As the new Congress takes office there is hope that something will be done to address the frequency and scope of agribusiness mergers the industry has seen over the past few years. The current government shutdown has created a temporary suspension to the efforts to achieve more balanced marketplace competition, as the Farm Bill, trade payments and other legislative matters present more pressing significance. However, several farm groups are hopeful that a series of bills aimed at curbing further consolidation in the industry will be reintroduced and eventually put in place.
The issue of agricultural consolidation is a serious one which has spawned several lawsuits in recent years with claims that large ag businesses are collaborating to suppress grower wages. A study from the University of Missouri evaluated the impact of major agribusiness mergers and found that with further consolidation in the industry, “the vast majority of farmers, consumers and communities are left out of key decisions about how we farm and what we eat.”