Fairness For Farmers Campaign Takes Shape, Fighting Against Consolidation
November 10, 2021 | View PDF
As of September, National Farmers Union launched a nationwide campaign designed to fight consolidation in agriculture. This campaign aims to encourage the Biden administration and Congressional leaders to act against consolidation, while educating consumers on the pitfalls of corporate concentration.
National Farmers Union members would like to see stronger enforcement of antitrust laws and break up corporate monopolies that unfairly take advantage of farmers, ranchers, and consumers.
Montana Farmers Union (MFU) is specifically engaged with the campaign. Walter Schweitzer, Montana Farmers Union president, announced the start of the campaign during the 106th annual Montana Farmers Union convention in Great Falls, MT.
“We need to get back to raising and processing our food locally to have a more resilient food supply and healthier communities,” said Schweitzer.
The convention focused on the importance of the campaign for the ag industry and consumers. Consolidation puts strain on farmers and ranchers and is placed on consumers, as they see higher prices and fewer options. And in some instances, empty shelves.
“During the COVID pandemic our food supply chain was put under a microscope, and we all found out it is broken. When consumers found empty meat counters and shelves, being rationed dairy and produce while producers were forced to euthanize livestock, dump milk and plow in vegetables this is a broken system. It is a result of 60 years of a cheap food policy that is more about corporate control of the food dollar than providing low-cost food to consumers. Corporate monopolies have been manipulating prices by paying less to producers and charging more to consumers. This is wrong and especially wrong to do it during a crisis,” explains Schweitzer.
Schweitzer recalls attending MFU picnics as a kid. “I remember the old-timers talking at the beginning of the cheap food policy and corporate concentration. Many would say what we need to happen is for consumers to find empty grocery store shelves like they found during WWI and WWII, then they will demand a more resilient food system. That happened last year and now we (Farmers Union) see it is our responsibility to fix it.”
When Schweitzer first started farming, Montana raised and processed 70% of its own food; now it is less than 10%. He said, “I could go to my local community just a few miles away to my local grocery store and the shelves were full of Montana food. Now I have to drive an hour away to shop at a corporate store and buy foreign processed food and in the case of beef and pork you don’t even know what country it originated from.”
Before big corporations became popular, Montana had several packing plants, butcher shops, flour mills, bakeries, home delivery dairies, and retail stores that would provide good-paying jobs to Montanans.
“Now we have very little of this in Montana. Our neighbors have been forced to leave the state, closing schools and businesses in small-town Montana.” He said, “Corporate concentration was done in the guise of efficiency, but we found it comes at the expense of resiliency.”
For more information on the campaign, visit http://www.nfu.org.