Congresspeople introduce bill to suspend large ag mergers

Congresspeople introduce bill to suspend large ag mergers
May 27, 2022

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Market concentration has had negative effects on farmers, one Congressman said

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Members of Congress have introduced a bill designed to address market concentration within the U.S. ag sector.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) along with Sens. Cory Booker (D-.N.J), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tabled the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2022 on May 18 in the House and Senate, respectively.

Sen. Booker introduced a similar bill in 2018.

If passed, the bill would “impose a moratorium on large agribusiness, food and beverage manufacturing, and grocery retail mergers,” the legislation says.

In addition, the law calls for the creation of the Food and Agriculture Concentration and Market Power Review Commission.

This group, which would include farmers and other industry stakeholders, would examine the effects of concentration in the food and ag sectors and provide recommendations on how to change antitrust laws to ensure ag is fair and competitive.

Select agribusinesses having significant control over markets hurts farmers, said Sen. Merkley.

“When agribusiness conglomerates control the market, family farms suffer, making it difficult to earn fair prices and pushes them out of the market,” he said in a statement. “This serves no one well and is devastating to our farming communities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this bill forward.”

At least one farmer group supports the bill.

With four beef packers controlling about 85 percent of the U.S. market, something needs to be done to ensure farmers are receiving fair market price, said Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA.

“The ongoing concentration of our agriculture and food markets is allowing dominant agribusiness firms to exploit farmers and ranchers on one end of the supply chain and consumers on the other,” he said in a statement.

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