A tiny handful companies control almost every link in the food chain. These firms stand between 2 million farmers and 300 million consumers and exert tremendous power over consumer food choices and prices and exacerbate to the often-precarious economic condition of farmers. Many of the fundamental questions Americans are asking about their food system are questions about economic power and equity – for farmers, consumers and workers throughout the food supply chain.
Over the past three decades, the biggest food and agribusiness companies have been writing the rules for farmers – through unfair prices, unfair markets and unfair contracts. The businesses have provided consumers with low quality food (including the now-infamous “pink slime”) at increasing prices.
Although fair and competitive markets are a hallmark of free enterprise, federal authorities have been asleep at the switch while agriculture and food markets have become among the most concentrated in the U.S. economy. A renewed emphasis on fairness, real competition, small business viability, and equity in the food and farm sector is desperately needed. The Farm Bill must restore the compact of fairness between farmers, workers and consumers by re-energizing a commitment to competition throughout the entire food system.