Co-sponsored by the HuffPost, Iowa Farmers Union, Open Markets Action, and The Storm Lake Times, the Heartland Forum received wide coverage in the press, most of it focused on how all the candidates called for much stronger enforcement of antitrust laws against the corporations that dominate agricultural and food systems.
Monopoly affects the quality of our food and agriculture’s environmental footprint, making it a concern for both food producers and consumers, both in rural and urban areas. This brief documents the degree of concentration found in different agriculture-related sectors of the economy and lays out solutions for policymakers.