A new campaign by the National Farmers Union aims to amplify the stories of small farmers and ranchers to encourage policymakers to break up agricultural monopolies.
“Our greatest asset is the experience of our members,”said Mike Stranz, vice president of advocacy for the National Farmers Union. “It’s their stories that our neighbors will connect with, and certainly, it’s what legislators will connect with as well.”
The National Farmers Union hopes their Fairness for Farmers campaign will put pressure on policymakers to reform antitrust laws and create a more transparent system where competition is facilitated.
“Our union members know that a lot of the challenges we face as farmers and ranchers and as rural communities come as a result of abuse of market power by monopolies,” said Stranz.
The campaign, which launched in September of 2021, encourages farmers and ranchers to share their stories about how large-scale farming corporations have affected them.
Four solutions are highlighted in the campaign: a reform of the Packers and Stockyards Act, improving price discovery and transparency so farmers can more effectively bargain with packers and integrators, facilitating competition, and better enforcement of antitrust laws.
This last effort – enforcing better antitrust legislation – is a top priority for the National Farmers Union. According to the organization, regulators have allowed big agricultural corporations to merge together, creating even larger companies that burden small farmers and independent producers.
“There are so many corporations that have gotten too big and too powerful, and they don’t need to compete with anybody to make their price,” said Patty Edelburg, vice president of the National Farmers Union. “And if they don’t need to compete, they don’t have the right incentives to innovate or treat their workers or buyers fairly.”
According to the National Farmers Union, stronger enforcement of antitrust laws, which were formed to protect the process of competition, would mean stopping harmful mergers before they’re allowed in the first place.
Currently, to prove to regulators that a merger is disadvantageous to farmers and ranchers means proving there is harm to consumers. But, Stranz said, only focusing on the impact on the consumer ignores the realities of what goes on in the other parts of the food production process.
“We should think about what happens to the market overall,” said Stranz.
Farmers can share how monopolies have affected them by submitting them to the National Farmers Union’s website here.