A diverse group of organizations is asking Congress to put agribusiness mergers on hold for a while so their impact can be further evaluated. A total of 213 “farm, food, rural, community, consumer, faith and other advocacy organizations” signed a letter that was recently sent to lawmakers encouraging them to cosponsor the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2018.
“Since the end of the recession, there has been a wave of food and agribusiness mega-mergers that have further consolidated one of the most concentrated sectors in the U.S. economy,” the letter states. “This hyper-consolidation has contributed to declining farm incomes, loss of choice of inputs for farmers, stagnant wages and increased layoffs for workers, higher grocery prices and fewer choices for consumers, the erosion of rural economic vitality and a less resilient food system overall.”
U.S. Senator Cory Booker introduced the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2018 back in August, with Representative Mark Pocan introducing the House companion bill shortly after. Supporters of the proposed legislation to suspend agribusiness mergers include the California Farmers Union, the Community Food and Justice Coalition, and the California Dairy Campaign.
The proposed bills would suspend mergers of companies with more than $176 million in sales or assets for 18 months. In addition, the legislation would establish a commission that will investigate what kind of impact continued consolidation in the food and agricultural sectors has on farmers, communities, and consumers. The newly created commission would also make recommendations based on contradictions to federal antitrust regulations.
“The unabated consolidation in the food and agribusiness industries has only accelerated in recent years. We urge you to co-sponsor the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2018 to give America’s farmers, workers, consumers and communities a needed break from the merger-mania that has undermined economic security for so many families,” the letter concludes.