Biden executive order targets mergers as CN-KCS seeks regulatory deal

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Over the past decades, major agricultural markets have become more concentrated and less competitive. The markets for seeds, equipment, feed and fertilizers are now dominated by a few large companies, which means that family farmers and ranchers now have to pay more for these inputs. For example, only four companies control most of the seeds in the world, and the prices of corn seeds have increased by up to 30% per year.

Consolidation also limits the options for farmers and ranchers to sell their products. This means they get less when they sell their produce and meat, even if the prices go up at the grocery store. For example, four large meat packers dominate over 80% of the beef market, and over the past five years, farmers’ share of the price of beef has fallen by more than a quarter, from 51, 5% to 37.3%. while the price of beef has increased.

Overall, the farmers ‘and ranchers’ share of every dollar spent on food has been declining for decades. In short, family farmers and ranchers get less, consumers pay more and the big middle conglomerates are making the difference.

Meanwhile, the law designed to tackle such abuses – the Packers and Stockyards Act – has been systematically weakened by the Trump Administration Department of Agriculture (USDA).

American farmers and ranchers are also in a hurry by foreign companies importing meat from overseas with labels that mislead customers as to its origin. Under current labeling rules, meat can be labeled “Product of the United States” if it is only processed here, including when the meat is raised overseas and then simply processed into pieces of meat. here. For example, most grass-fed oxen labeled “Product of the United States” are in fact imported. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to know where their food is coming from and to choose to support American farmers and ranchers.

Business consolidation is even affecting the ability of farmers to repair their own equipment or use independent repair shops. Powerful equipment manufacturers, such as tractor manufacturers, use proprietary repair tools, software, and diagnostics to prevent third parties from making repairs. For example, when certain tractors detect a failure, they stop working until a dealer unlocks them. This forces farmers to pay dealer rates for repairs that they could have done themselves, or that an independent repair shop could have done cheaply.

In the Order, the President:

– Orders USDA to consider issuing new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act, making it easier for farmers to bring and win claims, prevent processors from exploiting and underpaying chicken farmers; and adopting retaliatory protections for farmers who speak out against bad practices.

DTN: USDA will propose new P&S rules https://www.dtnpf.com/…

– Calls on the USDA to consider issuing new rules defining when meat can bear “Product of the United States” labels, so consumers have accurate and transparent labels that allow them to choose products made here .

DTN: United States Product Definition for Food https://www.dtnpf.com/…

– Calls on USDA to develop a plan to increase opportunities for farmers to access markets and receive a fair return, including by supporting alternative food distribution systems such as farmers’ markets and developing standards and labels so that consumers can choose to buy products that treat farmers fairly.

– Encourages the FTC to prevent powerful equipment makers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs – such as when tractor companies prevent farmers from repairing their own tractors.

DTN: A look at the right to repair machines https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Chris Clayton can be contacted at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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