NDFU, along with other states in National Farmers Union, have funded and are carrying out a campaign called “Fairness for Farmers” to address market concentration. This is not a new effort for Farmers Union, as we have been pushing the government to address monopolistic practices for years. Sadly, the response to our efforts has been limited. We have arrived at a place now where action is a necessity for survival of many family farm and ranch operations.
The good news with this campaign is we have finally caught the attention of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our federal government.
We are fighting for stronger enforcement of antitrust laws and the breakup of corporate monopolies that use their size to unfairly take advantage of farmers and ranchers, while forcing consumers to pay higher prices at the grocery store.
For these conglomerates to influence what we consume, they first need to control the people who produce our food. That is where the real power lies; dominating what is grown, how it’s produced, and most critically, how they can make the most money by paying farmers as little as possible.
The strain felt by farmers and ranchers is also directed at consumers, as they see higher prices and fewer options. And in some cases, like during the pandemic, empty shelves.
With less diversity across the agriculture industry, multinational corporations have too much control over pricing and offerings. This makes the food supply chain vulnerable to bottlenecks and breakdowns. Competition in the industry keeps our supply chain resilient and our food fairly priced.
Corporate monopolies are slowly erasing our rural communities. If family farms and ranches can’t stay in operation, their loss will impact everyone in that rural area and consumers reliant on a diverse food production system.
The Biden administration has laid out a plan of action that includes $1 billion in funding to:
• Increase competition and create more options for producers and consumers in the near-term by jump-starting independent processing projects that will increase competition and enhance the resiliency of the food supply chain.
• Provide $100 million in reduced overtime inspection costs to help small and very small processing plants keep up with unprecedented demand.
• Issue new, stronger rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act — the law designed to combat abuses by meatpackers and processors.
• Issue new “Product of USA” labeling rules so consumers better understand where their meat comes from.
• Leverage USDA’s existing authorities to increase market transparency to the greatest extent possible.
Farmers Union’s push and continued focus on addressing monopolistic practices is essential to success. I encourage all of you, as members, to tell your story — our story — and participate in our Fairness for Farmers campaign when given a chance.
— NDFU President Mark Watne