In particular, farmers are concerned about policy changes that would dismantle commodity price floors and state-run wholesale markets, a system established in the 1960s during the Green Revolution to encourage the modernization of production methods and protect from price volatility as yields increased. Without these protections, farmers worry that they will be more vulnerable to market swings and that corporations will come to play an outsized role in the food system – issues that are all too familiar to farmers in the United States.
For decades, the U.S. government vigorously enforced antitrust policy in order to preserve competition, with significant success. For instance, the top four beefpackers controlled just 25 percent of the market in 1977. However, a shift in economic ideology in the 1970s led to a much more lax approach to antitrust enforcement, and, as a result, mergers were subject to very little scrutiny. Since then, almost every industry – including agriculture – has experienced rapid consolidation. Today, the top four beefpackers control closer to 85 percent of the market. The consequences of this near total corporatization of the food industry have been far reaching and serious: farmers now have fewer input choices and get paid less for their goods, consumers pay more for food, rural communities have been drained of resources and jobs, and workers and animals suffer abuse.
“We have learned the hard way that fair prices and farmer sovereignty are the bedrock of flourishing rural communities and an equitable food system,” said the NFU board. “As National Farmers Union works to secure these basic rights for American farmers, we stand in solidarity with Indian farmers as they do the same.”
Editor’s Note: From the NFU E-News posted March 4, 2021