Today, the Biden Administration renewed its commitment to agriculture sector competition by releasing updated FTC merger guidelines to protect against monopolization and negative impacts to consumers and workers, investing in review and enforcement of antitrust laws at the state level, and committing to strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act through an ongoing USDA rulemaking.
Food & Water Watch Senior Food Policy Analyst Rebecca Wolf issued the following statement:
“Decades of lax antitrust enforcement have created a corporate-dominated food system that holds farmers and consumers hostage to greed. Food monopolies squeeze the American public at every turn. Today’s announcements are important steps forward in addressing Big Ag’s stranglehold on farmers, food workers, and consumers — but urgency is needed to deliver real improvements in peoples’ lives.”
Today, record industry consolidation mirrors the food monopolies of more than a century ago, before the start of the antitrust regulation era. In 2022, just four companies controlled more than 85 percent of the beef market, 70 percent of the pork market, and 54 percent of the poultry market. Outside of the meat industry, the top four companies controlled 85 percent of corn and 76 percent of soybean seeds, 84 percent of the pesticide market, and 90 percent of grain trading. Meanwhile, four grocery retailers corner 69 percent of the market.
For years, Food & Water Watch has been cataloging the impacts of an anticompetitive consolidated corporate ag sector on consumers, farmers and the environment. For more, see our most recent “Economic Cost of Food Monopolies” series: “The Grocery Cartels,” “The Hog Bosses,” and “The Dirty Dairy Racket”.